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Tabard Pilgrims Cricket Club


Sunday, May 25 v Marlow Park.

By The Very Rev Bully

It was with uncharacteristic punctuality that the Pilgrims departed for Marlow, surely a bad omen. Even Moggie was only a few minutes late.

A subdued air had much to do with some key members’ ‘over-exuberance’ the previous evening – no-one could go within a few yards of Starfish all day without being treated to a waft of his new aftershave, Eau de Pedigree.

We arrived in good time and were able to get in a lengthy bout of ‘catching’ practice. In hindsight this was a mistake and it was a somewhat demoralised eleven that took to the field, Sir Betty having lost the toss.

Things didn’t get much better as OPEC greeted their belligerent opener with a friendly beamer that was despatched to the boundary. The sun was shining and their openers made hay – 63-0 in a dozen or so overs. Then Whisperin’ struck and the gate was opened – Mr. Belligerent went and his compatriot soon followed, the victim of a splendid, if somewhat over-egged catch by Penthouse.

Wickets tumbled – it was clear that Marlow had not been able to field as strong a team as they might have liked and were blooding four striplings. All bowlers used, bar the present author, were in the wickets. Moggie was cat-like behind the stumps in both his work and his remarks – later he was to win Man-of-the-Match, ostensibly for the former but largely for sledging his own team! To Cus Cus, after bowling a wide ball following a very wide ball, the encouraging: “Well done, you got it on the right pitch this time”. To your author, on bowling consecutive straight-ish balls, the sardonic: “Two in a row!” However, it seemed to work and Marlow Park subsided to 96 all out, the last wicket a noteworthy direct hit for a run-out from Sir Betty. This feat, of course, served only to pad Sir Betty’s already garish lead in the Fantasy league. Who designed the rules?

Tea was taken, the Colonel had arrived and was in good spirits, and the Pilgrims were eyeing a very gettable total. The world appeared to be righting itself – surely nothing could go wrong...

And nothing did. The required runs were achieved for the loss of only two wickets, Pilco carrying his bat with 33, Penthouse chipping in with 27 before succumbing to the goadings of certain team-mates and throwing his wicket away trying to cart a straight one.

There were few highlights and these belonged largely to Daisy. Taking guard, the young llama has done away with the bail-and-mallet method. His new regime is no less time-consuming and resembles an archaeologist finding something very precious and fragile in a hole he has just dug. Before facing his first ball he raised his bat and pointed it lance-like at the bowler as if challenging him to tilt. The challenge accepted, Daisy played and missed with alarming and amusing certainty. His piece-de-resistance was a cover drive for four that had the sidelines whooping. He added one more run before falling for five.

Sir Betty polished off the last few runs and we had broken our season’s duck.

After a few drinks and the Bloody Assizes we said our farewells to the opposition, hoping to return next year finding them in less-straitened playing personnel circumstances, for they are a good bunch and it is one our more pleasant fixtures.

So a day that started with an air of uncertainty, ended far more comfortably. The Pilgrims had won, the Colonel had made peace with himself and exorcised his demons and Andy’s was once more alive to the sounds of a traditional post-match debriefing.

One last highlight of the day concerned Pilco. Basking in a glow of ‘job well done’ following his gruelling (to those of us watching, anyway) innings, he supped long on his pint. Too late did he notice the shiny Pilgrim shilling at the bottom of his glass and he found himself ‘pressed. He will be touring with the team in Portugal after all.

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