Ton-Up Tom Tames Timid Tipton
It is my good fortune to report a match that simultaneously celebrates the club’s best traditions and our optimistic future while sneaking in a little paternal pride, for which I beg forgiveness. On a cold and damp high summer day by the River Otter in East Devon (“Otter than July”, I doubt it, Stevie?), Chulmleigh achieved a comfortable victory but it was the manner more than the fact of victory that was most pleasing.
Danny was put in, though with in-form batsmen bristling right down the list, he would have gone in first anyway. Surprisingly for a friendly side, Tipton opted for a 40 overs winner only format . Building a competitive score would be a test of patience on a very slow, holding pitch exploited by experienced and accurate “off pace” bowling (no wides were conceded all innings). Tom Gidney and James Weeks became our youngest opening partnership since the Great War. Sadly James’ sparkling pre-exam form was betrayed by plodding footwork. When Bradders also departed cheaply to an unexpected direct hit from mid-wicket, only 20 had come from the opening 10 overs. From here, though, the innings was a model of sensible accumulation then steady acceleration, built around a splendid maiden ton by Tom. Andrew (35) helped add 54 for the third wicket before rocking back to one that hit the base of off stump. Buzz (28) upped the tempo another notch; one sweetly struck cover drive of old left the boys in the Pavilion purring more than his entire cattery. This set up an explosive last 10 overs when Gidders then Rodders (20 not out) supported Tom in adding another 90 runs. Tom was circumspect at the start of his innings, then moved the ball nicely into gaps and ran well between the wickets in the middle portion. It was crucial to keep one set batsman at the wicket. Now he blasted through the 80s and 90s, seeing it like a beach ball, hitting with power and precision. There was a false alarm when a scoring mishap lead us to applaud his first 99, before a calmly taken single brought up the magic landmark (nice to get off your back at 15 years old). The innings closed at 227 for 5 with Tom a tired but triumphant 124 not out (12 x 4s and 1 x 6). Parents will know how many thousands of throw downs, broken windows, lost tennis balls, trampled plants, frightened cats, smashed ornaments, temper tantrums, piles of malodorous kit, high times and low times lead to a day like this and its worth every minute.
Bowlers win games, even Tom would agree. Our opening attack was superb with Danny (7 overs for 12) and Tom Spence (8 overs, 2 for 15) bowling a full length and scarcely conceding a run. Spencer was fluid, bowling with pace and some hostility on the slow surface, not put off by the strange old man in a hoodie on the boundary avoiding an ASBO and occasionally barking incoherently to himself (presumably he had misplaced a can of Strongbow?). There were no wickets but by the time a short shower came at 15 overs, the Tipton target had receded far over the horizon. After the rain, Bradheimann (3-29) capitalised on the newly skiddy surface and some belated batting urgency to take 3 quick wickets though struggling with the soapy ball. Catches were taken; two by debut keeper James and the chasing, throwing and backing up was keen. A-J purveyed eight tidy overs of feral cunning (1-20). Somebody ate the key to his Renault. There were wickets for Brad and Kevin “Full Length” Davies (2-14) and two for the deserving Tom Spence. An alsatian found the ball in the long grass. Our incentive now was to bowl out the oppo and escape any more rain, but this was not quite achieved as the last over ticked by (Tipton 121 for 9). Victory by over a hundred. DP remains an unbeaten skipper this season and we are almost into July.
It turns out Devon gastro-pubs do not do jugs of beer though they will need to offer pay-day loans to cover the bar prices. A splinter group stopped at the Beer Engine on the way back north and Kev found a match in the Sleeper Heavy. Two shandys and a ginger beer. We discussed cholera and pigs’ blood. A curry was briefly considered to commemorate the happy day alongside the Otter. (“I went into my local Indian last week and ordered a Chicken Tarka”, “Oh yes, was it nice?” “Yes, like a Chicken Tikka only a little otter”. Thank you. I’m here all week). Instead a late bowl of chilli at home and the chance to try and explain to Mum what had taken place and why we were back at 11pm. Granddad would have been proud, Tom.