Report by Daniel Mortlock:
With so much focus this year on running a FAS tour - or even two - without allowing the Coronavirus to penetrate our secure bubble, it's perhaps unsurprising that we let our guard down when it came to an even more dangerously infectious phenomenon, The Hundred, to which FAS succumbed to today. That said, the FAS bastion of long-form cricket fell not because of the ECB's radioactively fluresc-, er, fluoroescen, er . . . colourful marketing, but because the format is a mechanism for playing as little actual cricket as possible while still having a game. The combination of limited numbers - there were only 18 players available - and decreased tolerance and/or increased consumption of alcohol - some people seemed to still be hung over from the Fasopoly carnage two nights previous - meant that enthusiasm levels were at an all-time low. But there was still some sense of obligation to maintain the conceit that this was a cricket tour rather than just a curiously mill-based pub crawl. We were thus split 9-9 into the Incontinents (making their first appearance since 1995) and the Incorrigibles (an original choice, if also a slightly strange one given that nobody seemed to quite know the meaning of the term).
The venue, like the format, was also new to FAS: Gills Green (in the hamlet of Gill's Green, so small that there's not always room the apostrophe), almost as close to Slip Mill as the Blockley ground is to Mill Dene (3 minutes vs. 2 minutes by car, according to Google Maps). That said, it actually took us about twice as long to make the journey when the lead vehicle of the FAS convoy took a wrong turn into a tiny cul de sac, from which we then had to extricate ourselves in reverse order. Once at the ground we were greeted with wide open spaces - yesterday's game might have been quite different if played here - a decaying clubhouse that seemed to have largely been given over to storing the remains of some even older facility . . . and the tranquil sound of incessant gunfire. The reason for this was that the nextdoor field was being used for clay pigeon shooting - possibly the reason we weren't charged a ground hire fee today.
Quite what FAS first-timer Matt Wood made of this - and being instantly christened "Woodpig" - is anyone's guess, but it didn't seem to faze him: opening the bowling for the Incorrigibles, he took a wicket with his third ball for the club (an all-time record?). The wicket was that of the Batsman Formerly Known As James Houlder, fresh from a morning net at Slip Mill where he dominated all comers, including a worryingly un-hungover Jamie Dare coming in at full pace. Jamie came on after Matt's two sets of five (or "fives" as is apparently their official term), but found his pace used against him by a similarly fresh Sasha Barras, whose "stand and deliver drive over extra" was sufficiently rude for Cliff to take it as his "bit on the side" to complement "Big Jim's back foot drive through extra" from yesterday as his "major pash". Sasha's innings of 60 was the individual performance of the day, although Jamie (2/33) did get the last laugh after inducing thin edges off consecutive balls: the first crossed the boundary just as 'keeper Dave Kittow was starting to move to complete the catch; but he held onto the second, and then took another catch a few balls later, presumably sufficient to redeem himself in the eyes of that most unsympathetic of creatures (i.e., a fast bowler who's taken a bit of tap). The Incontinents got some good late contributions from Jamie Scott (17*) and Harry Houlder (13), both of whom smacked Daniel Mortlock (2/20) for dismissive boundaries, Scottie's pick-up and its aftermath recorded for posterity below. That said, "M'Licious" (as recorded on the scoresheet) also got some revenge, bowling Harry and then finishing things off by pinning Scottie in the upper abdominal region, the sound of leather on plastic being not entirely dissimilar from the now decidedly tireseome rifle reports from next door.
The Incorrigibles' openers K's D (47 off 34 balls) and B (13 off 19 balls) raced to 75/0 after the first 10 fives as, pleasingly for any devotees of nominative determinism, the Incontinents' leaked runs uncontrollably. For the second time in two days an FAS side was eyeing up a 10-wicket win, only for the dream to once again disintegrate with the fall of the first wicket. Today this was catalysed by the unfortunate run out of BK backing up too far (completely unnecessary in his case, as he can reach both creases by just transferring his bat between his hands). The bowlers then came roaring back, led by Joe White (1/10) who conceded just 0.5 runs per ball on a day when no one else had an economy rate of under 1.0. He was a bit too good for Daniel (17* off 18 balls), who couldn't lay bat on ball and hence survived, and then got a deserved wicket when a relieved Rob Harvey held on to a mis-hit drive from Matt Wood (9 off 13 balls) at the second - or was it the third? - attempt.
In the end the Incorrigibles fell 17 runs short of the Incontinents, but perhaps cricket was the real loser today - this report notwithstanding, today's game isn't going to go down in FAS lore. After some perfunctory farewells, the FAS convoy reassembled, this time with the target being the easier to locate but sadly cricket-free destination of normality.