It is with great delight that the pen hits paper for the first report of this season. Reflecting on what was an intriguing game on one of the finest days thus far gladens ones heart. The intrepid Long Itchington Funday Sunday team, absent of stalwarts such as Andy “The DJ” Hart and Aaron “Sutty Junior” Sutcliffe, the team still had the vibe and verve so well set from prior endeavours.
Skipper Perks, now accustomed to the uniqueness of the Sunday side, set the team on the path to what was an unlikely outcome. On a day filled with sun and on the wicket that seemed treacherous the previous day (please see 2nd XI score for information), the Funday boys with a mix of youthful exuberance and wiley experience along with a large dose of unfounded optimism looked ripe for the task.
Napton had made short work of the fixture last season and showed up with a very similar looking side. With this in mind, Perks provided the as ever inspirational team talk, Batting lads, pad up Matt, pad up Fred.
The two openers looked the part and strode purposefully to the wicket. Matt looked his usual solid self and Fred showed what an elegant batter he can be. Clearly this trait is passed from father to son (feet movement excepted Andy…..). Both settled to the task well and the Napton opening bowlers did little to trouble either of the Itch boys. A steady start was enjoyed with runs progressing although slower than perhaps was desired.
Fred, sensing there was a chance to free up his arms hit the full bungers authoritatively and fours were enjoyed. Tucking in when the chance presented, stoically defending when needed. Sadly the curse of the commentator struck. Mr and Mrs Hart, having rushed to see the boy bat, and if truth be told, not expecting to be detained for as long as they were, commented that Fred achieved his best score….. At which point, an early shot played allowed a simple catch to shortish cover.
Rishi Gupta, having warmed up and looking sharp in the nets sadly missed a straight one early doors which unerringly rocked leg stump. The ever youthful Simon Parsons joined the fray and was energetic from the outset. Looking to impress young Charlie, Simon showed his prowess for simple straight batting. The Napton attack were miserly and gave little to hit, much to Simon’s frustration. Likewise, Matt was seeing the ball well but undone with a bit of pace variation which allowed for a caught and bowled.
Napton now sensed blood and did what all decent Sunday teams do, brought on the pie chucker. The new bat, George Riley looked good and swept the pies with great aplomb. The growing crowd enjoyed a moment of magic with what is thought to be the first 6 from George at Long Itch.
Riley and Parsons kept plugging away and provided entertainment. Parsons was especially animated with the absence of anything to hit and was almost undone with a loopy slower ball, pulling out at the last moment to save embarrassment.
Riley and Parsons fell in close succession bringing Ollie and the ever youthful Martin Greaves together. Greaves, as always busy, scampered runs with his customary hustle. In what was to be an innings cut short perhaps prematurely, Greaves saw the left arm slow, through the gate, round the wicket bowling strike his pad. The Umpire saw this as a fair appeal on the part of the Napton boys and raised his finger. Greaves was of another opinion and metaphorically raised two fingers but ever the sportsman, walked. The hole in the home team showers was NOT as a result of this dismissal…..
Skipper Perks took to the crease. Ollie got out to a decent ball allowing the ever confident Charlie Parsons to show dad Simon where he was going wrong.
Confident batting by young Parsons along with aggressive running encouraged by Perks provided impetus to the innings forcing Napton to turn to the opening pair. Parsons was unlucky to see one strike the timbers which saw the mature Scotty Senior arrive.
In recognition of the age difference between the outgoing and incoming, Perks pep talk went along the lines of I’ll call, you run……
Much to the delight of the crowd, now on the edge of their seat and falling around with laughter (yes, I did hear it…..!!), Scotty Senior faced and with confidence nudged one sufficiently well to get off straight away. Perks at this point was in the groove and with limited overs remaining, looked to score at every opportunity. The trademark cover drive was displayed with the usual elegance we have come to expect. Perks and Scotty Senior saw a push to a reasonable 143 at the close.
Top knocks for George Riley (14), Fred (16), Simon (19), Matt (17) and Skipper Perks (38). Contributions from all gratefully received.
The tea interval was welcomed with Zak delivering a well received spread, thanks Zak. Reflections on the score suggested about 30 too few but time would tell.
Back at it, the Itch boys had a spring in their step as the opening overs showed huge intent. George “Pizza Boy” Bostock, playing against a team he had previously represented held nothing back and launched into the attack with pace and guile. In tandem with Fred, the opening two overs set the stall out.
It was not long before Fred found the line and in his second over trapped the dangerous Alsop LBW. Palpable relief from the Itch team as Alsop had plundered plenty last time out. One down and more to be had…..
Fred and George showed great application on a hot day, using the wicket well (great strip Fossie, thanks) and making the batsmen work for every run. Fred now had the Napton bats all over the place and in over number 3, skittled the timbers of the other opener. George, wicketless, provided challenges from the other end and kept the Napton boys on their toes.
Fred got number 3 with a great straight ball showing the benefits of the coaching undoubtedly tutored by the great man himself (yes Andy, I do mean you).
Bowling change time and pie chucker in chief Scott was allowed his first overs of this season. Having no Scott household target to chase, knowing that Scotty Junior was wicketless to date inspired a spell of top pie chucking. Through choking noises around the ground, with the able back-up of young Parsons bowling at the other end, the unimaginable happened. Giving the batsman something to have a go at outside leg, the well placed field settings of Perks almost paid off with Greaves almost taking a miracle catch. Sadly, Martin has yet to buy the drink for the drop, there’s always next week!!
But lowe, another opportunity was provided with mistiming a notable feature off the pies bowled, and on this occasion, Simon Parsons snaffled a steepling catch at mid-off which was well received by the bowler but for reasons known only to Martin and Simon, not so for Martin?
In any case, the game was very much now on with the rate always being on the verge of challenging for Napton but with the resilient Sensecall finding ways of remaining at the wicket (talk to Greaves and Perks), the game was never over.
Ollie bowled some interesting varieties which saw him gather two very valuable wickets and perhaps even turned the game.
Sniffing victory, Perks put the opening pair back into action and George and Fred let the Napton batters know that they were going to have to fight for this. Fred got the better of the Napton number 8 with another LBW to a good ball. George looked likely to strike at any moment and his pace seemingly increased into his final over. Sadly he was not given the rewards he deserved but the team ethic shone brightly and his allowance ended.
As of this point in the game, things were on a knife edge. One more wicket and likely Napton would capitulate. A few more lusty blows and Napton had the game sewn up. Cometh the hour cometh the man, or in this case the men. The dynamic duo of Perks and Greaves showed the grit and determination needed. There was some consternation that Greaves had his seemingly plumb LBW appeal declined, the Funday bit was getting a little thin….. But in the following over Perks made good and the errant batsman was despatched.
The Napton runs dried to nothing and at the end of their 40, they were 13 shy. What a tense ending to a tight game which was enjoyed by all who played and the watching hoards (at least 15 people at one time!!).
Top bowling Fred 8 Overs, 4 Maidens, 4 for 8
Well done the Itch boys, great fun as always. Missing the stalwarts but they’ll be back.