2.6.2002 Jesters

Match abandoned at 7:00 pm. because of rain.

Casuals won the toss and fielded first.

Jesters 224 for 6 off 40 overs.

Casuals not enough for 6 off 35 overs and 4 balls.

Batting:  Ward – 55; Walker – 2; Hunter – 8; Frost – 4; Knight – 15; Davis – NO 33; Harris – 5; Crossland – NO 19.

Bowling: Crossland 1-35 (7); Harris 0-25 (8); Frost 1-42 (5); Hunter 1-47 (10); Davis 1-29 (5); Burgess 2-27 (5).

Thongsbridge cricket ground sits in the valley bottom alongside the river Holme.  A football pitch and grassy hillside make up two further borders, whilst the fourth comprises stone mills and warehouses.  Balls are easily lost here.  A big hit will effortlessly make the river, which explains the long pole with net attached.  There’s no side screen and despite the whitewashed walls, an old ball with plenty of air is readily confused with the grey industrial background, much to the chagrin of any batsman involved in a late evening run chase.

The Sunday of Jubilee weekend, Thongsbridge CC. was a picture, bathed in sunshine and the success of their win against Marsden the day before, in which Dominic Ford, club captain and occasional Casual, had top-scored.  It was however an oppressive muggy heat, and no-one was surprised by the thunderstorm that brought the day’s game with The Jesters to a premature conclusion.

While the rest of the country, including Rupert Wilson, celebrated, Almondbury Casuals laboured against a nomadic side loosely associated with cricket clubs that skirt the N. Leeds bypass in Bradford.  The Rawdon CC. emblem was noted on one player’s shirt, confirming The Jesters’ habitual sprinkling of Bradford League players.  Their name originates from the pub where they were founded, but at 41 years old, that connection with the club has now lapsed.

It seems that The Jesters were too good for The Casuals last year, and there was a certain expectancy of the same today.  This was compounded by being two short.  Its an uphill struggle to bowl effectively to an understrength field without the additional need to contain batters with sound technique who are unafraid to punish the wayward delivery.  Thus, within this unclouded setting of national revelry, morale was a little low.

From six o’clock onwards we knew it was a lost cause and when it rained an hour later, it seemed a fair reflection on the day.  It hadn’t been a disaster, playing for The Casuals never is, but we’ve had better days.  The skipper felt it more than most,

‘I haven’t been at my best today.  I think its the heat.’

The chance that was in his hands one minute and on the floor the next could also have been relevant.

Sam Steer bravely umpired despite severe backache, giving the autumn golden boy out LBW off his brand new bat.  This is Jim Harris’ latest hair colour, celebrated by new boots, new bat and a quick march back to the pavilion.  You always feel bowlers shouldn’t appeal, especially in friendlies, don’t you think?

Sam Steer was mistakenly referred to as Sam Gledhill in the Whitley Bridge match report, but he didn’t seem to mind.  The skipper set the record straight with his customary outstanding e-mail skills,

‘Congratulations – a super piece, particularly yours in the photo. Did you

get your elderley admirers emaiil address?

More to the point, Sam Gledhill was in fact SAm Steer.’

They run courses for this kind of thing at the Technical College.  The photo feature, for those who haven’t logged on to the web site, was of skin tight whites and what they failed adequately to conceal.

The prize for not being at their best was taken by Will Ward.  Their number four batsman comes across, a plumpish fourteen year old in a ‘Rhinos’ baseball cap,

‘Can you tell me where the toilets are, please?’

‘Yes, round the back,’ indicating the whitewashed open air stone box behind the pavilion, next to the river.  A long intake of held breath is recommended for those sensitive souls who faint in the presence of strong pong.

‘I need the ladies.’

It, she, was a batswoman, or is it batsperson?  Will’s dismayed at this violation of accepted convention, but isn’t it a fair assumption that the opposition will be male most of the time?  Still, there’s an old fashioned charm in trying to maintain good form.

Form is also that elusive quality which one is either in or out of.  Will’s rapid 55 showed that he, at least, was in this version.  The other batting highlight came from the last pair of Marc Davis and the skipper, momentarily shaking off his depression.  Davis repeatedly late cut off a thick outside edge, bringing gasps of incredulity from the opposition.  When the rain came they remained not out, second and third highest scorers.

Our bowlers toiled without luck.  Burgess was the pick, varying the flight and pace of his leg breaks to the astonishment of all, especially his two victims.  One of them was the batswoman’s younger brother who unfortunately failed to miss a totally inocuous straight short one and was caught at silly mid off.  As he’d only faced one ball he was understandably distraught.  Shame, but that’s form for you.

The opposition had enough firepower in their batting to take advantage of those one or two balls every over that are short or too full or wide, and, like everyone in form, they had their share of fortune.

The fielder at fine leg, third man, long off and long on, which was all the same to him, engaged a passer-by in conversation as he strolled along the boundary edge with his two boys, neither yet the size of a cricket bat.

‘Who’s playing?’

‘Jesters and The Casuals.’

‘Which are you?’

‘Casuals.’

‘Where are you from?’

‘Upperthong, Honley, Netherthong, Holmfirth, that sort of area.  We’re a refuse of hopeless cricketers.’

He’d intended to describe the club’s mission as a refuge, but the new and unusual collective noun seemed somehow to fit.  We weren’t at our best and whilst the day’s outcome remained indecisive, the content was never in doubt.  The skipper has taken the scorebook away with him to collate the statistics arising from this season’s performances so far.  He will return with the form book. 1057

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Apparently there is a wide range of attention span within The Casuals’ match report readership.  Many articles in ‘The Cricketer’s Companion’, edited by CMJ (W.H. Smith) are two and a half pages, around 1200 words.  Our reports have been 1718, 2620, 1321 and 518 respectively.  Shall we settle for something around the  length of Whitley Bridge?  Certainly nothing overpitched.

And for those who prefer a quick read, how about adopting Simon Hughes’ strategy of  670 words per section (‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’:  Headline)?

84

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