When Billy Wood was putting together his Palm Tree XI to take on the Gardeners at Highgate Woods, he wasn't counting on playing himself because of a hand injury. Then one of his team called off and he had to step in. Damn.
Rich was having headaches of his own, pleading for more batting in a bowler-heavy line-up. Unfortunately, he didn't have Billy Wood's mobile number so the Gardeners were batting light. In retrospect, we could have done with a few bowlers, too.
Both the Skip and Cunners were out injured although word was that they were getting first-class treatment. Cunners turned up to do an excellent 40-over umpiring stint, but Skip was nowhere to be seen. Somebody suggested he may have been writing his match report.
Tom L won the toss and unleashed the hounds in the hope of repeating the 49-run victory we enjoyed in the reverse fixture earlier in the summer. Different day, different ground, and there were a lot of new faces in both teams including their opener Hamer, who took an age to reach the crease and was then reluctant to leave, even after a Broad-like edge behind off the last ball of Bongo Man's second over.
Big Billy at the other end started to find his mark until he gave a sharp caught-and-bowled chance to Hugo who got his fingers to the ball but failed to hold on in one of those match-defining moments. Cue carnage.
Built like an oak tree, Wood took a fancy to anything red and round. Tom L went for 49 off two overs - 25 and 24, a record? [Not quite, that'll be Abhi's never-ending over at Toddington, which was called off at 28 on compassionate grounds. Ed] We spent more time in the surrounding woods looking for something red and round than delivering pies to Mr Wood.
Unfortunately, debutant Kiwi John did not get a chance to ply his wares. John confided that he had taken 9-14 as a schoolboy and may have been well equipped to chop down Palm Trees given his occupation is building tree houses.
Wood finished with 166 (rumour has it that this was - incredibly - his first century) when Greg T knocked over his timber. We then "pegged" them back to 274 for eight. Only Rich, with a tidy none for 12 off five, escaped the burn.
So 6.875 was the asking rate. It was never on once Yelland had delivered the first of his accurate eight overs which yielded three for nine. His pitch map would have shown one spot: on a length and on middle stump.
Greg T looked solid for 20, Antoni scored his first runs for the club and then clubbed a few more in his top-scoring 25 and Rich played a couple of classical cover drives in his 20. Piers stayed positive on the boundary but it was green enthusiasm in the face of harsh reality. We were lumbering and did well to see out the 40 overs, scoring 122 for nine.
Thanks to the honourable secretary who ploughed through forests of scorebooks to find out we had avoided our heaviest defeat batting second by only one run. Joy.
The record loss by a runs margin appears to be 153 against Strathmore in 1999, when we were bowled out for 74, our lowest total in a 40-over match.
The loss to Palm Tree comes in the same season that we recorded our first-ever defeat by 10 wickets (to Pretenders). The 275-8 is up there with the highest total we have conceded, although not as ghastly as the 319-8 that the British High Commission managed in India in 2001.
The 166 knock by Wood is possibly the highest individual score against us. The next best, the sages think, was by Russell Collett, who hammered 153 for Carpe Diems.
Hopefully Mr Wood doesn't have a hand injury next year. GS
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Oliver Cunningham (life)
Jamie Elliott (life)
John Lloyd (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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