I don’t think it was only me that felt something special about our return to Shaldon. Maybe it was the setting; a glorious pitch rolling gently down to the river Teign, with sea-salt in the air and Haytor on the horizon. Maybe it was the opposition; a genuine friendly side made up of youngsters and old hands with the warmest welcome in the county. Maybe it was the memories of our first ever game, when all the family came along to watch Grandad artfully knocking the bowling all around the park. Whatever it was, I wasn’t the only one who felt uplifted on the way to the game.
Shaldon didn’t disappoint. We turned up to a chorus of ‘welcome backs!’ and a flurry of handshakes; I won the toss for a change and decided to field. Bowling has been our strongest hand of late, and I’m happy to play it early.
And we did it rather well. Of all the bowlers, only Andy and Kev went at over a run a ball, and Kev made up for that with two wickets; the first a fine bottom edge that I just about managed to cling on to with the assistance of my testicles, and the second a good low catch from Chip at midwicket. Shaldon could have stepped on it a bit had they wished, but a succession of gentlemanly retirements helped keep their score to 114-6 from their twenty overs.
A new opening partnership walked out to begin the Cavaliers’ innings. This is nothing new, of course. We’ve had more opening partnerships than post-match curries. But the urge to keep Chalky in his natural role at number three was overruled by the fact that we didn’t really have anyone else who could open, so he and I took guard.
After the usual ponderous start – a maiden from our old nemesis, 10-year-old Dee Dee – Chalky burst into life, and we caught up with and even overtook the asking rate. He was by far the dominant partner, hitting half a dozen fours in his innings while I could barely get the ball off the square at times (even Kev took the piss out of ‘dot ball Blaggers’, which shows exactly how cleanly I was hitting it). We approached our fifty partnership with trepidation, refusing to discuss the possibility, until a quickly-taken two took us over the landmark. It was the Cavaliers’ first fifty partnership, and I think has cemented our places at the top of the order for a while to come.
On 54, we did the gentlemanly thing and retired together, leaving the rest of the lads 60 to score from the last eight overs. We had some big hitters to come and, under the circumstances, it would have been a bit rude to stay until the end. Shaldon had chosen to retire rather than go on and slog and so should we, and besides there were other people who fancied a bat.
Unfortunately, the vice-skipper was concentrating so hard on scoring that he didn’t think in time to change the batting order, so rather than he and Si coming out Chris and Bryan took to the field. While Chris has plenty of potential and Bryan is a real trier, it never seemed likely that that particular partnership would score at 7.5 an over, and three overs later the rate was too high for our batsmen to chase down, and we fell 35 runs short of our target.
It was a terrific game once again, and our thanks go to the Optimists for making us so welcome once again.
|Joe||c Blagden b Johns||19|
|Danny||c C Ryder b Johns||2|
|TOTAL||114 for 6|
|TOTAL||79 for 7|