Tipton St John v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sat 09 May 2009 at Unknown
Erratics Cricket Club Lost by 14 runs

Match report We’ve established a tradition of losing to Tipton, and it’s one we’re likely to uphold until we can strengthen our batting. For the second time this season, Chris Ferro carried the whole burden of the innings, watching from the non-striker’s end while the rest of us wilted our wickets away like winter wallflowers. Having one batsman likely to score a century can’t always compensate for not having at least two others who wouldn’t expect to be elected Pope if they scored fifty.
But that’s to start at the end. At the beginning I won the toss, and it was probably my anxiety about the batting that persuaded me to field first. That, of course, opened the way to Phil Tolley, with his frustrating habit of scoring a lot of runs. Phil has no aesthetic aspirations: he compiles his innings in fits and starts, blocking anything remotely threatening and then suddenly unfolding into a convulsive straight six or contemptuous pull over the short boundary. Not that there was much run-scoring in the first twelve overs, tightly bowled by Burrows and Ellis. Nothing in the way of wickets either, though. There were a few startling wides, called by an umpire who keeps in touch with Nick Grief. (Mature Erratics will remember Nick as the politest cricketer who ever played for us – so polite that, when keeping wicket, he avoided appealing because ‘Owzat’ rhymes with ‘twat’. Martin Weiler encountered Nick on the anti-war-in-Iraq march in London, where he was obviously determined to maintain the non-combatant status of the University of Bournemouth. Now there was a batsman who could produce handsome fifties! Not centuries, though: that would have been rude to the bowlers.) Towards the end of the innings, that same umpire further surprised me by turning down my appeal for a stumping while the batsman was standing outside the crease with his bat in the air. He obviously knows something I don’t.

I’d intended to bowl Phil Ellis for his full allowance of eight overs, but he owned up to being tired, so I went for a double change, Curtis replacing Burrows and the younger Pearson taking over from Ellis. Tolley seemed pleased, and the score advanced in boundaries. The slow, low bounce at Tipton is inhospitable to slow bowling. But it was David Pearson who broke the opening partnership with a low full toss that slapped into the pads at about middle-and-leg. Fair enough. Pity it wasn’t Tolley, though. I don’t think we got him out in either match last season. This time we did – eventually. Leg before to Chris Ferro, the second decision in our favour by that same umpire. I thought it a good one, but I doubt whether Tolley did. Some people aren’t satisfied with 80+.

Not much else to report from their innings. James Hutchinson hurled himself around like a small tornado and bowled some bustling overs; from a distance of about 80 yards, my dog Irving obeyed the command to move from behind the bowler’s arm; another sheep-dog – a regular Tipton supporter and cricket fanatic – watches every ball from the far boundary; James Burrows removed their hitter with a mellow slower ball; John Pearson lay down quite a lot after fielding the ball; we had tea.

Our innings was opened by Al Brunt (a late substitute, recruited from the changing room on Martin Weiler’s mobile, for the hamstrung Martin Wright) and Chris Ferro. Arguably, it was Al who set the trend for getting out for no apparent reason. He’d looked in no trouble at all before missing a straight one. David Pearson hadn’t been in long when he tried taking an improbable single and left the field with a comment about thinking he was playing indoors. Jonathan Kirby was looking good. ‘This is the crunch partnership’, said John Pearson sagely. Now, it’s broadly speaking true that defensive strokes are in the minority in Jonathan’s cricket vocabulary, an admirable thing if tempered, but… Another one bowled for no good reason.

Weiler was, until then, taking artistic photographs of the cricket (through gaps in chairs and gaps in John Curtis). Facing slow left-arm loopers from a septuagenarian was a challenge too far for his aesthetic sensibilities, so, after a few pleasing thumps, he lofted one to a nearby fielder. (People in their seventies suffer from bouts of memory loss, as we all know. This bowler set the umpires an interesting challenge by delivering a ball over the wicket instead of round it, without telling anybody, afterwards admitting to being puzzled about what the stumps were doing that side of him.) Hutchinson maintained his season’s average of 0, and then controversy struck – twice.

First of all, the umpire who will, by now, be familiar to readers of this report gave Phil Ellis out caught behind when he hadn’t hit it. He then left the field (complaining of the cold) and was replaced by an umpire who gave Curtis out l.b.w. despite the fact that the ball had struck his bat fairly firmly. Given the fact that Tipton’s closer fielders were well aware of both these umpiring errors, why did no one call the batsmen back? Well, strictly speaking that’s the captain’s job, and John Pearson made the perhaps pertinent point that the captain was the very bowler who’d benefited from the mistakes. To be fair, though, it’s always a bit embarrassing to point out to an umpire that he’s made a bad decision (Eichmann was too reticent to contradict Hitler, remember).

All of which, added to shortcomings in the eyesight of John Pearson (‘I’m not one to make excuses, but I never saw that’) and possibly the backlift of Burrows, explains how we found ourselves 112 for 9 with nine overs to go. My life-expectancy these days is short – and true to form I feathered a dolly catch to the wicket-keeper first ball. It was a difficult one to drop, but he rose to the challenge. The subsequent partnership of 55 was nothing other than the Chris Ferro show. Throughout the last half of his innings, Tipton had resorted to the disenchanting ‘league’ habit of pushing nearly all their fielders onto the boundary whenever he was facing, thus reducing his well-struck drives to singles and leaving his struggling partners to face the rest of the over. Now, with his last partner largely strokeless, Chris had to manufacture unlikely boundaries. It was magnificent stuff – fifty in seven overs and 14 to get with 10 balls to go. If he’d hit the one he was bowled by, it would have gone for six, and we would, in all probability, have won.

Final point. The Golden Lion is almost as close to the ground as the pub in Marldon. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Tipton St John Batting
Player name RunsMB4s6sSR
for 5 wickets
181 (40.0 overs)
Tolley lbw  Ferro 86
Dawson lbw  D Pearson 18
Pickering Not Out  32
Williamson b  Ferro 6
Bugler b  Burrows 20
Gillham Not Out  1

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
James Burrows8.0124124.003.00
Phil Ellis6.011800.003.00
John Curtis5.004100.008.20
David Pearson8.0047147.005.88
James Hutchinson4.001700.004.25
Chris Ferro6.001728.502.83
John Pearson3.001200.004.00

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RMB4s6sSRCatchesStumpingsRun outs
for 10 wickets

(0.0 overs)
Al Brunt b  Tubbs 1
Chris Ferro b  Birch 97 9 2
David Pearson Run out  2
Jonathan Kirby b  Williamson 13 1
Martin Weiler ct  O'Higgins 10 1
James Hutchinson b  Williamson 0
Phil Ellis ct  Williamson 7 1
John Curtis lbw  Birch 1
John Pearson b  Bugler 3
James Burrows ct  Birch 0
Peter Thomson Not Out  4

Tipton St John Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Photos and video of Tipton St John v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sat 09 May 2009 at Unknown

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Al Brunt runs between the wickets at Tipton St John in 2009

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Tipton St John 2009

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Chris Ferro on his way to 97 in a losing cause at Tipton St John in 2009

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Phil Ellis (chair, with pads), John Curtis and Al Brunt (near bench) during the Erratics' vain chase at Tipton St John in 2009

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Martin Weiler captures Tipton St John in 2009

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A Martin Weiler still-life at Tipton St John in 2009