The tale of a welcome guest and a pair of baggy trousers
Our much-anticipated return to Exning Park saw the venue looking its splendid best for our first ‘home’ fixture of the season. What a vista – a verdant outfield neatly cut, trees in full leaf, summer sunshine, and an amorous bull pursuing females in the far distance. All the attributes of a nostalgic, bucolic setting.
Some of us had played just a few days before in the evening match against Remnants, where the game was played in near arctic conditions. Imagine our joy at the sight of a perfect venue and a perfect day. After the toss Philanderers found themselves in the field but with only ten players, due to an unavoidable drop out on the morning of the match (later rectified - The Fuhrer).
The Führer had warned us in advance that Frogs have generally been strong and competitive although after an early strike from Gimson the visitors found themselves 7 for 1. Grey then took charge for Frogs and the score moved on to 70 before Davidson had Denman caught behind by the effervescent Wright. What then followed was quite brutal and very productive for the batting side. Aided by some dropped catches Grey and Ward took the Frogs’ score to 170 for 2 from 19 overs. Both opening bowlers, skipper Pearson, and Jelly, all receiving the full treatment.
Phillies were looking at each other wondering if they would be chasing something like 350. But the bowling side remained positive and were encouraged and entertained by the sight of Dean giving everything in the field (as usual) but sporting a pair of trousers three sizes too large. What had happened to his own flannels matters not but we are grateful to Lockie’s dad for the replacement pair – the alternative would have been unthinkable.
It was at this point, with the belligerent Grey on a hundred and still firing, that the skipper called on the ageing Coteman who had spent the afternoon so far running from one side of the field to the other wondering if he would ever be granted a testimonial.
Coteman, who had played on the Exning ground for Granta first XI in 1967, knew that Grey would come after him. The right ball was bowled, Grey took the bait, and holed out to a fine catch at deep mid-off by Eastgate, our guest player. Coteman finished with figures of 5-1-7-3, including four wides, which the grumpy veteran discussed at length with the visiting umpire in a respectful but unbelieving manner.
Eastgate (the guest player do not forget) was introduced to the attack and took two wickets – the game had turned in favour of the home side. As the Frogs’ innings drew to a close the sartorially challenged Dean was summoned from the deep. The reader may be thinking that his voluminous trousers might have caused negative aerodynamics, but he bustled in with customary enthusiasm and produced four very tidy overs.
Davidson and Gimson were recalled and finished off the tail leaving Phillies with a gettable chase of 217.
Teas are rare in club cricket these days, so the sight of a royal spread prepared by Davidson and laid out by Dean, Pearson and few of us others was more than welcome. The opposition commented on the quality and selection of the fayre, which went down extremely well. With the previous sub-contractor having been sacked by the Führer for not understanding the essence of an English cricket tea, this feast set the new standard.
Phillies then set about the task in hand. Apart from losing Wright early on, the home side looked comfortable in pursuit. Lockie played attractively for a well-made 54, and the jet-lagged Chandraker
made a stylish 58. Skipper Pearson jumped on anything loose and was imperious at times. He was joined by yes, you’ve guessed it, the ubiquitous guest player, Eastgate, and between them the remaining runs were amassed. Pearson finished 56 not out and Eastgate unbeaten on 42. With overs to spare a convincing seven-wicket win was achieved. A really good day’s cricket, played in a friendly but competitive atmosphere, was enjoyed by all, and in great weather.
The man of the match, for his all-round contribution, was Eastgate, a really welcome guest who is sure to be invited again! Our thanks to David Pimblett for umpiring without fear or favour, as usual, and to the visiting umpire and lady scorer – the latter mounted a solo effort throughout the game, which was hugely appreciated.
Harry Eastgate, welcome guest, all-rounder, and good egg.
George Dean providing the cabaret moment with his baggy trousers.
So far, so good.