Authors XI at Warborough.
Oh dear. That a season that started with a win against the Strollers at the start of May and proved to be fuller than usual of highlights and more wins than most years should finish like this. The facts. Playing the Authors at Warborough is a fitting end to the season, one of our favourite grounds against good opposition, which in the past has lead to some close games. Drizzle in morning but pitch ok, and sun out, which after last week is a bonus. Strong Bod side, with friends Dips and Asad strengthening the side, and a welcome return to Andy Hudson, once a regular in the team but a resident of Canterbury for the last 10 years or so. A few of us get to the ground early enough to have a drink in the Six Bells, we should do this more often next year.
Oppo win toss and put themselves in bat. Authors have organized neutral umpires, experienced hands that mean there isn’t a need to do it ourselves. We have the novelty, when batting, of all those not at the crease being able to watch proceedings from the pavilion, or take a stroll round the boundary edge, something worth doing at Warborough where you get to play ‘I’ll have that house…’. Bod, reckoning that the Authors start with cautious bats, open with Tim and Rob. Tim’s been bowling more this season, and is often amongst the wickets and Rob deserves some overs after last week’s early declaration meant he didn’t get a go. Both bowl a few tight overs with Rob getting the first wicket but then Authors start to hit out and runs quickly accumulate. First change brings Asad and Ackland, Authors still scoring but then both bowlers find their rhythm and runs start to dry up. Wickets for Ackland after some big hitters miss straight ones. Sun now shining and the team remember what it's like to play in the warm. Andrew takes over and continues his good form with the ball, his 3 overs going for a miserly 8 runs. James and Leigh finish off the innings, continuing the good work. Leigh getting a clean bowled and two catches, one close in by Rob, the second an excellent catch by Asad. Running back away from the wicket Asad keeps his eye on the ball all the time and finally takes it over his shoulder, a difficult one well taken.
Authors finish on 184 off their 35 overs, par for the pitch judging by previous games here.
Tea, lovely selection of sandwiches, pies, quiches and cake. Bodley work out a batting order. Matthew and Dips, on loan from the Mads, open. And almost as soon as they do the weather changes, clouds come in and drizzle starts. Bod start slow with tight and accurate bowling from the oppo, one of their openers in particular going for hardly any. In fact the Authors maintain a steady line throughout our innings, runs are proving hard to come by and that is before a heavy hail-storm which turns to rain, brings the players off after 7 overs with the score on 18, turns the wicket into a pudding and makes the outfield slow up. This isn't to say that Bod lost the game because of the weather though. Slow scoring and some terrible run-outs mean Bod all out for 88 off 30. We managed somehow to save our worst performance till the end. Dips, in a gritty innings in difficult circumstances, top scored on 40, after that extras with 10 was the only double figure score which is never a good thing. Authors fully deserve a convincing win, batting and bowling well and out-classing the Bod in every department.
On the plus side when bowlers got into a groove they did well, Asad and Rob took fine catches but apart from that there isn't too much to cling onto. And, as always, quirky things to note. It’s not every day that you get to instruct one of the country’s leading authors, as Dips did with Sebastian Faulks, just exactly where you want the sawdust. Another season ends, certainly one of the most successful and enjoyable for quite a while, wonder what a Shackleton-free 2018 will bring?