After last week's fantastic performance.....both on the field and in the pub, Saxton travelled to last year's bogey side, Thorner Mexborough high in confidence and determined to see the recent winning run continued with another valuable 6 points. 2 changes were made to the side, with Duncan unavailable due to work commitments with part-time employers McDonalds (see staff photo below),
and Jamie W for some reason booking his driving test on a Saturday afternoon in the Summer (a big thank you to the producers of Police Camera Action for the footage provided). In came Jimmy 'Dennison' Deane (seen below in a recent family photo) for his League debut after hitting the winning runs in the midweek cup game, and Lennox, fresh from a 3 day spell at Tadcaster's newly opened Betty Ford Clinic.
Like the previous week the fine pot was bulked up before the game actually got underway, with DC, Rory, Oringe and Jimmy all failing to arrive before the 1.15pm 'deadline', with Jimmy only just arriving as the 6th ball of the 19th over was being delivered.
After running out of anything remotely witty about Steve's lack of tossing ability, we go straight to the game, with Saxton once again asked to set a score on a wicket that had looked like it had recently lost out in a fight with a Molotov cocktail. Despite losing a rather tired looking Oringe early on, the away side made a positive start with Gareth looking particularly fluent after his widweek one-legged heroics, crashing some rather short of a length bowling around the field. However, once again, it wasn't to last, and in very little time at all the Saxton innings was in tatters, with the likelihood of an appearance at the Thin Dog before 5pm looking very likely, much to Lennox's delight. The first to go being Gareth, clean bowled by a full toss, which he claimed not to see and hinting that many years of excessive 'D.I.Y' (captured below) have finally started to have an effect on his eyesight.
He was soon followed by another of last week's heroes Steve Harrison, caught mistiming a drive, and by the skipper who failed to clear with the bowler with an attempted straight drive. The 'domino' style effect showed no signs of abating with JP, despite a promising beginning somewhat unluckily playing on to his stumps with the aid of an inside edge, followed 21 seconds later by a woefully out of touch Smokey, who failed to see (too much time around Gareth possibly) his first ball, let alone hit it. 52 for 5 and on the brink, with only Steve Hutton at the other end showing any real form and discipline. Thankfully for Saxton, and in many ways true to form, the lower middle order always seems to find a way of guiding the side to a respectable score, and such was the case again, with the aforementioned Mr Hutton, still smarting from last Sunday's reprimand from Mrs Hutton for his slightly cavalier approach to the Boot and Shoe's Optics shelf, playing a rather more conservative innings than normal in partnership with the on-form Rory, despite off-field discussions about his still dubious sexual preferences. Both displayed patience and grit, mixed with some fluid cricket strokes to guide the away team past the 100 mark and beyond. Steve finally fell just after reaching his 2nd succesive half-century, however this did not disrupt the momentum they had managed to build with new boy Jimmy immediately looking very much at home at the crease, with a mixture of solid defence and brute attacking strength. 14 overs and 80 runs later Saxton had reached a strong position, before Rory's excellent innings came to end 3 runs short of what would have been a well deserved maiden 50, and what may subsequently have led to him getting one of his favourite 'Suppers' as a reward. Jimmy was not to be denied that landmark though (the 50 not the hairy tongue that is), stepping up the run rate on the way to a very important 50 odd, and in partnership with Babe Ruth, sorry Lennox (after begging and pleading with DC to be allowed to go in one place higher than originally planned) taking the score to a much better than it looked like it was going to be at one stage. 214 all out from 44 overs. A very positive finish after a very poor start.
The usual nonsense conversation and occasional abuse took centre stage during the tea interval, with Smokey and Gareth displaying their mutual dislike for each other, Lennox, down to his last £5, wondering how he could survive an evening in the Greyhound, and everyone generally pleased at the opportunity to actually have something to eat thanks to Jamie's absence. A big thanks must also be said to Faye (pass this on Boo Boo) whose Cricket lessons with Em were so successful that Smokey now no longer has to continue funding the Crusties Staff Christmas Doo with his yearly Tea order.
Back onto the field and Saxton looking in control after the first few overs of the Thorner reply, thanks in the main to some tight bowling from veteran swinger DC, who made the early breakthrough after coaxing the home team skipper to driving straight into welcome hands of Steve Harrison at Mid Off. The first chance of many throughhout the innings, yet unfortunately one of only a very small handful that were actually taken, something which was to ultimately cost Saxton 3 points. This was personified a couple overs later when opener Brennan was dropped twice in the same over, first off his own bowling by the somewhat unlucky Rory who caused the batsmen numerous problems in a lively opening spell, and then by the captain at 2nd slip.....who then used his powers of authority to shift himself out of the firing line, much to the delight of slip cordon replacement Potter. It must also be said however that the same batsmen was very fortunate to escape being trapped LBW a few overs later after a decision that even made the Square Leg umpire look away in disbelief.
Despite losing wickets at regular intervals thanks to a fantastic spell of 3 for 30 odd from DC, supported by newboy Jimmy who was getting movement off the seam at the other end, the Thorner side were able to stay in the game and keep within touching distance of the required run rate, with opener Brennan riding his luck to pass the 50 mark, aided by some calamitous and frankly sub-standard fielding from the Saxton team. Chances came and went, with both DC and Potter only able to get fingerstrips to sharp return chances, and Jimmy unable to hold a similar effort some time after.
A frustrating afternoon, and with only 15 runs needed with 3 wickets remaining, thanks in the main to the aforementioned Brennan and a very aggressive cameo of 30 odd from the number 8 batsmen, it looked as if Saxton were on the way to a disappointing defeat. However, the away side managed to show some resolution and bottle and were able to reduce Thorner to 9 down with 2 runs still needed with 1 wicket left, thanks to Jimmy's 4th wicket courtesy of a nick behind, on an excellent debut, and a lets say dubious Run Out decision....which we possibly owe the young Umpire a new Y-front set for. Perhaps a case of trying to 'even things up' somewhat after the earlier, already mentioned LBW shout. A day of dubious decisions in all fairness, but beng the diplomat I am, as well as receiving fierce reprimands (you'll get your pint one day, Al) for previous reports, I'll choose not to elaborate on that.
Down to 1 run required and 6 balls left. Surely only one outcome to be reached. Rory however had other ideas, bowling an almost perfect over in highly pressurised circumstances at the number 11 batsman, who was able to keep the first 5 balls out. The last one was a different story though, with a cracking Yorker removing his off stump. Well done young Mr Coe....courage, bravery and maturity (that word again) all on display.
So in the end maybe a case of 3 points gained in a game we would possibly have not got anything from last year. However, this only serves to somewhat mask over a largely disappointing performance, especially in the field, in a game that was ours for the taking. Plenty of positives have been shown this year, and there's no doubt the ability is there. What isn't yet is the consistency.
Still, there's a chance to put that right at Old Leos next week, ahead of possibly another heavy session watching England crash out of the World Cup on penalties to Mexico. Still, it gives Steve H the chance of a reunion with the Jagermeister bottle.
With another positive being a further 30 quid collected in fines, which should surely lead to a few of lads spending the day after the end of season drinking session in the Intensive Care Ward of York General. Gareth apparently has already booked a private room thanks to his BUPA membership.
On a side note, at 9.30am on Monday morning, Lennox vowed to make only one trip to the Thin Dog this wekk until Friday. Pictures taken underfoot by a local photographer at 11.47am on the 4th hole at Scarthingwell seem to indicate he didn't keep to his word.
See you next week.