The sun was shining, the birds were singing and Robin Mackrell was half an hour late to Battersea Park. This could only mean the first game of the season for the Battersea Badgers, pitting their the skills against the Thespian Thunderers under the shadow of Battersea Power Station. The game nearly never happened at all: on the preceding Thursday those looking after the pitch decided to cancel all fixtures due to the poor 'weather forecast'. Hang on, surely they'd be complete idiots to do that? Correct. An emergency venue was located in Walthamstow but luckily the 'weather forecast' got better and the teams arrived at a Battersea Park pitch bathed in sunshine ready for the match ahead.

Having studied the results of all coin tossing at Battersea Park since 1975, visiting skipper Cloke strode to the crease confident of winning the toss and sending his troops into the field. A freak gust of wind however got in the way and before they could sing the theme from Ski Sunday Warman and Blaiklock found themselves opening the batting on a pitch that bore an uncanny resemblance to the Alps.

The Thespian bowlers started well, bowling straight and full but the Badgers stuck their task like Pritt Stick and defended their wickets with the gutsy determination we have come to expect. Warman started to find his majestic form of last season and hit several glorious boundaries before Cloke accidentally gave Blaiklock (2) out lbw to a vicious Yorker from Thespian Harry.

Badgers 2008 Player of the Season Marchant marched to the crease and was back in the swing of things before long with a beautifully placed lob over backward point for four. Unfortunately Warman (13) then followed Blaicklock to the boundary with a slightly mistimed cover drive, which was snaffled at short extra cover. Marchant (8) followed the next over with a thin edge behind and the Badgers were looking road kill at 33-3.

Barker and Dolli of Arabia were now at the crease, and Dollimore announced his arrival from Dubai with a pair of fours in his first two balls. The Sultan of Swing was in fine nick, but eventually he played a sheiky shot and he was caught behind for 13.

Barker however, making only his second appearance for the Badgers on the field (after many in the pub) was keen to make an impression after accidentally let slip that he was half Australian and therefore sure to be better at cricket than the rest of us. He provided valuable support for Dolli and produced a glorious boundary before he was unluckily dismissed for 8, trapped lbw by the impressive Thunderers skipper.

Nobody however was unlucky as the Badgers' Hirst who started brightly playing some good cricket shots and running well between the wickets. Unfortunately after taking a mighty swing Hirst accidentally followed through with too much gusto (not like that..) and took her own bails off, becoming the first ever Badger out Hit Wicket.

Jinks and Thorpe now set about their work, Jinks intent on bullying the bowlers and Thorpe happy to keep running to an absolute minimum. The pair took the Badgers past the 100 mark before Jinks became the first injury victim of the pitch, a ball shooting up and hitting him on the thumb. He heroically carried on, and was eventually caught off the bowling of Thespian Harry following a crafty field change, finishing with reaching 24 runs.

The Badgers were now looking considerably healthier than Jinks' thumb and Mackrell strode purposefully to the crease ready to play his normal defensive game and see out the overs. Only joking. As per usual he set about the bowling with abandon and not as per usual he hit 5 fours and a six to take the Badgers within sight of 150 hard earned runs. Thorpe was there with him, nurdling away and hitting a couple of boundaries but 13 was to prove unlucky for the Badgers today and he was trapped lbw by Robertshaw playing and missing with the sweep shot.

Skipper Cloke caressed his ginger beard, pondering how to attack the tiring Thespian bowlers whilst searching for the remains of the morning's bacon sandwich. However he didn't ponder for long, and was caught & bowled for a mallard. Shires replaced him under the instructions "Don't Get Out", which luckily he bothered paying attention to leaving Robin on strike for the next over from Robertshaw. Mackrell (30) however got rather excited and skipped down the wicket to hit Robertshaw for a six that never materialised, leaving him stranded, his stumps in pieces and the Badgers all out for 156 of your finest runs.

Time for Tea! The Thespians provided the goods with a selection of sandwiches & cakes that were extremely welcome indeed. Luckily for the Badgers JD wasn't in the lineup and everybody had their fair share.

The Thunderers' innings was briefly delayed due to the appearance of a homosexual dog whose owner (unsurprisingly French) had let it loose on the pitch. Luckily one look at Cloke's ginger beard scared the beast away and the match was ready to be resumed..

