Thursday evening and The Badgers are off to Chiswick hoping for some pink ball relief from their current red ball woes. The opposition in wait are Her Majesty’s …., sorry His Majesty’s Treasury and Cabinet Office.
On route we pass a demo on the Hammersmith Flyover against ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zones) and “15-minute Cities”. Your correspondent’s eye is drawn to a placard which reads, “CIVIL SERVANTS TURNING TYRANTS”. This creates a temporary sense of foreboding against this evening’s opposition, quickly replaced by a permanent confusion of the English used on the placard. Is there a word missing or are the Civil Servants turning the Tyrants into something else, left deliberately blank to create suspense? Presumably anything other than tyrants is probably a good thing and whilst I’m still considering the alternatives, we lose the toss and are asked to bowl.
Sam opens the bowling, giving the Treasury a much-needed lesson in economy and outswing, whilst Joe Peach backs him up at the other end with pace and added Aussie bounce. The badgers in the field are on their toes, the economy rate is below five and the civil servants haven’t felt this much pressure since Dominic Cummings was at Number 10. Still, they haven’t lost a wicket yet.
Enter James Beeken and Martin Fitzgerald, looking to build on the impressive start from our openers. After a loosener from Fitzgerald that would generously be described as “LOL”, he gets the breakthrough when their opener top edges a googly to long-on and Ben, after a period of juggling, finally catches it. Beeken shortly follows suit with his debut Badger wicket - removing the new batsmen, again with the help of Ben in the field. The economy rate is still lower than what this pitch suggests, and Hash and James Hamblin enter the attack to pile on further pressure.
Batsmen number 5 is run out after having an impromptu meeting in the middle of the pitch (a civil service thing apparently) and 7 and 8 are sent packing by James Hamblin in consecutive balls in the final over. For the second match in a row a Badger hat-trick is on the cards and for the second match in a row the opposition let the air out of the balloon by refusing to bend to the will of the encroaching badgers in the field.
Nevertheless, a strong performance all round and The Badgers are set what looks like an achievable 118 to win.
The Badgers check the running order whilst Joe Peach dons a black waterproof and heads off to umpire. Five strides in he turns round and asks the collected Badgers what the symbol for no ball is - a question which everyone hopes says more about his front foot placement than his knowledge of umpiring.
Undeterred by such matters, Robin and Joe Kitching (fresh from his honeymoon in Italy) stride confidently to the middle to open the batting. Joe, out for golden duck, then strides angrily back to the waiting badgers to have an expletive laden one on one with his bat. I’m in my fifties and I can confidently say the expression “the honeymoon period is over” has never resonated so hard
Ben joins Robin in the middle and they both set about chasing down the total – Robin refusing to acknowledge that dot balls are even a thing and Ben hitting the pink for six like he’s down his local Riley’s. They both retire, on 25 and 30 respectively, having given us the platform to win the game. Kieran looks in good nick before getting caught and Hash, a man who thinks T20 is the long form of the game, gets bowled trying to hit the ball back to Battersea. Enter Dickie and James Hamblin to bring us home – Dickie holding the pose, Madonna style, after every shot and James warming the hands of the fielders on the boundary. They both score 19 each before James gets caught, leaving Joe Peach, back from umpiring duties, to enter the fray and hit the winning runs with 4 overs to spare.
Handshakes all round and slaps on the back from Sam who steered team to the first win of the season. Over jugs, Badger of the Match was deservedly awarded to Ben for catching and hitting everything that came his way.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this – “Some Governments are in office but not in power; the Civil Service is always in office andalways in power.”
Well tonight, despite not even having an office, the power shifted to The Badgers.
Onwards to The Ducksmen!
Written by Martin Fitzgerald