Casuals V Upperthong at Thongsbridge – 16th June 2013

 Casuals 126 all out off 26 overs

Upperthong 129 for 9 off 38.5 overs

Despite a fifty from Cleave, the Casuals were always short of runs. Whilst Upperthong’s reply fell behind the required rate as their middle order stumbled in the face of tight Casuals bowling, they were rescued at the death by Knight (52) and Ward (23).

The signs were auspicious. Two full sides, ‘Father’s Day’ (celebrated by your correspondent the day before, bouncing his grandson on his knee) and early cloud that transformed into evening summer sunshine. Summer sunshine is a fragile thing these days, much like the latest incarnation of the Casuals. This season, because of the efforts of Greg Smith and others, we have three more Holme Valley fixtures to look forward to. The idea is brilliant, yet, the practical arrangements remain vulnerable, reminding us of the decline of the first Casuals.

  The ghosts of Netherwood, Bamforth and Shires no longer stalk the boundary edge as the echoes of spinning and weaving are silent at last. In comes youth from the local leagues, twixt juniors and seniors, management keen that the influence of counter-attractions be diluted. The balance is completed by committed clubmen, some past their best, in a patchwork of age and ability. It is a compromise that meets the needs of the early 21st century. Almondbury, the village where the Casuals were founded in the 1950s and until now, the first word in the club’s title, was not on anyone’s lips. Has it slipped gently into history?

The two fifties stand out. As Knight’s was the match winner, he is my man of the match. Two other performances are worth a mention: Owen’s 27 and 2 for 23, Ward’s 23 not out and 3 for 13. It was pleasing to see plenty of spin, particularly from the really younger end. Crossland creaked and trundled in, slightly faster than his deliveries. He was rather scathing about the strength of my vinegar onion-dressing and those observant readers will notice he is not on the team photograph. A prior engagement in a concertina band. It beggars belief.

Today at least, the Casuals played. The spirit of the game was clear to see. Elegant strokes were praised (there were several), each wicket was celebrated, there were no fielding mishaps that resulted in hoots of derision, the finish was tight and the result mattered. In the bar, several gnarled clubmen strongly supported the format and one youngster from Upperthong wanted to change sides. ‘It [the Casuals’ Sunday friendly] is too good to lose’, I overheard. Yes it is, but it is also a seedling, with maturity a long way away.


cricket 186.6.2013




greg and daveGreg and Dave watch from the pavilion


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