A Tom Rex masterclass in all aspects of the game proved the defining feature of the Badgers’ tussle against first-time opponents, Ploughmans CC. Dominating events from start to finish, Sheffield’s favourite son stamped his authority on proceedings with one of the greatest performances ever witnessed in the history of Badgerdom.
Without giving the lost toss a second thought, Rex sauntered to the crease with the swagger and flair of a man who gets through more runs than Blakey gets through bottles of fake tan. Indeed, such was the raw machismo with which he began his innings that all spectators clutched their pearls and took a few paces backwards. Allwood even retreated to a bench far away from the pitch in order to compose himself, although it later turned out that Alex wasn’t letting him sit on the chair that he wanted to sit on. Combining efforts with Knight, Rex began a trademark partnership – masterful, exhilarating and second only in sexual chemistry to the one he formed with Laura Mingers on University Challenge.
Steely in defence and elegant on the attack, the twinkle-eyed Taurean set about the opposition bowling with a balletic sequence of drives, swivels and should’ve-been-threes. Holding the pose and arching one eyebrow, Rex’s razor-sharp reflexes allowed him almost enough time to brew a cup of Yorkshire Tea in his famous miniature metal teapot before assuming the perfect position to play any shot in the cricketer’s repertoire.
Alas, for there to be a super-hero, there must also be a super-villain, and on this day it was the pitch. An innocuous delivery found itself upgraded to ball-of-the-century as it skidded off the wicket at an angle even more acute than Lauro’s chiselled cheekbones. Travelling on its radical new trajectory, the ruinous missile somehow evaded Rex’s Gray-Nicolls Seax of Beagnoth to find a home in our hero’s stumps. It’s hard to quantify perfection, but from memory I think he scored about a thousand runs.
Kindly keeping his Aero pads strapped on for a further fifteen minutes to ensure that someone other than him would be given the honour of umpiring next, Rex had time to reflect on his performance. How did it stack up against other Badger success stories? Josh Lee’s Benidorm Sangria fest? Pete Jinks’ pole-dancing escapades? Dave Hirst’s constant swearing? Sometimes you simply don’t know how special something is until it’s gone and it was very much the case with this gem of an innings. As the overs ticked by, the rest of the Badger batsmen found themselves returning to the sidelines with alarming regularity. A final score of 88 all out went to show the virtual impossibility of batting on that pitch and what a super-human effort Rex had produced.
Quick wickets were required as the Badgers began their reply so some attacking field placements were bound to be set. Would Rex be first to raise his hand for the dangerous close-catching position of short leg? **[Chuckles]** Of course not! Why would you steal the glory for yourself when you can inspire another member of the team to strive for those exalted heights. In this case it was Captain Steve who crouched mere feet from the bat, motivated entirely by the reassuring presence of Queens’ College Cambridge’s most famous alumnus patrolling the boundary at the crucial position of deep backward point.
Cascading around the outfield like the crystal-clear waters of the River Sheaf, the President of the Macy Gray fan-club (north-east Derbyshire constituency) produced his familiar brand of heavy-metal fielding: swooping, collecting and wanging the ball back to the stumps whenever required. However, with such a small total to defend, it was always going to be a tough ask. Drawing on vast experience from his crucible of cricketing strategies, Rex inspired his team to three big wickets, a few cartwheels from Johnston, and a moment of incredulity-verging-on-fatwa from Dodd when an LBW decision didn’t go his way. Ultimately, the game was up, as Ploughmans CC nibbled their way to a seven-wicket victory and an early visit to the pub.
As the strains of Steve’s curses and insults towards his own team faded into the distance, there could be no doubt that everyone had been part of something very special indeed. It is often the greatest adversity that produces the noblest of heroes and this match proved no different.
Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Florence Nightingale in the Crimea.
Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc.
Let’s add Rex’s name to the list.
*Rexy, this match report signals that my debt to you from the 2022 End-of-Season dinner has now been paid in full. Thank you kindly.