A tidy first over from Mackrell (that's the only time you'll see 'tidy' and 'Mackrell' in the same sentence) yielded no runs for the batting side and Dollimore was brought on at the Car Park end to bowl the second over. And what an over, as he skittled Sandys-Clake for a two ball duck before performing a celebratory forward flip. Mackrell continued bowling with great pace and accuracy, Barker scuttling around behind the stumps with the agility of a coal scuttle, dealing superbly with the variable bounce of the mountainous pitch.

Dollimore's next over was another cracker, dismissing Lawrence with a beautiful outswinger which sent the actor's bails halfway to Wandsworth and left the despairing batsman exiting stage right.

In crawled Robertshaw, hiding underneath a helmet in case his former teammates should recognise him and provide the necessary abuse. However this poorly executed disguise played right into the Badgers hands, the helmet providing justification for Dollimore to unleash his much feared bouncer. This was a bouncer with a difference: It didn't bounce, but instead crept under Robertshaw's radar and left the Thespians' middle order star miming a pull shot. Bails gone, Badgers in the driving seat.

Unlucky to take no wickets, Mackrell was replaced at the Power Station end by Jinks who entered a duel with the Thespian skipper. Rob, happy to play a supporting role until now took centre stage, swinging his bat like Luke Skywalker's light sabre and keeping the Thespians in the running. Jinks struck back, a massive appeal for caught behind turned down by the wooden umpire (more training required). The Badgers sense of injustice however was soon forgotten as Jinks got his man, bowling the Thezzers skipper with a beautifully shaped inswinger that kept even lower than some of the jokes in this match report.

After a memorable spell of 4 wickets for 4 runs (and no wides!) Dollimore was replaced by Shires who worked his wizardry with some tricky deliveries to the Thespians' swordsmen, probing with a good length. Unfortunately Shires couldn't probe deep enough, his magic of last season not quite there and the Thespians began to accumulate some runs.

Skipper Cloke pondered the situation, caressing his beautiful beard and wondering where the next wicket would come from. The Badgers fielded manfully (and Hirst womanfully), but the runs kept coming for the Thunderers. Thorpe was summoned at the car park end and duly delivered, bowling Ed with a wide one in his first over. His next over started less successfully, getting spanked for four on his first two deliveries by Thespians' top scorer Henry(36). However the trap was now sprung and after lulling the Thespian batsmen into a false sense of security he ceased to bowl at a snail's pace and got his man. Jinks showed Duffy no mercy, Dollimore taking the catch, and the Thespians were reeling on 101 for 8.

'Fingers' Cloke now went in for the kill, bringing himself on at the Power Station end. He twisted and turned like a twisty turny thing, but the wicket remained more elusive than a bacon sandwich in a ginger beard. Robertshaw was now umpiring, and sensing the impending Badger victory deserted his teammates, giving Byron out lbw to Thorpe.

Thorpe was replaced by Dolli but he failed to recapture his earlier magic, leaving it up to skipper Cloke to seal the victory by tempting Phil into a slog to long on, where Jinks took the winning catch despite having a thumb the size of Plymouth. Thespians were all out for 113 runs.

The Badgers had done it, securing victory by 43 runs and starting the season with a win for the first time in their history. And there was much rejoicing as both teams hit the pub for post match celebrations. Barker kept himself in contention for social cricketer of the year by purchasing three jugs of Pimms, but let himself down by fleeing when a curry was suggested. Nine Badgers and fans however weren't prepared to give in so early and hit the Indian Restaurant hard, demolishing several Chicken Patiwalas.

Many thanks to the Thespian Thunderers for a fantastic game of cricket played in a great spirit. We look forward to playing them a further two times this year. Thanks also to Naomi, Liezel, Nick and Erika for coming to support us ('Go Badgers!') and help with the scoring.

Over and out.

Saturday 25th April 2009 Thespian Thunderers Thespian Thunderers vs Badgers Battersea Badgers

Battersea Badgers 156 for 10 (34 overs)

  • Mackrell 30 (18)
  • Jinks 24 (33)

Thespian Thunderers 113 for 10 (27 overs)

  • Unknown 36 (0)
  • Unknown 30 (0)
  • Dollimore 4/4 (6)
  • Thorpe 3/20 (4)
  • Jinks 2/29 (6)
Full scorecard
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