Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The cricketing gods provided a glorious late summer day and a very pretty ground for the one external game of the Kent leg of FAS's Ruby Anniversary tour; but, just as the ancient Greeks would have predicted, these gifts were spurned by the intended recipients.
For our part, while we did get the requisite number of bodies to Newenden well in advance of the nominal 12:30pm start time, that was about it: with the life force systematically removed by the Fasopoly drinking game the previous evening, said bodies were devoid of any initiative or even the power of directed locomotion; the pre-game fielding practice session mostly consisted of us taking turns to grudingly retrieve the ball after it had gone through someone's legs. It was just the end of summer, but it felt more like the end of days.
Still, we were at least at the ground and ready to play, which is more than be said for The Grannies. At midday there were only three actual Grannies at the ground, although our 12th and 13th men, Rob and Sven, boosted that to five. Reports were coming through of various Sieberts and friends making their way to the ground, but also of a littany screw-ups involving missed trains, misplaced kit, wrong starting times, etc., all of which led to lots of resigned comments about "young people these days" - which, for once, were fully justified.
Of course an inevitable benefit of arriving late is getting to bat first, and the Grannies made good use of this unearned privilege, as their openers Dave Amato (more of whom below) and our own Jamie Scott quickly got their scoring rate up to four an over, mainly by exploiting the incredibly short boundaries. It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, and what was probably the most important moment of the whole game came during this phase: Scotty played around a full straight ball which might have clipped leg stump in the process of hitting the base of middle; there followed a massive appeal from all the members of the fielding side currently awake, and Scotty himself basically started to walk . . . but the umpire, perhaps mindful of the fact that the Grannies were literally "three out, all out" due to the late arrivals, indicated that it "might have been going down leg". Scotty was on 10* at that stage; fast forward an hour and he was in the 90s, having peppered the short square boundary with 10 fours and 6 cleanly-hit sixes. The only thing that could prevent him scoring a century was his own strange prediliction for trying to go to triple figures with a six only to be caught on the mid-wicket boundary, something which he managed on both the Thursday and Friday of the 2005 Mardi Gras . . . and again today. The fielder in this case was his quasi-namesake Jim Streeter, who also held onto a second quality catch in the deep today (showing why he's taken the fourth most outfield catches for FAS despite having played just 63 games).
But focussing on the dismissal of an opposition player for 95 reveals the greater truth that not much was going right for us, the nadir being when Rosie found herself reaching across the River Rother with a specially-designed pole to retrieve a ball that, if was on the far side of the river, had been hit into the neighbouring county of East Sussex. About the only highlight during this period of play was, perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing to do with the cricket: a local pilot had decided to take his restored Spitfire out for a spin and made several low-level passes over the ground that were better, by virtue of being lower, than any airshow. Play stopped as we took in the sight and sound of this magnificent machine; the only pity was that he (yes, gender confirmed by a regular at the local pub) was eventually called to angels one five . . . which meant we had no choice but to resume giving the Grannies batting practice.
Quite why everything was going so wrong wasn't completely clear. The default excuse of "can't get the players" wasn't going to cut it given that today's side included five of the club's club's top six wicket-takers: Cliff (1/26), Joe (0/31), Joss (1/25), Harry (0/34) and Daniel (2/30), with only Baz (PBUH) missing. That said, the player with the best FAS bowling average of today's side was none of the above, and we perhaps missed a trick by turning to The Batsman Formerly Known As James Houlder (15 FAS wickets at 15.47) only for the final over of the innings. The foolishness of this was revealed instantly, as his first ball induced a leading edge from Will Siebert that was well caught by Ben Kittow running around from mid-off. During the post-wicket celebration there was an impromptu gathering of all the past "best bowler" winners present, James (2014) being joined by Joe (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011), Daniel (2008, 2010 and 2015), Cliff (2000), Joss (2020) and Ben (2019), leaving Harry Houlder to sulk on the boundary before shouting out something about being a member of the far more exclusive FAS hat trick club (which seems to be in violation of equalities laws in that it only admits gingers). This wasn't looking so exclusive a ball later, however, as TBFKAJH took a second near-identical wicket when Matt Siebert also got a leading edge, the only difference being that James took the catch himself this time. And when he realised his hat trick ball was to be delivered to Steve Frost, playing his first game of cricket for a decade, James . . . produced a choke of South African proportions, sending the ball down legside. Sven thus survived; Harry maintained his club of two; and TBFKAJH had to be content with figures of 1 over, 1 maiden, 2/0.
