Meeting promptly 5 minutes late at the Cleveland, our next fixture was to enjoy an hour’s drive to play Aldershot V’s at their sports ground. Whilst the whole team were present there was a good conversation including getting the new postcode from Stato, discussing tactics for the game and the current Lions rugby performance; however when the topic moved to football and more specifically Celtic, this signalled time to leave as Kev was about to present us with a full history lesson of the club.
So travelling to the ground, the Finlay vehicle included a professional driving lesson from Kev, Sam and Chris had the rugby playing on the radio and passengers in Lee’s (stolen from Dennis) car probably experienced a ball by ball run through of his previous innings and his thorough game plan for batting today….. so after such a variety of in-car entertainment, the team (after originally arriving on the wrong pitch) finally made it to the ground on time. With Dave off to relieve himself in typical highland fashion, the rest of the team approached the middle for the pitch inspection. With Chris reaching the square first, following his pitch verdict last week of “F*** me”… well I was out of earshot at this point but I think it was a good job the youngsters were too. Looking at the pitch, it was clear it was created through hacking up strips of turf and then placing them like a jigsaw; the holes were so deep that when tested by Pete we would not have been surprised if his finger had been taken off at the knuckle by some aggressive rabbit, rabid mole or something resembling that out of the film Tremors.
With Chris also testing the ground through using his entire hand and widening the cracks by stepping on them, the Knights made sure the pitch was a death-trap before either team could play on it. With the opposition now returning to practice with a traffic (hazard) cone which was probably removed off the pitch before we arrived, we looked to collect the bags from the car before realising Dave had yet to return from his relief in the woods. With the team going to search for him, as we were next to Aldershot army base we were unsure whether he had been ghosted by a Sniper, had seen a guard dog and decided to rein act Dog Soldiers with a bitter dual to the death or had just gone to say hi. However it was clear that Dave was underused not just in cricket by his covert SAS worthy ability to elude the whole team by just remaining in Dennis’s car.
After queuing outside the changing rooms for the opposition to find a key, the Knights then awaited for the result of the toss. Although Lee lost, the opposition captain realising he had a weakened team due to the amount of kids decided to make a game of it by letting us bat first (oh how naive was he). With Lee looking to continue his good performance by opening with Danni the Knights began a steady start with 3 runs off the first over. However the opposition had a secret weapon through using a female bowler; with Lee taking strike we were sure he was thinking about his shot selection, the pace of the ball and his strategy for the day…….well what actually happened is Lee was thinking closer to leather, lace, types of knickers and other things lost on me and what certainly won’t be included in this report; however this took him so long to consider that he was promptly bowled putting the Knights at 3-1.
Next to the crease was Cameron, whom after a hard night of partying seemed a little sleepy for cricket and after hitting 2 runs against the girl it was clear he couldn’t resist the need for sleep any longer. One can only speculate what Cameron briefly dreamed about at this time but it was most likely something I daren’t put in this report for younger readers. After being bowled out for 2, the Knights on 6-2 and Cameron now worryingly going to sleep in the car to continue his dream…… Matt now approached the crease. However being the more mature brother he showed resilience against the feminine charms.
So at 19-2 off 7 overs, the Knights now needed to build a steady partnership, however this was until the weather turned. With the opposition using the cracks on the pitch to great effect, even hitting Danny (changed letters due to batting well against the female temptation) in the head, this coupled with the rain left him slightly shaken leading to a singular appealed LBW decision from Kev. With the rain worsening, Dave entering to bat, Lee looked to Kev for a rain delay, however Kev obviously still in his youthful football frame of mind and Dave feeling the heavy rain was just a drizzle in comparison to bonnie Scotland… the match resumed.
At 26-3 the team now looked for Dave to show resilience against the talented girl bowler… well he also fell to the charms, so much so we couldn’t even speculate why but it certainly appeared to put a smile on Lee’s face to the point he promptly decided to go umpire at the end of the over. With the bowling now changing, Lee suspiciously wanting to come off and Sammy now steadily supporting Matt, the Knights built the foundations for recovery reaching 46-4 off 15 overs. Hoping we would reach drinks without the loss of another wicket, this was short lived when the opposition bowler Kiscoe, Biskoe?? (I’ll call him Bisto for now) produced a delivery to get Matt caught on 16 putting the pressure on the next Batsmen Pete. With Pete striding to the crease confident to save the innings, and appearing to be in good touch from recent practice he looked to play himself in by playing a defence on the first ball. Stato being preoccupied at the moment did not see what happened however Matt felt the innings could be summarised diagrammatically and through my report writing skills I have also replicated this even with the look of annoyance Pete had:
With the scoreboard reading 50-6 new batsmen Chris decided he’d had enough of this rubbish and began hitting the run trail at the only speed he knows. With Sammy still building a valuable innings and Chris’s high shots now not making it to the boundary, Barber began padding up in foresight of the next wicket. Unfortunately for the team Barber was not wrong and at 86 runs Chris was caught leading to the eventuality dreaded by all Knights (and all cricket players for that matter) alike…. Barber was walking to the crease with 15 overs left of the innings. After seeing Barber immediately defend his first ball, Sammy felt that he couldn’t handle facing such a boring prospect for the remainder of the innings and instead was bowled trying to take the attack to the opposition. At 88-8 and what was looking to be our first away f*** up on the cards (just as we finished playing at Winchester), Kevlar now approached the crease looking hungry for runs.
