It seems like another age now, another epoch. The days of BO. Not those of reeking thigh supports, however evocative that might be, but Before the Olympics. Before the Major jumped from a helicopter (we know it was really him who was pretty in pink); before Wasif's industrial erections (yes, GCC was represented in the opening ceremony, and Tom's Victoria would dance in the closing event: respect!); before we understood the omnium; before the Aussies were happy to medal in at least one sitting-down sport; before beach volleyball ("Plenty of hard bodies on show," mused Cunners by text); before the Skipper's extended audition for DIY SOS; before Greg had to work round the clock on his commemorative pullout; before the Mobot... Before all that, Gardeners won our fifth game in a row.
Two weather-related cancellations had preceded this game, which was nearly called off as well. Jesmond Jags, perhaps our toughest opponents, couldn't raise a side. They did, though, tip us off about The Fixture List, the online dating service for cricket clubs that have been stood up. Step forward the Old Grumblers – no longer in the tooth than us, actually, and having no complaints about playing in Dulwich, even if they could only muster nine men (Ben Barker, on GCC debut, would prove their liveliest fielder as a rolling and tumbling sub). At the third time of asking, this was Hugo's 50th game (he'd already had his cake – well, brownies – at the damp tea party that was the second Pretenders meeting). Well done, chief.
GCC won the toss and batted. David fell fifth ball, surprised by a straight one in a wayward first over. Dan joined Jim W as the bowlers settled into more disciplined lines; the former would be dropped on 19 when mid-on couldn't hang on to a typical DDJ thunderbolt. A costly mistake, as the pair went on to rack up 123 together before Jim played on: his 40 was another classy knock. After @thestobbs had been pinned lbw, Cunners strode out at what must be his favourite ground – he has yet to be dismissed at Turney Road and his strike rate there is Gayle-force. Dan had sped from the 40s to 69 when he picked out deep-square leg, leaving Ben to continue the assault, mostly via the lofted off-drive once he'd found his timing. Nick played the shot of the day (I think it was this match!), a terse, no-nonsense back-foot punch past the bowler that raced to the fence. Ben, Tom L and Hugo then went quickly in the pursuit of a score beyond 200. We finished on 215-7 off our 40 overs.
The OGs started cautiously – understandable with only nine batsmen – but what they needed was a flyer to give themselves a chance. Hugo and the Metronome wouldn't oblige, though it was Clayders who made the breakthrough, Hull adjudged lbw. Hugo had the No 3 caught behind a run later and at 10 overs the score was 35-2; at 20, 73-4. The Grumblers' best batsman was their wicketkeeper/captain, Andy James. A left-hander cut from the same neat, organised cloth as Andy Offord, he suffered the same problem that Poker Face has for much of this season: hitting the ball well but straight to the fielders. Cunners and Tom L turned the screw and the life slowly seeped out of the OGs' innings. It all became rather dull and not even the reliably entertaining bowling of @thestobbs or Ben's promising leg-spinners could perk things up. In fact, the subject of Leahy's hair seemed to attract more attention than the cricket. Longish, but hardly reaching Christian Bale-type lengths, "the barnet" fascinated our fielders for reasons that still baffle your humble reporter. What gave? It was hardly KP's skunk. With James undefeated on a doughty 62, the Grumblers gritted out a total of 124-5 off 40 overs. Admirable on one level that they didn't want give their wickets away, it was turgid stuff. Is that a grumble? Maybe. We wouldn't play another game until the last day of the Olympics. That certainly is. RC
We play most of our games in Dulwich and net during the winter at The Oval. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oliver Cunningham (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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and may involve some poetic licence. GCC cannot be held liable for any misrepresentation in these articles.