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Carib Beer XI vs Dodgers CC - June 27th 2011

Our third game of the season again saw us at Wray Crescent in Finsbury Park for another encounter with the Dodgers CC, a team we have played before, and who have previously flayed our pie throwing attack to all parts in two comprehensive victories. After the mauling we’d suffered the previous week, it wasn’t exactly with a great degree of relish, especially for those of us with the consequent severely compromised bowling figures, that we comprehended another possible flaying. Nevertheless, under warm leaden skies, and with Carib Goochie’s stark warnings about an imminent downpour of biblical proportions in our ears, we headed off to the park, via our customary stop at the Off Licence, to get on with the game, hoping that we could squeeze some cricket in before the expected deluge.

As we arrived, some of the Dodgers were already there, and one of them was even caught sipping from a cold bottle of beer before the match. The poor chap at least appeared sheepish as he was approached by our own Carib Willis, who appeared to be questioning the wisdom of his actions, but was of course just sounding out the possibility of relegating the match to category III status, which if the rumours are to be believed, allows for on-field drinking, in which we all would have been only too happy to participate should we have been given the lead by our opposition. Our young Ringer Lawrence had already drunk half of his own can of Stella en route, however, a fact we complied in concealing from the Carib Management, knowing our Captain’s vitriolic opposition to such activities, and knowing that his Ringer status would be unlikely to protect him from the subsequent tongue lashing that would likely follow its discovery.

Anyway, with enough people now at the ground, our Captain, Chairman and leader, Martin Haigh engaged the Dodger skipper in the toss, and following a superb victory, they were inserted and would bat first. We headed out into the field and our two opening bowlers, who on this occasion would be the almost 43 year old medium pacer Carib Rogerson, and the barely any younger compulsive mid pitch bouncer bowler Carib Worthy, were given their instructions. The old Carib Rogerson had endured a miserable spell the previous week and had been severely hammered around the park by the Newman House cardinals. However, today, things weren’t too bad, with only a couple of loose leg side deliveries in his first over. Unfortunately, both ended up over the boundary ropes, smacked there imperiously by opening Dodger Dollins, and the Dodger’s innings was off and running. From the other end, the half track bouncer bowler Jarrod Worthy threw down his own rather predictable set of half track bouncers, some of which even put the integrity of his own toes at risk, sadly only risking the toes of batsman on the second bounce after much of its venom having dissipated on the return journey to earth.

In Carib Rogerson’s second over, however, one of the openers was induced to crash a straight drive directly towards our Chairman and Captain Martin Haigh. Perhaps fearing for his own toes, and without his customary head protection, Martin cupped his hands pointlessly and pointed them towards the floor, only for the ball to bounce between his feet and fly between his legs, and unfortunately, rushing away to the boundary for four. However, the first four overs were at least wide-free as Martin now brought on our first change bowlers, Carib Willis, the current holder of the Carib record for the worst ever spell of bowling, for a few overs of tweak, and our leader Martin Haigh himself. Carib Willis of course began hesitantly, fearing another mauling, but became more confident with each delivery that wasn’t smashed for six, while Martin toiled away from the other end. In Carib Willis’s second over, however, the boundary hitting began in earnest with Dodger Dollin smashing him first for four, then for a towering six as he reached his retirement score of 25 and was forced to return to the boundary. That he had only scored half his runs during Carib Willis’s over is surely an improvement on the previous week, given that on that occasion, Newman House Cardinal batsmen were able to arrive at the crease, complete their innings and retire not-out during the course of a single over.

Dodger Dollin’s replacement at the crease, however, was the hapless Dodger Smith. Carib Willis’s next delivery hit him flush in the unmentionables, mirroring Carib Willis’s own sorry experiences the previous week when he had been similarly struck in a manner that had left significant bruising to the old fella, should Barry’s uncorroborated claims be believed. So painful was the strike that the Dodger was forced to retire hurt and return to the boundary to nurse his injury, and in the manner of our own relentlessly correct official umpire Michael Lee, engage in some enforced ball counting, the result of which unfortunately was not to find its way into the scorebook. The unfortunate Dodger’s retirement, however, was to bring about something of a mini collapse in the Dodger’s ranks. Perhaps confusing Barry’s ability to inflict a cruel injury on their number three with actual bowling ability, the next man in, Dodger Westhead played all round an uncharacteristic Willis straight one, losing his off stump to one of his inoffensive little twirlers.

