Frocester (Tour) v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Fri 03 Sep 2010 at 14.00
Erratics Cricket Club Lost by 2 wickets

Match report Erratics: 223 for 8 C.Cook 89

Frocester 224 for 8. Ireland 63*; C.Cook three for 42.

Match Report: Jim Thomson

"There was a brief moment of function, and then it died," Chris Cook observed the morning after the Frocester game. He was talking about his elderflower-cordial-soaked Nokia, but it was interesting metaphor for life - or, indeed, for the previous day's game.

After lunch in the engagingly rambling George Inn, we wandered over to the ground to get changed. The strip we were using was cut very much to the pavilion side of the square, so much so that Fraser and I were discussing the chances of our both hitting sixes. A decently quick fielder could stand on the boundary and still save the single. The home team was a disparate group of genuine Froscunians and ringers, with a few impressive-looking youngsters among them. Louis Gegg was the captain and young "Verbals" Tegg was 'keeping. I was hoping for more egg-based surnames - perhaps the unrecorded name of the hamstrung number eleven was Pegg or Smegg - but let down by the rest of Frocester. It wasn't the last time that I was to be disappointed during the afternoon.

The toss: Toff Cook beat Gegg and the Erratics were batting. Darling Mellett had too much of a cider hangover to play (had he learned nothing from his time in Devon? not only did he play back to short balls early in his innings, but also he drank cider as if it were John Smiths) and so Ken Horne was press-ganaged into playing, and Duncan Chave had to open with Jonathan Kirby. Charging in at them were Woodmason, a young version of Stephen Finn, and the left-arm Ireland, who might for all we know be the son of Gloucestershire's Anthony Ireland. Woodmason shaped the ball away at a decent pace, and he had bowled Kirby and had Chave caught behind by the time the score reached 18. Ed Keedwell and Chris Ferro rallied, and they saw off the openers who were only allowed to bowl six-over spells because of their age. Toms came on - multiplying the regulations up, he was probably old enough to bowl a 30-over spell - along with another youngster, Joe Stevens. Toms's workmanlike offies were too much (or at least too straight) for Ed, and the skipper was in. After a solid partnership of 45 Ferro aimed an ambitious drive at Toms and was caught behind.

Enter Sam Cook. With such a short boundary on one side, we thought we might be in for a treat. Two heaves went into the carpark behind the pavilion. Would he get carried away and try to hit it too hard? "Easy, Sam," said his dad from the other end. In the end, it was discretion rather than valour that did for the Mule. Instead of hoofing it miles, he tried to ease it over the short boundary and only succeeded in popping up a catch to the muscular Wallington at square leg. Sam had made exactly half of a partnership of 38.

Pigeon Power came in to join his captain and hit a few meaty shots before running himself out for 23 - he clipped one straight to square leg and set off on an unlikely and unrequited single. Fraser was the next man in. Wallington was on by now. "I'm bowling spin," he announced to Gegg and Tegg, leaving them to set the field and stand up to the wicket accordingly. The "spin" was delivered very wide of off stump from a low slingy arm at a faster pace than most Erratics opening bowlers. Once the "spinners" became reachable, Toff Cook hit a couple solidly for a couple. The pace increased; but the harder it came, the further it flew. The second half of Wallington's first over went for two sixes and a four. Gegg brought himself on, and the captain-captain confrontation was brief as Cook hit a big straight six (bringing up the fifty partnership with Fraser) and then popped a full toss back to the bowler.

It was nearly the end of the innings. Ken Horne hit a four and then got his wires crossed and assumed that he was facing the last ball before tea. He hit it straight to midwicket and ran. Unfortunately, Fraser wasn't in on the plan and was left about 15 yards short of safety when the ball reached Tegg. Ken's embarrassment was complete when Gegg wanted to give Woodmason one more over. Between them, Ken and Digger Burrows added just one more run and the innings closed on 223.

Tea was a brief biscuit-based affair - sausage and chips were promised after the game - and the Erratics were back out pretty quickly. After all, Frocester had bowled 46 overs, so we couldn't waste time. In the end, Louis Gegg's failure to organise a ball and umpires and someone to help Annie with the scoring and someone to operate the scoreboard and a batting order and so on, meant that the innings didn't start for five or ten more minutes.

Burrows and Ferro started off. 23 big-hitting runs later, Ferro was off and Gegg and Clarkson were well set. Gegg was in particularly fierce form, hitting one massive six several yards over the road, but got over ambitious: again the captain-captain confrontation was brief and Cook had Gegg caught at cover by a scurrying Burrows (the first of two excellent catches that Digger pouched that day). 45 for one in no time at all, and it was looking as if they should be putting the post-match sausages into the frying pan pretty damn soon. Gegg was replaced by Tegg, and Clarkson started to hit the ball nicely. Tegg, who opens the batting for Gloucestershire under 13s, played some nice shots, but he again tried too hard against Toff Cook and lifted one up towards Ken Horne at deep mid on. 71 for two. In the next over Clarkson biffed one straight back at Digger Burrows and was caught and bowled - and the moment-of-the-match trophy had been won.

