Or perhaps the title should read ‘Bitter Badgers throw their toys out the pram’? Certainly, the King’s Road deserve a great deal of credit for fighting their way back to draw a game in which they were invited to follow-on. Yet they also earned themselves no friends by making absolutely no attempt to win the game in which they were playing, instead focusing all their attention on retaining their title.
Then again, this could all be Badger sour grapes. Maybe the title of ‘South London Ashes holders’ means everything. After all, that’s what both sides were playing for as they arrived at Dundonald Road with the 3-match series poised at one game apiece. Once again, noble black and white prepared to clash with lurid orange as both sides soaked up the pre-match atmosphere and then sat and waited another 20 minutes for Robin to arrive so that we could start.
Day one was all about the Badgers. A half-century for Mackrell and decent contributions from Cloke, Jinks and Dollimore propelled them to 247 before the bowlers were unleashed on the Road. Aggressive plans were put in place and nervous fielders were invited to stand much closer than they felt comfortable. But it worked. Paul Cole 2.0 tearing in. Stew Mac tricking batsmen into leaving straight deliveries. A Shone ripper of a diving catch. Cloke roaring like a rabid beast. It all amounted to the Road finding themselves 7 wickets down and with only 87 runs on the board.
Day two dawned. Ladies’ Day! Mr Cade, fuelled by an industrial vat of G&T, and his bevy of WAGs arrived to chat on the sidelines and occasionally steal a glance at the game.
And what a game it was as the Badgers sniffed an opportunity to enforce the follow-on!
A wicket fell.
Two were still required.
The scoreboard ticked along.
Foord was handed the ball.
The big man for big occasions - but with a surprisingly small car - raced in and clean-bowled Brown for the 9th wicket. The Road moved on to 121. They were tantalisingly close. But not close enough. The King of the Giants smelled the blood of a Rossi-man and ground his stumps to make his bread. The Road were bowled out. The Badgers were 126 runs ahead with a minimum of 80 overs remaining in the day, fresh bowlers and a King’s Road side on their knees. The follow-on was gleefully enforced.
And then the day went to shit.
Actually that’s not true. Excellent batting from the King’s Road saw them claw their way back into the match. A classy 73 from Persad brought them to the 30 over mark just 7 runs behind for the loss of only one wicket. The Badgers scrapped away, with a 5-wicket haul for Mackrell and a cheeky catch by Warman at slip with his feet, but by the evening session tired bowlers were struggling to draw many false shots and the batsmen were looking increasingly at ease. Mystified badgers looked on as the batsmen, Shaboodien and Cocken, continued to plod away against an exhausted attack. When were they going to hit out and declare? How many overs would the drained and deflated badgers have to strap on pads and attempt to concentrate for? Would they be bold and set us 160 from 20 overs, a more conservative 180 or try to get to the safety of 200? For the record the Badgers have never scored more than 176 in a T20 innings and they have been bowled out 5 times attempting a chase in the same format. Factor in fatigue levels, and the aggressive instincts of captain Mackrell and it could have been one of the nail biting finishes that Badger - King’s Road clashes used to be famous for.
Sadly for anyone hoping for an exciting climax to the weekend this train of thought never crossed orange minds, the Kings road clearly placed more importance on retaining their title than getting their first supertest win. Yes, It would probably have still been a draw but at least there would have been some excitement. Runs would have been scored. Wickets most likely would have fallen and at least there would have been some point to still being there. As it was the captains eventually shook hands with the Road on 331, a lead of over 200.
The Orange caps are obviously a good bunch of guys (though we don’t like to admit it) and clearly love the game and the principle of making sure everyone gets involved and enjoys themselves. So why on this occasion did they just bat out the day and pootle towards an inevitable draw?
The answer, sadly, is the ‘South London Ashes’. The Road are either boring bastards or glorious holders of the urn. The Badgers are either sore losers or champions of the spirit of social cricket. Perhaps an impartial observer would be able to see a mixture of the two. Or more likely they’d question why I’ve bothered to waste my Saturday afternoon writing this match report.
Either way, the series was drawn 1-1 and the title was retained by the King’s Road.