Lawnmowers cut down to size
Every good Gardener needs a reliable mower.
A few recommendations? You wouldn’t go far wrong with the Husqvarna P525D Out-Front Ride-On, featuring a 1123cc Kubota D1105 diesel engine, for a snip under £22,000. It does of course boast the seven-step height of cut adjustment. Or you may prefer the Ambrogio L400i Deluxe Robotic (as seen in the Sergei meerkat automated TV advert) which has an advanced navigation system that creates and stores areas it has covered and remembers the working times for each. That is available from Cheapmowers.com for £13,999 (I kid you not).
The Dulwich version we viewed was not exactly top of the range. Young, keen, sometimes noisy but always friendly, they lacked the cutting edge against the Gardeners, losing by five wickets.
They are a team founded three years ago by schoolmates as a way of keeping in touch. They even include a water-colour painter who captured the day. There is a good chance none of them have been vaccinated.
When JLo (club cap number 77) looked at the Gardeners team sheet to see if he still knew anyone in his 373rd comeback, he remarked that it was probably the most vaccinated team in world cricket. Among the veterans were Jamie (club cap number 44), Dave (78) and Greg (140). There was also the now regular crew to mark the start of our 26th season plus a new Gardener in the allotment, Duncan from Edinburgh via Gumtree.
Two of the modern stalwarts were somewhat delayed after reaching Brixton and realising they had left the team kit in Putney. First fine of the season to the Chuckle Brothers before a ball had been bowled.
Back in Dulwich, the Lawnmowers’ opening blades started their innings with a blast against Greg and Jack before a straight ball did for big-hitting left-hander Quinault and Owen fell to a catch at square-leg by Paddy. Two for 38.
Tom quickly found his length to slow the Mowers. Out of frustration, princely Charles hit out only to be dethroned by JLo. With a full-length swallow dive, our veteran swooped at point to hold a spectacular one-handed snatch close to the ground. Catch of the season already.
Skipper then had skipper out, Woodhouse lbw, and the Mowers went to drinks at 69 for four.
Nick rattled the furniture bowling down the hill and Paddy butted in with a deserved wicket off the last ball of his spell as the visitors’ innings began to unravel at 85 for six. Mower momentum had been nipped in the bud.
Bogged down, they were bamboozled by Duncan’s leg spin and barely managed to reach three figures. Our debutant enjoyed a return of 4-0-12-4. Not bad for someone reluctant to put his hand up as a bowler.
With a target of 102, it appeared the Gardeners would not have to dig deep. But not so fast.
With the total on 12, Woodhouse lbw. (Where have we heard that before?) The next ball was a Jaffa from Horn, swinging in and then sliding down the slope to hit Jamie’s off stump. It was an unusual dismissal for our stalwart who is seldom bowled. The Mowers were noisy now.
With the total still on 12, Ollie lofted to extra cover where the taller of the Quinault brothers took an excellent running, over-the-head catch. Cue even more noise.
Duncan and JLo steadied the reply before Duncan was stumped. Steven then hit a quick 19, including an impressive hooked six, before holing out and Nick and JLo took us over the line without any late drama.
The seeds of the opposition downfall were sown by their bowlers spraying the ball about, leaking dirty runs like a rusty watering can throughout the innings. Extras top scored with 38 - 18 byes, five leg byes and 15 wides. Talk about digging yourself into a hole when defending a low total.
JLo was next best with an unbeaten 21. He smacked several classical drives and was in full bloom by the end. Alas, he also spent most of the innings thinking about retiring.
Played one, won one and finally a summer full of promise.
Duncan’s next task is to persuade his German wife that cricket at our level is the best sport in the world to watch. Good luck with that one, mate. A hint from a successful veteran: bring along a picnic hamper with a bottle of wine and only invite her to watch when the weather is more Antigua than Aberdeenshire … or you will never cut it.
P.S. The Lawnmowers have an unusual tradition of lugging a huge Stanley Cup sized trophy to each of their games which they award to the player with the best butt. There were no ifs or buts, apparently Paddy has the best backside in the team. Who would have known it? Now we will be looking at the big man in a new light.