Blog from the boundary vs St Michaels – 1st August 2020

Finally, cricket was returning to the Foxfields fortress with my Foxes taking on St Michaels CC not to be confused with St Michaels Bugbrook who are a different team, apparently. Luckily, I checked with the club on the Tea situation (I love a Foxes tea) and was advised I would need to bring my own cheese & celery sandwiches from now on and no hot beverages either, I thought that was only the case with away games! Upon arriving at the ground, I also took stock of the new scoreboard the club have purchased. Goodness gracious me…what a sight to behold and now even my eyes can make out the score rather than guessing what it could be. It’s good to see the club have put the governments furlough scheme to good use!

My beloved Mr Adams (or as the youngster keep on telling me, Adam’s at the wheel) went out to toss with their skipper. I was sat on the edge of my seat waiting for a reaction from the skipper to what my Foxes would be doing…I tucked myself in and pulled out my flask to witness my Foxes bat first having full confidence of the batting line up on my match programme. As the guys went about preparing I got the shock of my life to see that players were getting changed outside…let’s say the temperature was getting turned up before a ball had been bowled…especially with daddy Steel was taking his top off…

To my delight, the long-awaited reunion of that deviously handsome pairing of Justin and Jonny was announced on the tannoy system and it was almost too much to bear for a lady of my age. Justin was doing his best pre-match hype impression by listening to music…rumour has it he was listening to ABBA’s greatest hits on repeat, mamma mia. After a bit of a wait they walked out to the middle and I waited for the fireworks to be lit.

Justin and Jonny did well to see out the first couple of over without too many issues with Jonny hitting two lovely fours and looking in good form. This was until a thick edge from Jonny somehow landed and stuck in slips out-reached hand. I’ll be honest, everyone knew that this was a fluke catch and he would never be able to take that had he tried a hundred more times! Jonny departed for 10 and this brought young Luca Steel to the crease. Justin & Luca looked to try and re-build the innings after the loss of Jonny with both showing a good temperament but not necessarily causing the scores too much trouble filling out the runs column. This is where Dot noticed and heard the first of a number of rude comments from two members of the St Michaels fielding team…apparently the youth call it “banter” but this seemed to be going too far especially directed at that young Luca. Also, apparently now the game needs to stop every six overs for the teams to sterilise their hands…I’m here for cricket and old Steel not watching people washing hands, get on with it I thought!

The first of a few ‘incidents’ took place after Justin cut a ball away to point for his ‘first’ boundary of the day. One of the nasties, chased after the ball and quite clearly stopped it over the line and threw the ball in. What happened next nearly caused me to spit my rich tea out! The nasty turned to the GP players who signalled four and decided to unleash a foul mouth rant at them including using both the C & W words…there is no place for this on a cricket field, I thought, and after much debating the decision was to give it as 2 runs much to everyone’s disbelief.

Shortly afterwards, Luca fell to a tame C&B trying to work the ball to the leg-side and getting a leading edge. The lack of pace from the bowler probably didn’t help. Now the moment had arrived and what I have dreamt about since my letter from My Johnson…Old Steel made his way to the crease. At this point, GP were about 30/2 off 16 overs and Justin was looking to push the accelerate down a bit and pick up quick singles and twos. Justin finally fell getting caught on the boundary fence trying to punish a full toss for six…a metre or two either side of the fielder and it’s a six but Justin couldn’t have picked the man out any better and left the field with 20 to his name. John Mason joined old Steel at the crease and started playing a wonderful display of shots all around the ground whilst old Steel did his best to keep his wicket in tack at the other end.

With the score-rate picking up, old Steel finally departed for a well made 8 with another C&B (a common theme for these Steels!) and Anand decided to promote himself up in the order with both Tony & Ryan looking somewhat bemused. Now, Anand will be Anand and second ball in decided to play a relatively high-risk shot looking to drive the bowler back over his head…as the ball made it’s way to the boundary rope (you’ll get that gag if you were at the game) I realised that I had nodded off and Anand had actually been bowled  much to my disappointment. With the score on 60/5 after 24 overs I was starting to get a bit nervous but knew the engine room of John & Ryan would get us back on track.

Back on track is exactly what they did, even with the constant talking and terrible banter from nasty number two. John finally departed after a change of bowler…the same lack of pace did for John who played nearly five shots, missed all of them and got bowled. John made a great 42 and the score was 120/6 with about eight overs left in the innings. The one they called Shizzle (I think his name is Jon) joined Ryan at the crease with both hitting good shots and running hard between the wickets. Now I’m not sure about Jon pulling his socks up like some kind of Morris Daner, the lads should really have a word with him about that. Nasty number two made several basic fielding errors letting the ball go between his legs twice for four runs. Now, for any youngsters reading this…if you give the talk please make sure you back it up with skill. There is nothing more embarrassing given it all mouth and then looking like it’s your first time on a cricket field. Rumour has it that a drone was being flown over head to take action shots of the game…if only I knew what a drone was!   

Unfortunately, things boiled over again when a mis-field on the boundary led to the ball rolling over the marker. Now, in the spirit of cricket, the fielder would put their hand up and signal four. This particular fielder didn’t…instead threw the ball in and claimed it hadn’t gone for four. All this happened within a short distance of the Foxes and supporters with nasty number two sticking his oar in again. JB kindly reminded him to concentrate on his fielding as he was not overly impressed with his mouth during the game. What followed next is probably called karma. The very next ball, the Shizzle skied a dolly of a catch to nasty number two. This was his moment, take the catch, celebrate over the top, turn to the Foxes and show what a great fielder he is. Much to the amusement of everyone else, he dropped it and made himself look exceptionally foolish…maybe that Justin was right, and he should concentrate on his fielding!