With Kev envisioning hitting a 6 and being bowled through the opposition making use of Chris’s hand widened canyon before the match… Ian Messenger on his league debut approached the crease “ready for action”. With Barber using the strategy of carrying the Knights to 100 runs through as Dan described “threatening attacking shots” the opposition decided to use their female influence again to wrap up the match. However they were stunned at the distinct lack of effect this had and the Knights continued ticking along. 90-9, Barber still batting, the Knights so bored that I’m sure Cameron was asleep again as were some of the audience whom Ian said found my innings boring as sh**. Finally at 38 overs with Chris running out of Amber Leaf from such boredom, Ian (whom horrified Pete by his lack of technique even though he was our 6th best batsmen today) was bowled for 4, the Knights making 103 and Barber making 4 not out off 12 overs (ye, Boycott had nothing on this).
With teas being enjoyed by all, the weather improving for the opposition’s innings (as is always the way), the Knight’s took to the pitch looking to bowl and field tightly to salvage a win. With 2 youngsters opening the batting, an inexperienced call for a run, a (deliberate?) misfield by Dave and a surprising quick bit of glove-work from Barber led to the opposition already beginning their innings with a lost wicket. With Pete and Chris bowling quick tight lines the opposition immediately struggled for runs and an excellent in-swinging delivery on Pete’s second over led to placing Aldershot at 9-2.
With the youngsters still struggling and both Chris and Pete bowling in excellent form, the Knights only needed to wait till the 7th over before Pete finding more speed bowled another youngling to keep the match in the balance at 16-3. To repair the damage Aldershot decided to send the (cheery) old boys in to save the game, thus at 19-3 off 10, the Knights decided to let Pete continue bowling but to replace Chris with Kev at the opposite end. It’s worth noting it was an excellent bowling stint from Chris whom was unlucky not to add to the wicket tally, but he certainly seemed keen to show more contribution through his fielding. With Kev starting steady amidst a few flighty deliveries which were mystically taken higher by the wind…. the opposition still remained behind the run rate until the remaining opening youngster was then dispatched by another Finlay in-swinger now putting Aldershot on 20-4.
Two (the only) older players at the crease, Ian now feeling relaxed at being able to run the same speed as the batsmen, the game seemed to slow as both Pete and Kev kept the pressure. With the only highlights being Barber stopping the ball with his nuts better than his gloves and Chris deciding to keep the team on their toes by firing the ball not at the stumps but instead the middle of the field for a potential run out, Aldershot reached 32-4 off 16 overs. At 20 overs the Knights still hungry for another wicket, Dave decided that another deliberate lure to the opposition would create the breakthrough, and he wasn’t wrong with an identical run out to the 1st wicket reducing Aldershot to 40-5 putting the Knights in a strong position for the win.
Following a much needed drinks break, Dave and Sammy now entered the bowling attack. With the opposition reluctant to give LBW decisions it was evident the Knights needed to either bowl out or catch the remaining batsmen. Thus fireman Dan now embarked on what was surely to be one of the toughest and most courageous challenges of his life, close fielding with the batsmen starting to have a swing. With Dan stopping the ball through an excellent use of shin and face and Franklin keeping the fielding team alive through diving over the ball, Dave began producing similar Finlay-esque in-swingers and after another turned down LBW, he produced another bowled wicket putting Aldershot on 46-6.
With Sammy now producing deliveries which were hitting Barber in the face as well, the youngster now batting felt intimidated by the potential threats of injury around him and finally chipped up a ball to Danny producing an excellent reflex catch. With the team celebrating the wicket, Ian still talking to the young umpire and seeming to be getting slightly closer to him at the end of each over…. the new batsmen approached the crease before club Policeman Kev had to deal with the situation. Again Sammy’s combination of speed, turn, and fielding pressure produced yet another wicket now reducing Aldershot to 50-8 lifting the Knights confidence for a well salvaged win.
Well… the slightly older number 10 had obviously observed Chris’s batting approach in times of desperation and just simply began whacking the ball. With the scoreboard now racing round, Cameron dropping a high catch (still in dreamworld we suspect), Ian still conversing with the young umpires, the Knights were becoming desperate for a the 9th wicket. Then it happened (no Kev didn’t arrest Ian on pitch), the 10th batsmen skyed a shot to Danny boy and in a moment of horror he dropped it. At the end of the over however it was clear Danielle was disappointed with this effort from his accurate synopsis (Knights Valley word of the day) of the situation…”F***”.
A little more whacking later and Aldershot finally overtook our score which was a disappointment considering they were 50-8 at one stage. With Dave looking to turn out the lights for his shower with Chris, the Knights promptly retreated to the Cleveland from a performance which was described as “bugger” by Lee, a “F*** up” by most or an absolute shower of s***. So apart from discovering the womanisers of the team, it wasn’t exactly our defining performance. Anyhow next week we host Ramsdell II at Knightwood so hopefully we will christen our new ground with a hard fought win.