Whippersnappers, Cumnor Cricket Club. Twenty overs.
The FA Cup Final, Superbowl, Ashes, Monaco Grand Prix, Wimbledon Finals, Grand National, Boat Race, World Bog Snorkelling Championship, and Whippersnappers. All of these great sporting pinnacles occur but once a year, and all are cherished, partaken in by a lucky few and recorded in perpetuity in the annals of sporting legend. That being the case it was with a casual buzz that this year’s Whippersnappers got underway at Cumnor Cricket Club on a balmy Friday evening. With some on holiday, some without a day pass, and some just awol, the fourteen men of Bodley assembled for battle with teams decided by the decidedly Stuish method of lining up in height order and going odds/evens. Looked ok, everyone thought, so off we went. The slightly shorter team led by Alec won the toss as the marginally taller team led by Gareth called wrong. To Gareth’s delight he was asked to bat, and out walked a newly minted opening pair of Leigh and Miten.
Neely and Stu opening the bowling and Leigh, in his first game back since a dizzying catalogue of injuries, nudged and nurdled whilst Miten ran like a March hare from the other end. Neely soon had Leigh on his way, with Stu sending Miten back shortly after. With Mads moonlighter Dips now at the crease the runs started to came quickly, Dips played some lovely strokes whilst Gareth bludgeoned Neely back over his head before holing out to give Andrew Milner an easy wicket. With Dave Busby joining Dips attention turned to the boundary and the figure of David Shackleton, whose recently sprained ankle had quite inexplicably affected his ability to count. With a retirement set at twenty for this match Dips serenely moved on to a potentially match-winning 34 before being called off by David when he realised this was a greater number than twenty. Gav was next in, and after a few lusty blows was followed by the hobbling Shackleton, though there was little sympathy from the fielding team. Shacks did as Shacks does though, and moved on to forty odd runs whilst the other Dave produced a vintage Bodley Lara impression to notch the team’s total up to an eye-watering 160-4.
Needing 161 to win Alec led his team out with in a manner that did not immediately convey the seriousness of the task at hand. Whilst Alec wisely took the non-facing end, serial opening batsman impersonator Stu shuffled to the crease bedecked in pink fairy wings that he had presumably stolen from a small child. Wondering what on earth was going on Jones tossed the ball to Gav and set a conventional field knowing the oppo might take a few risks. In runs Gav, good length ball, Stu swings as hard as he can and leathers the ball back past Gav. But then to everyone's great surprise Gareth, standing firm at mid-off, pouched the head-high ball to leave the flightless duckling on a diamond duck. Quack quack! Later that over the skipper was dismissed as Gav beat Alec’s windmill defence. Andrew Milner and Robin picked up the pace after that early calamity, but with dew forming and the light disappearing rapidly it was definitely a good time to bowl. After Robin was out to another Busby bomb Matthew marched out determined to attract the attention of the England selectors as the Ashes loomed. A slow bowling partnership of previously unseen slowness was unleashed as Gareth and Busby made good use of the dark to toss the ball way up and make scoring tricky, with Andy Colquhoun and Matthew both perishing trying to chase those runs. Bodley’s answer to Jermaine Blackwood smited a terrific six to raise hopes of a comeback, but eventually, and with the light almost completely gone, the final wicket fell and the marginally taller team won by 78 runs to cap another thoroughly enjoyable Whippersnappers played with a broad smile across the face of all.
Over some well earned beers and a thorough analysis of the match a few words were said that are worth repeating here. Shackleton, for so long now our rock-solid opening batter, a brother from another mother to Matthew, and a thoroughly decent, generous and humble member of our merry band, bade us farewell as he sets off to Exeter for a new job. Good luck Shackers! Good news is he is likley back mid-season, so emotions were kept in check, thankfully. Then to wrap things up, and of more interest to the wonks at Wisden, we had the celebration of the season's Champagne Moment. This year has seen many a notable moment, with Mike's legsidetastic 107no being an undoubted high point. But the top prize went to a man long eulogised on these pages, who this year, under the glare of the cameras playing away from home in a foreign county, produced an over of farcical brilliance. Bodley CC proudly present to you ...Mr David Busby (Reader Services) - winner of this year's Champagne Moment. After a ball by ball tale told my Matthew to an engrossed crowd, a commemorative t-shirt was presented to Dave, forever capturing an achievement the whole team enjoyed immensely. Well done Dave, and well played all.
Despite the challenge of playing 8 a side and the comic misunderstanding of the retirement rule (sorry Dave, my fault!), it was a great match, and we look forward to another season and maybe even a season-opening Whippersnappers to get us all in the groove after Winter’s inevitable weight gain. In the meantime the team have two more games – Aldworth and the Authors, both at Warborough. Good luck chaps.