Ryan finally departed in the closing over for 40. Ricki making a duck looking to finish the over in style, Janik Pontiac hitting a 2 off the final ball and leaving Jon on 14* (some rumours have started about Jon playing for his average already). The mighty Foxes finished with 157/8 off 40 overs feeling they had put a decent and defendable score on the boards. ‘Tea’ was taken and gave everyone a chance to cool down and remember the spirit of cricket.

JJ did his best to flare up tensions again by hitting one of their ladies on the ankle whilst giving Luca & Justin catching practice but as the International Peacekeepers from the United Nations were on-site by this time the DMZ was saved.

The Foxes took to the field and Mr Adams gave a passionate speech about showing our actions on the pitch and not lowering ourselves to their standards. I say Mr Adams should run for PM with speeches like that! Everyone knew that the Foxes needed a quick start and a quick start is exactly what they got…

Janik Pontiac opened with an assortment of deliveries with his fourth ball being called a wide. This was followed up by a beauty that bowled the opening bat (via a deflection off the pads) to leave St Michaels 1-1 off 1 over. Anand shared the new ball with Janik Pontiac and proceeded to bowl a good line and length with the second opener playing and missing at most deliveries. Janik Pontiac’s second over was a carbon-copy of his first. An assortment of deliveries, a wide which was followed up with a second wicket by re-arranging the timbers…this Janik Pontiac looks a good find for the Foxes. After 3 overs St Michaels were 2/2.

This brought nasty number one to the crease and it is with pleasure to say that my foxes didn’t give into temptation to start a war of words. Maybe these lads are learning after all. Anand kept up the pressure before pulling one a bit wide. Now, can you guess what happened next ball…yes, that’s right, a wicket! Three wides, followed by three wickets and now I know what the Foxes had been working on all pre-season. Anand was both unlucky and lucky with his delivery….he forced the opener to nick behind where Old Steel at first slip caught the ball, dropped the ball, re-caught the ball and then dropped the ball after hitting the deck. Nasty number one called for a run which resulted in both batsmen being at the same end with Jonny throwing to the bowlers end (good calling from JB) for Anand to calmly remove a single bail. At the end of over the scoreboard read 3/3 off 4 overs.

Now the Foxes found both nasties at the crease at the same time…Janik Pontiac keeping up the standards set in the previous overs but this time taking a wicket without bowling a wide the ball beforehand. Janik managed to get a leading edge from nasty number two and take a simple C&B and, in the process, sending him back with a duck to boot. They are right, dessert is a dish best served cold and remember what Dot says about mouthing off. Anand’s next over started well with good pressure being applied before nasty number one decided to take a quick single by dropping it in the leg side. As the batsmen took off, John Mason sprung into action picking and throwing up in one smooth action to demolish the stumps at the non-strikers end with a direct hit. Nasty number one out by a mile even with a full-length dive, the Foxes celebrating wildly with John Mason and appearing to be test the limits of social distancing! The scoreboard read 4/5 after five overs. Even yours truly was doing the Mason shuffle on the side lines with the start made and St Michaels looking well beaten already. Maybe John should stick to keeping rather than an apparent bowling display the previous week…Dot has never heard such outrageous rumours before especially considering the potent spinning attack possessed by the Foxes.

To their credit, the number six batsmen decided that if they were going down at least he would offer some resistance and played a number of good shots, down the ground, to bring some dignity to the score =. Janik Pontiac was replaced by Mr Adams who took a wicket in his second over with none other than Janik Pontiac taking the catch…the ball followed him closer than I follow old Steel away from cricket. St Michaels were now 43/6. Young Luca Steel replaced Anand who finished somewhat surprisingly wicketless and experiencing the wrath of their number six. It was obviously that the new bat was not going to stick around for long and skied one almost immediately to Janik at deep mid-off. Unfortunately, Janik couldn’t quite hold it and to rub salt in the wound took his nail off! Later in the over young Luca got his man or, so we thought. A clear snick behind was heard by everyone including the sheepishly looking batsmen for the umpire to give it not-out. Even I could hear it with my hearing aid on low to drown out the rude words from nasties one and two!

At the next sterilising wipe down break it was decided for Mr Adams to swap ends and JB to be brought on. Just as I was starting to think how my day could get any better! JB bowled a decent over before being dispatched for a six off his penultimate ball. As with many of the great spinners such as Sobers, Swann or Warne, JB kept his cool and threw in a magical faster ball that did the batsmen all ends up and resulted in JB taking a sharp C&B chance with a relatively ‘muted’ celebration by his standards. The very next over, Mr Adams got out the dangerous looking number six and taking the final wicket by bowling their number 10 (11 did not bat due to injury). St Michaels all out for 68 off 21 overs. 

I’m glad to say that tempers had cooled in the second innings and the match was played in a much better spirit. Unfortunately, one or two individuals can cause friction but it’s everyone’s responsibility not to get engaged in over-the-top responses. I look forward to seeing my beloved Foxes back in action next week against Brauston Paddock who we haven’t played since the 2014 season where we won by 3 runs…I’m not sure an eight year older Dot heart could take such a close match again!