Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The absence of Flabury on the FAS fixture list this year left Temple Grafton as the one remaining long-time opposition, with today's game marking our 40th (scheduled) fixture. Given the fact that TG have managed just four wins in all that time, combined with the news they were struggling to get an eleven together today, one might have thought that we'd put out a mixed-strength team; but we were instead replete with batters and bowlers, so much so that there weren't many options for taking our foot off the pedal at any stage of what was mostly a very one-sided game.
Still, TG sprang out of the blocks, racing to 33/0 after 4 (six-ball) overs as our opening attack of Ben Kittow and Joe White (both 1/21) struggled how best to make use of - or avoid - the tennis ball bounce off a spongy pitch that look like it had been prepared using a blunt scythe. But once the puzzle of the pitch was solved it was FAS all the way, as Daniel Mortlock and Harry Houlder (both 3/17) and Jamie Dare (1/17 bowling darts, to manifest disapproval of Cliff) then worked their way through the Temple Grafton middle order. Harry's first two wickets came from catches, highlighted by an incredible full-length one-handed diving effort by Dave Kittow at cover that was sufficient to nab him the bowling award. But Harry's third wicket revealed the singularity of his focus on his life-time obsession with the FAS bowling award as, faced with a TG's 12-year-old female wicket-keeper playing her first game of senior cricket, he ruthlessly exploited her weakness outside off-stump, bowling her through the gate. By the time she completed the long walk back to the pavilion the soft rain that had started at least gave her the dignity of disguising her tears. It also turns out this was Harry's 32nd wicket against Temple Grafton, meaning he'd equalled Cliff's club record for most wickets against a single opposition. We wrapped up the TG innings shortly afterwards, bowling out them for 108 with 13 of their nominal 40 overs unused.
The rain continued steadily over the tea break and for a while it seemed possible that the game would be called off . . . until Hal Dare's optimistic announcement that "it's brightening up" proved to be correct and we went back out without much delay.
The water had taken some of the life out of the wicket, and our chase proceeded pretty comfortably at about a run a ball. The early action was dominated by Hal (22 off 21 balls), who clubbed some enormous sixes after which he delighted in using his bat to provide sniper-sighter directions indicating exactly where to look in the boridge. Following Hal's departure things calmed down as Adam Slater played some classical drives and Dave Kittow raced to 7* off 32 balls, displaying a remarkable ability to repeatedly rob the ball of all its kinetic energy, seemingly in denial of Newton's laws, instead following the newly conceived Kittownian mechanics. Dave did eventually accelerate before being caught on 20 (off 45 balls), after which Slats "fucked his average" when he was bowled (for 50 off 49 balls) with just two runs needed. That left skipper Jamie Houlder on a hiding to nothing which had half of the FAS spectators appealing on TG's behalf if the ball hit the pad; but, disappointingly, he finished the game with a calm pull to the boundary.
That left plenty of time for post-match chats in TG's new clubhouse - much more chill than having to hoof it off to the local pub - and we're already booked in for 2024.