Report by Daniel Mortlock:
A new opponent for FAS today, but a familiar venue: Gills Green (no apostrophe), just ten minutes up the road from Slip Mill. We had an unusually long pre-match preparation: it had started several months ago with Joss gaining valuable intel by playing for Gills Green a few times during the summer; he then lured their captain, Al Herbert, to join the FAS players for drinks at Slip Mill on Friday night, the clear aim of which was to use our (well, really Cliff's) deranged chat as a form of intimidation; and we then tried to give them one of players as an inside man, although in the end this didn't happen.
Come match day we were presented with a glorious scene of English tranquility, this time without the incessant gunfire which provided the soundtrack to last year's internal battle of the hangovers. FAS skipper Jim Streeter won the toss and elected to field, the idea being that by the time we'd be batting we'd have at least some sense of what the pitch was like - but it was a decision that was apparently vindicated also on more purely cricketing grounds, as the response of the Gills Green players to being told they'd be batting first was to assume that they'd lost the toss.
Certainly we dominated the early part of the game as Jamie Dare (3/17) proved a bit too quick for their top order, one of whom was almost decapitated when a fairly full ball achieved a near vertical ascent of the sort depicted so realistically in Top Gun: Maverick. Tempting as it might have been to let Jamie complete his 7-over allotment in the hope of getting to The Great House for an early pint, he was removed from the attack for fear of extending his sequence of wicket maidens indefinitely. Coming on at the same end, Faruk Kara (2/20) was successful in breaking that sequence, but only by starting his spell with a double-wicket-maiden as the Gills Green 4 and 5 were both so befuddled by their first deliveries that they took wild swings at their second, hitting catches to Jamie and Joe White. The delusion that one can genuinely exert control a cricket match was thus revealed, as our efforts to make a game of things had reduced Gills Green to a dismal score of 40/5.
Led by their skipper Al, who was apparently immune to both the alcoholic and verbal assault of Friday evening, as well as every effort by Joss Dare (0/24) to dismiss him, Gills Green made a determined recovery, making it to triple figures without further loss. Once it became clear to Faruk that he wasn't going to take any more wickets he arranged to be hit in the shin, thus being "forced" to leave the field mid-way through his spell. (It was, of course, pure coincidence that this was the precise moment a local photographer had arrived at the ground with an even more impressive lens than Faruk's.) After Harry Houlder (1/31) finally broke the partnership, albeit via a full toss (that was well caught by Jim), Daniel Mortlock (2/2) and Jamie Scott (2/13) then polished off the tail, the 10th wicket falling off the final scheduled delivery of the innings as 'keeper Dave Kittow completed his second stumping of the day.
During the mid-innings break we had, like yesterday, a minute's silence a mark of respect for the Queen, complete with massive telephoto lenses pointing at us in the manner so familiar to her family.
With a target of just a smidge over 4 an over and plenty of batting, it seemed we were perfectly set to go two for two on the Kent leg of the 2022 For Two . . . at least until their opening bowlers proved too much to handle and we were reduced to 2/2. That soon became 12/3, after which Dave Kittow (27 off 59 balls) and Jamie Dare (14 off 31 balls) at least staved off immediate capitulation. When they were both out in quick succession we were 60/5 and needed 83 off 89 balls - decidedly more challenging on this pitch than it perhaps looks on paper. Still, Jameses Scott and Streeter seemed up to the task, immediately scoring more freely than anyone else from either side had during the day. The dot balls which had dominated the game thus far were a thing of the past, the next 38 runs coming from just 34 balls. Unfortunately, we then got our second match-turning moments of the day (to follow the decision to take Jamie out of the attack) as first Scotty (29 off 30 balls) and then Big Jim (24 off 22 balls) were well caught in the deep. The new batters weren't able to maintain the necessary scoring rate - we managed just one boundary in the last five overs - and finished up 12 runs short.
Tempting as a pint in The Great House was, most of us had long journeys ahead of us, so it was a case of hugs and thank yous to Joss and Vicky before heading back to the real world . . .