However, by now, the retired Dodger Smith, perhaps comforted by the knowledge that he hadn’t been rendered a can short of a six pack, made his way again out to the middle to resume his innings. Obviously ruffled by his previous encounter, however, he wasn’t to last long and soon edged a catch through to our keen but generally butter fingered wicket keeper, Carib Bowen, who amazingly, managed to catch it, sending the poor Dodger from the pitch for good. Carib Willis was generously given the chance to complete his four overs, conceding on this occasion a miserly 24 runs for two wickets, barely a third of the runs he had conceded the previous week and going some way towards repairing his season’s now desperate bowling averages.

His replacement, the heavily set village blacksmith Carib Cordey was then brought on to complete his own four overs of fizzing top spinners. When on song, Carib Cordey’s array of grenade lobbed Yorkers can prove surprising difficult to get away, and so it was for his first three, sadly wicketless, overs. However, in his fourth and final over Dodger Radcliffe began to climb into his gentle leg spin, despatching him for sixteen runs in a single over, also passing his retirement score, and leaving the field, leaving the flame haired northerner with bowling figures that only Carib Willis could aspire to. By now, however, our Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, had returned to complete his compliment of four overs and was able to snag a further wicket, Dodger Wilkinson, caught again, amazingly, by our keen but not exactly safe pair of hands behind the stumps, Wicketkeeper Carib Bowen, bringing his match tally to two catches, a number only exceeded, rather predictably, by the number of drops.

Nevertheless, despite snagging his second wicket, Martin was to be involved in another dreadful missed opportunity himself. One of the Dodgers Batsman flayed at one of his long hops, skying it high into the air, at least a hundred yards, before it began its long slow descent back to earth. As the entire team struggled to discern its likely impact point, it soon became apparent to Martin that it would land quite close to both him and possibly another two or three Caribs, all patiently turning in circles in an attempt to position themselves somewhere below its expected trajectory, but rather hoping someone else would take responsibility for actually catching it.

Martin, our leader, of course decided that it must be him who took the catch, and bravely shouted “MINE MINE MINE” at the top of his lungs to any of his charges lurking in the vicinity and who may impede his progress to the spot directly underneath the expected landing point. As we waited, the ball plummeting lower and lower with every passing second, we fully expected our leader and captain to take the chance, being that it had on this occasion been struck off his own bowling. Sadly, as the ball, increasing exponentially in speed, crashed into Martin’s hands, it rather tamely flopped out again, dropping to the turf with a thud after managing to evade all Martin’s frantic secondary attempts to grasp it from the air. After realising his mistake, Martin let out a groan and sank to his knees, perhaps in disappointment for his bowling averages, perhaps in disappointment for the affect on the match but more than likely, it must be said, for the palpable disappointment of his charges in him, realising as they surely must by now, Martin’s woeful lack of form in the fielding disciplines this season, and yet again, opening himself up for abuse next time he chastises his team mates for similar misdemeanours.

However, by now the two opening bowlers, aging Vice Captain Carib Rogerson, and aging bouncer bowler Carib Worthy, were brought back to complete their spells. In his very first over, the old Carib Rogerson was able to snag two wickets. The first, grazing leg stump imperceptibly and the second, the very next ball, being hit straight to our Vice Nurdler in chief, Carib Berry, who took a fine catch. From the other end, even Carib Worthy, with his compulsive bouncer bowling, throwing down ever more exaggerated bouncers, managed to take a wicket somehow, inducing one of the Dodgers to sky a catch into the safe hands of Best Batsman Carib Tungate. This last wicket saw the end of the Dodgers innings, following the brief return of the not out opener, on a reasonably healthy 120, several dozen less than they generally score against us, and a score the Caribs, just possibly, were in with a shout of chasing down.

To open the Carib reply would be our own Captain and leader, Martin Haigh, along with the edging flat batted nurdler Andy Moss. Opening the bowling for the Dodgers would be Dodgers Cousins and Hilary. Initially, or Chairman, Mr Haigh, played reasonably well, hitting a four and couple of singles to take him into double figures. From the other end, our best fine leg fielder, Andy Moss, attempted to edge everything down to fine leg as usual, even connecting with a couple to bring himself a useful single. Unfortunately, by the end of over 3 Dodger Cousins had worked up a full head of steam, and after bowling his first few balls quickly enough, he began to fling down ever quicker thunderbolts, severely rattling the nerves of our top order, even the be-helmeted ones amongst us, and apparently able to bowl a Carib batsman almost at will.

