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The Philanderers v Incogniti, Sunday 23rd July at Exning Park

A tale of woe, with its noteworthy moments.

The earlier storm clouds over the Harvey household had disappeared, thanks to a full eleven and the promise of a bright summer’s day. In fact, those arriving at Exning Park found an oasis of fine weather amidst the recent and predicted precipitation.

There is often a chance of theatre at a Phillies' fixture; rarely does it become pantomime, but so it turned out to be – the initial part that is. With a large number of cricketers and their entourages suddenly arriving all at once the Exning ground looked unusually busy and heavily populated – like a railway station at rush hour in fact. On first evidence, it looked as if the opposition had brought an over large squad for a Sunday friendly, along with their sisters and their cousins and their aunts (HMS Pinafore).

One of the assembled team members located the Phillies captain on the day, Ed Pearson, and the two joyfully marched out to the middle for the toss under blue skies and in warm sunshine. Pearson duly won the toss but before he could utter the words ‘we’ll have a bowl’ an urgent message arrived in a cleft stick from the gathering crowd near the pavilion to say that the visiting captain and his team should be at Worlington for their game and not Exning. You couldn’t make it up.

However, sanity was restored when the Icogniti captain emerged from the confused crowd to propose a second toss – this time the real one. Pearson, retaining his composure, then promptly lost the real toss and we found ourselves in the field anyway.

Act II of the Panto’ was a brief lock-out – the groundsman, in his efforts to prepare the ground, had forgotten to unlock the pavilion. With the (second) toss completed and play ready to start there was further farce as players dived into their bags in an attempt to find the right clothing to put on, mostly in a haphazard fashion and al fresco – unwashed kit and various (unexplained) artifacts were on display in the confusion. But help was at hand as Rutty found the back door of the pavilion open. Drama over, for now!

The game itself started, and continued for a while, on a very positive note for the Phillies as Rutty raced in from the far end and got the first ball of the match to swing and jag back sharply off the seam to dismantle the unbelieving Robertshaw’s stumps, 0 –1. This was followed by the indefatigable Gimson getting an LBW to dismiss the other opener, 10–2. Before long, the effervescent Perkins had smartly run out the number three, 31 – 3. Pardess was introduced to the attack and picked up another LBW, 58-4.

From these early setbacks Incogniti began to recover, adding fifty to their total without further loss. At this point, and in line with the Club’s Equality and Inclusion policy, the veteran Coteman was brought into the fray. This set up a real tussle between bat and ball with Coteman eventually getting the better of Suri aided by a smart catch behind by Gill, 113-5. This was followed by the silver fox’s mystery ball to remove the No. 6, which had him in two minds before clipping the top of off stump. “Doosra?” enquired fellow Phillies, but the pensioner remained tight-lipped about his secret weapon, 118-6.

What followed was not really ideal, Incogniti adding another one hundred runs for the loss of only one further wicket – to Perkins in his second spell. And thus, the allotted forty overs came to an end with the Phillies feeling that 218 was achievable, although it has to be said that some scruffy fielding during the final ten overs probably gifted the opposition 20-30 runs.

A quick survey on social media confirmed that Gill was the tallest wicketkeeper playing club cricket on the day. The lad kept really well and is certain to be asked to take the gloves again, should Ben Foakes turn down yet another invitation from the Führer.

Tea, provided as before by the Harvey emporium, was another grand and elongated affair, and was enjoyed by all.

It was then that the serious business of chasing down the Incogniti total began. The globetrotting Chandraker opened with the irrepressible Dean and the pair took the score to 28 before Dean was out LBW for six. Cometh the hour cometh the wicketkeeper – Gill arrived at the crease with the usual expectation of carnage but was caught off the bowling of Radhakrishnan for five. Skipper Pearson began the repair job but lost Chandraker (28), Hegarty (4) and Pardess (0) but top-scored before being bowled for forty. Das went for one and Coteman watched as Perkins and Gimson lost their wickets at the other end. Phillies mustered a lowly 109 all out and had lost by 110 runs – a significant margin (the archivist may have comparisons).

Our gratitude to the umpires; our own Rakesh Chandraker, and for Incogniti, Tim Sims, and special thanks to Norm Bygrave who was the sole scorer and provided us with an immaculate set of electronic pages for our records.

After a difficult week for the Führer – cancellations, players dropping out, et al, he was at least able to take home some pork pies, fruit cake, and chocolate gateau.

On a serious cricketing note, this was not our finest afternoon. Hitherto, we have become accustomed to winning on a Sunday; we must not become accustomed to losing!

Gerald Coteman

The dugout displayed an air of resignation as the wheels started to come off.

The Führer cut a desolate figure as wickets tumbled but had helpfully assembled two sets of kit in case he was required to bat.

The pug had the right idea and kept a low profile during the Phillies’ response.


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