Carib Beer XI v Old Boys - 18th June 2014 - Greenwich Park.
Today’s game, at Greenwich Park, our favourite ground in South London, was against the “Old Boys”, a motley collection of ex-work colleagues of our Captain, Martin Haigh, and flame haired northern master blaster, Carib Cordey, and by far our favourite opposition. Themselves, an amalgamation of the now defunct Delta Rail old boys, and AEAT, two teams who we have generally been able to beat, comprehensively, over previous seasons, who, even now that they have joined forces, still generally give us a chance of a rare victory and probably our most enjoyable game of the year. Considering the battering that some of our statistics take against our other opponents, it’s usually a chance for some of our less accomplished nurdlers and long-hop bowlers to repair their figures and earn a few useful wickets and runs and to bolster our flagging mid-season morale.
Sadly, our new Health and Safety Manager, Carib Willis, had made himself unavailable, probably due to an ongoing injury scare involving his little toe, but we were happy to hear the news that our ranks were to be considerably swelled, literally, by the presence of our flame haired northern pie magnate, Carib Cordey, whose ongoing on-field feud with the totally helpless Rob (faff) Moss we knew would provide considerable entertainment throughout the evening. In a first for our current season, the weather was also promising to stay fair and as we left our offices to make our way to the ground, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a hint of the biblical deluges that have marred our season so far.
With the sun out and laden with the extra beer we believed the fixture should warrant, we began to arrive at the ground in dribs and drabs, to find that the kind management of the ground had installed an empty fridge, specifically, or so we imagined, for the express purpose of keeping our beer cold during our stint in the field. As it was, it was quickly filled, and we began the arduous task of removing the protective poles from around the ground and re-arranging the boundary to suit our rather less than accomplished batting line up. However, there would also be history in the making today, as our reliable, but generally butter fingered wicket-keeper, Carib Bowen, unveiled a new YELLOW cricket ball to show to the assembled ranks. We have, it seems, accidentally purchased a batch, and rather than send them back for the requested pink balls, we decided to give them a spin, as it were, albeit to some consternation from the purists among us. Perhaps the absence of our Health and Safety manager, Carib Willis, was for the best as no doubt the use of the ball would be blamed for a long litany of new injuries, should he have attempted to bowl, hit or catch it in any capacity during the evening.
Soon after six, with a few of us at the ground, only a single member of the opposition had by that time arrived. Unfortunately, he was unable to give us a status update on the remainder of the team who were thought to be in various locations throughout the city, and hopefully, at some point during the evening, about to make their way south of the river. Anxious not to waste the available time, our captain and leader, Martin Haigh, suggested some catching practice, with him hitting the ball skywards, while the assembled Caribs attempted to catch it while keeping their teeth and dignity intact. Usually, it’s us arriving at the ground with our beer tins, with the opposition already engaged in catching practice, so the sight of half a dozen Caribs strung across the outfield, and actually making a reasonable fist of catching most of the falling cricket balls as the opposition slowly assembled was something of a novelty, and surely intimidating to the arriving Old Boys. In any event, the catching practice afforded to some of the less athletic Caribs was to pay dividends later in the match, as will soon become apparent.
Nevertheless, we needed a game to get underway at some point so our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, was compelled to approach the few Old Boys that had turned up and enquire as to the possible location of the skipper, and if he wasn’t likely to be in attendance any time soon, would one of the Old Boys already there be prepared to become stand in skipper for the purposes of conducting the toss. Unwilling to burden themselves with such responsibility, one of the Old Boys had the idea of contacting the skipper on the phone to discern both his location and his intentions regarding his preference for batting or bowling. As it was, he was reasonably close to the ground, however, keen not to waste a further minute, it was suggested that he could remain on the line while a suitable coin was tossed into the air, and if he could be compelled to call at the appropriate time, a toss could still take place.