First to fall, predictably, was our edge finding nurdler, Andy Moss, bowled all-ends-up for his solitary single while hastily attempting to edge the ball down to fine leg for a single. His method of single scoring, pointing the bat towards second slip while jumping backwards two feet, in the manner of someone prodding an angry buffalo in the ribs with a stick, failing him completely on this occasion. Next man in was our most reliable Batsman, Dan Tungate. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to rely on his redoubtable forward press for long either, being as he is in the middle of a dreadful loss of form, scratching around for 2 before he too saw his stumps cart-wheeling and smashed asunder by the fired up Dodger. Sadly, the carnage wasn’t only being wrecked from one end, as Dodger Hilary waded into the action against our Captain and Chairman Martin Haigh, taking his own middle stump out of the ground for 12. Our captain was clearly miffed by the decision of the umpire to send him on his way, refusing even to take the now prostrate stumps as evidence of his dismissal.

The fourth of the hapless Caribs to enter the fray was the old medium pacer, Carib Rogerson, who witnessing the carnage from the boundary, and realising that we were in danger of a full scale collapse, wisely decided to block out the remainder of Dodger Cousin’s spell. Unfortunately, he failed to communicate what would have been sound advice to our northern Village Blacksmith, Carib Cordey, who, following his customary “sighter” still attempted to smash everything out of the park for six. After three balls, he too saw his stumps smashed by the pumped up Dodger Cousins and trudged back to the boundary with the Caribs four wickets down for less than 20, and staring a calamitous defeat square between the eyes. Joined at the crease by our keen wicketkeeper, Andy Bowen, they both attempted to settle into some sort of rhythm, see out the opening bowlers, keep wickets intact, and see what the first change bowlers were like instead, before embarking in earnest with our run chase. With our top order decapitated, we had plenty of overs to spare, and the target still, optimistically, theoretically, reachable, even considering the dregs of the lower order and tail to follow.

As luck would have it, the first change bowler WAS much more to their liking, the young Dodger Wilkinson, who couldn’t have bowled the ball any slower if he’d been trying to throw a balloon, with the ball looping upwards and slowly descending mid pitch before bobbling a bit and rolling along the floor towards the batsman. While on its upward trajectory, this gave you at least 3 seconds to decide where it would land and position yourself perfectly, foot forward and bat raised in anticipation, eventually to brutally smash it into orbit on the bounce. However, it proved surprisingly hard to pull off this apparently easy source of runs, and although a few lusty blows were hit towards the boundary, the Batsmen’s enthusiasm saw them hitting empty space, thick edging it towards square leg, or skying it directly up into the air. Carib Rogerson, enjoying the chance of scoring a few runs for a change, almost fell in this manner, only surviving what would have been an embarrassing dismissal, by a Dodger fielder tripping over some on field detritus and finding himself prostrate on the turf as the ball fell to earth, two feet in front of him.

Nevertheless, our scorecard now began to recover somewhat as both Caribs, Rogerson and Bowen, looked secure for the time being. Unfortunately, our optimism wasn’t to last as the Carib Rogerson Curse reared its ugly head again, the curse of him seemingly managing to be involved in some way in every run out the Caribs suffer. This time, however, he could hardly be blamed as the call was definitely with our cack handed, but keen, Wicketkeeper, Andy Bowen, who called the old boy through for another suicidal run and completely failed to make his ground, dismissed on 9 with the score still only 39, and us still a way from victory. Heavily Built Bludgeoner and Graham Gooch Doppelganger Carib Goochie, was next in to face the young Dodger slow bowler. Fancying some boundaries himself, he smashed his second ball back towards him, sadly on this occasion, falling to a very sharp catch by the young Dodger who threw himself full length to his left to snare the ball inches from the ground, sending Goochie back to the dugout with, very nearly, a boundary to his credit (if he hadn’t smashed it straight back to the bowler that is).

