It's hard to win a game of cricket when you drop seven catches and nine of your eleven batsmen don't score more than five runs.
Harder still when your opponents have an opening pace bowler with more venom than a boxful of Tasmanian tiger snakes. Chigwell nickname their paceman, Dom, The Dominator, but he might just as well have been The Dominatrix so submissively did the Beamers top order surrender to his will. Jeremy even batted in a corset for goodness' sake! Not since 9/11 has there been such an aggressive attack and when the Twin Towers of Bailey and Arthur had collapsed the Beamers were reeling on 5 for 2. Time, if ever there was, for a captain's knock. Well, the captain suffered several knocks from some hostile stuff and then a fatal dent as Siddo forgot the First Law of cricket and gave his skipper out LBW. When J and Ritchie the Chigwell Ringer departed the Beamers found themselves in a hole bigger than that left by the Tunguska asteroid at 37 for 5 and needing 150 to win.
But the Beast was still there, his beastly torso a patchwork of bruises. He was so in the zone that 13 minutes later as his team-mates cheered his half century he could no more acknowledge it than Steve McQueen in Papillon can believe the sun when he comes out of three years in blacked-out solitary. By this time, with Siddens making amends for his umpiring with a quickfire 32, the Beamers were just 48 short of their target with 11 overs to go and five wickets left. The Chiggers were getting panicky and the green shoots of a Beamers recovery were poking through the earth.
These shoots were scythed down as Siddo and the Beast fell in quick succession, like an old couple where one cannot survive without the other. But they'd added 64 for the sixth wicket and restored Beamer pride and hope. As Steve took guard the skipper was heard to mutter "Whatever you do, Esso, don't play a big wafty wendy heave-ho across the line". No prizes for guessing what happened next. Marlon batted bravely with a broken leg but was undone by a snorter and it was left to Musso and Jonners to see out the last four overs as our chances of winning evaporated. Inevitably, the scent of victory meant the return of the Dominatrix and there was no gainsaying her as Mussett fell leg before with the Beamers 30 runs short.
Things had started rosily enough for the Beamers earlier that afternoon as Marlon achieved a double breakthrough and the Chiggers limped to 8 for 2 off the first eight overs. Then the dropsy set in as chance after chance went begging. More catches were dropped than aitches in an episode of EastEnders. You'd normally bet your paisley-clad bottom dollar that Dave would cling on to at least one of three chances at slip, but, alas, the catching gods had gone to Margate for the Bank Holiday. Surely Siddo would take that skier - oh, no, he's mounting a buttery unicycle and is pedalling backwards and … oh dear. Others were culpable too and only the Beast and the skipper with three catches apiece came out with any glory. Siddens clawed back some pride with 3 for 14 with the ball but by then Chiggers had raced to 149-8 and the Dominatrix was just pulling on her thigh-high boots.
The bitterness of defeat at the hands of the Chiggers was sweetened by jugs galore and enjoyable banter in the Battle afterwards. No doubt Ritchie's inside information about the Chiggers' batting foibles, offered up with zealous candour almost as if he hates the lot of them, will prove invaluable next year.