It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. In short, the Badgers had, of late, not seen the brighter side of life and with three defeats clouding our view we headed off to Bromley Common to play Cincinnati CC.
It’s at times like this where you’re looking for divine intervention – a symbol, a twist of fate which fortunes can turn upon. The Israelites opened the batting with Moses but who would lead the Badgers to salvation? Who indeed.
At first inspection, the ground and its environs appear idyllic in the extreme and the opposition captain a charming host. There are apple trees to stretch Biblical metaphors further, a collection of horses huddled at cow corner which is frankly confusing for everyone, lounge furniture that didn’t come cheap, an electronic scoreboard that suggests we’ve hit the bit time, and a well-appointed shed-cum-pavilion adorned with hanging baskets of flowers that sparked some discussion, and even a touch of Latin, from the greener fingered Badgers.
Like the first victim in a horror film, Fitzgerald enters the shed and has a look around. A toaster, a microwave, a Tupperware jar of bails. No horror here. But then he looks up and sees a collection of opposition caps pinned to the ceiling, mementoes from vanquished foes.
“Headhunters”, he says to himself, touching his cap to make sure it’s still there and ignoring the chill down his spine.
Outside, in the real world, Rexy and Pete Warman have opened the batting only for Pete to be bowled by one coming down the slope. Not the start we wanted but, as I said, it’s times like this you need an omen that we can pin our faith on.
And so, it happened.
Big Dickie strolled to the middle whereupon Little Dickie got struck, first ball, right between the eye.
Thankfully, the box prevented the worst and ten minutes later, when Dickie got off the floor, you could tell his mind was, how can I put it, extremely focused. Along with Rexy, they both see off the Cincinnati openers and start building an innings – their score in lights on the plush electronic scoreboard. Twenties and Thirties are reached without concern, they both look in good nick and, without wanting to curse them, talk on the lounge furniture turns to the possibility of them both making their debut fifty for the club.
Could today be the day?
Of course it could. Dickie passes his milestone first, parting the sea of fielders with a cover drive and raising his bat in victory - “Thou shall not hit me in the bollocks” his only commandment. Rexy soon follows suit, a fifty of elegance and timing throughout. The partnership reaches 123 before both men are out and we end our innings with some dashing cameos from Collins, Talling, Claridge and Peach. The score is 174 off 35 overs. We think we might have done enough to keep our caps.
Allwood and Hanafi open the bowling, both extracting movement and bounce from the pitch. Warman is excellent behind the stumps, taking balls at all heights and restricting the extras to a minimum. The Cincinnati openers are stubborn though and start to build a partnership. It’s only then we start to think we maybe didn’t get enough after all. We need wickets, and quickly. Cincinnati are 79 for 0.
Up steps Peach and, as he often does, duly obliges, bowling their opener for 39. Here we go. It’s Badger Time. Beeken, who has been stopping everything in the field, comes up the slope and takes the other opener, ably assisted by Hash in the field. He then bowls their next batsmen first ball. Beeken’s on a hat trick and nearly delivers it with an optimistic LBW shout. The tide is turning.
Fitzgerald comes on down the slope, bowling his right arm unusuals. He takes another wicket, Warman catching behind, only for him to then repeat the feat on Beeken’s next over. The good news is Cincinnati are now five down, the bad news is they only need fifty more runs.
Fitzgerald only bought his cap last week though and he’s not ready to give it up yet. Two more wickets from him, one superbly caught by Rexy at point. Claridge then comes on and gets a wicket in his first over before Fitzgerald wraps things up with his fourth of the innings, fittingly caught by Allwood who captained superbly on the day.
Cincinnati end on 134, forty runs short. A much-needed victory for the Badgers where everyone contributed and everyone shared in the jug shaped spoils.
And what have we learnt? What’s the secret to victory? Well, it really is very simple. At the start of every match from now on Dickie will have his own wheel of doom, where a candidate will be selected to hit him where it hurts. This is now our ritual, this is our Haka and, mark my words, when the social cricket clubs of London hear of our new tradition it will strike fear into their very souls.
Next up, The Bank of England next Sunday.
Brace yourself Dickie.