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The Philanderers v Highgate Taverners, Sunday 8th July at Babraham

T’was on yet another scorching sun-drenched Sunday that Philanderes welcomed the Highgate Taverners to Babraham. The pitch had a slight greenish tinge, which was caused entirely by the reflection of remarkably still-evergreen evergreens on the exposed clusters of roots and (arguably) rocks dotting its surface. With the promise of only further deterioration, skipper Pearson let the entire side down by losing the toss. Sent into bowl, the Philanderers decided to express their frustration by brutally intimidating the openers: a stoic anchor and the regular number 10 who, in Sunday ‘friendly’ tradition, had a go up the order. Near seven-foot-tall and built like a brick shithouse, debutant Munday resembled Australian icon Billy Stanlake as he steamed in from the Gog Magog farm shop end. Decidedly unlike Stanlake, however, Munday actually took an early wicket: mercifully knocking regular No.10’s off peg out of the ground after softening him up with a series of locally produced rib-high length deliveries. Perkins was equally impressive from the Alzheimer’s Research UK end. Not forgetting his aerodynamic headband, Perkins’s pace and probing length was an increasingly difficult problem to solve for the stoic opener. After a disconcertly rapid period of mental disintegration, Perkins hit the opener flush on the front toe and he summarily departed a shadow of the man who strode so purposefully to the crease. A rout looked on the cards and the Philanderers batting corps - in their effervescent need to impress the Fuhrer - were anxious. Fortuitously, the Taverners No.3 proved a decent bat. After seeing off the openers, he negotiated Holmes and Hegarty’s good deliveries and accelerated the run rate by hitting well through extra cover. In true Caitlyn Jenner style, however, Holmes made inroads at the other end as he first let it dangle down the leg and then nipped it off - surgically dislodging the stump on two separate occasions. Thereafter, Chandraker repeatedly spun the ball past both bat and stumps and the remaining bowling corps rotated through to contain the Taverners to 192/7 from their 35; the standout no.3 finishing with 100*. The top bowling performances were Munday (3/43), Holmes (2/34) and Perkins (2/35).

Skinner and Samson opened for Philanderers. However, they were quickly mown down by an inspired spell from the opening bowler. In a masterstroke, he lulled the batsmen into a false sense of security by interspersing non-swinging meds with accidental but effective short balls caused by the near-total collapse of his front side at the crease. Skinner’s short ball stuck in the pitch and he played on, Samson’s skipped and he leading edged his hook to mid-off. Skinner’s mum and girlfriend arrived shortly thereafter and watched a superb display of umpiring. Samson also called his mum and spent 45 minutes explaining, in vivid detail, why his shot was in no way irresponsible or technically flawed. No. 3 Leary restored a semblance of order by, absurdly, not attempting to hit the variable-bouncers into the stratosphere. No. 4 Gill took a different approach by golf-swinging at literally every ball he faced. Both departed for contrasting 29’s; the game very much still in the balance. Pearson came and went after a gorgeous flick for six, which left Carew - bedecked in mismatched borrowed gear - to anchor the innings. He indeed emulated namesake and obvious doppelganger John’s break-out form at Valencia through some tidy hold-up play and diagonal runs (through cover and midwicket). Carew departed for a well-made 33, and it was left to the tail to see the game home. Chandraker (19) and then Perkins (22) put Taverners total in arms reach, and then man-giant Munday smashed 27* off just 9 balls to close it out. Philanderers finished 195/8 from 29.4 overs; Munday and Perkins sharing man of the match honours for their superb all-round performances.

Mark Samson

Butlins Holiday Camp Babraham

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