One of the fixtures most avidly looked forward to each season is the one against Lotus F1 (yes, the F1 team - we've no idea how we got this fixture either). Played in the rural setting of Barton Abbey it is a friendly match against like-minded opposition in beautiful surroundings with, rare for an evening twenty20, a tea as well. Games in the past have been fairly even, Bodley securing a good victory last year.
With this in mind, and with a strongish team to boot, Bodley could afford a degree of confidence, rashly ignoring the warning signs offered by a green tinge to the wicket and a young enthusiastic opposition practising before the game. Bodley win the toss and bat first. Soon the wicket comes into play. Pre start the cavalier skipper (Milner, fresh from polishing off the last of his French duty free) had decreed we would change the batting order, and with the confidence expected of any proud Yorkshire man Gavin puts his hand up to open with Matthew. Both are soon out, victims of bloody fast and accurate bowling combined with a schizophrenic pitch that can't decide if it wants to play true, stay low or rear up at the batsman - Matthew was bowled, Gav leg before (ahem). Gav's wicket brings David Shackleton out to bat, and any demons that the rest of the team find in the pitch (Ackland bowled first ball going back to one that pitched in middle and took off the leg stump bail, the usual lack of forward (any?) defence proving costly again. Jones, after a glorious pulled 4, and having been out once by a vicious ball that reared off a length to take the glove right in front of the face and be caught keeper, only to be called back was then out a second and final time by one that moved off the pitch. Thereafter followed Leigh, Andy Downey and eventually David Shackleton. Others were caught, or bowled by straight ones, and only David covered himself in any glory, a cultured 40 runs making up nearly 2/3rds of a very poor 68 all out off 15 overs. Of course, we said, it'll be the same for them on this wicket. What bollocks.
Bodley start well, Stu Ackland bowling two overs of tight line and length while first Andrew Milner and then Gavin bowl their perfectly flighted deliveries from the other end. Then things start to go horribly wrong - Ackland starts his third, loses his newly worked on, non-stuttering run up, re-introduces the stutter to great applause and gets the yips (to more applause), a few loose deliveries putting paid to the good work of the first overs and, already faced with a near impossible task, Bodley are on the back foot. A few dropped catches, including an unexpectedly hilarious contribution from Leigh, and the usual fielding-with-feet mishaps don't help but accurate bowling from David and wickets for Leigh and Milner at least means that the target isn't reached, then overtaken, till the fifteenth over. So close.
A bad loss then, and hard to find any crumbs of comfort in a match in which the pitch came into play when we were batting but not for the opposition, who bowled well with pace and accuracy and deserved the win with their performance with the ball. The evening ended in the best way possible, the sun setting directly behind the stumps at the pavilion end meant that sitting with your back to the pavilion you could watch directly in front of you the most gorgeous full moon rising in a clear blue sky while eating food usually on offer on a Sunday; cakes, sandwiches and cups of tea. The team play again this Sunday, at Peasmore, a swift chance of redemption, report of that match to follow, unless we lose again, in which case a detailed account of the post-match pub trip will replace the report.
Stuart has added this bizarre piece of prose, which he may or may not have written himself...
How do I hate thee? let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the line and length my balls fail to reach.
I hate thee for the golden duck,
I hate thee for the 1 loose ball after 5 good ones,
I hate thee for the optimism that turns to despair,
I hate thee for the dropped catch
and for giving me nowhere to hide after,
I hate thee for the false praise when things go wrong,
and the inability to do anything about it when they go wrong.
I hate thee with a hate when we again lose,
I hate thee with the wides, misses, dropped catches of all my matches... and if my knees maintain,
I shall but hate thee better after stumps.