The year of greeno & gold would commence with a trip overseas to Kempston hammers. With the River Thames running only 11 miles away from the ground and the sounds of Essex stilletos heard echoing from the high street shops , its fair to say this is the furthest away league game the club will play.
The skipper was also far more useful than he’s been in previous seasons. This has nothing to do with netting all winter and being a better batsman, but down to the fact that he has sold his ‘only way is Essex’ 2 seater Porsche and can now get 3 people and some kit in his car.
This was also more helpful as John Butler, Simmo Jnr, Loz Joel and Monik refused to drive to the game or buy a round of ale.
Team news meant that during the week Biffa had been busier than the complaints department at the Findus Factory and captain Greeno would have a strong side to begin his campaign.
Bails, FK and Monik hit the M1 in bright sunshine with the dial nudging 11 degrees and some blue skies above. As we passed signs for Hertfordshire the clouds gathered and Bails commented that we looked like we were driving into the end of the world. On the opposite side of the road all the cars were freshly washed and light blazing.
A mile later the temp gauge hit 3.5 degrees and FK’s windscreen wipers were moving faster than Driver discovering a Hen party in Terrace and the mood in the car was one of doom and gloom having waited 6 months for league action. As we closed in on the destination the rain stopped and sun came out but it was clear the rain had already fell heavily in Essex.
As we arrived the Hammers boy’s were mopping and rolling which was good to see they were up for getting a game on.
Luckily it was just the enthusiasm that was infectious and nothing that Boosh had brought home from work and the lads trooped out for warm up. Greeno escaped the fate of warming up in whites as he dug a pair of shorts from the bottom of his bag, but loz wasn’t so fortunate and had to warm up like a keen schoolboy in all whites.
Apart from Boosh and Bails, the rest of the team must have wintered in the John Hanger fielding academy and had perfected the throw a foot infront of FK technique. This was all the more exciting for FK as this part of the outfield also acts as a football pitch during the winter so was a thoroughly enjoyable session.
I can’t remember who won the toss as I was busy icing various parts of my body from the fielding drill but we ended up bowling first.
There was just 19 minutes before the start of the game for Greeno to read his “we will fight them on the beaches” speech. Chapters 1 to 14 of the Kibworth CC oath and pledges were read, some virgins were sacrificed and we were all anointed with the tears of Ellwood and after putting away the flipcharts and filling in our pre-game KCC vision mission and values statements, it was time to start the season.
With his bumfluff blowing in the wind it would be Jon “I love cricket” Butler to take the new ball which did swing around a bit early on. Without the aid of touching the grass until it past the batsmen it swung even more and after a few overs it would be the confines of the long boundary for the youngest Butler.
The introduction of Tej and Jai pulled the score back into line and the openers found scoring difficult. A sharp chance to a nice flick off the legs was taken well by Luke at square leg and the big lad would demonstrate some superb fielding during the game (no gag coming this is actually true)
To say the following batsmen were characters is a reasonable understatement. Numbers 3 and four had their scoring areas and the plan was to block everything that wasn’t in it and then wait for one that was. To be fair it was successful. The left handed opener continued his patient occupation and with some good fielding all round and patience the lads slowly picked them off.
Not after oppo skipper had mullered 65 from 30 odd balls. His tactic was really targeting the bovine corner and he had a good eye and most of his efforts reached the ropes much to the double teapot of Bails who was bowling some classy stuff.
With a couple of hard chances missed, he departed and then with Jai and Tej wrapping up the middle order, they closed 9 down on 217 with Tej picking up a few late victims with some top straight death bowing as with Monik who worked hard up the hill sharing it with Jai. Good work from all the bowlers, working hard in tandem. Solid stuff in the field with a nice mix of enthusiasm from the youth and unbelieveable co-ordination from the captain who fielded as if he was being operated via remote control by a monkey.