Still, perhaps all was not lost as our batting was, in historical terms, just as strong as our bowling, with five of the club's top six run-scorers in attendance: Dares Cliff and Joss; Jameses Houlder and Streeter; and Chris Barras (with #3 Wilty missing from this list). Certainly our chase got off the best possible start as Jim Streeter (63 off 65 balls) hit the first four deliveries to the boundary, the last two of which were effortless swivel-pulls after the Grannies' opening bowler made the ludicrous decision to try and bounce him. Over the next hour Jim and Dave Kittow (28 off 47 balls), set the perfect platform to erase the pain of the first innings. After 17 overs we were 100/0: exactly half-way in terms of runs just past the mid-point of the overs; even the mildest tap of the accelerator in the second half of the innings would suffice. Indeed, it was tempting to start imagining a 10-wicket victory, last achieved by FAS in 1994 (albeit chasing just 114).
Unfortunately, we hit the brake pedal by mistake - or, really, it was hit for us, primarily by the previously-mentioned Dave Amato, who took 1/8 from 6 miserly overs of right-arm off-spin. (There was a strong rumour that he'd played First Class cricket, and some internet searches did unearth a spinner of this name - if it was the same guy then his spell today was even more impressive as he's both i) listed as a left-arm bowler and ii) dead. Another possibility is that we missed the chance to hear juicy sex, drugs and rock'n'roll stories from REO Speedwagon's guitar player.) Our chase collapsed like the pound after Brexit as the next 7 overs yielded just 15 runs and 3 wickets. With the match thus concluded as a contest, it was time for family feud: Dares batting vs. Sieberts bowling. With Matt coming in to bowl the final ball of the match it seemed that we'd at least won this mini-battle, only for Cliff (27 off 39 balls) to end the game by missing what appeared to be a fairly innocuous straight ball, leaving Joss (10* off 6 balls) undefeated in defeat.
There was nothing for it but to drown our sorrows, first at the White Hart in Newenden (nice views over the fields but with a decidedly sewerage-inpsired boquet that DK assured us was "not farm-like") and then back at Slip Mill (where we finally got to enjoy some sport today, in the form of Emma Raducanu's fairytale US Open victory).
Report by Will Siebert for The Grannies:
In the words of our nation's greatest playwright "better three hours too soon, than a minute too late". Unfortunately, there were no copies of The Merry Wives of Windsor on the Central Line in the wee small hours of matchday, so that timeless wisdom was lost. In spite of drop-outs, flakey organisation and the prospect of an afternoon in the company of a certain Lieutenant Colonel, the cricket that eventually ensued was a great success.
The decision was taken to bat first, both down to conditions and in order to maximize the batting talent avaliable. The openers, messers Amato and Scott started well, effectively piercing gaps and targeting fielders. Dave was eventually dismissed for a breezy 16 and was followed shortly afterward by Bradders for 8. Harvey Park joined Scottie in the middle and responded to the opposition chatter perfectly by hitting 4 boundaries off 6 deliveries before being dismissed by a good piece of bowling from the chinwagger in chief (the aforementioned Colonel Dare OBE).
Tottering somewhat at 63 for 3 Scottie was joined by Ben Lovill, a man unburdened by the disappointments and anxieties of regular cricket, striding out to the crease in kit he hadn't donned since school. In a style befitting more Raducanu than Richards, Lovill set upon the bowling smashing a quickfire 38. Scottie meanwhile was quietly going about his business, making his way past 50. After Lovill was dismissed a few late order cameos alongside Scottie, helped the Grannies reach an impressive 200 for 6 after their 30 overs, with the left-handed opener being denied a ton by the man with the biggest hands in Kent at deep midwicket, gone for 95. Scottie followed up his batting exploits with a decent opening spell in tandem with Bradders. After a solid opening stand (Big Jim Streeter hitting an excellent 63 before the previous evening's exploits caught up with him), the game was meandering away from the visitors but the combination of Dave's tidy off-spin and Rupert Henson's metronomic medium pace grabbed the game back in the Grannies' favor. Matt Siebert's deceptive lack of pace proved difficult to handle too and in the end, the FAS were restricted to 160/5, with the Grannies the deserved winners by 40 runs.