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Penn Street Cricket Club PSCC v Rivets on Sat 10 Jul 2010 at 14.00
Penn Street Cricket Club Won by 4 wickets (2 balls)
When we look back in 10 years on the 2010 cricket season, what stories will we have? What sporting glory will we have salvaged for ourselves from the ashes of another failed World Cup summer? What days will we still discuss with real affection?
The season may be far from over, but I'll wager my house that one of them turns out to be Saturday 10th July at home to Rivets.
The stage was in place for what transpired on this scorching saturday afternoon - as preparations continued in the garden of The Squirrel for E.J. Lander's adult-targetted kids party, there was pressure on the lads to deliver a performance worthy of her 30th birthday!
Things couldn't have started worse - skipper Fletch lost the toss and had to tell 10 desperate faces that they'd be spending the next 40 overs standing in a grill pan set to 32 degrees! Today's Special? - "Batsman's Paradise". 22 yards of it to be precise - done to a crisp!
Given the conditions, Penn Street made a reasonable start containing the Rivets openers to a respectable run rate. Fairly soon, however, one of the openers, Burnett, began to cut loose, launching a series of blistering back foot lofted drives into Penn Wood in true calypso fashion. The game was in danger of drifting away, though Matt Bannister and Tyler Armiger pegged Rivets back as wickets finally fell after Jacko and Goody had bowled with very little luck in their opening spells.
However, things started to fall apart as the latter overs were punished by our good friend and 2009 PSCC tourist Bilal. We were aware of his bowling but Billy showed us what he could do with the willow as he began a blistering assault that ended with him 64 not out and the Rivets innings on a hugely daunting 293.
It hadn't been all bad, mind. There were glimpses that the team was beginning to reap the benefits of the recently founded Tuesday Fielding Clinic!
As a slightly shell-shocked Penn Street trudged off at tea, thoughts turned to the chase. How would we handle the required rate of 7.33 an over? Would we crumble or rise to the challenge?
Matt and Fletch opened the innings and things started brightly enough until Matt fell with the score on 15.
Enter Juppy, in the midst of an exceptional run of form, to join Fletch, also scoring runs for fun these days. The two of them paced things to perfection, passing 20 overs together with 132 on the board, and in doing so both reaching well deserved fifties. With wickets in hand we were ideally placed to chase down the win. Fletch then took things on, playing some blazing strokes to reach a brilliant hundred in true captain's style. At the 30 over stage we were where we need to be to mount a charge - 210 for 1 - 84 needed off 10.
Then with the score on 215 for 1, with the win looking very much on, the captain fell for a barnstorming 107 to give Rivets real hope and heap further pressure on Juppy to take us through. Never one to be scared off by the prospect of a headline spot on the main stage, Juppy cut loose with style as he too raced to his hundred as he got more and more into his zone - psyching himself up and also his partner, the usually mild-mannered Steve Smith! Steve, known more for his solid defensive technique, responded to Juppy's war cries of: "GET BIG OR GO HOME!" and "GET ANGRY...GET ANGRY!" by cracking crucial boundaries as the rate required settled around 9 an over. In the hunt for quick runs, Steve fell for a valuable 14 and Matt Bannister for 8 as things began to get tense!
Then came a huge shift in momentum. With 19 needed from 2 overs, Rivets wiley left arm opener Mark Travers came back on and used all his experience to pick up the vital wicket - Juppy GONE for a magnificent 121.
Gasps rang out - were we about to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory after all the groundwork laid by Fletch and Juppy?
Jacko tried in vain to get the final ball of the 39th over away as he was stumped trying to combat the tight line and length.
Undone by one great over then? So near yet so far?
Enter stage right - Penn Street's very own Travelling Wilburys - Jamie Jeffcock and Simon Briggs. Imagine, if you will, the course of musical history had taken a slightly different path and Eric Clapton; disillusioned with acoustic balladry in the early 90s; had hooked up with Bez from the Happy Mondays to form an unlikely rock supergroup! It might have looked an awful lot like the scene at the crease in the final over but its doubtful the results would've been even half as explosive as those we witnessed!
Faced with a daunting 13 runs left to win from 6 balls, Briggsy, new to the crease, found himself on strike, an enraptured pub garden twisting their melons in anticipation of what the freaky dancer could do!
13 from 6 then - still a mountain to climb. Too much surely?! But no-one told Briggsy...
BOSCH! ... FOUR over midwicket. 9 from 5! ..."Hang on a sec!"
BOSCH! ... (ditto!). 5 from 4! ... "We couldn't, could we??!!"
In the space of 2 blistering pull strokes, victory was suddenly a possibility once again. But he wasn't done yet... more bat on ball... a scampered single. Briggsy racing through like a whippet, maracas in hand, to leave just 4 needed from 3 balls!
On strike now... Old Slowhand himself, Jamie. Without a run for the club at this point and the eyes of the village upon him!
Would the pressure take its toll? Would he just drop bat on ball and try and get Briggsy back on strike?
WOULD HE F.. BOSCH!!!! Arms extended Jamie crashed the ball on the up wide over a despairing cover fielder who was left with no chance as the ball crashed into the wood like a tracer bullet!
THE HOLY GRAIL! Victory ours, with 2 balls to spare, as players stormed the square including the Chairman, recovering from illness at home, who'd got wind of events unfolding and allegedly hailed a cab down the A404 in his dressing gown!!
Briggsy and Jamie were swamped as 2 new heroes were born into PSCC Folklore!
It seems wrong to pick a man of the match in such a game, but I'm sure both our centurions would agree with the joint choice of Jamie & Briggsy, Clapton & Bez, for seizing those crucial moments to bring up a famous win. Huge credit must go to our opponents Rivets, one of our favourite fixtures - there could be no more fitting opponents for such a fantastic game, played out in the true spirit of village cricket.
Some matches are destined to be framed, hung on The Squirrel wall and remembered for what they produced - eccentricity followed by brilliance... despair followed by triumph... togetherness followed by lager and Giant Jenga!!
How bizarre! How marvellous!
How VERY Penn Street.
Men of the Match: S. Briggs and J. Jeffcock
for 7 wickets
293 (0.0 overs)
ct R. McSorley b P. Goodchild
ct M. Reavey b T. Armiger
ct & B M. Bannister
ct J. Mendy b T. Armiger
ct C. Fletcher b M. Bannister
b R. McSorley
ct C. Fletcher b T. Armiger
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