Carib Beer XI v G-Research - 9th June 2014 - Regents Park.

Our fourth game of the season saw us returning to our old stomping ground at Regent’s Park to take on a new team we haven’t played before, G-Research, a team of work colleagues of an old opponent of ours, Dave Houseman, an occasional ringer, and previously member of a team who have generally torn us new ones and served up our backsides to us on plates every time we’ve played them. However, on this occasion we were led to believe that it wouldn’t be a hugely strong opposition, and that therefore, the ass whooping they would likely administer to us wouldn’t be too severe.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast wasn’t too promising and as we began to arrive at the ground, the sky was darkening ominously, leading to our Health and Safely Manager, Carib Willis, suggesting that the game be immediately called off to prevent any of us getting wet should it rain at some point. Happily, however, our Captain and inspirational leader Martin Haigh wasn’t susceptible to such shenanigans and we began to prepare ourselves for the game, surprisingly, with a full team of eleven already present at the ground by 6pm. The opposition too were already in attendance (although rather worryingly, already practicing their catching in a large semi-circle), and after the usual formalities had concluded, our Captain, Martin Haigh, and opposition Captain, Dave Houseman began discussions prior to taking the toss in the middle.

Sadly, however, the usually poor tossing form of our Captain, Martin Haigh, hasn’t improved and we promptly lost the toss and were put into bat under grey and leaden skies. Despite warnings from the doom mongers about the Biblical floods hovering just over the horizon, we agreed to attempt a full 20 over match with normal playing conditions. The requirements of Duckwork-Lewis were discussed, but as we realised we knew absolutely nothing about them, promptly abandoned. Carib Willis again warned of the dangers of attempting to play in such dreadful light, given his propensity to get injured in such circumstances, but given that the rain had not yet begun to fall, a match was certain to get underway, and our Captain and Leader, Martin Haigh, began the fruitless task of asking about for volunteers to open the batting. Eventually, the two Caribs who resisted the least, Caribs Rogerson and Bowen, were press-ganged into the task and began to pad up and make their way out to the middle.

However, it was a full 10 minutes before play got underway as the G-Research unit immediately formed a large circle in the field, around mid-wicket, while Captain Houseman launched into a long monologue about how to catch, throw, inspire and otherwise torment the Carib batsmen during the next hour and a half. Eventually, and after some stern words from waiting umpire, Carib Moss, about time-wasting, the lectures were completed and the G-Researchers began to take their places around the waiting batsmen. The aging medium pacer, and occasional stand in captain, old timer Carib Rogerson, playing in his first match of the season would face the first ball, with our reliable, but injury prone and butter fingered wicketkeeper, Carib Bowen, still nursing the remnants of a black eye, sustained while dropping a catch the previous week, backing up at the non-strikers end.

To say the innings began sluggishly would be something of an understatement – tortuous may be more appropriate, or for the two hapless Carib openers, solid. The opening bowlers were nippy and accurate and with a very slow outfield, difficult to get away, and after four overs, during which time the old campaigner, Carib Rogerson, had managed to snap one of our bats with a mistimed off drive, we had amassed a whole 13 runs. Sadly, however, the wickets were now to start tumbling. First to go was our reliable but generally butter fingered wicketkeeper, Carib Bowen, who played all round a straight one from G-Patel. In the very next over, the old medium pacer, Carib Rogerson, played over the top of a grubber that rattled his middle stump, and we were now two down for very few. The carnage wasn’t to end there, however, as the Carib number 3, Tour Manager Carib Weaver, was bowled for nought, and we were already 16-3 with almost a third of our overs completed.

Luckily for us, however, G-Houseman now thought it appropriate to introduce his second string attack, and the prospect of batting became somewhat easier, and as a result, the two Caribs currently occupying the crease, Health and Safety manager Carib Willis, and occasionally useful batsman Carib Tungate, were able to play themselves in, although in the case of Mr Willis, rather more slowly than we would have wished. Sadly, however, the temporary hiatus in the progress of our batting collapse was not to last long, as both Carib Willis and Carib Tungate were bowled with the score still only 29, and the hapless Caribs staring down the barrel of a dreadful hammering. However, by now, the long awaited showers had started to take hold and rain was falling steadily on the pitch making bowling more difficult which further reduced the effectiveness of the now third string bowlers, who now helped us out by tossing up wide after wide after wide.

We were helped too by the presence of one of our only up and coming and improving players, Carib Nag, sometimes known as Ken, who soon settled into his stride and began to pile on some very useful runs. Happily, the bowling wasn’t to improve either, and with the number of wides now being bowled, our score started to climb back towards something we could possibly defend – rather than us hoping for a swift downpour that would put an end the match, and our suffering, allowing us to take at least a draw away from the debacle of the ghastly batting collapse we believed we were in danger of witnessing.

