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About Time

Posted by Matt Thomas on 18/08/2017 10:46

About Time*

*NB: This is not a reference to the dreadfully schmaltzy Richard Curtis film, the very type of film that Rev would skive off a days work to watch in bed whilst pretending to read Proust. 

Firstly, apologies, this report is later than an Ian Bell cut shot. It’s late enough that the memory of the game has faded (error), it’s late enough to jug (another error), Jeez, it’s nearly later than a Mark Sewards appearance at nets. But, serendipitously, this is a report about time. Now time is many things – money; relative; of the essence; but most importantly time is passing - the season is entering its denouement, the nights are drawing in, so enjoy the rest of the season Tavs because the times they-are-a-changin’.  

Pt 1: Bohemian Rhapsody

A Bohemian is, by definition, a ‘socially unconventional person’. And we have played this rabble enough times to know, in the words of Tony Hadley, this much is true. Already Archdale had, rather oddly, put back the start time back by an hour for climatic reasons. As such a number of the less talented more committed Tavs gathered ridiculously early for the pre-game net.  Frustratingly it was nearly 1345 and barely a Boho was in sight ♫..I see a little silhouette of a man. Scaramouch, Scaramouch, is it Tom Whyte though?..

Yes, yes it was Tom Whyte. ♫..Put a gun against my head pull the trigger now I’m dead.. Finally, at 1410 a full gamut of Bohemians graced us with their presence.  It should be noted that one of their coterie was still ridiculously adorned with gold face paint. It stayed on all game. Fucking artists…

And now, due to the time, the game would only be 35 overs! Skipper Smith won the toss and chose to field. Field? Field?! Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to Jem.

Pt 2: Fielding 

Fundamentally, at least 99.94% of Tavs play cricket at the weekend so we can stand in solitude for a few of hours. It’s an opportunity to reminisce, to drop catches, and to shout ‘Stuuuuubsy’ at different tempos and timbres depending on the current state of the game. A man has time to think in the field. And isn’t that what makes a man? Well, that and a pair of testicles. 

But there are times on the field where everything seems to slow down. Things happen in super-slow motion. Christ, time doesn’t stand still, it almost stops. That is the effect of Paul Swindell bowling.  So slowly does the ball come out of his hand, gradually inching itself towards the batsmen, that time becomes relative and you begin to consider the big existential questions.  Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Why has their wicket keeper still not taken that face paint off? 

These questions are going through my head as I am standing-up to our opening bowler. Has he always been this slow I pondered as the first of 11 byes crawl past my flat feet? To be fair, he bowled well, deservedly picking up a wicket in a miserly unchanged spell of 7 overs.  

He spent the rest of the innings (as is his want) in a halcyon daze, dreaming about what it will feel like when he finally takes another catch.  These fantasies are only occasionally interrupted by two involuntary actions – the overwhelming need to intermittently power-slide regardless of where the ball is, and the latent desire to change his shirt every 10 overs regardless of the climate. 

Ollie, his fellow power-slider, took the new ball at the other end.  And got some tap.  After three overs he was rightly pulled off by Jem.  Kinky.  He then spent much of the rest of the innings misfielding, dropping, and on more than one occasion eschewing the long-barrier for a two-footed studs-up slide tackle technique, that, wait for it, was remarkably unsuccessful. Still, he had a good day - he came back later on and took a wicket, but more importantly about 8 people went for a pint with him that night! What a week! 

The Bohemian’s were 85-1 at drinks, and we were probably a bit behind the game. Kelly was looking set, and a strong bowling line-up of Maloney, Browning and Smith had failed to stem the tide, with the Jem being particularly expensive (3-0-24).  And, on paper, a strong fielding side weren’t really on their game either, as misfields, byes and buzzers mounted. The cherry on the turd was the Babycham winning missed run-out that saw at least three Tavs pretty much max out from the one incident. Time has eroded the specific details, but unsurprisingly PXMS didn’t cover himself in glory (unlike that time down the Heath).

The big breakthrough came on the stroke of 100 runs, Kelly, who had hitherto batted intelligently, was well caught by Jack off AB (relatively speaking, anything Jack ever catches must be considered well caught, given the abomination that was the 2016 pink cap winning anus horribilis). 

Now, there are very few moments I don’t enjoy on a cricket field. Even when we are getting roundly beaten there are still moments of joy to be found in the gallows humour of a good thrashing.  But wicketkeeping to Tom Whyte is certainly the exception to the rule. The combination of his left handedness, his fat arse and Tresco-esque (at 3?) back-lift mean you have to keep in front of second slip to have any chance of seeing the ball.  The alternative is to stand up to the wicket.  And you don’t want to stand up to the wicket. Just ask Scott. Thankfully, after what was becoming a rather fruitful and frustrating 3rd wicket stand, Mal-T got Tom to fall in to his temper trap, caught by Jem in the deep. Wickets 3 and 4 followed in quick-time as our resident Ozzie picked up two more in the same over.  His classical action, modelled on his Ashes winning hero, Ashley Giles (#TheKingofSpain #MBE #GodSaveYourQueen), had scythed through the dangerous Boho’s middle order.