The process decided, an Old Boy member clutched the phone, while our captain, Martin Haigh, tossed a coin high above our heads. At that point, it was made clear down the phone that the coin was now in the air and that a call could now be made. A crackling “heads” was heard emanating from the speaker as the coin crashed to the ground. On examining it, our Captain discovered that it was indeed heads, and that he had lost again. All that was needed now was for the result of the toss to be conveyed to the opposition captain down the telephone and for him to make a decision. So, in absentia, we were asked to field, probably the correct decision as only about 7 of the opposition were by now in attendance. So, along with the history-making yellow balls, we have now conducted what could very well be the world’s first telephone toss, perhaps another record and another first for the Caribs. Sadly, we are still to witness our captain actually winning one of them.
As we made our way out onto the pitch, our captain, and leader, Martin Haigh, asked about for volunteers to open the bowling, eventually settling on the aging old timer, Carib Rogerson, and the mid-pitch long-hop bouncer bowling Carib Worthy. The game began slowly with the two old Caribs not giving too much away as the Old Boys’ top order flat batted everything destined for the stumps and missed everything more than a hair’s breadth either side of them (or in Carib Worthy’s case, everything more than ten feet wide of the stumps was comfortably ignored). An observer would have sensed that the slow start was nothing more than an interlude until the main events began, the introduction of the first and second change bowlers, and just perhaps, a long awaited duel between our northern bakery magnate, Carib Cordey, and the comical flustering of the Old Boy (Faff) Moss.
Thankfully, we weren’t to wait too long before, with the scoreboard barely troubled, and with a discernable sense of confidence over the future trajectory of the match, that our captain and leader, Martin Haigh, decided to introduce some of his more flamboyant second string bowlers into the attack. First up would be our Fixture Secretary, and our best fine leg fielder, Carib (Andy) Moss, who, despite some visual similarities in the bowling department, is in no way related to the rather faff prone opposition character of the same name. Carnage ensued. Perhaps totally bamboozled by the looping deliveries, closer, ballistically, to the trajectory that a thrown welly boot might take, Carib Moss’s half tossed hand grenades proved too much for the hapless Old Boy top order. First to go was opener Old Boy Draper, who spotting a loopy twirling welly boot descending from the heavens heaved it straight to the waiting and thankfully safe hands of our newest recruit, the beamer bowling Carib Nag (Ken), who gratefully held on to the difficult chance at square leg. Carib Moss’s relief at snaring the wicket was palpable as he rushed around the square thanking everyone who could possibly have contributed to his unlikely success.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t yet finished, as only two balls later the other opener, spying a welly boot of his own falling from the sky, was lured into smashing it directly to the waiting hands of substitute Old Boy fielder Old Boy Ford, prowling in the covers. There was now something of an interlude as the Carib fielders were given something to do, with the introduction into the attack of another new member, Carib Alex, who’s deliveries, strictly speaking, border that grey area between illegality and eccentricity. Luckily, the amount of runs and wides that generally accrue from his overs is usually enough to assuage our guilt over the unorthodox action. As it transpired, 13 runs were taken from his over, and thankfully for the now exhausted scorer, the experiment was not repeated and we could return to the main event as a confident Carib Moss returned to his bowling mark. Although the next over was somewhat uneventful, he was joined at the other end by another of our grenade-tossers, Tour Manager Carib Weaver, who wasted no time in disturbing the stumps of Old Boy Bell who had quietly moved into double figures.
This left an end open, which our Fixture Secretary was to exploit with brutal precision, sending down yet another of his looping twirlers, that spent so long in the air, that by the time it actually landed, the waiting Old Boy Ball had expended so much energy swiping at empty space that, exhausted, he was able only to pat it tamely back to the bowler’s end where the waiting Carib Moss sprung into life, raised his hands high in the air, closed his eyes, contacted several deities, and hoped for the best as the ball flopped into his outstretched hands. Amazingly, given Mr Moss’s propensity for shelling even the most harmless of chances when someone else has done the bowling, he held onto it and clasped it close to his chest as a cry of palpable relief erupted from his lungs as he realised, that by some miracle, he had actually caught a cricket ball in his hands, and not only that, in the cause of actually taking an opposition wicket.
