4th August Sleepers

Sleepers at Thongsbridge

30 overs, no wides or LBWs, 4 overs per bowler, batsmen to retire at 25

Sleepers batted first: 116 for 8

Casuals 119 for 4

Both innings started with a collapse. Sleepers were 3 for 1 within their first 3 overs. Casuals were 17 for 4 in their first 4. George and Holdworth rescued the Sleepers and Bowen helped out with a 30 before retiring. The Upperthong duo of Dave and Elliot Knight, who both retired, got the Casuals on track and Nick Bone struck 22. The final blow came from Elliot in the downpour, having returned from retirement when last man Crossland had run out of partners. Or we could say when Crossland was languishing at the non-strikers end.

It’s always a pleasure to watch young men have a go at spin bowling and Whizz Warrender fitted the bill, taking 2 for 13 for the Casuals, whilst Elliot, a contender for man-of-the-match, took 3 for 12 in a spell of medium pace. The Sleepers bowling pick was Bowen, another contender for man-of-the-match, with 3 for 27.

We knew the rain was due, but it held off until the last 5 overs or so and there was never any intent to come off.

Greg’s man-of-the-match was Nick Bone. Not played for two years, but still came in with a bowling spell, a decent score and a catch. The Sleepers have an award for their outstanding feat or event during the game. It went to Claude, we think. Anyway the African who fielded at short mid off or on depending which way you look at it. He’d never played before and took two stunning catches. The first was a loopy fend which no one thought was a catch until he stooped down to his bootlaces, grabbed it and nonchalently threw it to the bowler. He’d no idea what he’d done. The second was mishit over his right shoulder which he left to the last minute, somehow getting his hand touching his shoulder blade whilst stepping backwards. Both required a degree of flexibility which, by the look of him, you didn’t think he had. He was amazed how pleased his teammates were, and after a couple of seconds, he was pleased too.

The teas were popular. One old cove arrived from the steam railway in Skipton, where he is a volunteer in the shop, and promptly polished off a decent tea. ‘Don’t they feed you up there?’ I asked. ‘Aye they do, but it can get busy when the train arrives, so your drink goes cold and the butties turn up at the edges.’

So the next instalment of a new Casuals life took place, tentative and unfamiliar, yet there were lots of things that the older Casual would have recognised:

  • Greg did a lot of work to conjure a side.
  • Two actual casuals played.
  • Despite the generous format, one umpire flatly ignored the rules, flagrantly awarding wides and LBWs, much to the confusion of the members in the pavilion and the scorer. It had a ring of Burge’s umpiring skill (see Hilton 2002, where sadly, Nick Bone was the victim).
  • Three father and son combinations turned out.
  • Elliot Knight plays rugby at Lockwood.
  • The opportunistic contact. Greg met Ian Edwards on a chance visit to Thongsbridge CC. In the bar after the game, Greg told him he would be difficult to drop. Sean Robertshaw appeared on the boundary edge and didn’t take a lot of persuading that he would rather like the odd game of social cricket. ‘Who is he? Have you got his number?’ asked Greg. ‘He’s the local vicar,’ I replied.’ Okay,’ said Greg, ‘but have you got his number?’ The Sleepers are from Linthwaite, their organiser accidentally being Greg’s next door neighbour.
  • The cricketing abilities were quite mixed.
  • Nick Bone appeared at the eleventh hour, a sub for the original selection who’d gone sick.
  • Biff and Rupert promised to be there, but were conspicuous for not being there.
  • Crossland was his usual acidic self, complimenting the ladies on their pickled onions whilst complaining they did nothing for his indigestion.
  • There was plenty of discussion in front of the pavilion from a welcome clutch of older members – Stier, Crossland, Walker, Smith and Jagger with their relevant others and, a little later, Marc Davis after Fartown had overwhelmed Salford. Sadly the conversation does tend to take on a medical flavour, usually revolving around hips and knees and whether to have something done about them.
  • David Knight left promptly at close of play. ‘Sorry Dave, my wife’s in hospital and I need to do a visit.’ Greater love …

Things an older Casual might not recognise:

  • Small people – nearly, but not quite, smaller than a bat.
  • Staying on in heavy rain would never have happened in the old days.
  • A grumpy scorer; not her usual angelic self. Her normally restful afternoon was periodically disturbed by shouts of ‘bowler’s name,’ ‘batsman’s name’. She did say please to start with. She eventually resorted to hat colour to describe the Sleepers batting lineup. Finally, when 2 Cowells batted together at the death of the Sleepers innings, she admitted defeat, whence one of the spectators, taking sympathy, went on to the pitch to enquire of their monikers.
  • The cricket was serious, but the lower end of the mixed ability spectrum was just a tad too low for some of the spectators’ taste.

It was a game of social cricket, enjoyed by everyone playing and watching, and the odd person popping in for a tea. There was enough substance in the game and the support to have a glimmer of confidence that some form of social cricket might become sustainable, maybe for next season.

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