Number 8, Nurdler in Chief and expert Statistician, Carib Berry now strolled out to the middle in yet another attempt to halt a Carib lower order collapse, as he seems so often to be called on to do nowadays. With the last few Dodger Wilkinson deliveries smashed to the boundary by Carib Rogerson, who was now forced to retire following his assent to the lofty score of 27 not out, Carib Berry was joined at the crease by the young summer student and Carib Willis prodigy, Ringer Lawrence, playing for the first time since pre-school, at least several weeks previous. We were by now only around 70 for 6, and with 8 overs remaining, we still needed close to 50 runs if we were to pull off an increasingly unlikely victory. Ringer Lawrence tried manfully to make a connection between bat and ball, surviving close to four overs but failing to connect with a single delivery. Perhaps believing it would improve the Dodger’s chances of victory, their bowlers signally failed to bowl a single straight one that would have hit the stumps, all that would have been required to send the flailing Ringer on his way. As the dot balls mounted, however, our Captain, Martin Haigh, from his vantage point on the boundary, became increasingly concerned at our lack of progress towards the Dodger’s score, and several encouraging and inspirational pieces of advice were forthcoming, “hit the ball”, “run yourself out young man” and so forth emanated towards the middle. Eventually, however, after his long vigil at the crease, he did indeed manage to run himself out and return to the boundary, leaving the scorebook displaying what’s quite possibly the longest piece of Morse Code ever written in the English Language, without the use of a single dash.

He was succeeded at the crease by his mentor, Carib Willis, our final hope of overhauling the Dodger’s score, and obviously, our hearts sank at the prospect of an early departure to the pub. However, in the fading light, both the Caribs began what was to be a quite remarkable rear-guard action. Carib Berry continued nurdling it around the park, his score creeping into double figures, while Carib Willis, after a watchful first over began scything boundaries, and before long, we’d passed the hundred mark and seemed, if the momentum and tempo of Carib Willis’s unlikely innings could be maintained, still in which a chance of winning. The number of overs left, however, continued to decline, even as our score continued to rise and the run rate would suddenly go against us, only to be revived again by another bludgeoned four from our two nurdlers. One of Dodger Fox’s overs disappeared for 18, and Dodger McBarron’s penultimate over, a useful 10.

As the final over dawned we found that we needed only 8 for victory and the excitement around the ground was palpable as every delivery was cheered and every nurdle accompanied with shouts of “TWO”, “THREE” from the excited crowd on the boundary. In the scramble for runs, however, Carib Berry was sadly run out, sacrificing his wicket in the lunge for victory, with still 5 required from the final ball while our last batsman, the compulsive bouncer bowling Jarrod Worthy proceeded out to the middle, while Carib Willis prepared himself to face the final ball. In the event, despite the pleas from the boundary, they could only scramble two of the last ball, leaving us just 3 adrift of victory as our allotted overs came to an end.

However, that we had staged such a spectacular recovery from yet another dreadful collapse, mirroring the unlikely Carib Moss’s rearguard heroics the previous week, and at times, must have seriously worried the Dodger’s management, showed that “Bouncebackability” has surely now entered the Carib Lexicon. Whether this will remain the case as the season unfolds remains to be seen. However, the game had proved a very enjoyable one and we left the field to engage in the usual draining of beer cans, packing of bags, and arguing over their destination, following which we trotted off to the pub to enjoy a well earned cold beer, or two.

Carib Beer XI Lose by 2 Runs


Dodgers CC      
M Dollins   Not Out 35 (20)
T Qureshi Caught Tungate Bowled Haigh 17 (20)
S Smith Caught Bowen Bowled Willis 0 (6)
G Westhead   Bowled Willis 1 (3)
D Radcliffe Not Out 25 (20)
R Wilkinson Caught Bowen Bowled Haigh 8 (12)
P McBarron Not Out 21 (13)
J Hilary Bowled Rogerson 5 (5)
R Fox Caught Berry Bowled Rogerson 0 (1)
S Cousins Caught Tungate Bowled Worthy 0 (1)
EXTRAS     8
TOTAL   For 7 (20 Overs) 120
Peter Rogerson 4-0-24-2 Jarrod Worthy 4-0-25-1
Phi Cordey 4-0-27-0 Barry Willis 4-0-24-2
Martin Haigh 4-0-16-2    
Carib Beer XI      
Martin Haigh   Bowled Hilary 12 (16)
Andy Moss   Bowled Cousins 1 (5)
Dan Tungate Bowled Cousins 2 (3)
Peter Rogerson Not Out 27 (18)
Phil Cordey Bowled Cousins 0 (4)
Andy Bowen Run Out 9 (16)
Glen Goochie Caught & Bowled Wilkinson 0 (3)
Gordon Berry Run Out 19 (23)
Lawrence Run Out 0 (15)
Barry Willis   Not Out 25 (15)
Jarrod Worthy   Not Out 0 (0)
EXTRAS     23
TOTAL   For 8 (20 Overs) 118
Cousins 4-1-8-3 Hilary 4-0-19-1
Wilkinson 2-0-20-1 Smith 2-0-16-0
Fox 4-0-23-0 McBarron 4-0-23-0