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Essex Tour 2001

Stratford Bards - Essex Tour 2001

On Friday 7th September an intrepid band of young cricketers (and Tel) embarked on an expedition the like of which has never been undertaken before. Armed only with protective boxes and the odd pornographic magazine, the Stratford Bards would be pitting their wits against the might of Essex's finest cricketers (sort of). Here is a summary of what happened.

Friday 7th

Somehow we were only about half an hour late in leaving Stratford, quite outstanding considering some of the tardy members at the club. The trip down was fairly uneventful, and despite members of Matt's car running a book on how many times I'd get us lost, we reached Rickling Green in a little over 2 hours. Thanks in the main to Pete Davies attempts at the land speed record in his A-Team van. A quick stop off at The Cricketers Arms, to be our base for the weekend, a couple of pints, a bite to eat and we were on our way to Elsenham for the inaugural fixture. The Doc, having been appointed captain in advance, was left with a tricky selection dilema in choosing a side from the eleven available Bards. He eventually selected Gavin, but only after we commented that leaving him out might leave the fines kitty a little short.

The Bards batted first with Gav and Pozzi opening up. It wasn't the most electrifying of starts to say the least, Gav eventually being bowled round his legs via his bat, foot and left buttock for 5. Pozzi was next to fall, top edging a pull to the keeper for 14. Matt and PD added 47 for the 3rd wicket before Matt's attempts to step the scoring up saw him bowled for 22. The Doc came to the wicket, and together with PD they increased the rate slightly. Davo reached his first 50 of the season off 74 balls, but fell soon afterwards. Bish looked completely out of sorts and was bowled by a ball that allegedly " swung away and jagged back a mile". Webby, in fine form with the bat, treated the bowling with distain and clubbed 3 sixes on his way to 29. The tail capitulated, Monkey got a blob, then Steve and myself contrived to try and smash the ball out of the park. We finished up with 190, Boz undefeated  with a fine 0.

I opened the bowling with Monkey and I had their opener caught at cover by Poz for 2. It was a fine half volley and a sharp catch. Monkey made his breakthrough, bowling their skipper for 5 in the 6th over. Bishy was brought into the attack so they could get a few runs, but he too struck in his first over, Gavin somehow taking a tumbling catch at square leg. Steve's first over also wielded a wicket. Pozzi snaring their opening batsman at point. Their 5 and 6 hung around for a while before Steve tempted one of them down the track and Davo duly stumped him. The Petty boys contrived to get the number 7 out, Matt taking his second catch off Steve's bowling. When Boz struck to get the number 6 out, the game was ours. Gav and Pozzi grabbing a wicket a piece to bowl Elsenham out for just 108. Ruthless captaincy for a tour game, but more drinking time!

We ventured into Bishops Stortford in the evening, trips to Chicago's and the H2O nightclub were followed by some Kentucky Fried Hamster and a taxi trek home. Gavin fell in love with a pole dancer at H2O, The Doc ruined the night of the elder tourists, Dawse got them all lost on the way home, Steve, Poz and Monkey went for a walk and twas a good night.

Saturday 8th

The day started well, with Poz asking where Rickling's ground was (directly in front of the pub). The morning was spent either sleeping, playing rugby or tennis, or reading Club International whilst sat in Dawse's car (Gavin). Robin, Tel, Currall and Rathers all arrived without incident and the selection committee elected to omit Gavin (too pished), Steve (too ill) and Boz (too good) from the side to play Rickling Ramblers.

Rickling batted extremely well in the face of some interesting bowling and lethargic fielding. Andy Hill, their skipper ending the match unbeaten on 136 from Rickling's 251-3. Highlights of the Bards fielding performance were few, Pozzi's admittance to Matt that "he couldn't feel his arms", Currall's attempts at bowling straight, Pete Dawson's atrocious wicket keeping, Webby's 4 wides to start the game off, my bowling (all of it) were all very amusing however.

Tea came and went, and we set about the large total. I'd been warned by half of Essex about Alex Kiff, Rickling's opening bowler. Someone claimed that he'd been clocked at 89mph a few years ago. To this extent I thought Pete Dawson deserved the opportunity to face someone of this speed at first hand. Eleven balls later he was yorked by an absolute beauty for 4. Rathers at the other end didn't fare too much better at the other end, bowled by Kiff for 3. when Robin Dawson was out lbw to the most outlandish slower ball the Bards were rocking. The captain was for from concerned however, having witheld a little of the batting for the tail. Matt Petty and Monkey added 30 for the next wicket, and as they began to hit out, Matt was bowled whilst halfway down the track. Monkey eventually fell for 23, more runs than he'd scored all season including a massive 6. And whilst Pozzi, under instructions to try and score at something more than 1 run in every 12 overs, stayed firm, Davo hit out around him. Davo was bowled for 45 off 35 balls trying a Bishy style late cut. Between them Davo and Poz had added 82 for the 6th wicket and got the Bards right back into it. At this point, Bish, who was due to bat at three, decided to step further down the order, and enter Dave Currall. The self professed 'Legend'. After egding his 1st ball through the keeper's hands, he proceeded to play a fine array of strokes. His 50 came up in just 21 balls, and that was quickly followed by Pozzi's 50 off 52. Currall found himself out for 57, stumped half way down the track. The Bards now needed just 30 more runs to win. Bishy was forced into action by Webby abject refusal to pad up, and afforded us the highlight of the season. After 134 attempts, he finally played that bloody late cut which he insists is his best shot. He was caught at long on, allowing Webby the honour of hitting the winning runs on his last game for the club. Poz finished unbeaten on 68 and we won by 2 wickets.

The opposition led us back into the Cricketers for a post match beer or twenty. Daws presided over the fines session which raised us sufficient funds to buy 4 watering cans full of lager. Kindly, a local man had decided to get married, so we were treated to the sight (and what a sight it was) of a dusky 'exotic dancer' showing us her wares. Gavin again was on the verge of proposing.

Over an excellent dinner, we decided to host an impromptu edition of Celebrity Blankety Blank at the back of the pub. Our celebrity panel comprised of:

Steve Davis (S Petty)
Phil Collins (P Davies)
Keith Floyd (R Dawson)
His Excellency the Pope (P Dawson)
William Shakespeare (J Bosley)
Freddie Mercury (J Bishton).

Gavin and Matt kindly played Tracy from Hull (17 kids, 14 fathers) and Elsie from Essex (42GG-40-42) our two contestants. Following some Bards related questions and a deluge of filth and obscenity from the panel (Robin particularly) Matt won and was awarded with absolutely nothing for his troubles.
I'd gone to bed by the time the Battle Royal kicked off in the bar at about 1am, but thankfully no Bards were involved.

Sunday 9th

Got up, had breakfast, came half way home, went back to get Matt's credit card, went home again.

Milky's Sub-Notes

Thanks must be issued to Tim and Sean at The Cricketers Arms for their excellent hospitality, Andy Hill and all at Rickling Green for the excellent Saturday fixture, and Peter Rue and Elsenham CC for their generous offer of the Friday fixture at such short notice. I've got a few copies of the Tour Book still available at just £2 each, and keep watching this space for any acceptable photos from Matt's camera.

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