“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Elbert Hubbard couldn’t make the Blades second fixture, taking on NOCS at Southampton Sports Centre, but if he had he would have doubtless said “if life gives you a massive pitch, 9 players and two of them colts – try and make it look like a game of cricket”. But maybe something a shade more pithy.
And so it came to pass that a patched up Blades took on NOCS with no less gusto than is normal but with some understandable apprehension.
NOCS won the toss and, with scant regard for the Blades predicament, asked our 9 brave heroes to bat first. K-Dog and MC Hamer took to the field and made a steady start against some tricky movement but mostly unaggressive bowling. However, Hamer got through an attempted hook shot too quickly in the third over and absolutely skied it. Fielder standing at mid wicket initially looked unconfident but ultimately held on.
This brought Jim “Jimmer Thirsty” Hurst to the crease who was quickly joined by James “Juggy” Marsh as K-Dog ‘got a good one’ from the NOCS opening slow right arm. Blades really up against it early doors but, dear reader, don’t fret just yet. Hurst and Marsh showed the way with some absolutely imperious batting, each helping themselves to plenty of boundaries with some beautifully timed fours. Both Blades seeing their way safely to retirement, each scoring 26.
Kieran Tame – remember him? – making about his third Blades appearance in 20 years, came to the crease to support Juggy at the end of his innings. He was joined by The Barrier and these boys continued the good stuff with plenty of scoring and each hitting fours – Kieran’s so big it felt like it should’ve been 6 but the pitch really is that big.
Both untroubled throughout and carrying their respective willows, Blades reached 97 for 2 at the end of 18 overs. A slow start led to a decent total but it felt short given the pitch size (and team size!). At the close of innings, 10 year old debutant Keir Humphrey – padded up and ready to go – looked disappointed not to be getting a bat but his story wasn’t to end there..…
Blades took to the field fully aware of the challenge ahead of them. Big pitch, not enough bodies and, in all probability, not a big enough total to defend. Good then that they were joined for the second half by another debutant in Zia Saad brought in on a loan deal from the Afzal academy of cricketing medicine. As is now customary Afzal took the first over and was backed up at the other end by K-Dog.
Now, what you don’t want at the start of such a challenge is the local Lordswood youth on the boundary, kicking off with each other over who pushed who. Yet that – guttural language normally reserved for cruelly dismissed Les Ormes batsmen – was our soundtrack, at ear splitting volume…….
After a steady start the quality of the opening NOCS pair became brutally clear. 7 for 0 from 2 became 19 for 0 off 4 became 32 for 0 off 6. Afzal was then hit for consecutive fours for the first time in this correspondent’s memory. What is the opposite of a champagne moment?
At 42 for 0 off 7 K-Dog brought Juggy in to the attack and Marsh might’ve wished he’d picked someone else. Blades were helped ably by E.X.Tras in their innings with an over of “absolute filth” (as Wikes would’ve said) from some lad who hadn’t bowled for two years. Marsh is such a nice guy that he opted to make the NOCS lad feel better by showing it can happen to anyone, even a seasoned campaigner such as the Juggster.
53 from 8 looked very bleak for the Blades. Around this stage “epic bants” were kicking off on Twitter as the King of Sping, usually infamous for his on-field chat, took on the role of keyboard warrior and called out K-dog for not giving the youth a go. Meanwhile, on the field, Juggy pulled it back with a fine recovery over whilst the Barrier was keeping it tight at the other end, despite a four from the other NOCS opener to bring up his retirement.
At 85 for 0 K-Dog did indeed turn to the youth and Keir “needs a nickname” Humphrey took the ball for the 14th over. The first ball produced a dot and the second, keeping low and nipping back in, made a mess of the batsman’s furniture. Cue absolutely insane cover safe bedlam. The new batsman then edged the third delivery but stand-in ‘keeper Hurst couldn’t make it stick – very tricky chance to be fair. Every other ball a dot and the ten – yes TEN – year old takes a wicket maiden. Absolutely remarkable but, taking it in his stride, he then took another wicket in his next over, completely untroubled by a couple of boundaries. At the other end Hamer Junior was bowling for just the second time and would’ve had a maiden if his dad was a bit more awake, the 6th ball going for a couple that maybe could’ve been stopped. Billy’s second over brought a couple of almost half-chance catches but no dice and NOCS got the winning runs though it took longer than most expected – the youth policy creating their own script and an exciting finish.
“King of Spring was right” t-shirts on sale soon.
NOC score 98-2
RESULT: LOSE BY 8 WICKETS
Champagne moment contenders:
Keir Humphrey wicket maiden from first over on debut
K-Dog taking Twitter shade from GT
Hurst and Marsh partnership
The Lordswood youth and the mystery of “who pushed Emily”