Cook had a third wicket as another youngster came and went. I had to come on to give Frocester a chance; but I got it wrong at first as Woodmason prodded and pushed negatively and then hit a low catch to Ferro at long on. Fortunately, Wallington - he of the impressive pecs and misdescribed bowling - was starting to find his range. In the end, my five overs for 42 were just what the captain ordered. The 100 was up, and Frocester were getting interested in the game again. Phil Power spoiled it by bowling Wallington past a wild swipe that might have embarrassed Sam Cook. But Pritchard and Ireland started to rebuild the innings. Ireland was particularly impressive. He batted sensibly, and was clearly determined to win the game, however desperate the situation seemed. Another wicket for Power, and it was 137 for seven. And then came the most widely discussed moment of the game. I was fielding at square leg, right next to the man at the centre of the storm, Frocester's hamstrung number eleven, and so I was in a good position to see what happened. Phil bowled, Ireland skipped down the track, missed, tried to get back and watched helplessly as Kirby took off the bails for a good stumping. To his credit, young Ireland started walking off. "You're not out," called the umpire. "Your foot was down." Strictly speaking, I suppose, both of the umpire's statements were accurate: the foot was down (though six inches north of the safety of the crease) and if the umpire says it's not out, then not out it is (or should that be "out it isn't"?).

Stevens fell to Horne, with Toff plucking a catch out of the air at midwicket. At 154 for eight, with 69 needed off the last ten overs, Frocester were buggered. Old Man Toms came in (he wasn't that old, but he must have been the best part of 40 years older than his batting partner, so Old Man Toms it is) and Toff did his best to open things up. He brought Fraser on at the end with the short legside boundary and placed no sweepers out there. He then did an astonishing impression of a three-toed no-handed sloth at extra cover, turning two offside pokes into six runs. Fraser finished with exactly the same figures as Chris Ferro, and Frocester had started to scent victory. Can I just revisit that last sentence ... it sort of implies a coherence to Frocester as a team, and there was little sense of that. As a really good game of friendly cricket unfolded, there seemed only to be 12 people who really gave a shit: the Erratics and young Ireland. The 13-year-old's team mates were only half watching - they were already out, so why should they care - and the two home-team umpires weren't helping either. Which brings me to the second moment of controversy. Toff Cook brought himself back on, and half way through his first over, Toms played a forward press along the wrong line, ending up pinned stone-dead in front of middle and off, about as LBW as it's possible to be. Stuart Broad would have lost half his match fee by celebrating the dismissal without turning round to appeal properly to the umpire; but our captain was much better behaved. He didn't even question young Woodmason's not-out decision. That is, he didn't question it until we were all in the bar with beers, sausages and chips filling our stomachs and reducing our life expectancies. "I need to talk to you about that LBW," said bowler to umpire. There was an embarrassed and embarrassing silence, and Cook, aware that above all the tour must go on, turned away. Again I was well-placed and saw Woodmason turn to his nearest friend and clearly mouth the word "plumb". My dad thinks that the stumping was the worse decision, but I reckon that one was simple incompetence. The LBW, on the other hand, was a witting act of dishonesty, albeit probably acting under captain's instructions. Frankly I'd rather have rubbish umpires.

All this philosophising about the rights and wrongs of umpiring is threatening to take the gloss of young Ireland's innings, and he doesn't deserve that. He made 63 and led a ramshackle Frocester team to what should have been a stunning and wildly celebrated victory. If in 2011, Fraser (or in 2012, Harry) comes in at 104 for six and scores more than half the 120 runs needed for an extremely improbable victory, then I hope the Erratics will make a lot more of the achievement than Frocester did. Bloody hell, chaps, that was a remarkable knock the boy played. Alright, he had some luck early on, with me bowling him leg-side full tosses and with a boss-eyed umpire, but he showed an astonishing maturity and a sense of a game and of an innings that none of his team meates seemed able to understand let alone match.

I've surprised myself by the vitriol in these last few paragraphs. In the bar after the game, I just enjoyed the chips and the excellent Wickwar beer. It must have been festering away for a while, I suppose. Or maybe it was the contrast with the next day's game at North Nibley that reminded me how right things can be and how wrong a few things were about this game.

To finish on a positive note, Chris Cook captained, batted and bowled brilliantly. He constructed what should have been a great game by doing what captains of friendly games must always remember to do: dare to lose. And it was a great tour. Here's to the next 20 years of Gloucestershire touring.

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
2nb 9w 6b 13lb 
for 8 wickets

(45.0 overs)
Duncan Chave Caught  11
Jonathan Kirby Bowled  0
Chris Ferro Caught  31
Ed Keedwell Bowled  8
Chris Cook Caught  89
Sam Cook Caught  19
Phil Power Run out  23
Fraser Chave Run out  2
Ken Horne Not Out  5
James Burrows Not Out  0
Jim Thomson  

Frocester (Tour) Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
No records to display.

Frocester (Tour) Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
1nb 3w 8b 1lb 
for 8 wickets
224 (38.4 overs)

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
James Burrows9.0233133.003.67
Chris Ferro2.002300.0011.50
Chris Cook9.0242314.004.67
Jim Thomson5.0042142.008.40
Phil Power6.0024212.004.00
Ken Horne3.0114114.004.67
Fraser Chave2.002300.0011.50
Sam Cook2.401400.005.25