The newfound Saxton fashion trend of arriving at the ground before the game has actually started continued for a fourth consecutive week with all eleven kitted out and ready to go, bouyed by the news that the home team had only managed to raise 9 men. The only change from last week saw the returning Smokie (pictured below) coming in for Jamie B.
The last time the skipper one a toss Germany was seperated into 2 and Margaret Thatcher was still residing at 10 Downing Street, so after the formalities in the middle, Saxton were asked to make first use of a flat looking wicket. Obviously, not that flat as the other Saxton fashion trend of losing early wickets once again reared its ugly head, with both the Wookie and Ned edging behind, and Steve the victim of one which appeared to 'stop'. 33-3 and enter Donald and Len Hutton. After the initial 5 minutes of confusion with the umpire struggling to understand Matt asking for 'centre', the pairing of young, and not so young set about rescuing the innings with a fantastic partnership of power, skill and no little discipline, characterised by some flowing offside cricket strokes from Matt, and an exhibition of strength and timing from Steve who managed to find Saddleworth Moor with one of his almigthy pull shots. After a partnership of what must have been nearly a 100 (Gareth this would be much more accurate if you actually put the scorecard online) Steve was the first to depart courtesy of a dubious looking LBW decision. Saxton continued to build however with Beatrix joining Matt and both ably working the gaps in the field and putting the bad balls out of the ground. Matt reached a richly deserved half century...the first of many on this showing..before finally losing his wicket. Unfortunately, this led to a mini collapse with Smokie holing out to long on...half an inch more and it would have gone for 6.....however we all know how much difference a couple of inches can make...............Potter giving the keeper catching practice after a promising 23, and Rory joining him soon after, having practiced the same shot for the previous 5 balls. Thankfully, Chris remained vigilant at the other end, scoring a well made 27 to lead Saxton to a positive first innings total of 225, before Mo....fresh from his orienteering advertures around the surrounding fields, became the last man to fall.
After the tea session and the usual childish, banter, sarcasm, abuse, Saxton tried something different before attempting to defend their score........WARMING UP....with all eleven joining in a catching practice session...the quote of the day coming from Smokie who declared that the first to drop one had to buy the first round.. before proceeding to spill one approximately 16 and a half seconds later. A sign of what was to come for old Iron hands. After a tight opening spell from the openers, Coe and DC, the home side had moved to about 65 for 2, courtesy of an excellent one handed catch by the cat like Mr Buck at first slip from a typically well disguised Crampo slower ball, and an LBW for the same bowler. Things looked good at this stage for the away team. An hour later and the same couldn't be said, with the Bramhope number 3 and captain forming a fantastic partnership of over 100...giving the Saxton boys very few chances in the process....with the exception of a very sharp one on the mid wicket boundary which Len wasnt able to hold onto and a dubious 'edge ' which Smokie could only take smack bang on the box. Its not often I praise the opposition (or our own team) but credit must go to the Bramhope batters who put on a show of flair and panache to bat their team within the grasp of victory. The only negative being the captain's rather irritating need to provide a self commentary with nearly every shot he played...'4' when the ball went to the boundary after bouncing, '6' when the ball went to the boundary without bouncing, and 'Chewy' every time the ball went to Gully.
There's an old adage in Cricket though, that one wicket usually brings 2. It was 3 in this case, with the returning DC taking his 3rd and 4th wickets, and Potter joining the fun at the other end, courtesy of another diving slip catch from the on fire Bucky.....eat your heart out Beefy. A quick change of emphasis and Saxton seemed to be once again in control of proceedings. Unfortunately, it was at this stage that Smokie decided to do his mis-timed impression of Slappy the Seal, dropping a regulation chance....which 3 days later he still cant understand...off the rather distraught looking wizard. The next 3 overs saw the home team punish this error, with the number 3 batter hitting out in spectacular fashion to bring Bramhope close to victory. Saxton may not be the best side in the division, but they are undoubtedly one of the bravest and once again did not give up...........with soon after the number 3 finally departing for a well made 89..leaving the away side in with a sniff of a chance. This has enhanced moments later with the returning Mo shattering the number 8 batsman's stumps with a picture perfect yorker. 8 runs to win with one wicket remaining.
Unfortunately for Saxton the 8 runs were scored. Unfortunately for Bramhope the one wicket was taken.....with Mo producing a carbon copy of the aforementioned delivery to remove the last man with the scores tied. A cracking game to be involved in. 3 points gained from a game not targeted as a 'must win' or 3 points lost? If it's any consolation the home side will be asking the same question. Whatever the outcome, the Saxton spirit was there in abundance for all to see, with 8 men, a clown, a wookie and a cheeky monkey all giving it their all for the cause.
In the traditional manner the day finished in the pub. As Smokie sobbed into his Strongbow, the main topic of conversation was the upcoming tour of Amsterdam....with an anxious looking Dave B questioning whether this was the same CRICKET tour he had booked a place on after barely a minute of chat. Would 'one can' Coe and 'hit me, just hit me' Barrett survive the trip without a vist to the local Hospital? Would Lennox survive without a spell in the local Custody Suite? Would Oringe spend more than ten minutes out of the local cafes? And who would be the first to visit an establishment with the below coloured light above it?
I know who my money would be on.
The 2009 adventure continues against Kippax this week. I've already started applying Solvite to my gloves.