For an established cricket club that have been operating as long and successfully as the Battersea Badgers have, there is a small risk of entering a phase of terminal decline. Fortunately for the Badgers (but to a lesser extent, Clokey), the only aspect of the club entering terminal decline is Clokey’s groin. Even more fortunate for the Badgers is the number of eligible players in the team with ‘captaincy skills’ who can fill in. From previous experience, ‘captaincy skills’ are largely defined as:
- Having a car to lug the team kit bag around and
- Having an infectious love for pubs that can be utilised as an incentive to finish games off
Step forward Jim ‘Rhino’ Hamblin. The magnitude of his passion for the Badgers is comparable to the enormity of his biceps – a quality he reminded everyone of by wearing a sleeveless shirt to the game and clutching an unnecessarily large volume of water bottles that transformed his arms into cannons capable of bringing down entire continents.
Such firepower alone is not sufficient to down opposition teams. The Badger supporters complement the team in the same way that Nick Foord complements BBQs – the BBQ would probably still go ahead without him but his presence takes things to a different level. Many thanks must go to the contingent who travelled down to Dundonald Recreation Ground that day including Jim’s mum, Anna, Bron, Lucy, Sofia and Lucia.
The choice was obvious after winning the toss given the hot, Saharan-esque conditions: Bat first (to give batsmen 3 – 11 to top up their tans and catch up on some sleep).
Obscure cricketing fact #2571: In a limited-overs game, only 2 world-class teams have ever had the ingenuity and audacity to open the bowling with flight and guile – New Zealand (Dipak Patel, 1992 v Australia), Battersea Badgers (Josh Lee, 2016 v Believers).
Kingstonians became the 3rd team in history to do this when they opened the bowling with Terry Jacobs, long-time stalwart to the Badgers. The fear in the Badger opening batsmen (Josh and Laurence) was palpable as the ball took flight in a manner similar to Icarus reaching for the sun before looping down dramatically and consistently finding good length. Laurence’s scalp was claimed at the start of the 6th over as he slashed hard at a ball which sadly found the toe of his bat and landed in the wicket keepers’ gloves.
Josh almost followed suit when, eyes lit up like a fruit machine, he hit a TJ special straight into the air but was granted a small reprieve when the ball slipped through the fielder’s hands.
The Badgers were accruing runs steadily at 5-an-over before Josh (bowled) and Steve Thomas (LBW and no relation to Rory) eventually succumbed to the Kingstonian bowling attack. Rory and Stew Mac, the incumbents, found the Dundonald boundary with ease and cranked up the run rate slightly. Their partnership was robust with Stew ‘Shield of Surrey’ Mac keeping the danger away and Rory unleashing with his trademark baseball-esque backlift.
When the Shield of Surrey was eventually broken, the Badgers were on 168/4 off 29 overs. After removing a small piece of sandpaper that was inexplicably wedged in his collar, Cornish joined Rory in the middle and unleashed his frustration at the lack of Australia’s inability to be awarded any VAR goals in the Peru game. Poor, poor cricket ball.
In the midst of all this carnage, Jim’s golden duck could have gone unnoticed. But it wasn’t. His mother had never seen Jim scoring runs before despite attending several matches and there was no way that Jim would let her down this time.
The Badgers finished on 285 with Cornish and Rhori scoring the last runs. Cornish ended up scoring 82 off not very many balls and Rory made 70.
Tea was magnificent with the highlight being a delicious orange cake lovingly created by Jim’s mum.
After a period of feasting which seemed to never end, the Badgers took to the field. These days, the Badgers tend to know where they like to field. Stew Mac was no exception and planted himself at mid-off. The placement turned out to be spot on. A ball was driven directly at his head and, summoning inspiration from the Icelandic gods and bringing his hands together into a Viking clap over his head, he miraculously produced a cricket ball in his hands.
The old adage of catches win matches never rang truer. When Jinks was summoned to work his magic, he responded by luring the Kingstonian batsmen to hit short balls into the air that landed safely into Steve Thomas’s hands. He also used telekinesis to shift one of the Kingstonians across the off stump and bowled his leg stump. No one really knew how it happened but Jinksy eventually finished with a delicious 5-fer.
It could have been 6: A ball was hit to cow corner landing exactly where Cornish was standing but, with echoes of McLuskey at Velden in 2011, he was sadly (but hilariously) looking the wrong way and the ball landed harmlessly next to him. Fortunately, when another was sent his way a few overs later, Cornish caught it with little hassle to the shout of REDEMPTION from Dollimore.
Josh also joined the catch party taking a low screamer in front of point with a dive that caught the Taiwan football team selector’s eye for the next World Cup. Rhori wrapped the game up with the last wicket securing another victory to continue the Badger’s recent winning ways.
The Badgers retired to the side of the pitch to hoover up the leftover tea, sink a few tinnies and think about how Cornish would have reacted had we been the ones to have our backs to the game and missing a great chance to catch the ball.
Lesson learned: Catches win matches.