The Battleski of Wandsworthieuz Commoniek
(Translated from the original Polish by Rogowski A, abridged slightly by Clayton R)
Sunday 11th May 2014. A dark and dismal cloud hangs over London and cricketers everywhere are clutching their phones waiting for the inevitable text that will break their hearts: ‘The match is cancelled.’ But there are some with the strength and courage to play on. Despite the wind and the rain, these men stand proud. They are the Gardeners and they live for the outdoors!
Since the opposition, Carpe Vinum, were only able to put up 9 players for the start of the game, Dan De Judas steps up to play for the other side, but is relieved later on, having not caused too much damage to the Gardeners, by the 10th man casually strolling onto the pitch about halfway through the first innings.
The opening partnership of Dave Woodhouse and Jim Warbrick start chipping away at the runs from the beginning [er, didn’t we bat first? Ed]. However, another unlucky call within two weeks for Dave leaves him betwixt and between while the bails are being knocked off by the keeper.
Jamie Elliott steps up to join Jim and the batting progresses fairly slowly but pick ups after 10 overs with a ‘right click synonym’ drive by Jamie in the 14th over. As Dave had found out earlier, Jim was keen to run for the quick singles but curiously not for some of the more obvious ones. However, the pair keeps the runs coming with partial thanks to a dropped catch off a shot from Jim from the team that should have been more concerned with seizing the ball than the wine.
With the run rate picking up and some of the bowling allowing the batsmen more freedom, Jamie was implementing shots he plays with the kids to get the full drive off some of the low balls. Unfortunately, after a couple of fine fours, Jamie was caught in the 15th over and Will Caldwell stepped up to make his debut appearance.
Putting on a good show of force, Will and Jim kept the runs coming until an on-target ball in the 17th over cost Jim his bails and Piers Teakle marched on to take his place. With Piers taking a few overs to get his eye in while a few ‘spot the ball’ photos were taken, Will was playing well. But mounting pressures for Piers, whose girlfriend was reconsidering on the boundary, while his parents wondered why they had bothered, meant that he had to take action, and from nowhere picked up with a couple of lovely fours in the 21st over.
Sadly, a cobbled-together catch by the keeper meant that Will was sent packing and Dan De Jesus strolled confidently onto the pitch. DDJ took one look at the bowler and smashed his first ball over the boundary in an effortless four that made you wonder why he hadn’t tried to hit a six! Continuing with that level of play, Piers and DDJ racked up the run rate until Piers’ timely demise when an unfortunate ball from the bowler collided with his stumps [er, who was the luck with here? Ed].
However, as painful as it was to see Gardeners lose another wicket, a true champion of the people was seen moving in from the boundary as the clouds opened and rays of light shone down upon him from on high. The legendary Antoni ‘Voodoo’ Rogowski (standard spelling) casually strolled onto the wicket and was ready to play. Now reader, I know what you’re thinking. Voodoo and DDJ, surely a dream partnership…one for the ages. What could possibly go wrong? Well, shortly after the entrance of the Polish Wonder, DDJ must have been a little star-struck as he played a beautiful shot that was a clear single in any cricketer’s handbook. However, due to this South African’s lack of enunciation and plethora of self-doubt, Voodoo was already appearing his end of the wicket as if by magic and DDJ just wasn’t quick enough to make it to the other end in time before the bails were taken off. It’s clear to see why he often opts for the boundary shots when he can’t make runs like that.
From then on it was a Rogowski-Cunners Partnership keeping the team going. These two heroic players were not afraid to take their chances where they got them and played some flawless boundary shots along the way. Woefully, an effort for a low sweep, on a poorly maintained pitch, meant an odd bounce caused an edge to the slips for Voodoo. Some curiosity as to what the ruling was left everyone wondering how long they have played cricket and should they know this by now, but it’s a fair cop and Voodoo walks with his head held high as the crowd cheers his name.
El capitán Mike Richards is next in. Maintaining a solid front, Mike and Nick ‘Cunners’ Cunningham keep those runs flowing until Nick’s stumps are not blocked from the ball quite as well as they could be in the final over and he is forced to take a long walk after a sterling performance.
Chris Humphries steps up to bat with 2 balls remaining in the match with Rob Navratil assured that he won’t need to pad up. However, due to an unfortunate miscalculation, The Chancellor has packed up his red briefcase and is on the way back after only 1 ball.
In flash and a flurry of pads (and a few words not appropriate for this family-friendly page) Rob gets his kit on and heads into the fray. With the pressure of 1 ball remaining and the fielders moving in close, Rob stood tall and punched a hole in the fielders with his shot, screaming at Mike for a quick single. Both bats are just about in their respective ends by the time the ball is retrieved giving Rob a cheeky single and something for the statistics. This sees the end of the Gardeners innings with their total at 190-9.