The Bo’s finished on 185 – a decent effort on a still drying pitch, but with one shortish boundary and a deep batting line-up we were still in a pretty good position.  But we wouldn’t be the club we are without finding new and novel ways to dramatise a run chase, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Pt 3: Marky Mark and the funky hunch

‘’He waits…That’s what he does…And I’ll tell you what; tick dot followed tock dot followed tick dot followed tock dot’’

Dot followed dot followed dot followed dot. Ad naseum. 33 times dot followed dot. This was truly a timeless innings. One for the ages.  But there was context; there’s always context. Mark, in his insatiable appetite to grind Peter Peter Cricket Cheater to dust, had clearly decided to bunker down and hold the Tavs hostage.  His objective was simple. His method was relentless.  Shortly after PPCC departed for a spritely 16 (2 fours, 5 wafts), Mark’s plan took hold – he was to Tavare the game to death.  Team goals were forgotten in his quest to ensure PPCC never forgot this day – this was to be his Waterloo, his moment in the sun. Dot followed dot followed dot followed dot. Yes, he had already this season scored his maiden century, and now, on his return from a 6 week sabbatical on the sidelines, he was within sniffing distance of overhauling PPCC all time Tavs runs record.  But this wasn’t a time to take the lead.  This was a time for a statement: Thou shall not pass.  And behold the ball did not pass (short extra cover) once in 33 balls.  The run rate crept up.  Those watching got restless. But still Mark batted. Selfishly? Absolutely. But the Tavs loss was Mark’s gain. All the while PPCC stewed, at that point he knew there was no stopping this man.  It was only a matter of time before he lost the record.

NB. It has been ‘alleged’ that upon scoring 13 off 23 balls Mark was hit on the head whilst attempting to pull.  He then proceeded to not score a run for the next 33 balls. But was he hit? There was no blood, no discernible lump to speak of, and when finally out for 18 (2 more than PPCC) there was this wistful, not quite rueful smile and a slightly glazed look. To be fair, this does seem quite a lot like concussion…  

NNB. What’s the difference between Mark Seward’s 33 dot ball odyssey and Pat Tripp’s amendment-making 18 dot ball t20 masterpiece?  Ahem, well one happened because someone got whacked on his face, the other because someone was whacked off his face. Badum-tish! Zinger! Start the car!

NNB.  What do Mark Sewards and Pat Tripp have in common? They both have the unerring ability to make PPCC green. HELLO!

Pt 4: We need to talk about Alan

‘’Sometimes there’s a man, I wont say a hero because what’s a hero? But sometimes there’s a man, and I’m talking about Alan here, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place’’  

Getting on the board: the pinnacle for any Taverner - only 22 men have achieved it.  Getting on the both boards: a rare feat indeed - only 5 people have scaled the heights. Getting on both boards in the same year:  reserved for only a select few - before this day only 2 men stood atop this crest, peering down on all others safe in the knowledge that theirs was truly the most select club (barring Redser’s run-out club).  But on this day they were to be joined by another man.  A fine man.  And that man was Alan. 

Having earlier bowled as badly as we have seen this year, he came to the crease in scratchy form – barely 100 runs to his name at an average that would make even PPCC blush. Initially he took a while to adjust; unsurprising, given the paucity of strike he was receiving due to Stonewall Sewards dirty batting protest.  But one sure fire sign of a vvs batsman is his ability to score runs under the gun. I have seen AB score match winning tons in runs chases (105 against the Shakeys), innings-defining tour-winning tons (111 vs Grantchester), gutsy match winning runs on murderous decks (61 from a total of 104 vs Salix), oh, and vanity tons that stop club legends reaching 200. And unlike your Joe Quinn’s, who will throw in sublime hundreds in match losing causes ‘just for the bantz’, Alo is a man for the when the heat is on, for when the scoreboard pressure is rising, and when the chips are well and truly down*. 

*Unless he has ‘pulled a groin’, then he will limp around the field like a shitter version of Swindell, before refusing to bat thus denying us the possibility of definitely winning a game against the Shakeys

And make no mistake, the chips were down. The rate was now hovering at 8 and a bit an over, the bowling was tight, and their fielding was certainly a notch above ours.  These are the games we tend to lose.

On 20 Alan was joined at the crease by PMXS, a man is some considerable form, a man whose batting this year has resembled an actually-pretty-decent-14-year-old-colt.  But Mark’s master class had left the Tavs close to the creak, and when the one of the paddles is Starkings 666 Gunn & Moore Harrow, we were worried things were about to get pretty shitty. 

Crucially, Al and Starks looked in decent touch, both sweeping the leg spinner to great effect, and running the singles much harder than at any point Mark was at the crease (odd that). Regular, steady, risk free accumulation of 6 and 7 run overs were helping. The turning point, though, was the introduction of Archdale in the 24th over.  His two overs would go for 28 runs, and though he was ultimately to get his man, with Pete holing out to the Kelly at deep midwicket, it was not before Starkings (31 off 24) had tipped the game decisively in the Tavs favour with an uncharacteristic boundary flurry, including a proper, daddy sized, champagne moment winning, 6 over cow corner.  There are some things not even Starkings believes possible when contemplating his lot whilst idly kicking his heels in the field. But here it was, a genuine under-the-gun sixer in the same week that Bazza had done the same.  These truly do feel like the end of times…

The game was now firmly in our favour, the end was in sight, and Alan was accelerating.  The fifty milestone was now a blip in the rear-view, but surely the ton was out of reach? Needing at least 25 of the 30 or so runs needed to win it was highly unlikely. And with Jack at the other end – he of Tavs fastest ever 50 in last seasons end of season thriller – this was surely a bridge to far?  But this was to be Alan’s day, and with Jack expertly rotating the strike AB opened up the shoulders and went boundary hunting.  A beautiful arcing parabola of a cover drive, up and over the fielder at extra, took him to 97, and a cut four sealed the win and the hundred. A phenomenal MoM winning effort off 77 balls for AB, and his fifth Tavs ton.

A relatively straightforward win in the end, with 4 overs to spare, followed by a raucous pitch side fine session. It was worth the wait.

Matt Thomas (2nd member of that most exclusive club) - 18.08.17