However, this wasn’t the end of the excitement, as from the other end, our Tour Manager, Carib Weaver again managed to induce one of the opposition Old Boys into attempting to hoick some more fresh air out of the ground losing his off stump, and considerable amounts of dignity, in the process. Now thoroughly disillusioned, and with several wickets down, all that was left now was for our elated Fixture Manager, Carib Moss, to tear through the defences of yet another Old Boy, clattering the stumps, and earning himself a richly deserved four wicket haul from the carnage that now lay about us. But, just as we thought we couldn’t take any more, we spied some exaggerated faffing along the boundary close to the Old Boys encampment, and we realised that the event we had been waiting for was now upon us, as, some last minute faffing complete, Old Boy (Faff) Moss began his long trudge out to the middle. A cheer went up and the ball was quickly thrown to our hard hitting flame haired northerner, and Old Boy Faff’s arch nemesis, Carib Cordey, for some of his trademark non-spinning darts, and hopefully, some great entertainment as the banter between the two arch rivals began to flow back and forth across the pitch while the Old Boy faffed around in his batting crease, took his guard, faffed a bit more, then eventually settled down to face his first ball from the grinning bakery magnate now poised for action behind the bowling crease.
Sadly, and as he later admitted, the pressure of the long anticipated encounter was simply too much for Old Boy Moss as with only a single taken from Carib Cordey’s first over, his second attempt at a scoring shot involved him dancing half way down the pitch and heaving the bat high above his head, but, crucially, missing the ball by several feet, and he watched with horror as the ball headed towards his stumps, and his inevitable demise. Carib Cordey’s rather muted celebrations over the despatch of his greatest rival indicated perhaps the ease with which it had been achieved as the Old Boys innings closed in on its inevitable conclusion. Of the final two wickets to fall, Carib Cordey was again in amongst them, joined for the final over by our Treasurer, and chief statistician, Carib Berry, who snapped up the final wicket, ending with a whimper the Old Boy innings for a paltry 63 runs.
Our reply, by contrast, was relatively muted. Unusually, there were no shortage of volunteers to open the batting, likely to be on account of the knowledge that either a few runs were in the offing, or thoughts of the sheer number of cans of beer that remained to be drunk on completion. Either way, two of our greatest nurdlers were offered the chance of an early drink, Tour Manager Carib Weaver, and our reliable but generally butter fingered wicketkeeper, Carib Bowen. The score ticked along slowly, as the nurdlers un-hurriedly added singles to their name along with the usual array of dot balls. Carib Bowen, our wicket keeper, even felt confident enough to unfurl a couple of glorious boundaries in his 17 before he was bowled, bringing our newest member, Carib Alex to the crease, who continued in a similar vein, until he was also bowled for 17. The final runs were knocked off by the first innings wicket takers, Caribs Weaver and Moss, and from the boundary, the frequency of SSSHHHHTTT sounds, as beer tins were opened and steadily consumed increased as the required runs dropped and confidence in not being required to bat rose accordingly.
By the time we had passed the Old Boys score, there can’t have been many Caribs on the boundary who weren’t already into their 2nd or 3rd cans, or in the case of the Bouncer bowling Carib Worthy, his 14th, and we were expecting nothing other than a swift exit to the pub to continue with our summer libations. However, we were to be sadly disabused of these notions as the teams began to trudge off the field, as having consulted his watch, our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, determined that there would easily be time for another game of perhaps 7 overs, should the already padded up batsmen be allowed to continue their innings and the bowling team remain in the field and Martin rushed out to the middle to suggest this to the opposition. Surely, we thought, they would be of the same opinion as us and were looking forward to a well-earned beer. The huddles and the discussions out in the middle dragged on for some minutes, and we took this as a sign of the recalcitrance of the opposition and batsmen to continuing as Martin was suggesting. Unfortunately, the number of tea-pots that began appearing around the square accompanied by a number of shocked expressions was merely a sign that Martin had got his way and a second game was now about to commence, albeit considerably shortened to 7 overs a side. We would be batting first, and Caribs Moss and Weaver would continue their roles, this time, however, as openers in our shortened innings.
