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Report – 2nd June 2021 – NOC AWAY

“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”

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New Fixtures Added

My fellow Albanians

Yes, you read that right, there are now THREE more chances to don the baggy blue this summer:

Wed 2nd Jun vs NOC @ The Sporty

Wed 9th Jun vs Knowle Village (venue tbc)

Wed 2nd Jun vs NOC @ The Sporty

Click on each fixture above to register, or click HERE to go to the full fixture list and register for every game this season. You will also* be entered into our mega-draw where you could win one of these amazing prizes:

A popadom of your choice at the end of season curry
A mention in a match report
A chance to keep wicket for a over
One million pounds in cash**
An all-expenses-paid trip to Tirana***

#ALMFB, MFs

* probably
** you won’t win this
*** or this

Report – 25th May 2021 – Crawley AWAY

After a couple of cancelled fixtures, the Blades season got under way at Crawley Crows, an idyllic Constable painting of a ground in the Hampshire countryside. A capacity crowd of four humans, three dogs and fifteen million midges packed the huge terrace in anticipation of a top notch evening of cricket. Traffic congestion resulted in delayed Bladery, and the pragmatic decision was taken for Blades to bat.
Whythe and Farmer opened the batting and Whythe flicked the first Blades score of the summer off his legs. E X Tras got amongst it early doors too as the opening pair began to score but a direct hit run out found Whythe short of his ground in the third and we were 5-1.
Marsh joined Farmer for a fine partnership of 29 including the first boundary of the season as March chunted a low four through cow in the seventh. This was followed next ball by a dropped catch – albeit a tricky diving effort – and then a further four with a beautifully timed flick behind square leg by Farmer. Marsh was bowled for 11 at the end of the 7th with the score on 34, to be replaced by Webber whose 12 included the first 6 of the season.
Farmer was caught at mid-on in the ninth and at the halfway point Blades – admittedly helped by what we could fairly call Second String Bowling helping Tras to a good knock and testing the scorers’ ability to fit multiple extra deliveries in a small box in the book – were poised nicely at 50-3.
Hurst replaced Farmer and, partnered by Webber and then Hamer, knocked a cultured 12 that this correspondent felt deserved twice as much. The next bowling change after the 13th saw a much more miserly attack reduce the rate and although the wickets stayed intact, Hurst and Hamer were struggling to get much away on a slow pitch. When Hurst was bowled, Humphrey knocked a cameo six in the last two overs, the final being the debut over from a female rookie bowler. Blades, despite a slow-down in the latter half, had done enough early on to post a decent – but gettable – total of 101-5.

Afzal-Galpin is by now a legendary opening attack, and Blades opted for this trusty pairing. Whythe caught the number two off Afzal in the second and Crawley were restricted to 18-1 from the first five overs.
The sixth went for a few including what looked destined to be a huge six but it fell ten yards short and a combination of the height of the shot and the heaviness of the pitch meant it stopped, not even making a four.
The next over though belonged to Afzal, a catch by Hurst giving him a wicket maiden, assisted by a run out off the fielding of Marsh. 34-3 from seven overs – behind the rate but still evenly balanced.
Wythe and Humphrey came on for the first change and, whatever the cricket equivalent of parking the bus is, that’s what happened. “Oh god they can all bowl,” remarked their scorer behind me. “Yes they can,” was the resigned reply from his companion. 16 scored for 1 in the next six overs and the pendulum of fate was looking kindly down on the Blades.
Marsh joined Humphrey at the next change, then Whythe took over from Humphrey as his spell ended, but the Scroogesque attack continued. That was fatally combined with a revolving-door installation in the pavilion as all Crawley’s attempts to chase the total resulted in Blades catchery or furniture demolition. By the end of the 14th Crawley were at 53-6 and BetFred were already paying out on a Blades win.
The final over began at 66-7. Gary Sobers could have won it from there if we’d been playing in Swansea but the great man wasn’t selected and Crawley hopes vanished as Whythe caught and bowled, then bowled, Crows to 66-9. A hat trick ball would wrap it up. Last man in was in fact the last woman in, as the bowler of the last Blades over stepped up to face the rest of the last Crows over. The ground was abuzz – Whythe was on a hat trick but would gentlemanly decorum be observed too? Whythe delivered a strong ball, but to cheers from the home contingent, the hat trick ball was fended away. Next ball the cheers were even louder as the red pill was despatched effortlessly towards the pavilion, falling just short of a majestic four. Whythe brought the innings to an end, and Blades had recorded only their second first match victory of the last ten seasons. Despite a minor flurry near the middle of the innings, Crawley never looked close to the win, and closed on 69-9.

