Musings From The Padded Cell

Villas Veterans Get Stuffed.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

Round Two

After our victory against the might of the Wetherby League Fossils X1, our second game in this year’s Grey Fox campaign was always going to be a different proposition.

We were playing a Scarborough League Select X1 with more team badges than some Bradford junior league clubs I could care to mention. And as past winners we were clearly marked men.

The toss done as Abdul heads back to break the bad news.

And so we amassed more in hope than expectation, praying stand-in skipper Abdul Harris would win the toss so we could bat and not get flayed around the field for two hours chasing an elusive red ball.

Now living on the East Coast, Abdul was in danger of being sent quickly home as he came back to the changing rooms ashen faced and confessed we were bowling.

Big Al fails a late fitness test

JB was popping his usual diet of pills that would shame a junkie and had more strapping on than a drag queen. Sat there with his red nose covered in sun block – scrounged as usual – he looked quizzical.

“Is the water safe to drink here?” he asked having only played at the club for the best part of over forty years.

We asked him which part of the Third World he thought he was in but there were too many possible answers. He decided to chance Legionnaire’s Disease and gulped down a handful of pills.

Spectators continued to flock in with local recluse Bob Underwood spotted beneath the undergrowth on his chin.

Old friend and good servant of the Villas Bob Underwood.

Chairman of Selectors Chiz was looking forward to his second appearance of this season having refused the club race night in favour of a good night’s sleep with his bat.

Not seeking to sap his energy he had slept in the garden shed and triple-locked it to avoid the amorous advances of wife Lusty Linda and her new basque.

Even PC had taken the previous day off, aware that at our stage in life two games in a weekend has all the attraction of smallpox.

The Curator, our team organiser, was padding up for thirty overs looking like a man trying to catch flies behind the sticks.

Long suffering partner, Hon Secretary Lady Marsden was in attendance and had ice-packs at the ready back home, The Curator having not been able to get out of bed for three days after the first game.

We opened with our “overseas” player Dev. There’s nothing wrong with telling the opposition he used to bowl for Jamaica although, in truth, that was Jamaica Rum for which he earned for a few wickets back in the day when he was one mean bad ass of a bowler.

His first two balls were dismissed with contempt by the batter as if my Mum had bowled them; we quickly learned he still played 1st X1 in the Scarborough Premier League; ah that Spirit of Cricket.

Old Wily makes the breakthrough with Molly catching it like a pint.

Old Wily came on at the bottom end unfazed and promptly induced a nick behind which The Curator could only watch sail by, feet rooted like a tree. As reliable as ever, Old Wily bowled a tidy spell but the opposition were flying at ten an over.

Soon Mr Big Shot had retired with his 30 not out and we started to claw it back with Jacko, PC and a returning Tenerife Tubbs Taylor all bowling tidily. It looked as if we might keep them under 200.

Jacko grabs fresh air.

Tubbs took a cracker of a catch all the more unbelievable as he had his eyes shut and was heard to whisper “please let it miss me!”

Other catches were spilled as hand-eye co-ordination met with chronic old age.

“Bloody ‘ell what’s that in my hands?”

We chased every ball and, in JB’s case, even attempted flying through the air to stop it.

It’s a long way down.

He got up covered in grass, bent finger, bruised pride and a pulled hamstring as the crowd retrieved the elusive ball and several old team mates almost wet themselves laughing.

Nurse!!!

The rules of the tournament allow the return of a batter if the team are all out so word went out at the impending return of Mr Big Shot. If it’s in the air…drop it at all costs!

Then, with only three balls left, a clear stumping chance which all The Curator had to do was drop the ball and fluff it just like normal. Unbelievably, he whipped off the bails and in strode Mr Big Shot to whack a raging Molly’s last three balls for 16 as if batting against a junior.

“What the fook are you doing?” asked Molly

“Tha’s a fooker tha is” muttered Molly at his opponent who’d clearly rattled the big man. Most of us were just glad the three missiles he had launched consecutively had missed us in the field.

A dog invaded the pitch to protest, free from the shackles of 1st team captain Andrew Clarke who will doubtless face a record fine this weekend. Rumours that it also had a shit on the outfield at the interval caused The Curator to wander off to load his gun.

The mutt is led away by PC.

We skulked off with 228 to chase and about as much chance of winning as running a marathon the following day. Still, no bother with having an extra scone and thank heaven for small mercies covered in whipped cream.

Whilst we had no chance, pride was at stake and we were not rolling over to have our generous, over-filled bellies tickled and enable the opposition an early drive back. Abdul gave a stirring up-beat team-talk.

Critics’ Corner assess our chances.

“This lot all still play, they’ve got some really good bowlers plus the keeper’s shit hot!”

I could not quite see myself going over the trenches for my old pal, nice guy as he is.

Chiz batted as if it may be the last time ever, like a child carefully ripping open his Christmas present, keen to elongate the whole moment, to savour the day.

PC clubbed it with his giant forearms as the highly rated keeper proved once again that all of his breed are generally a danger to society. It was like watching our 1st team keeper Rob on acid.

We nicknamed him Willie Carson after the veteran jockey as he charged all over the field like a nutter.

JB slogged it to cow corner on one leg and Dev hacked some mighty sixes but we were never in the hunt. The Curator strode out and quickly strode back with Lady Marsden struggling like an infant to suppress a fit of giggles.

In went Jacko as his wife confided in me that he takes Ibuprofen for anything these days.

“I have to throw few down him if there’s a chance he can bend his back” she winked “If he starts on the Viagra he’ll be rattling!”

Finally, our non-playing captain emerged with his magnolia pads and thirty year-old bat to play the shot of the day, an elegant sweep for four before departing to leave club blocker – Old Wily – to survive the last two balls.

Beaten but not disgraced and yet a competition that we entered essentially for laughs and one more roll of the dice has started to lose it’s allure.

Too many games and teams now based on select combinations rather than a group of mates playing for the love of the game and the joy of each other’s company for one last hurrah.

The spirit of cricket?

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