Editorial anarchy! An alternative view of the Taverners game
– by veteran captain, beat poet and new-age horticulturalist Chris Wright
And so as the dog-eared scorebook of time turns another rain splattered page towards the end of yet another season of social cricket we must reflect on a Judd Street Tigers game played without the omnipresent scorer, kit man, conscience, treasurer and match day reporter Group Captain Biggers, aka Steve Bignell. He has taken his annual northerly jaunt with rarely seen tiger cub Philbilly Hill to the OAP relief home run by ex Gent Mark ‘ashtray’ Ashton for some massage, late night vinyl stories and early morning ping-pong sessions. An opportunity for the body to relax, the mind to clear, the whites to be washed and most of the Judd Street Tiger kit to disperse to various corners of the metropolis.
And what a game he chose to miss, the only rain interrupted fixture in an otherwise sun drenched and heat saturated season, a season where natty orange and black banded headwear proved indispensable, not just in the players bedrooms late at night when re-enacting crazed David Mellor inspired cameos, no, in order to keep the head cool and clear, a boiling cerebellum doesn’t help to catch a skier descending with snow on it or keep out a speeding yorker from a blowing, puffing, steaming opening bowler screaming downhill with a stiff tail wind.
And what did he miss? He missed the Railway Taverners, a splendid and eclectic bunch, as diverse a bunch of social cricketers that you could ever hope to meet, a delightful concoction, a cocktail of talents and abilities both batting and fielding with who we always play a hugely enjoyable fixture.
Sunday didn’t disappoint, Captain Dane lost the toss and found himself inserted. He turned to his two opening bowlers Webster and Wright to see if they could set the tone, define the attitude, gain an early breakthrough or at least bowl with some control. As usual Webster stepped up to the mark, striding tall, a giant amongst social cricketing gadflies, a colossus whose jovial outward appearance defies a steely inner core. His spell of 5 over’s, 3 maidens, 2 wickets for 5 runs did indeed set the tone, he built the pressure bamboozling the batsmen with his guile, craft and cunning – where would this ball pitch, how much would it swing, what variation in pace was coming next? It was a devastating spell and nobody was more surprised than Matt to be taken off, with 2 more over’s left to bowl and replaced at the bushy, trees and roady bit end by the effervescent Simon ‘I can probably squeeze a half down’ Warren.
Meanwhile Wright had begun his spell with two relatively decent, if moderately paced balls, both of which were retrieved from the boundary by his tiger colleges, oh dear, the batsmen, frustrated by Webster had taken an early decision to go after Wright, to mercilessly pound him into the ground, to shatter his confidence, to mentally break him and force his Captain to respond in the only sensible way – to replace him and send him out into the deep. But why? Were they perhaps recalling a spell earlier in the season at Crouch End, (this is mere speculation), was it a personal vendetta, a whim, a flight of fancy, who knows the rationale behind such critical and crucial decisions? But, like it or not, put to the sword he was – have those opening 2 balls scarred him? Only time will tell.
Things were tightened, it worked to a degree, wickets were forthcoming and the runs dried up and after 15 or so over’s the Taverners were struggling. Steve came in and hung around, played some blistering ground shots and looked the part for his 50, a total was accumulating but was it going to be enough?
Webster had made the initial breakthrough removing the opener Simon with an absolute pearler, off stump out the ground and wickets were taken at regular intervals, Warren, Murray and Taylor all abetting Webster and chipping in with the catches were Allerton, Rennie and Wright. The twirling duo of Taylor and Murray caught the eye for all the right reasons, lateral movement and variations in speed had the batsmen in a quandary – the pressure had told and the Taveners were all out for 123.
The Tigers opening pair of Herlihy and Delanian have developed an almost imperceptible understanding this season, with the seamless running between wickets and the virulent calling they have rightly been touted as the Hinge and Bracket of social cricket, an opening partnership so formidable that recent up and coming comedy duo’s, fresh from the Edinburgh fringe have been following them around seeking tips and inspiration. There’s no need for that, simply look and learn, look and learn!
Unusually it was Mike Delanian out first attempting a blood thirsty heave which left Mike ‘the rant’ Herlihy, at the crease and somewhat bereft, for what is a hinge without a bracket and how soon will a door without a bracket but with a hinge, begin to rust as it remains shut. Who in their right mind would attempt to open a door with but one hinge and that one hinge less one bracket? Who indeed?
Enter Rowan, previously a wilting mountain ash, a drought afflicted sapling in desperate need of water, could he deliver a memorable innings, could he repay the faith of his Captain and prove that the hours of coaching on the skittle alleys of Somerset had not been in vain? Well yes, recharged following his Moroccan adventures he strode resolutely to the crease with the determined look of somebody who had slept for 3 hours took the sword to the Taverners opening bowlers. 6 after 6 was dispatched, the first straight over the hedge and into the car park connecting with a Toyota and marking the occasion in the appropriate manner. Rowan’s 50 came in approximately 8 balls, or so it seemed and the game was done and dusted in 16 over’s. A remarkable display of power hitting rarely seen on the greens of Winchmore Hill or anywhere else for that matter.
A jolly day had come to an end, the rain hadn’t dampened the cricketers thirst and the beer was drinkable and served at a decent temperature – where do they keep it – on the roof?
And so as the watery scorebook closes for another week and the sweaty box of time ticks relentlessly on, I leave you with the immortal words of Groucho Marx – ‘I never forget a face, but in your case I’d be glad to make an exception’.