A somewhat late match report – your correspondent needed a full week of salmon fishing and heavy drinking to recover from the stress that this fixture caused him!
The consensus among the Hogs brains trust was that the pitch looked remarkably good and that we should definitely bat first, so Captain Browne (G) gave a resounding ‘We’ll have a bat, thanks’ when the coin came down in his favour. But it was not long before he had cause to rue that decision.
The Hogs innings was opened by Charlie Russell, fresh off the back of a tough season in the Singapore leagues, and Jim Dundas, but after Jim had got off the mark with a deft edge through the slips for four in the first over, Charlie chopped on and was bowled for a duck. This marked the beginning of a remarkable collapse which saw first Tiger Foot go for one, bowled by Tod, then Angus ‘Gumbo’ Lowe for zero, caught by S Tod off the bowling of Platt before the end of the sixth over. The sixth saw Jim Dundas fall, once again to Tod, out for seven. The Hogs were 8 for 4.
Richard Brereton and Watson Briggs managed to last a further six overs, with Richard showing particular diligence, before Watson also went for seven in the 13th over, lbw to Tod, and was shortly followed by Mark Low, out for a duck slashing to point.
At this point the captain was having palpitations in front of the pavilion, and when Goodeve-Docker went out to bat the instructions he was given by a visibly shaken Browne were “Mark… [i]please[/i]!” There was a certain look in Docker’s eye, but whether this was a good or a bad sign was not sure. The benches in front of the pavilion were the scene of much discussion of Docker’s famously attacking style of play, and the consensus was he wasn’t likely to block, despite the parlous situation in which the Hogs found themselves.
The speculation appeared to be correct as Docker’s first few balls were greeted with mighty swings, any one of which would have sent the ball screaming into the hay field next door, had he connected. Sadly, he did not, in fact, connect, causing the captain to cover his eyes and swear rather a lot. When G-D prodded one back to the bowler and set off for a single, the captain’s knees gave way, but somehow both batsmen survived the run out opportunity when the bowler inexplicably missed the stumps with an underarm throw, when a gentle saunter over to the stumps would surely have sufficed.
Brereton’s spirited defence had ended in the 19th over taking the score to 45-7, and Docker was joined by the no.9, Rob Shipster, a guest playing his first game for the Hogs. Docker finally made contact, picking up a short ball and whipping it for six and this seemed to mark the beginning of what must be one of the most remarkable recoveries in the history of Hogs cricket.
At Lunch the pair were still there, Docker in the 30s and Shipster in the 20s. The score was over 100, much to the captain’s relief.
After Lunch the pendulum had certainly swung towards the Hogs, perhaps the effect of the cheeseboard, which, for once, Captain Browne felt unable to touch, so rattled were his nerves. The nautically named pair of Docker and Shipster proceeded to mount an attacking defence, mercilessly pouncing on the bad balls and watchfully blocking the increasingly rare good ones, as the Strollers’ became visably more frustrated.
When Docker reached his 50 there were cheers, but he was trapped leg before shortly after having added 58 from 68 deliveries. Captain Browne marched to the crease having promoted himself above his younger brother from 11 to 10. He played a supporting role, helping Shipster to reach first his maiden 50, and adding a useful 24. When he edged behind to the keeper the score was 215-9 and Shipster was 13 runs short of a first ever century to go with his earlier half. Charlie Browne was instructed to ‘not get out’ which he dutifully did, seeing Shipster to three figures. Once this milestone was reached the signal was to swing the willow, which Charlie followed with glee, skying one to square leg.
The Hogs finished on 249 all out, with Shipster not out on 101.
[b]WATCH: See Shipster reach his maiden ton [/b][url=https://twitter.com/MFWIC_FIGJAM/status/878686481488982016]https://twitter.com/MFWIC_FIGJAM/status/878686481488982016[/url]
When the Hogs took the field there was an air of optimisim, and despite struggling with his length Charlie Browne picked up the first wicket in the 5th over, as the ball was spooned to G-Docker at square leg who made a meal of an easy catch. Charlie Russell, opening from the bottom end with deceptive pace and accuracy trapped the other opener lbw in the 10th and the game was on, with the score at 36-2.
After tea Browne made a double change, taking the pace off the ball with Low at the top and new member Watson Briggs’ left arm spin from the bottom. The ploy worked, with Low nearly sneaking a wicket with the first ball after the break and Briggs taking wickets in each of his first two overs. 58-4 was the score and the Hogs scented blood. Low, like a prowling shark, snaffled two wickets in the 21st over and then Strollers looked in real trouble at 61-7.
Emboldened, Browne started to ring the changes, bringing Mark ‘The Windmill’ Goodeve-Docker into the attack for a few overs from the top to try to blast a quick wicket, and then Shipster to see if he couldn’t complete a fairytale day.
The Strollers’ no. 3, Caldwell, who had remained strong and stable while his teammates went all weak and wobbly reached his half century – a fine knock with few chances, but shortly after Charlie Russell, returning from the bottom end, picked up the last two wickets of the 10-man Strollers and sealed the miraculous win with a sharp c&b.
Both Watson Briggs and Charlie Russell finished with figures of 3-30, and Mark Low with 2 for just 9 from his six overs. A special mention must also go to Tiger Foot for his stirling performance behind the stumps, taking the gloves for the first time and keeping up a constant babble of encouragement, as well as pouching a catch off the bowling of Briggs.