Taking a break for teas there are the standard, easily mass-produced sandwich selection of ham or egg mayo, but an impressive effort, too, by the WAGs of Carpe Vinum providing homemade red velvet cake and chocolate brownies that were definitely appreciated all round and kept morale high in the chilly climate.
So with the weather still threatening to do God knows what, the Gardeners take their positions on the pitch for the second half of the match. Navratil opens the bowling and keeps the run rate to a minimum, every ball hitting the exact same spot with precision leaving the batsman unable to take chances. But some batsmen don’t last long under these circumstances and with a big swing that sent the ball flying straight up into the air (and a loud declaration of self-criticism from the batsman, Denny) it was clear to see he would be seeing his friends on the boundary again soon enough. Now, as the ball sailed high in the air, heading toward mid-on, there were doubts among the Gardeners that this would be caught. However, the base for these doubts and fears was unfounded as standing a mid-on and ready to take on the challenge was the legendary Voodoo. Making the catch of a ball moving at breakneck speeds look so effortless, he plucked it out of the sky and sent Denny packing.
Not too long after, and with only scatterings of runs being scored, Navratil takes another wicket all by himself with a comment from the umpire on how mechanic and precise his bowling is. Surely this should be incorporated into some form of nickname like TickTock or Repetition…
From the other end, Cunners is also looking pretty sharp (and his bowling weren’t bad either), giving very little away to the Carpe Vinum batsmen and earning himself a wicket of his very own. This means a long walk for batsman number 3, Coulson, who just couldn’t handle the pressure of the Navratil/Cunningham double act and, as Ann Robinson would say, “He is the weakest link and he leaves with nothing”. During this spell as well, a mention is deserved for the commitment by Will Caldwell for a catch that was slightly too far out of his reach and could have taken us to victory that little bit sooner.
The Cunners/Navratil combo takes a break from their hard work in the first few overs which brings in some lovely bowling from Chris Humphries and Antoni Rogowski. The Chancellor starts by raining down his usual grenades on the batsmen, and though none of them were taken out, some of them were definitely looking a little wounded and confused by the way that ball moves in the air. The was also fantastic bowling by Voodoo with a lovely maiden over thrown in for good measure, but after taking several of the wickets the previous week, thought he’d give others the chance to take a few this time round.
The Carpe Vinum run rate slowly climbed through the overs so another bowling change was required in the form of the South African DDJ, who needed a chance to rectify his horrific performance with a bat, and Piers ‘RBG’ Teakle.
With a fire burning in the SAf’s eyes that he must make amends, he gave his bowling his all. To everyone’s relief the bowling was much better than the batting and was soon rewarded with the first wicket for DDJ which belonged to the second highest scoring batsman, Radhahdishnan (standard spelling??) who left the crease with 28 after being caught by WK, Mike Richards. DDJ then continued his spell by taking 2 more wickets in the same over, both called Adamson, one on his own and the other with further assistance from the quick reflexes of the Captain behind the stumps. Then, just to show everyone that he really can play cricket if he tries hard enough, DDJ took an extra wicket in his next over, again with no assistance, sending those bails flying high into the air and sending the batsman, Haig, back with a score of 1 as he’d clearly been there too long!
To the shock and amazement of the Gardeners, there was a surprising consistency to Mr Teakle’s bowling coming from the other end of the wicket meaning he was able to keep the run rate down while executing a superb caught and bowled wicket on Carpe Vinum’s top batsman of the match. Offord (no relation to Andy, we think) ended up leaving the pitch just shy of his 50 (48) and with only one batsman left and the carpe Vinum score sitting at 101 it was only a matter of time before this game was over.
With the end of the day closing in and the anticipation of the last wicket the air was abuzz and the field was alive. Navratil returned for another spell ready to deliver those mechanical and methodical overs. Having already delivered 2 maidens and taken 2 wickets, it was only a matter of time, and the run rate wasn’t going anywhere. However, with help from the lightning fast hands of Mike Richards, and some wise words of advice from the mid-off (Voodoo) that Rob should probably just get him out so we can go home, the last batsman, Cannock, fell within a couple of balls of the over from a quick stumping and left the pitch with nothing to show for his troubles.
So, the day comes to a close with the final score for Carpe Vinum of 103-9 off 26.2 overs. Another victory chalked up for the Gardeners while their opposition was off to drown their sorrows and seize the wine. AR
(N.B. All comments made in this report are “100% factually accurate” and no artistic licence has been taken with any of these events whatsoever).
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Oliver Cunningham (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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