Sadly for Mr Moss, his golden game was now behind him and he was unceremoniously caught in front first ball and given out by our relentlessly correct official umpire, Michael Lee. Next in would be the half plastered mid-pitch bouncer bowler Carib Worthy, who delirious from the amount of beer he had already consumed, could barely even pick up the bat let alone hit a cricket ball with it. After only four tortuous deliveries he was trudging back to the boundary to open yet another tin of beer, with yet another zero against his name. To pick up the run rate our captain, and leader, Martin Haigh, despatched Northern Bakery Magnate Carib Cordey out to the middle as our number four, hoping that a couple of overs of lusty northern hitting would bolster our score. At least we took hope in the fact that he would be facing his great rival the totally faff prone Old Boy Moss, and anxious to smash the ball to all parts, should he be able to connect with one. In the event, even our northern village blacksmith failed to set the scorebook alight, scraping only 10 runs from his 13 deliveries before the dismissal of Carib Weaver, after his long vigil at the crease, brought the captain himself, Martin Haigh, out to the middle to see off the final over. Although our score had been bolstered by a very helpful 12 wides, we had only managed to scrape a total of 39 from our allotted 7 overs, and now presented the Old Boys with a task of considerable ease, should they wish to press for a victory.
With the quick turnaround, there were still several Caribs still hurriedly necking their beer around the boundary edge. Fearing that they would be warm by the time we returned to the boundary, a few of the more inebriate amongst us tried to sneak our half-finished tins onto the pitch, assuming that given the somewhat diminished importance of the encounter, our captain, and Leader, Martin Haigh, would turn a rare blind eye to our unprofessionalism . However, ever watchful for such indiscretions from his unreliable charges, our Captain rounded on us mercilessly, and severe admonishments were dished out to the offending characters. “chaps”, “not cricket”, “oh my word”, “MCC Rules” and other analogies were employed in the various dressing downs. A movement to rename the club “Martin Haigh and the Carib Beer X” briefly flourished on the outfield, before the offending Caribs decided that, en masse, they would flout the authority of the captain and continued to sheepishly consume their beers on field as the Old Boys reply go underway, despite the continuing opprobrium of our captain.
Notwithstanding, the ball was thrown to the now almost totally comatose mid-pitch bouncer bowling Carib Worthy, and chief selector, the beamer bowling Carib Nag (Ken). Carib Worthy again demonstrated his almost unerring ability to actually improve on his bowling, the drunker he gets, by sending down some deceptively accurate bouncers and mid-pitch long-hops. The pace of beamer bowling Nag (Ken) again proved too much for the Old Boy top order, but crucially, the score began to tick over with Old Boy Ford proving particularly troublesome. A wide that raced to the boundary didn’t help proceedings, and it was the 3rd over before the first wicket fell. Our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, now thought it appropriate to bring himself in to the attack. Although his first over was quiet enough, by the time of his second, Old Boy Ford had found his mark and dispatched him to the boundary twice in the space of 3 balls, to the accompaniment of many “my word”, “gosh” and “deary deary me”s from the bowler’s end. Finally, Old Boy Ford holed out to a fine catch by our aging vice skipper, Carib Rogerson, but the damage had been done, and by the time the final over had arrived, the Old Boys required only four more runs to secure an unlikely victory.
Into this melee, however, strode our Northern Bakery Magnate, Carib Cordey, just the man for a final over nail-biter. The first two deliveries were vicious darts that Old Boy Madden was unable to get away. The next clattered into the stumps, sending him on his way to cheers from the Caribs, which increased all the more as we realised that the next man in would be the Flame Haired Carib’s greatest rival, the totally faff prone Old Boy Moss. The fourth ball, however, was wide and evaded the in-field as the batsmen scrambled to the other end, and we realised with horror that 3 had been taken from it and that the scores were now level. The fifth ball was another dot. It would all rest on the final delivery. As it whistled down towards him, Old Boy Edmondson swung the bat, and connected, and the ball flew through the air towards the bowlers end as the batsmen began to scamper down the wicket towards the run that would secure them victory. But they hadn’t banked on the bucket hands of our northern village blacksmith, who threw himself skywards and grasped the speeding ball from the air, holding onto it and securing the wicket on the final ball leaving the scores tied and all of us exhausted by the tension of the occasion.
All that was left now was for us to head off to the local pub to enjoy a few cold beers and reminisce about a wonderful evening, and as we’d thought from the off, by far our most enjoyable fixture.
Match 1 - Carib Beer XI Win by 8 Wickets
Match 2 - match tied