Seveno End-Of-Season Bash match report
The team I (attempt to) play cricket for had their end-of-season bash last weekend, and I was asked to do the match report. Over 1,300 words later, I may not be asked to do so again. But I enjoyed doing it and some people have some nice things about it, so I wanted to save it here for posterity. Unless you understand cricket or are directly involved with Seveno C.C. the text below probably won’t make much sense, but you don’t have to read it. Go on youtube, there are loads of cute kittens on there. Some of them even sing.
Many terrible things have happened to cricket this season: the ‘match-fixing’ scandal; the continued unacceptability of cricket being on Sky and thus being out of reach of those who are either poor or consider Murdoch one of the three most ruinous figures in Britain over the last 30 years (the other two are, of course, Thatcher and David Baddiel); the cocking up of the county cricket season to shoehorn in a grotesquely distended T20 tournament; and of course, most horrendous of all, Ian Bell’s toe injury.
But nothing has sent shockwaves across the cricketing world with the sheer unexpected brutality of Rez’s announcement of his retirement as Seveno’s captain, citing nervous exhaustion, the continuing war in Afghanistan, marital pressure and his intention to spend the majority of next summer’s Saturdays building a truly first-class shed in his back garden.
In a last act of benevolence, our glorious leader arranged a final ‘fun’ day of cricket (as opposed to normal matches, which are of course unremitting psychological torture of a kind only the English could invent) at our home pitch, Joe Hood in Raynes Park, New Malden’s mildly autistic younger brother. This match was to include Seveno players past and present, and wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, awkward one night stands, children and other family members were invited along to add to the sense of irreverence.
Your correspondent arrived half an hour late to find the park covered with football pitches (I know what you’re thinking, how dare people want to play football in September, don’t they realise this is the cricket season…) – pitches covered in children resplendent in shiny boots of many colours, doing a good job of indicating the inherent and endemic flaws in English football by spending their time booting the ball up field and being cheered on by their coaches whenever they managed to head the ball out for a throw in.
After a few poorly judged paedophilia jokes (an important lesson learned: never joke about paedophilia with male teachers who are now suffering from the general tabloid-induced hysteria that implies that any male interest in children is as suspect as the pope), a gazebo was erected, cricketing whites were put on, and it was time for the first match: a Twenty20 bout between Rez’s Captain’s XI (hitherto to be referred to as “the chosen ones”) and Vice-Captain Clive’s XI of deluded second-string no-hopers. In actual fact, Rez’s team had 9 bodies and Clive’s had ten.
Dan Wakely and Woz opened the bowling for Team Rez, with Wozza engaging in a hostile early battle with his flatmate Gautam. Woz is not one to let such concepts as ‘fun’ to interfere with his borderline terrifying on-field hostility, and he bowled with excellent pace all afternoon, even when he bowled his spinners, which to my inexpert eye mainly consisted of him saying “I’m going to bowl my spinners” before bowling just as fast off a much shorter run-up.
The game progressed. Rez took a steepling catch off redoubtable ex-Captain Dan to rid us of Steve and his fine beard. Randy contrived a Bopara-esque dismissal, moving right across his stumps to the off-side and being clean-bowled by Matt, who bowled an eventful over featuring a dropped catch by Rez (spot-fixing rumours were already circulating), a caught and bowled, and a slightly underwhelming hat-trick ball. Well played Briant the younger.
Rez went on to make a few more suspect dropped catches, before pocketing the hardest of the lot on the boundary off Clive, confirming suspicions that our erstwhile captain is now in the pocket of a powerful multi-national gambling cartel. Woz then returned to the attack to bowl bouncers at a retired man called Barry. Bazza’s reaction: “I’ve hit faster bowlers than you to the boundary”. Class.
In the end the Clive XI made an imposing 151, thanks largely to Gautam’s late hitting after coming out of retirement (batsman being made to retire once they’d reached 25, to give everyone a chance in the middle. This is known as socialism) and some excellent swatting by Asad (once he’d got his eye in). Matt ended with eye catching figures of 3-23.
Stuart and Dan got the Rez XI off to a flyer, before being dismissed attempting agricultural heaves. It was time for Rez to put in a captain’s innings, and he wasted no time in unleashing his full range of Ian Bell style strokes (they’re both short). Then The Blade broke his blade and, distracted, provided the persevering Asad with a sharply taken caught and bowled. As the wickets continued to fall I asked Lucy – the captain’s other half – if she’d help make up the numbers. “Rez wouldn’t let me”, she replied, adding accusations of sexism to the aforementioned troubling match fixing allegations. In the end we fell slightly short, a situation I felt would have been rectified if some of the ladies on the boundary had padded up and opened their shoulders. It was an exciting finish though, thanks to some excellent batting (from Woz and Ben), some unfortunate fielding and some poorly timed wides. The spectre of match-fixing was never far away.
During tea Randy brought out his special rum punch, which was decorated with his own avatar, in which he is wearing a fetching yellow tie (because it’s important to dress properly to sell punch out of your garage). Due to this and beer the collected Seveno masses were a touch looser for our second, 13 over match, in which the captains swapped teams and the batting line-ups were shaken up so that, as Rez diplomatically explained, “the proper batsman will get to play alongside the really shit ones”. I may be paraphrasing, because that wasn’t diplomatic at all.
Thanks to this new policy your correspondent was promoted to number four in the order, where he had the pleasure of watching Dan living up proceedings with some clean hitting and attempted switch-hits. I managed to hit some of my first-ever runs to the leg side, which would have disappointed my Victorian forefathers, who considered leg-side scoring ‘ungentlemanly’ and ‘just not cricket’. Or at least it would have done had my Victorian forefathers been English gentry rather than Irish peasants, desperately scrabbling a subsistence lifestyle from the failing soil. And not playing cricket.
I was eventually stumped for 9 by the wily fox Steve, after excitedly rocking my foot out of the crease when in no danger. This brought some proper batsmen in, and we made our merry way to 97, with matinee idol Clive Kirk contributing a composed 20 and Woz boffing his way to 19. My memories of the Rez 2nd XI’s reply are rum-foggy, but Dan got three wickets in four balls, including two near-identical dismissals (the ball looping up for Stuart the wicket-keeper to take easy catches), thus making everyone wonder about the nature of reality and whether we’re really all in the matrix.
Ben took ridiculous figures of 3 for 11 off 1.4 overs. Rez came in to bat with his side needing 20 off the last three, but he rather unfortunately picked out Dan in the deep, who then sped in for a fiery maiden and the game was pretty much over. Due to the captains swapping, this of course meant the only person who didn’t end a game on the winning side was Rez. A fitting, and some would say mildly suspicious end to proceedings. As the gazebo was pulled down and people made their way to the pub for prizes and speeches, the sky turned a beautiful colour and I reflected on how much fun I’ve had since bravely turning up to a Seveno net session eighteen months ago, with no cricket experience but a desperate desire to one day score a run and take a wicket. Thanks to Rez for presiding over a genuinely inclusive cricket club: for his preparedness to give everyone a chance, and for nourishing a lovely spirit that is fun without being boorishly blokey, competitive without being obsessively focused on the incessant pursuit of victory. The latter comment sounds slightly offensive, but hopefully all understand what I mean.
So here’s to Rez, and to all the glorious Seveno players, past and present, and here also to the fact I’ve now written almost as much as I would for a university essay, and will thus probably not be asked to write match reports in future.