The Believers share a rich history of encounters with the Badgers dating back to 2012. The most notable characteristics of these are usually delicious catered teas and ball hunting in Battersea Park’s undergrowth. For this year’s fixtures, one of these was removed and, fortunately for Jim “The Rhino” Hamblin, it wasn’t the tea. A busy Battersea Park meant that the Badgers had to venture out to the unfamiliar realms of the Roehampton Playing Fields. A slight shortage of Believers meant that Rory and Bam Bam were playing Judas for the day (it is worth noting how strangely keen they were to play for the other team...).
The Badgers opened the batting with Laurence and Lee. The Believers set the tone with fast, accurate bowling and a wicket keeper who could only stand up to the stumps. (He later explained this with “on thoroughfares frequently used by goats such as this, you are as likely to take the ball standing up as you are standing back from the stumps. Therefore I prefer to stand up.”. This made sense at the time however, on reflection, completely ignores the significantly increased risk of being hit by the ball).
This sort of pressure was too much for the Badger top order. Enter Stew Mcluskey who handled these angry red balls with ease. Perhaps his resilience was driven by his friend Ben “I can’t believe Stew Mac is still batting” Brown’s support from the sidelines? Another Stu was clearly required to rectify the Badger collapse so Jinks and Shone kindly gave up their wickets quickly to make this happen. The House of Stuarts/Stewarts batted solidly and contributed to an incredible Badger recovery from 25 for 5 to 142 for 6. Following punchy innings by Rhino, Ben & Pedro, the Badgers declared on a respectable 209 for 9 which allowed Allyn to keep his enviable tan topped up.
Tea, as expected, compared favourably to the dinner served at the previous day’s Royal Wedding.
Sadly, the Badger bowling and fielding was unable to contain the Believers’ batting. Their opening batsmen were resolute and were a source of frustration. The lethal combination of delicious tea, no wickets falling and hot sun created such an air of lethargy amongst the fielders that when a Jinks delivery ended up bottomed-edged into keeper Lee’s hands, the appeal went something along the lines of “He hit it... I caught it... That means that the batsman is out... I can appeal... How was that?”. The batsman was already off the field by the time that the appeal was made.
The damage had already been done and the Believers reached the target comfortably via Jinks bowling Rory for a golden duck. Let that be warning to any future Badgers looking to switch sides.
Lesson learned from this one: Standing up to the stumps on a goat track to fast bowling results in the same number of byes as not standing up … apparently.