Weybridge 130 AO

by Paul Fortescue

The 3rd XI caravan rolled into Whitely village wondering why they had left so early. Weybridge were nowhere to be seen, but before us was a beautifully set ground, with ropes, sightscreens and all the facilities that 3rd XI grounds can
normally only dream about. Needless to say disappointment was not too far away, as the Whitely home captain informed us that our wicket was 'over there, on the other side of the aritifical.' Van der Walt set off in earnest to get changed in the woods.

During the week there was much to think about for the 3rd XI players. One of us, and we knew not who, was unlikely to play against Weybridge. The author is pleased to report that at no stage during the week did Hankins call, instead, on a wet Thursday afternoon, 2nd XI captain III, the grant winning Dean Faulkner was ensuring that Des kept up his 100% record of never playing for the team on the teamsheet.

4th XI reserve wicket keeper, Andy Walker was dragged kicking and screaming into the 3rd XI. Later described in the bar as a '3rd XI primadonna' by Walshy, Walker was aghast at not having the opportunity to extend his keeping career. He was not to be disappointed as the 3rd XI effectively played with 2 wicket keepers all afternoon, one behind and the other at short leg. He got to wear the box and the lid anyway.

Comments have been made about this author's employment status. The value of comments was clearly demonstrated by " Brazil is a country the size of Brazil." Thanks for that Andy.

Despite arriving 45 minutes early, the game started late. The Weybridge captain, of the same educational stock as the Green brothers won the toss and confidently inserted W&H on the same ground as they had previously chased 250 to win. Fortescue settled down to watch his side score a bucketful on a small ground and Matt settled down for the regulation kip.

W&H started brightly. Worgy took an early life and the odd ball jumped up, but the leaves were comfortable and only one of the Weybridge bowlers had identified the stumps. This was not unreasonable, as it was difficult to find the square, it consisting of only 4 strips and only 1 (ours) of those being remotely discernable. This promising beginning was a deception of the highest order, and certainly a deception of our highest order.

As it turns out this benign looking pitch, that had seen 500 runs scored on a previous weekend was a nightmare. It was, with the exception of Worcester Park's 2nd ground, the worst strip that the author has been forced to endure since moving to W&H. One end the ball popped from just short of a length and gloves were put through their paces frequently. AT the other, the popping was slower, but somehow more dangerous, as two players were hit in the head, one resulting in a trip to St Peters.

They Weybridge Captain took three wickets quickly, and his Aussie partner eventually found his line to join the action. Woking were reduced to 21-4 and the gameplan of ' get to 40 overs and we'll have a look' seemed wildly optimistic. Another wicket fell (47-5) as Usman tried one shot too many and the writing on very clearly on the wall. Weybridge were flying. Jayson came to the crease with the skipper's words of wisdom in his ears 'plenty of time Jays' and smacked the first ball faced to the boundary.

The Bird element of the caravan was in full swing. Bron brought her mum, sister, brother in law, son and parasol. We may have to restrain the parasol as it assaulted v.d. Walt in the wind and Jays was seen chasing it across the outfield.  One of the more ironic questins of the day came from Bronwynne.'Paul, whaat's a pakey?' [translate. Paul, What's a pikey?]

W&H numbers 6-10 all scored double figures. The top 5 lasted 17 overs between them; the middle order / tail (captain excluded) 37. Some belligerent hitting from Bird and Walker, and some intelligent leaving from Van der Walt moved the
score along to 135 - dreamland, before Peter Allan, last years opener came in at 10 to turn the screw and reduce the Weybridge optimism to disbelief. A 10th wicket partnership of 25 took the score to 160. The captain that played the number 11 frightened rabbit part perfectly as the innings closed on 161.

Let's be straight here. We got out of jail big time. The pitch and conditions were easier when the opening bowlers came off but 9 catches tells part of the story. It would be unfair to blame the pitch for our predicament, where some of our batsmen played expansive, risky shots exactly as the bowlers would like too early.

Their innings started with much, much chirping. One of their openers caught off the gloves by Walker at short leg. The number 3 on his way to hospital with a swelling above the eye reminiscent of a heavyweight boxing contest, their number run out but Usman. Apprently there are rules to chirping. How ridiculous is that? Chirping, sledging, whatever is outside of the game, so how can there be rules. Anyway, the postmortem of the chest to chest ding dong between Matt and their Aussie number 4 was that we had apparently broken the 'rules' after he had earlier broken the 'rules'. Balls. Skipper's comment's most appropriate here' Matt, get out of his way. You - you're out. The pavillion's over there.'

Bird bowled quickly and menacingly. The number 5 as clearly intimidated but he couldn't hit the ball - and Jays coundn't hit the stumps. Van der Walt removed him before Jays, has the opener caught at 'backward gulley?' by Usman - a good catch. Wybridge were 48-4, plus one ret'd hurt. The game was wide open.

Three Weybridge batsmen, last years captain, and their number 9 and 10 threatened to bat the game out. Matt, a really good catch at point, caught one. Walker took another typical short leg catch (skied, ice,  air traffic control etc) to get rid of their spinner (2 overs for 15. Have a blow) and Mattocks bowled that bit slower so that the number 9 could edge the ball to Peter Allan. Game over. Weybridge dismissed for 130. The caravan provided Pimms and lemonade. What can I say?

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