Thankfully, however, we remained in the game, and with G-Research overs now disappearing for double figures, our score crept up towards 80, losing only our captain and leader, Martin Haigh, to the faintest of edges behind in the process. Eventually, however, the superb Carib Nag (Ken’s) innings was brought to a close with his enforced retirement at 25, leaving only our nurdler in chief, and team statistician and treasurer, Carib Berry, along with our newest member, Carib Alex, at the crease to attempt to see out the final overs. In the event they were able to scamper more than a few sharp singles, and in Carib Berry’s case, unfurl a few glorious straight drive nurdles, stopped only by the dreadfully slow outfield from being turned into twos, and our score settled on a very healthy, given the earlier embarrassments, 105 for 6, a total that we thought even we might be in with a chance of defending, should the rain hold off for long enough, even though, with the sky still dark, and biblical looking clouds on the horizon, none of us really thought it feasible that a full twenty overs were still in store.

Nevertheless, we began our usual job of milling around aimlessly on the outfield waiting for our captain and leader, Martin Haigh, to begin to position us at strategic points around the ground, hands in pockets and already somewhat damp from the first innings drizzle, hoping that either the rain would hold off, or just hit us hard, allowing a swift exit to the pub and a well-earned draw. However, it wasn’t to be, and even as the rain increased in intensity, Martin began asking around for volunteers to open the bowling. Usually, the honour would go to the aging medium pacer, Carib Rogerson, but in only his first match, and with a single disastrous soul sapping hour in the nets to his name so far, and anxious to avoid a dreadful embarrassment, the honour instead went to the erratic mid-pitch bouncer bowling Carib Worthy, and up and coming beamer bowling Carib Nag, with Carib Rogerson promising to join in the action at first change.

Unfortunately, the rain now started to come down hard, and the normally erratic bouncer bowling Carib Worthy immediately hit his stride, sending down a stream of wides and bouncers that were easily negotiated by the G-Research top order. From the other end, however, the rapidly improving beamer bowling Carib Nag (Ken) was able to maintain some control, but the two openers were not seriously troubled, and the score during the first few overs ticked over, while the remainder of the Carib team stood around in the rain, hands in pockets, hoping for a serious downpour to put an end to their misery. Even our usually super-keen captain, and leader, Martin Haigh felt obliged to offer the light to the batsmen and ask if they were happy to carry on in such circumstances. Perhaps eyeing the bouncer bowling Carib Worthy returning to his bowling mark, and the consequent easy runs that would likely result, the batsmen waved him away, and we agreed, through gritted teeth, to continue.

After four overs, and with the G-Researchers already on 30, our captain decided now was the time for a bowling change, and the old timer, Carib Rogerson, was pressed into the attack, with our Captain, Martin Haigh, himself taking an over from the other end. But with the delivery crease now a mud bath, both old Caribs struggled to stay upright, as they slid around the crease while attempting to keep the ball on the wicket. The old Carib Rogerson, however, had the best of it, bowling into the wind, with his now medium pacers seriously reduced to a touch above leg spin speed, he managed to at least keep the ball up to the bat, and went for very little. Sadly from the other end, our Captain, Martin Haigh, struggled to find any length, and was dispatched for 14 in his first over, including a huge six that went some way towards speeding the openers on to their retirement scores. As the score ticked over nicely, it wasn’t long before the first G-Researcher was called back to the boundary having attained the compulsory retirement score of 25, while his colleague from the other end continued, relatively untroubled towards his own landmark. After only 8 overs, the G-Research openers had pushed the score past fifty, while for the hapless Caribs getting gradually colder and wetter, our misery only increased at the thought of our drenching being totally in vain.

Luckily, however, we were now to witness one of those game changing deliveries from our inspirational leader, and captain, Martin Haigh, who threw down a ball of such hopelessness, half way down the pitch and with the pace of a shuttlecock. Eying it gleefully through the murk, the opener, G-Pohl, lunged down the pitch towards it, lost his footing, but went through with the shot anyway, aiming a towering six towards long on, but instead, hitting it directly towards the only person on the pitch capable of actually stopping it. Carib Nag, (Ken), was always going to hold onto the catch, even with rain in his eyes and surrounded by a dejected and defeated Carib team, he held onto a superb catch, and giving us our first wicket. The relief around the ground was palpable, as if anyone else on the team had attempted such a catch, we would almost certainly have been on our hands and knees in the mud searching for a set of broken teeth, rather than celebrating the fall of a wicket, and one of the G-Researcher’s premier batsmen at that.