Now tea is always a keenly discussed part of a cricketers day and sometimes too much choice leads to confusion and a queue at the table. Fortunently this dilemma was reduced by narrowing down the sandwich options to ham or tuna. Loz decided that nothing savoury was to be consumed and opted instead for 6 chocolate muffins. (please note Greeno read the full KCC policy regarding healthy eating and nutrition and in no way contravened any ECB regulations in permitting under 17’s to avoid any fruit or vegetables.)
With an array of talent at his disposal a blend of technique, agility, patience and shot selection, deft touches and blossoming talent would be needed to open the batting. So that took care of Simmo jnr and he had to drag Luke to the middle to ruin things.
After his Warner esque fielding display, the big lad was clearly suffering from sugar loss and his blood sugar level had plummeted dangerously low. It was touch and go whether he could actually make it to the crease and with this energy slump, he couldn’t carry his normal trunk of wood and so took a smaller bat with him. Boosh hastily began preparing syringes of diabetic solution (hopefully not using the syringes he normally uses at work or at least rinsing them a bit first)
What we needed was a calm measured approach to the innings and Simmo jnr managed to tame Luke and the pair saw off the early threats of the 2 left handed openers. It really was exactly what we needed. The fielding sides body language dipped and the lads put the bad ball away and the pair scored at a similar rate giving not a sniff to the oppo. Simmo jnr really impressed his watching team mates, building a great base for a big score and clearly frustrating the bowlers. His timing was superb and we reached 100 for 0 ahead of the rate and with oppo skipper running out of options. Spin was introduced but again the pair waited for the bad ball and picked the gaps. Despite a full diabetic slump, Luke started to press on and at drinks swapped to his trusty 4lb grey nicks.
After a few hits he signalled for a sugar injection and so we all witnessed something never before seen, even in FK’s 65 years. We have seen a break in play for a change of bats, fresh gloves or even a drink but never before has a player had to take on a selection of sweets for a batter!!!
Luke opted for a couple of lemon sours and continued. As both passed 50 the base was set and the sun came out and it was banter central among the watching batters. With the score on something, Lukes final ounce of energy gave way and he departed for a well made 70 odd.
After a long wait, FK was due in at 3 and joined a smiling in form Simmo jnr who then explained what each of the bowlers were doing with the ball. FK appreciated the inside knowledge but was only worried about the straight ones as it wouldn’t really make any difference to his block/hit strategy.
With 100 runs to get and plenty of overs Simmo continued to play everything on merit and used his feet nicely to the spinner to hit him off his line with some nice clips over mid wicket for 4’s and the target kept coming down. The skipper brought himself on but only fed FK stuff to put away and FK looked at how it could be possible to support Simmo jnr in what would be a super ton.
On 74 Simmo jnr’s innings came to an end as he was either bowled or ct (sorry memory loss and I was at the other end as well!)
Lovely to see all the Kempston lads come up and shake his hand and congratulate him on a chanceless knock, great show from them.
Loz the muffin joined FK and with a couple of boundaries the scale bothering keeper plonked the opening bowler out the park to reach 50 and finish off the game.
Winning by 8 wickets with about 9 overs left set a great benchmark and an indication of some of the new lads to watch for in 2013. Simmo jnr can make that opening slot his own and just needs to contimnue the solid application and technique and he will have a great year. Moniks ability with the ball moving both ways will prove too much for some in the division and the great lines and control showed by Jai and Tej will also be placing them in line for movement upwards. Bails looked back to his best after last seasons injury and again he will be pushing for inclusion in hilly’s XI.
Loz was itching to bat for longer and will also be doing his bit with the gloves. Johnny B will be back to his pacey best and Greeno will hopefully connect his arms and legs to his reactions. Boosh will be missed due to the fact his is a great bloke to have in the team and can be a danger. Mainly to himself!
What was superb was that 11 lads worked hard, supported each other and delivered a winning start to the season. A visit from neighbours Bowden this coming Saturday and onwards and upwards. #greeno&gold