The 2015 Shambles

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

The 2015 FAS (short for Fathers And Sprogs these days) Shambles lived up to its name in many ways. From lost fixtures to lost phones to lost girlfriends there was always the sense of mayhem just around the corner, although the one loss that really mattered was in Tuesday's match against the Royal Marines. It was the first time an FAS side had been defeated since 2010, and it was the first loss on tour proper since 2006. Add in the fact that we struggled to a draw against Temple Grafton and it might be tempting to think that our decade of dominance is coming to an end . . . but that would be to ignore four comfortable victories in our other games - overall we can still put out a pretty decent side (or two on the days with double fixtures).

The prime strength is batting, so much so that Jamie Wyatt (165 runs at 165.00, thus increasing his FAS career average to 141.83) and Jamie Houlder (192 runs at 96.00) shared the Batting Award. After both had scored centuries they found themselves in a bat-off against the Marines: Jamie H. opened up and raced to his half-century in 35 balls of near-perfect batting before being rather unluckily adjuged LBW; Jamie W. followed with 53 runs of his own, and was looking undismissable until a misfield and some calling confusion led to his run out. Our batting strength also extended to the younger brigade, and the Most Improved Young Player award went to Hal Dare for his run-scoring: his 43 runs came at the healthy average of 21.50, but what really impressed was his power hitting, two sixes in the Bunnies game reaching low Earth orbit before eventually landing in the field behind the Blockley ground.

It was, however, with ball in hand that the third generation of FAS players had their greatest impact: Jamie Dare, Zoe Dare and Charlie Prifti opened the bowling (on merit) more often than not; and Reynolds Toby and Tom, Will Siebert (with some extraordinarily passionate appeals) and Ben Kittow followed up with a variety of spin. That said, the wickets went to the old hands, with Joe White (6 wickets at 15.33), Cliff Dare (6 wickets at 14.17) and Daniel Mortlock (8 wickets at 10.75) leading the way, the Bowling Award going to the latter largely for his 13-over spell of 5/35 against Temple Grafton.

Such economy was, inevitably, the result of good fielding as well, with Harry Houlder, Sasha Barras and Nigel Reynolds amongst the ground-fielding stars and great catches being taken by Dave Kittow (a stunning one-handed grab at gully), Rob Harvey (a forward dive at mid-on) and Joss Dare (a one-handed pick-up on the boundary after a 20-yard sprint that was repeatedly referred to as "the best catch I've ever seen" and was sufficient by itself to nab him the Fielding Award). One reason for the high standard of fielding was that we seemed to have teams that were almost entirely made up of wicket-keepers, a corrollary being that the actual wicket-keeping was pretty decent too. Jamie Houlder once again got this award, having kept in three matches in a row, the main result of which was lots of "old man"-style grumbles about being sore and a 40-minute bath on our rest day.

The rest day - the result of the planned fixtures against The Cairo Lions falling through - gave everyone plenty of time to think about preceding three days' cricket, although even that wasn't enough to decide on who should get the All-Rounder award. The main problem was that not many people had both scored runs and taken wickets: the only players to average more than 30 with the bat and under 20 with the ball were the above-mentioned Cliff Dare (78 runs at 39.00 and 6 wickets at 14.17) and Joe White (32 runs at 32.00 and 6 wickets at 15.33). The award went to Joe in the end, largely for his resolute effort to bat out the draw at Temple Grafton in the midst of crazy run outs and a defiant boundary smacked by Ben Kittow off the last ball with the match still live.

All of the above was the subject of the unthematically well-organised presentation by Dares Hal, Jamie (who did what he described as "the more interesting part of the presentation"), Zoe and Rosie at the end-of-tour BBQ on the Wednesday. And of course both they and the shamblers(?) also thanked the more mature Dares - particularly Baz and Wendy - for once again putting the tour together and letting us make their home our home for a week. And so to their home we added a cricketing garden gnome (apparently modelled on Paul Knight) and a toilet roll holder, in the form of a set of stumps, that has already made its way to the cricket loo. And on that note - and with the 2016 tour as yet unnamed - the 2015 Shambles report concedes.