It was a game changing moment, as we began to realise that although numbers 3 and 4 could still hold a bat, we had now seen off easily the two best batmen in the team, albeit one of whom was still available to resume his innings later should we run through the rest of the batting card, as unlikely an event as that still seemed. Nevertheless, the scoring rate visibly slowed, and with his own disastrous bowling figures only slightly improved by the wicket, our Captain demurred in favour of the injury prone Health and Safety Manager Carib Willis, who reluctantly agreed to risk serious injury by taking a couple of overs himself. Carib Willis began by throwing down his usual collection of wides and long hops, but given that the middle and lower order were, compared to the openers, far less threatening, the Carib bowling attack now started to get on top of the G-Research middle order and wickets began to tumble. Carib Willis himself managed to snare two G-Research bunnies, and even keen fine leg fielder Carib Moss was brought into the attack to lob a few hand grenades down the wicket. It was perhaps testament to the quality of batsmen that we were now facing that the solitary Carib Moss over went for a single run, and that the majority of runs taken from Carib Willis’s overs were wides (although to be fair, that still provides a fair degree of latitude).

However, as the rain began to clear, our chances also began to look decidedly better than when we were staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat only a few overs ago, and to press home his advantage, our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, brought back the pacey, and rapidly improving beamer bowler, Carib Nag (Ken), and with the prospect of more bunnies at the crease, and with more wickets there for the taking, himself. With Carib Nag’s accuracy, and beamers, seriously troubling the G-Research lower order, we continued to take wickets, and with both Carib Nag (Ken) and our Captain, Martin, both hitting the stumps regularly, we began to seriously think we were in with a chance, and called out to the scorers on the boundary with some regularity checking on our progress and trying to work out how many wickets were still left to take before the return of the opening batsman, whose appearance most of us still thought would herald our immediate defeat, given that our score was still easily gettable with a couple of overs of lusty hitting.

As it was, the runs / balls conundrum appeared to rest in our favour, if only we could keep the current slow scoring rate in place, and avoid taking too many wickets, bringing the G-Research openers back into contention. From requiring around 20 from 3 overs, and still with a couple of wickets left, the Researchers crept along to needing 16 from 2, but unfortunately, the momentum of our bowlers, their tails now decidedly up, could not be stopped, and as the wickets continued to tumble, we were now left with the prospect of the opener, G-Mattravers, making his way out to the middle to continue were he had left off only a few overs previously, as the game reached its conclusion, with both results still very possible. A wicket now would secure our victory,  while a couple of decent boundaries would secure it for the G-Researchers. Our hopes faded, however, when we realised that the final over would be taken by our bouncer bowling mid pitch opener, Carib Worthy, and with the G-Research opener facing, a tense last over was in prospect, with only 10 runs between the two teams. The bouncer bowlers first ball was a wide, and a four soon followed, but two dots kept it tense, but to our great surprise, the next ball was an edge that flew through to our keeper, Carib Bowen. However, it was all over in a flash as the normally butter fingered, but very reliable, Carib Bowen, snatched the ball out of the air and safely held onto it, and in unison, a collective cheer and sigh of relief echoed around the ground as we realised, that by some rather fortuitous circumstances, we had won the match.

Given that the rain had persisted throughout and at times it had looked like a full game was out of the question, we had persevered, and even though most of us were soaked through, and had easily the worse of the conditions, we had prevailed and secured a very useful victory, and dare I say it, in hindsight, actually enjoyed the evening. The game had been a long one, not finishing until after 9pm, everyone else in the park having sensibly abandoned their own activities several hours previously. Nevertheless, we now looked forward to a roaring fire and a few pints in the local pub where we could relish the fruits of a hard fought victory.

Peter Rogerson

Scorecard - Carib Beer XI Win by 10 Runs

Carib Beer XI
Rogerson   Bowled Patton 5 (15)
Bowen   Bowled Patel 4 (11)
Weaver   Bowled Patel 0 (5)
Willis   Bowled Ridgeway 6 (17)
Tungate   Bowled Travis 8 (12)
Nag   not out 25 (21)
Haigh C Wkt Bowled Houseman 6 (6)
Berry not out 15 (24)
Alex   not out 5 (9)
EXTRAS   3b 23w 3nb 29
TOTAL   (20 Overs) 105-6
Patton 4-0-8-1 Patel 4-0-15-2
Ridgeway 3-0-7-1 Travis 4-0-28-1
Walker 1-0-12-0 Houseman 2-0-5-1
Hadfield 1-0-15-0 Butterworth 1-0-8-0
Pohl C Nag Bowled Haigh 23
Mattravers C Bowen Bowled Worthy 25
Patton   Bowled Nag 11
Houseman   Bowled Nag 6
Ridgeway   Bowled Willis 1
Butterworth   Bowled Nag 1
Walker   Bowled Willis 1
Ferguson C Bowen Bowled Haigh 3
Patel   not out 7
Hadfield   Bowled Worthy 0
Zhilyaev   Bowled Haigh 0
EXTRAS   4b 2w 6
TOTAL   (19.4 Overs) 95
Worthy 3.4-0-29-2 Nag 4-0-18-3
Rogerson 4-0-11-0 Haigh 3-0-24-3
Willis 4-0-20-2 Moss 1-0-1-0
Carib Beer XI WIN by 10 runs