Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The 2004 Post-Amble was held between July 11 and July 17 and was comprised of nine matches, of which two were won, one was drawn and six were lost. Despite the inauspicious nature of these results, the Post-Amble was another great success - thanks as ever to Baz, Cliff and Joss Dare for organising the week, and to Wendy Dare for allowing her home to be overrun by what, in some parts of the world, would apparently be referred to as "larrakins".
Whilst the Dare family is clearly the heart of the tour, Joss correctly identified the Hall/Houlder axis as its spine - members of the two families played a total of 29 games during the Post-Amble, dominating the awards and averages by scoring 324 runs and taking 12 wickets. Nick Houlder must take the prize for boundary line barracking with his repeated calls of "Wiiiide baaall, Geoff!" and "Well run, WR!" at Fladbury, although Lol Hall also impressed in that game by simultaneously pulling the ball to the boundary and destroying his wicket. Lol also infuriated his nephew when the demand to "keep it low" was met with a parabolic return; when he fielded the next ball there was a chorus of "high as you can, Lol" and so the return was, of course, rolled along the ground.
The Hall/Houlder clan also provided the two star fielders, Harry Houlder and Tom Hall making desperate diving stops look stylish and then firing accurate, flat throws back to the 'keeper or slightly frightened bowler. That said, the best single piece of fielding seems to be unanimously agreed to be when Chris Barras played a cracking pull against the Surrey Cryptics, only to see Jim Streeter stretch out a tentacle (a la the mechanically enhanced villian of Spider Man 2) and pouch an effortless catch.
And whilst Joe White won the best bowler award for the fourth year running (to go with two consecutive victories in the "ugly game", as judged by female employees of The Crown), the single best bowling return was yet another Hallder effort: Harry Houlder's 4/63 against Ebrington.
The batting award rightly went to Joss Dare (162 runs at 40.50, and easily the most consistent batsman on Post-Amble), although the best innings was a close-run thing between Mike Harrop's 20-ball 60 against Blockley and Melbourne grade cricketer Matthew Stein's hard-hitting 97* in the victory against the Adastrians. Indeed, the Antipodean contingent did rather well on the batting front (combined figures of 217 runs at 108.50), which must be a particularly bitter pill for Geoff Hales to swallow after his unprovoked anti-Australian tirade at the end-of-tour dinner.
Geoff, despite being beaten for character of the tour by young James Dare (and his famed doorbell solos), appeared to be in a most provocative mood all week, at least if the fact that he gave Cliff out LBW first ball at Temple Grafton was anything to go by. Maybe not the smartest course of action but Captain Cliff Dare ("Is that a comic-book action hero name or what?" according to www.samizdata.net) seemed to take it all in his stride, even wearing Frosty's "duck cap" until he got off the mark in his next innings. (The cap was then removed from the field of play, closely followed by its wearer, who was promptly dismissed next ball.)
Anyway, it will no doubt all be forgotten in a year's time when, if drunken promises are kept, Cliff and Tom will be appearing in full drag to kick off the 2005 Mardi Gras (proving that it's not just sailors).