On the hottest of August days at Beddington, with the thermometer nudging 35?, the Badgers arrived smug in the knowledge that Fitzy’s 100% record at the toss this season would see them batting first and then fielding in the relative cool of the early evening. A 35 over game was agreed - not in honour of the temperature, but to allow regular breaks for drinks and ball-sanitising (apparently once a day is no longer deemed sufficient) and inevitably the Badgers found themselves bowling first.
T Rex was among the wickets early on, bowling three of the Beddington top order despite struggling with an uphill run-up, a challenge Hirsty also struggled with upon replacing him. Blake and Jim kept things tight at the other end, but as the early enthusiasm faded and the sun began to take its toll, two Beddington batsmen got going - helped by a relatively true pitch and a buffet’s-worth of full tosses. A couple of drinks breaks later, Robin at last broke through, and went on to remove the other set batsman too - one LBW, one to a fine catch from Rory at backward point. The partnership can only have lasted fifteen overs but felt interminable in the conditions, the nadir being when Robin lured the batsman into spooning a return catch which he juggled for seemingly ten seconds before it eventually went down - leaving Robin literally, and the rest of us metaphorically, floored.
However, once those breakthroughs were made, a flurry of wickets followed: Cade struck to briefly surpass Foordy on the all-time Badgers wickets list, Blake joined the party too and then Rex completed his five-for, all of them bowled, by cleaning up the tail with successive balls. Limiting Beddington to 145 and only having to field for 30 of the 35 overs made for a doubly satisfying afternoon’s work, and several of the Badgers enjoyed a cold, isotonic beverage (as recommended by their skipper) during the tea interval.
Luckily the confidence this showed in the top order was well-placed, as Rory and Martin scored freely from the start in the Badgers’ response. Rory unfurled the flamingo in a breezy fifty, and although Cloke was less fluent the runs continued to tick over until it became more a question of how many jugs would need purchasing post-match than of what the overall result would be. As victory loomed the question was whether Martin could reach his fifty before Rory and Extras knocked off the total, and although Rory fell for 73, Hirst went in and struck a boundary to notch up the tension further.
This left Clokey on 43 with only six needed to win, but crucially, he was on strike. You don’t play over 170 games for the Badgers without acquiring some sense for the occasion, and the so-called “Honey Badger” was able to summon up the gumption to strike the two consecutive boundaries needed to reach his milestone and to finish off the match.
On a balmy evening the Badgers stayed on and enjoyed the excellent Beddington hospitality, although apparently the “50”-shaped balloons in the bar had been ordered long in advance and were not specifically unveiled to celebrate Rory’s and Cloke’s achievements. T Rex was voted Badger of the Match for his first Badgers five-for.