In an alternative Universe, this week would have seen the start of the football World Cup in glorious sunshine and this November would be dark, cloudy and threatening drizzle. Yet in this crazy post-truth world, the World Cup is going to be in November in blazing temperatures and The Blades rocked up to this match at a North Walls ground blanketed in semi-gloom. An unprecedented 10 Blades were on site before the 6pm start and fielded first in this 18-over race against the light.
Fay H and Farmer comprised the opening attack, bowling on a green pitch that suggested little in terms of bounce. The option to give 2 runs for wides and extras helped the score tick along as well as the over rate, although a clearly very classy Knowle batting line up needed little assistance as they started off at 6 an over. The number two in particular decided boundaries was the way to score, helping himself to four of them on the 6th and 7th before retiring with the score at 55-0 from 7 overs. The rate fell back after that. Kaur and Meering joined the attack and in the 12th came the breakthrough in bizarre fashion. The batsman, running a hopeful single of a shot that broke the toe off his bat, was found out of his ground when the fielding throw to Meering missed his hand but deflected off him onto the stumps. They all count, and finally one was back in the hutch at 81-1 in the 12th. Cue ten minutes of mayhem as Kaur clean bowled two in the 13th and Meering took another from the other end in the 14th. Suddenly it was 85-4 and the Knowle lower order were scrambling for their pads. Knowle returned to their previous form in the 15th – eight from it including a four – but wait, who was the yellow-capped eleventh Blade arriving? Afzal was brought straight on for the 16th over and splayed the furniture with his first delivery, using the post-wicket celebratory huddle to bid his team mates Good Evening. 95-5 then, and game was, contrary to earlier expectations, on. Or at the very least, leaning a tad less towards off. Hamer B assumed the responsibility for the 17th and was unlucky to be the victim of some late-innings run-chasing. A run out in the final over saw a 6th wicket fall but overall a decent club side had built a solid total of 127 for 6.
So a challenging target for the gallant Blades, in fact a victory would be the highest domestic second innings total for 24 years, but thoughts were of nothing but waving the willow, punishing the pill, and Seeing What Happened. Marsh and Webber strode to the middle and What Happened was Marsh striding back to the pavilion to the sound of tumbling timber after the first ball. These things happen though, and thanks to a wide, Blades were 2-1 after the first over. These things happened again in the second when Farmer was caught LBW, and then happened again again as Fay H joined Marsh in the Primary club. Oh, and then in the third too when Webber was caught, swiftly followed by Hurst who – in the unluckiest and bizzarest dismissal of the night – was out of his ground when Kaur’s drive hit the bowler’s end stumps, and he was on his way back without facing a ball. Five for five, the sort of score that would have brackets if it was on the videprinter. Hamer K was next to the middle and his 21 partnership with Kaur at least meant Knowle’s open top bus was put back in the garage for a while. Kaur was caught in the 6th with the score at 26-6 and Meering took his place, sharing a 23 partnership with Hamer K.
Hamer K was eventually bowled for 17 in the tenth over, his skipper’s innings bringing much-needed respect to the Blade scorecard. Rhodes was next in, and saw the fifty up for the Albanian massive before he was caught next over. Brief cameos from Afzal and Hamer B followed but the chubby lass had been warbling for a while. It was all over in the fourteenth, and in an evening crammed full of Unbelievable Jeff moments, the lad E X Tras came out top scorer with 18 in the Blades total of 56 all out.
RESULT: BLADES LOSE BY 71 RUNS
Champagne moment contenders:
Afzal arriving during the 15th over, taking a wicket with the first ball of the 16th
The pavilion cheering the Ten Up in the 4th over
The lad Tras finally showing his class and top scoring for The Blades