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August 24, 2004

Four Wickets for Charlie Leaves Everyone Smiling (South Woodford 22/8/04)

On the 26th June this year Chigwell played host to South Woodford Sunday A team, and were soundly spanked. All out for 69, if you care to remember. Personally I would much rather let the events of that day slip to the darkest recesses of a confused mind. So before arriving I imagined things might be a little awkward. As it transpired South Woodford were fielding their B side, including several colts, and on winning the toss I luxuriated in choosing to bat first. Tim and Nick were chosen to open on the back of their fine performances of the previous week, but Tim obliged the bowler by edging one back onto his stumps. I replaced him and began a rather turgid partnership with Nick that was a testament to the fine bowling by Neicho Snr. at one end, and obscenely flattering to the rather looser stuff coming from the pavilion end. I perished for 24, trying to accelerate, and Nick was finally put out of his misery for eight - all singles - in about an hour and fifteen minutes. As he left the combat area he was heard mumbling something about how the clock running slow had put him off. Time did seem to stand still while he was batting. Rob Allum and Tim Mitzman benefited from the withdrawal of Neicho from the attack and showed their class, Tim smashing a quick-fire 40, and Rob accumulating Graham Thorpe style a tidy 60 not out. The batting revelation however was James, who compiled a sturdy 33, sprinkled with expansive boundaries. We declared on 192 for 5, which in retrospect on a slow pitch with a slow outfield, was slightly too many. It was a difficult declaration to judge, having no real idea of the batting talent available to South Woodford. A splendid tea was devoured and we took to the field after a team huddle and the playing of the club anthem - "don't stop til you get enough" - Ritchie and Phil opened the bowling. It was Ritchie's first spell of the season for Chigs, and he bowled tidily enough, but for no reward. Phil bamboozled one opener with his "nip-backer", and kept things very tight. Brad disposed of another batsman, comprehensively bowling him, and politely bidding him farewell in the middle of the customary fist clenched celebrations. Enter Charlie Rudkin. Excellent bowling saw him first rewarded with a stumping by the wicket keeping revelation that is James Leycock, and then by two catches at deep backward square by Tim Mitzman, both juggled, but the second of which was brilliantly judged, as it swirled and dipped over his shoulder. Another wicket went to Charlie as I clung onto one at mid on, and he finished with figures of 11 overs 4 for 37. I asked him to pledge his Sunday cricketing future to Chigwell, only excused if he's playing in a test match. Nick bowled well to add a couple more scalps to his collection and Rob A tried manfully to extract some life from the old ball on a dead pitch but, despite Neicho Jnr surviving the plumbest LBW call this decade from the last ball, Chigwell never quite looked like wrapping things up, and the game was drawn. For those who weren't at the match there was a highly comedic moment when Brad, fielding very close at mid off to Nick's bowling - an unpleasant place to be, even with a twelve year old batting - saw the batsman shape to strike one hard at his skull. Taking evasive action Brad threw himself onto his back, and was lying on the ground as the ball, having been badly mis-hit, gently arced over his prostrate body. Ever game, Brad attempted to push/wiggle his way backwards along the deck, with arms and legs flailing like a turbo charged threshing machine, or a daddy longlegs with epilepsy. Needless to say he never quite made it into position for the catch, and as Nick looked to the gods, the rest of the fielders, the batsmen and the umpires collapsed with uncontrollable mirth. We were not laughing at Brad, we were laughing towards him.


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