Longhorns / Anchor Inn XI v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Thu 31 Aug 2017 at 2.30pm
Match was Drawn

Match report ‘Organising’ the Gloucester tour usually throws up a challenge each year (think Salter rowing in a tent in his underwear and you only begin to get the picture) but here was a curious one, in the form of a text message en route: ‘Dad, I’ve forgotten the cake. Can anyone go via Bristol to pick it up?”

Erratics had booked the North Nibley pitch to play a ‘home’ fixture, so we were providing a collective tea. The match was to have been against GCHQ Cheltenham, who had defected to a more important engagement. Jim Thomson, having arranged that fixture, nobly stepped up to persuade The Vipers to play us instead, but by then my distress call had been answered by a more ancient foe, with more urgent business.

The Gloucester tour was established a quarter of a century ago, when Peter Colclough moved from Exeter to Longney and, missing the company of his Erratics fellows, enticed them to a campsite at the back of the Anchor Inn to play a few fixtures among the mellow orchards of a special part of Gloucestershire. At the time of the first tour the same Sam Cook that had forgotten the cake had a body just about rigid enough to bridge two bar stools and not slump down the middle when he fell asleep, as around him the debriefing continued into the small hours.

Central to the tour experience was the landlord of The Anchor, Andy Lyes, affectionately known as ‘Lysey’, whose enthusiasm for cricket, evidenced by quantities of memorabilia on the pub wall, provided the spark that lit our every visit. His stories, natural generosity and considerable bonhomie sustained the squad through the most arduous of lock-ins. This July came the sad news of Andy’s death following a period of ill health. Richard Hitchcock, David Salter, Steve Berry, Penny Price and myself attended the funeral at an overflowing Framilode church, just a couple of miles downstream from the Anchor, where the congregation were addressed by Lysey’s great pal, cricketing ally and once friendly local policeman, Andy Taylor, whose tales of various revels were testament to Andy’s joie de vivre. Back at the Anchor a huge cricket tea was supplied to the wake, over which we were able to offer condolences to Joan, Sal, Rob and many cricketing friends we’d met over the years. It was here that I began to discuss with Longhorns and Frampton players the idea of an annual benefit match for Andy, and a fortnight later, hearing of our loss of a fixture, the idea was hurriedly brought forward, and a Longhorns XI , assembled at short notice, nevertheless boasting legendary stars such as Richard Watts, Terry Smith, and Welsh Paul, and bolstered by fitting guests Peter Colclough and son James.

Back to the urgent matter in hand: the cake. Pulling into a service station to text Phil Power, who I recalled was dropping partner Rachel off at Temple Meads station (presumably the Gloucester tour effect), I drank a coffee and then impatiently called Phil - miraculously he already had the item on board! Sam had made a huge and handsome cake of foraged fruits, placed it on the wall beside his car, and driven off without it.

In 1470, Nibley Green was the site of the last pitched battle between private armies in England, after which, one assumes, a cricket pitch was laid instead, overlooked haughtily by Nibley House, in whose floral skirts Erratics were to be found hitching up all manner of rude tenting. There were common exceptions: Father and son Molins squatting in sempiternal caravan (with sightscreen-sized support vehicle), and Lord and Lady Wright decamped in the manor (sic) to which they’ve grown accustomed.

Across the road, out on the pitch, your correspondent lost the toss. Longhorns skipper Terry invited the Erratics to bat, and in went Jonathan and Martin to face James Colclough, who immediately caused problems with some lively outswing down the hill, which dealt for Martin who, after feathering one behind, walked off before anyone thought to appeal. From the Cotswold view end, Tom Taylor (son of Andy of the eulogy) pounded in with intent, but Jonathan remained unfazed, and was soon into his signature shot - it’s hard to think of anyone else who uses it: a wristy twizzle-sweep to balls surely pitched too far up for such antics – risky enough to a spinner, yet here deployed against decent pace. Adding to this shot some delightful punches through cover, Jonathan moved purposefully toward his 50, with Mark H, leonine locks crimped by helmet, providing aerial support, until that tactic proved his undoing. Fraser imitated both Mark’s method and his mode of dismissal, then Dan, bristling with tourist energy, mis-aimed (he told us later) a forward defensive when he ‘should have just whacked it’ an insight that would prove useful the following day. I arrived at the crease, and after a close call with a long-hop hit high to Peter Colclough on the square leg boundary (Peter requested this not be reported, so just imagine ‘pin the tail on the donkey’) I determined that, with Jonathan scoring freely and him not having ever made an Erratic ton, singles were the order of the moment. Jonathan’s excitement at the prospect was, inevitably, his undoing – just as his running score was set upon the board, he played one twizzle too many. An excellent 72 nevertheless. Two cooks then kept the broth on the boil for the remaining few overs to register a rare 50 partnership, with Sam bludgeoning and me sweeping from well outside off to Welsh Paul, erstwhile Longhorns’ groundsman, and still the butt of Terry’s cowboy humour. Erratics ended on a more than respectable 198, and declared as expected at tea.

Erratics match reports can sometimes tend to focus on the quality and expanse of the tea more than is seemly, but on this occasion it was worthy of special note. The collective effort, with Sam’s cake as centrepiece, was both enormous and delicious – all the more so of course, when one has to field second – and the inability of the teams to tackle it meant that Martin (somewhat curiously for a gentleman even in these straightened times) would be driving a large selection of quiches and sandwiches around in his boot for the remainder of the tour.

From the outset, Terry had insisted we should give himself and Richard, their senior batsmen (perhaps not in both senses) some easy bowling. Phil’s wily whirlers may look easy, but are very deceptive, and Richard Watts, in trying to belt the first ball of the innings over extra, was duly deceived, and fell to an agile catch from Martin. Skipper Terry and the next two batsmen went quickly, bamboozled by googlies, and victory began to look a formality. But there was to be a twist - a Tommy Taylor shaped one. When Taylor came to the crease the required rate was up at around 10 an over - a rate he was able to keep up with through a constant barrage of huge straight sixes regardless of who was bowling. Pete Colclough kept him company at the other end with an epic vigil of nudging and nurdling for 42, and as the ground became enveloped in a gloomy atmosphere, so too did Erratic spirits. As it entered the final over, all results were still technically on, but Harry held his nerve, keeping the scoring to singles and then removing Pete with a lovely inswinger. Despite Tommy's memorable ton, Erratics just had enough in the bank to ensure the match was drawn.

We retired to the cider pub in Waterley Bottom (sic) for some egg, chips and copious scrumpy, and before the usual rituals of fines and awards, which went to Jonathan and Tommy (with Phil getting a strong mention), we raised a glass to the memory of Andy Lyes, who would surely have enjoyed this day's pitched battle.

Report (primarily) by Chris Cook, with a few lines by Mark Hailwood (we both wrote one...)

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
for 5 wickets

(33.0 overs)
Martin Wright Caught  1 1
Jonathan Kirby Bowled  74 11 1
Mark Hailwood Caught  23 5 1
Fraser Chave Caught  4 1
Daniel Thistlethwaite Bowled  0
Chris Cook Not Out  36 5
Sam Cook Not Out  31 3 2
Paul Molins  
Phil Power  
Mark Phillips  
Harry Molins  

Longhorns / Anchor Inn XI Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
No records to display.

Longhorns / Anchor Inn XI Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
for 6 wickets
181 (33.0 overs)

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Phil Power9.031744.251.89
Harry Molins7.011628.002.29
Fraser Chave7.005900.008.43
Mark Hailwood6.014100.006.83
Chris Cook4.002800.007.00