Baston began the new season with a 700 mile round trip to the Celtic settlement of Claypole. After successfully negotiating Hadrian’s Wall and a huge cloud of volcanic ash, the boys arrived in the soot-lined changing room and began the introductions. Early-season shortages had caused already-under-fire skipper Dyer into naming a bodged together team, including an extra Loughborough student, Tracey’s son, an Uffington associate, and some bloke called Dave. The Claypole bowlers were visibly upset at the absence of fielding superstar Ben Hudson. They were going to have to work for their wickets today.
Dan McManus of Alan Partridge fame
As usual Baston lost the toss, and were asked to bat. Openers Lloydie and Guy began the season as they mean to go on, putting on an excellent 64-run opening partnership, before Guy fell on his all-too-familiar score of 35. Lloyd fell soon after, standing and admiring a turning delivery onto his middle stump. It may be a new season, but it was the same old Baston, and a solid start soon turned into a hopeless collapse. Brief respite was offered by the better-looking Cunningham brother, Paul, who hit a patient 19. Obviously struggling from volcanic ash inhalation captain Dyer slapped a rank long hop straight to the rather dubiously named “Allman” for a big fat duck. Despite one magical slog-sweep boundary from blonde bombshell Jonny Francis, and some interesting changing of ends tactics at the end of the over by tail enders Tom and Dave, Baston were 120 all out. The Baston line-up must have been intimidated by all the grunting and oooohs from small boy “Matty” after middling a shot.
Tripe sandwiches and Bovril were provided at teas in a room with chairs so small, even pint-sized debutant Dan McManus found them a little small! Needing a tight start with some early wickets, Dyer tossed the new cherry to dinky-toy Jonny, and resident wide-boy Adam Hilless. Jonny snaffled a couple of early wickets with some tidy bowling, before deciding to follow his opening partners tactics of sending down full-toss after full-toss. With the ball starting to disappear round the damp outfield, skipper Dyer brought himself and another debutant, Jack Garner into the attack. This only increased the volume of boundaries flowing, and with the score on 110-2, just 11 shy of victory, Steve Banks and Paul were brought on so Baston could get back to the Spinner as quick as possible.
Cue a collapse greater than any ever seen at the Shrine. Banksie and Paul tore the heart of the Claypole batting line up. Obviously expecting normal bowling, the Claypole batters couldn’t deal with Banksie’s sheer pace, hostility, beamers, and double-bouncers, and Steve soon had 3 wickets. Strike partner and best mate Paul showed the so-called “bowlers” how it’s done and picked up 3 wickets for just 7 runs. Not wanting to be out-done, wicketkeeper Guy superbly ran out Claypole’s captain Jacques, and the northerners were left reeling on 117-9.
Banksie - New opening bowler?
It was a rare off-day for Captain Dyer. If only he had opened with Banksie and Paul, how different things could have been. And just to cap it off, the game was over when Dyer sent the hapless Hilless out to deep midwicket with the order of staying on the boundary. As the ball came aerial towards the out of sorts bowler, he not only bottled the catch, but also decided to run 4 yards over the boundary with the ball in hand, letting Claypole snatch victory, despite the brilliance of Banks and Cunningham. Hilless was later seen under Hadrian’s Wall with a Ukrainian man, accepting a bung John Higgins would have been proud of.
Back in the Spinner, Adam was comforted by victorious footballers Jon Howard and Ben, who offered him his personal cheer-me-up music; the love theme from Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet film (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaA2WiyqO1E) Obviously tired from sulking off to long-on every over and carrying a bag-on Ben could be proud of, captain Dyer was at home in bed by 9:30: Bad form! Some of the boys decided to party it up in Bourne to celebrate Ben and Jon’s cup semi-final victory, but even this couldn’t cheer up Paul, who later summed up the whole teams feelings towards their wayward bowler: “Adam, why don’t you do us all a favour and f*** off?!” If only he’d said that with the score on 118-9...
Paul pleased with his own performance