RESULT: BLADES WIN BY 32 RUNS

Champagne moment contenders:
Marsh direct hit run out
Whythe on a hat trick in the last over
Reiss of Crawley surviving one delivery then hammering the next

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Mirëdita 2021!

My fellow Albanians

Thanks to the excellent and dedicated work of our beloved HOFF Emma, we have a(n almost full) list of fixtures for this Summer and we all hope that weather and pandemics permitting we will be able to get back to cricketing some cricket in 2021.

Of course the other variable is sufficient Blade sign-up, so let’s make sure we give the selection committee a headache every week by all registering for as many games as possible. Of course if you don’t play one week then there is always space on the North Stand for the travelling army. Let’s face it, the more people that can remind Ade not to leave the flag behind the better.

Click HERE for the full fixture list, and get your names down!

#ALB

Adios 2020

My fellow Albanians

You don’t need me to tell you what a year 2020 has been, and yet here I am telling you. Because what else am I going to fill my time with during Tier 4 Betwixtmas Lockdown?

That pesky virus thingumajig put paid to our traditional plans for an End Of Season Awards Dinner but thanks to the wonders of this new Inter Net I can still share 2020’s stats and awards with you.

 

Click HERE to see the stats from this and every other year.

Click HERE to see (no spoilers) which Blades have picked up Awards this year. Congratulations to the winners – the pdf file is attached to the link so that you can download and print off at home. You will have to pretend for now that the Badger has presented this to you with humorous remarks, but maybe we’ll be treated to this some time soon eh?

That’s it, I’ll get out of your way.
See you all in 2021

#ALB

Report 1st Sept 2020 HOME vs Deportivo

Deportivans batted first, all out for 57.
This is how Twitter saw the Blades innings:

@khumpuk and @harryalbertfay to start the chase.
3 from the first over. Very stodgy pitch and slow outfield helped the Blades restrict Deportivo but they now have to bat in the same tricky conditions.
@harryalbertfay absolutely smashes a four to the long boundary and is then bowled trying to repeat the trick. This brings @DanBrowner96 to the crease.
@DanBrowner96 is somehow castled. No-one quite knows how.
@Farmski7 up next.
Will be a tricky chase this. Blades on 7 for 2 off 2.
A fine drive from @khumpuk takes the Blades chase to 13 for 2 off 3.
Joan Collins has had enough of this and launches a couple of brutal fours, lording it over the enemy in scenes reminiscent of her hey day in Dallas. 23 for 2 off 4. Blades well ahead of the rate here.
The enemy bites back and @Farmski7 is LBW
5 for 3 off 5 as @Jimbojet73 joins @khumpuk in the fading light.

27 for 3 off 6. Plenty of overs in the bank by will the light allow it??
E.X Tras joins the action to take the Blades to 30 for 3 off 7.
A brutal hit to the long boundary by K-Dog moves the score on. 35 for 3 off 8.

@khumpuk
creams another and then takes two. His score on 20. The Blades seemingly cruising.
Another two fours for @khumpuk and he retires. This correspondent now has to go and bat in the gloom
This correspondent should have seen it out but with the scores level and the field in he looked to launch it. And is bowled. Andy Rhodes is then bowled to put the Deportivo pie chucker on a hat-trick. Which The Barrier sees off.
Blades need 1 run from 18 balls. Which @Jimbojet73 cuts with ease from the first ball.

Blades win by 5 wickets.

Later on WhatsApp, K-Dog punditted, “I come with news of a Blades victory! Chasing just 57 off 16 overs on the definition of a pudding/gluepot of a pitch, patience was the key backed up by a particularly fine Bazza bowling spell. Great to be playing be into September, let’s hope Thursday is the same.”

Dan opined, “Cracking work tonight Blades! An enjoyable win 🍻”

Whilst DOC Galpin enthused, “Great to get some cricket, very enjoyable evening”

The Groinstrain Badger Express then summed up events with a statement:
“Kiran, you are too humble by half. A great knock, 28 not out, and a measerky 7 runs from your 3 overs and a wicket to boot. Top work fella !!! Bazza super spell, really turned the screw in the middkevif their innings, 3 wickets for only 2 runs. And backed up with amazing bowling at the death from Galps, 3 overs and a wicket an even stingier 1 run. Top work all round in the field. What looked like a tough total on that wicket, we chased down with aplomb, good supporting knocks around Kiran with a swift 10 from Farmski. Great night Blades. 😁we go again Thursday !!”

CLICK HERE FOR THE SCORECARD