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August 04, 2008

Jerry’s Jurassic Coast Home

Jerry Hayes’s Jurassic Coasters recorded an exciting victory against a strong Chigwell side in the opening match of this year’s Lyme Regis tour.

There had been a number of mishaps in the arrangements for the day already and defeat at the hands of the Coasters completed the set (writes match skipper, Nick). Well, it was Friday 13th. First the eagerly anticipated gig featuring The Wilsons and Airport Contention at Jerry’s local hostelry, the Talbot Arms, was double booked with a teenage disco and then the original venue for the match, which is adjacent to the pub, became unavailable due to a strop by Bayleaf the Gardener - or whatever the Uplyme groundsman’s name is.  However, Axminster Cricket Club came to the rescue with an offer to host the match at their splendid ground, which nestles amongst gentle hills on the outskirts of the Devon town.

Si Thorpe and I caught a train from Waterloo at O’Christ.00 and were disembarking in Axminster by 11.00am.  Despite the gig being cancelled, Si had decided to come along for the ‘craic’. I swiftly recruited him to the team, as we were one short, which gave him an excuse to give his very smart golf shoes a run-out.   Others of us began to gather at the ground by about 12.30 and the Jurassic Coasters too gradually turned up. They were a couple short so some local lads, practicing in the nets, were quickly recruited.

Jerry had deputised the captaincy to his work colleague Mark and I went out to the wicket with him to toss up. We had pre-arranged that the touring side would bat, but went ahead with the toss to please the photographer.

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I had been led to expect that the Jurassics would be a little uneven in batting and bowling talent, so the swaggering Londoners were to dictate the pace of the game. This is indeed how it turned out – to begin with.

Rob Allum and Owen Evans opened the Chigwell innings. The idea was for us to very slowly build a prehistoric  sediment of our own, on which numbers three and four, dashing blade James Laycock and, err, me, would build at a quickfire pace later in the afternoon.  The first over was bowled by our old mucker Mark Jefferys. Owen was bizarrely off the mark in this first over.  That alone was bizarre enough, but the fact the he opened his account with a 5 was probably a first.  When Owen duly closed his account after being bowled by the useful skipper Mark, James was next in, being watched from the grandstand by his proud WAG, Cindy.  No doubt wanting to impress, the Wandering Fox nervously scratched around the Jurassic chicken-shed while Rob started to poach boundaries.  As both James and Rob upped the pace, Jon Hunn was brought on. It was good to see his action in action again, and the batsmen thought so too.  A wide was followed by a bouncer that Rob flat-batted to the long-off fence.  Three overs later the spell was finished, having produced 30 runs.

When Rob reached 50 he dutifully ran himself out as I had given orders that it was to be a ‘50 and out’ tour game. When James reached his 50, he too made every attempt to get himself out, banishing all defensive shots from his repertoire. In doing this, he suddenly began to time the ball brilliantly and didn’t manage to fall on his sword until he had amassed 39 more runs. Meanwhile, I was caught out by someone who appeared to be no more than 8 years old. However, Rob Orange, Dominick and Richard all gaily biffed away, and I was able to declare the innings closed at 4.20pm on 220-5, foolishly before the very excellent tea was quite ready. From snatches of overheard conversation, the Jurassics didn’t seem to be hopeful of victory, and I must admit to being quite confident that we were well and truly in control of the match.

When a director wants to disown the cut of his movie that the film studio releases, the pseudonym ‘Alan Smithee’ is always found in the credits. I can only assume that Nigel too was happy for history to attribute his spell of bowling to someone else.  The scorebook records a ‘Mr Bathwood’ opening the bowling for Chigwell when play resumed. 

Mr Davis was his partner and, with fields set in attacking style, the Jurassics were allowed to score freely for the first hour.  With more than 50 on the board and no wicket, I turned to Tom Wiskin and Rob Orange who both bowled tidily but without success. Now seriously worried, I turned to the big guns.  Regular opening pair Dominick and Rob Allum could do little to stem the flow of runs although wickets began to fall. Even Jerry managed a boundary from Rob’s bowling. I fared no better and quickly reinstated Dominick to the attack.  With three overs left in the match, the Jurassics needed 13 to win, with 5 wickets still in hand.  We weren’t going to win, but a draw looked vaguely possible.  When Rob had Jurassic’s opener caught, by now with a fine century to his credit, things began to get interesting. Or so we hoped. In the penultimate over, though, we gifted the Coasters a boundary at fine leg. That 8-year old again (who turned out actually to be 14). So with the final over to be bowled by Rob, 2 runs were all that was required. They were collected without fuss with four balls to spare.

So, one could say that we stage-managed a close match for the opening of a great tour, and that cricket was the winner... but I suppose Jerry might see it differently...!

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