Tipton St John v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Thu 16 May 2019 at 6.00pm
Match was Tied
Mark Hailwood reports:
And so, to Tipton St John. Do you ever wonder what, exactly, was tipped on St John? There are, of course, a great many St Johns – Wikipedia lists over 70 – so I assume that this little gem of an East Devon village was named after some local early Christian martyr who was put to death by his pagan overlords tipping something fatal over his head: hot oil? Molten metal? A cart of dung? Could have been worse I suppose, and presumably was for St John of the Grating...
I seem to remember my first match report, or at least one of my first, being for a game at Tipton, so I rooted it out (from 2013) to see if there was anything I could plagiarise. There was:
‘Congenial opposition, a striking variety of tree specimen lining the boundary on one side, the ambling River Otter hugging it on the other, swifts and swallows aplenty... the sun refused to gild the lily by making an appearance, and it was under grey skies and in a stiff breeze... The pitch was a bit of a sponge, the ball played hard to get – refusing any invitation to come onto the bat – and attempts to force it over a slow outfield yielded meagre returns for the batsmen.’
So, with the scene set much as it had been in 2013 – including the fact Dave O’Higgins was turning out for Tipton, now into his ninth decade – our hosts batted first. They didn’t start well. Youngers, Harkers, Ruthers and Pullers (as I assume Waldo would put it) all extracted some assistance from the pitch or the overhead conditions (or indeed the river – their opener informed me that the Otter was responsible for making this a swingers’ paradise, so to speak). Wickets tumbled quickly, and it soon looked like our hosts would struggle to make it much past 50.
Captain Kirby, a trusted guardian of the Way of the Erratics, took the opportunity to give some of the part-time bowlers the chance to get some early season overs in their legs, and Tipton’s batsmen started to get a foothold. The boundary was introduced as an active element of the match for the first time, and by the end of their 20 overs our hosts had managed to claw themselves back into contention with a respectable 88.
That might not sound like a lot, but given that the modus operandi of the Erratics in many a game this season has been to bowl well and then make heavy work of a seemingly straightforward run chase, this was very much game on.
And so it proved. Whereas the Tipton innings had been full of mirth, merriment – and even a bit of slapstick at times – the mood now shifted to one of sombre toil. Duncan and Martin Wright dug deep to solemnly scratch out what runs they could in difficult conditions, but the boundary rope had once again become a far distant prospect (our innings yielded just two 4s) and most of this was done through working the gaps and pumping the thighs. The run rate crept up ominously, and started to take the wicket column up with it, and as we entered the final five overs we were staring down the barrel of 7 an over, with Tipton’s tight bowling and committed fielding suffocating our hopes.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Ben. Hastily promoted up the order as our hardest remaining hitter – and with an Erratics average of over 40 – it was a different scenario to that we are used to seeing Ben Pullan in (who self-identifies as a ‘Journeyman opening batsman doing a PhD in Latin didactic poetry on the side’). Thankfully, it turns out he can do it down the order too (bat that is, not Latin didactic poetry). Still, even his trademark power could not persuade the ball over the boundary (some stalwart fielding came into play here too) so despite getting the score moving we still went into the final over needing more than 10 to win.
By this point JK had joined Ben, and cool heads and fast legs from both kept our hopes just about alive, and when it came down to the final ball the target was 4 to win. Could Ben find that elusive boundary, or would the heroics end in what Mr Klopp would call a ‘beautiful failure’? Ben got a ball that was short and wide enough to cut, and he muscled it towards the cover boundary – it looked like it might just have enough on it to defy the resistance of the outfield grass, only for a sprawling dive by a boundary fielder to break Erratics hearts. Still, in the time it took to get the ball back in our heroes had scampered 3 runs, enough to ensure a classic tie.
We retired to the Golden Lion - which disappointed Chris Ferro through its failure to depict said creature in all its glory on its pub sign, opting instead to simply spell out its name in Comic Sans font – but it provided a warm snug for us to share the spoils with our hosts in, and all agreed a tie is a wonderful quirk of cricket, and it had been good fun to indulge in one.
Tipton St John Batting
for 6 wickets
88 (20.0 overs)
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
1nb 5w 2b
for 4 wickets
Retired Not Out
Tipton St John Bowling
No records to display.
Payments to Erratics
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