Saturday 17th September was a good day in the glorious history of Chigwell CC. Winning is pleasant enough, but a club stalwart achieving one of his cricketing ambitions in the process puts a particularly satisfying rosy tint to the memory.
Everyone arrived with decent promptness and the toss, being won by the chigwell skipper - or "me" as I prefer to call myself - provided the first record breaking moment when I finally chose to bat first, after refusing this dubious honour since the first day of the season.
Ill fortune was soon to shine upon Rob Allum who was out for a golden duck, his defensive shot edging a hugely swinging ball gently to slip. After his dismissal I told him that before this canard d'or he had been averaging over 50 runs. "I wish you'd told me" said he, "I would have tried harder!" How you try harder than defending one ball is a lesson only "The Judge" can teach.
Next to fall with the score on 31 was Tim Mitzman, cruel victim of the sort of run out where the bowler gets a finger to a straight drive and deflects it onto the stumps at the non-strikers end. Luckily Joe, he who hit the straight shot, did not let Tim's demise affect him, and, with me edging, leaving, and scampering at the other end, compiled a sturdy 76 before finding St. John's best catcher at deep mid-wicket. With the century plus stand that the third wicket had realised releiving the pressure, Chigwell eased to 229 before declaring, with Nigel scoring 24 and James 36. Their ideosyncratic running between the wickets caused much mirth on the boundary, but ultimately cost neither their wicket, Nigel caught and James trapped LBW.
St. John's had obviously got word to the tea ladies that the home team had fielded first and an extra large and extremely delicious tea was awaiting us upstairs. Twenty minutes later, filled with all manner of tasty delights, we waddled gamely onto the field and set about our business. The excess ballast ploy failed, Joe springing athletically to his left to cling onto the edge induced by Dom. Rob made the slip catch that soon followed off Ritchie's bowling look easy and St. John's began to crumble. Dom maintained his high standards, claiming two more victims by re-arranging the five pieces of wood they sought to defend.
Now came the history. Brad has never before claimed twenty wickets in a season, although he came agonisingly close two seasons ago, clocking up nineteen wickets with two games to go, both of which failed to provide the magic twentieth victim. Now he began the day with eighteen under his belt. Things did not go too well initially, the first chance he provoked slipping from my usually safe hands at mid-off. James made sure that the batsman didn't survive long afterwards however, his stumping giving Brad wicket nineteen. Charlie had been introduced at the other end and in his third over he claimed a wicket courtesy of an outstanding catch at mid-wicket by none other than Brad. The celebrations were exuberent and Ritchie was almost moved to tears by the ballet of delight Brad and Charlie enjoyed, framed by a reddening dusky sky. Fired up by his catch Brad began to bowl tighter lines and fuller lengths, and soon his landmark wicket arrived - again a stumping by James. Brad celebrated by leaning back slightly, spreading his arms wide and nodding repeatedly. He told me later it was in tribute to Freddie Flintoff, but to me it had an air of the Churchill Dog about it. Brad deserved his celebration, and his joy was only to increase. Next over his first ball was struck high to mid-off and this time the captain made no mistake. So perished St. John's top scorer (Brown) for a valient 53. Next ball Brad bowled the best delivery of his spell to clean bowl the St. John's number nine. Finding himself "on a hat-trick" for the third time in two seasons Brad concentrated this time on making the batsman play, but - spoilsport that he was - he defended it comfortably. Ultimately it was Joe who claimed the final wicket, with James notching his third stumping of the match, which might easily have been four but for the sun blinding an umpire at a crucial moment a little earlier in the innings.
Celebratory jugs followed and Brad was to continue his celebrations into the wee small hours throwing shapes up on stage at a discotheque I believe. History written, ambition achieved, who could blame him?