Cavendish Cavaliers v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sun 07 Jul 2019 at 1.30pm
Erratics Cricket Club Won by 63 Runs

Match report Cavendish Cavaliers proudly advertise themselves as ‘the worst team in Devon’, which strikes me as an excellent piece of inverse sledging: a self-deprecation designed to get under the skin of the Opposition in positively Machiavellian fashion.

It also seemed to be the complete opposite of the truth, at least for the first over, at least as far as I was concerned.

Skipper Duncan opened up with Phil Power and myself, and since Phil graciously insisted that I take first strike (the cowardly wombat), I was immediately up against their opener Mogford, and felt pleased just to survive against a succession of brisk, in-ducking seamers, which tested my limited abilities to their (limited) limit.

Fortunately the Cavs’ other offerings were more erratic, and at times downright generous, either in terms of wides (29 in total – comfortably our third highest scorer), or eminently tonkable full tosses or long hops. Phil despatched a couple to the boundary with powerful pulls, but then, in his own words, “got greedy” and was bowled by a slower one for 10. I joined him soon after, plumb LBW for 23 attempting a leg glance well beyond my means. (On my return to the boundary, Ben Youngman kindly sought to console me by saying I was clearly leg before during his umpiring stint earlier, and he would have given me out, like a shot, only nobody appealed.)

That cleared the way for Conor and Jack, two of our gun batsmen, with wonderfully contrasting styles. Conor is brisk and correct, muscling the ball into gaps, and occasionally unfurling that rare stroke for an Erratic, the flowing off-drive which positively purrs to the rope. Jack is uncomplicated: his defensive shots take the form of little irritated stabs at the ball, as though he’s slightly annoyed someone’s gone and bowled it at him, and doesn’t really regard it as worthy of a shot as such – more a tetchy dismissal from his immediate presence. But his attacking blows are confident and brutal, leathering loose balls way over midwicket. They are somehow all the more satisfying because he’s using his father’s bat, a slim slip of a Lillywhites willow, endorsed by Ted Dexter, no less, made in the days when bats were wands rather than bludgeons.

In pre-match conversation, Jack had confided that he doesn't "swing so hard these days”, because of being “worried about losing balls”. It was gratifyingly open and trusting of him to share such details of his intimate life with his team-mates (he can rest assured it won’t go any further), but it was a relief to see that new-found abstinence hadn’t affected his batting.

Sadly, Jack (49) and Conor (42) both fell just short of mandatory retirement at 50. (Always a good age to ease off the swinging. Apparently.)

Matt Crawford (18*) kept up the assault, however, with a series of powerful cross-batted swats which he later described as a sweep, although given that one went to the left of mid-on, that’s probably stretching the definition somewhat. Earlier, Conor had given a fine demonstration of how to play the true sweep shot, straight out of the MCC coaching manual. He liked it so much he played it four times in succession, to make sure we were paying attention. The elegance and precision of the stroke was in no way diminished by the fact that he missed all four of them. (In fairness, he also nailed a couple too.)

Ben and Rithvik weighed in with a couple of meaty blows, along with some comedy running, and we ended up with a chunky enough 191-5 off our 35 overs.

As well as wides, our total was blessed with some generous misfields – on at least one occasion, we managed to run a single off a misfield, and then another one when the misfield was misfielded. It seemed slightly odd, given the fact that the playing surface was fairly true and free from bumps. Odd turned to uncanny when, with a few exceptions, normally reliable Erratics (Chave, F.) started letting the ball slip past.

Was the field cursed? Was it actually a Native American Burial Ground? A long way from Idaho, yes, but who’s to say those tribes didn’t originate in Devon before trekking across Siberia and over the Bering land bridge? An offshoot of the Cheriton Cherokee perhaps? The Cockington Comanches?

Interestingly, the two fielders who most obviously resisted such witchery were our two engineers, Matt and Jack. Well, they work for WSP so I assume they’re engineers. More than I’ll ever be, anyway. Practical men. Not given to being phased by superstition. Actually, Rithvik was impressively tidy behind the stumps, so he seems to be immune as well, but perhaps that’s because he hasn’t yet spent long enough in Devon to be infected by its wiles. Give him time…

Or was it all something to do with the very generous and ample tea – pizza, sausage rolls, brownies and all? So ample was it that we were served the leftovers as supper in the bar later. (You know how some menus have a little logo denoting ‘healthy choice’ next to the Quinoa and Beetroot Salad? All our options would have been flagged with the skull-and-crossbones. Abandon health all ye who supper here.)

Anyway, whatever the curse, or the cause, it certainly didn’t affect our opening bowlers. Ben Youngman was on the money from the off, moving the ball both ways, returning a miserly 8 runs from his 4 overs. Russ Liley, too, was very effective, snaffling three wickets in total, including an excellent diving caught and bowled from a ball smacked back with considerable force. Catches, indeed, were our strongpoint, with Rithvik pouching a sharp chance behind the stumps off Fraser, and Conor making a skier that was set to go over his head at deep mid-wicket look easy, by the simple means of leaping up, parrying it, then calmly taking the rebound. Matt and Fraser, too, showed safe pairs of hands.

John Curtis and Phil Power both picked up wickets – John with an off-break that turned so far it beat the batsman’s attempted cut to hit the top of leg. With the match drifting away from the Cavaliers, Skipper Duncan gave Jack the chance to roll his occasional arm over, and Conor to unleash his occasional leg-breaks – before bringing Fraser back for the coups de grace. Chave Fils proved near-unplayable, ending with the ridiculously impressive figures of 4 for 2 off 4.5 overs.

A satisfying win, all-in-all, with everyone playing a part with bat or ball or both, and several outstanding in the field (caps off to Engineers Crawford and Heslop, and Rithvik behind the Wikvikts).

The Cavaliers throughout were a very amiable opposition. They are almost certainly not the worst team in Devon (we can definitely be worser, on our bad (37 all out) days), but they are surely among the friendliest.

- Martin Wright

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
3nb 29w 2b 1lb 
for 5 wickets
Martin Wright Lbw  23 2
Phil Power Bowled  10 1
Connor Johnson-Goodier Lbw  42 6 1
Jack Heslop Bowled  49 6 1
Rithvik Gutha Caught  7 1 1
Matt Crawford Not Out  18 3 1
Ben Youngman Not Out  7 1
Russ Liley   1
Fraser Chave  
John Curtis  
Duncan Chave  

Cavendish Cavaliers Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
No records to display.

Cavendish Cavaliers Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
1nb 20w 1b  
for 10 wickets
128 (32.5 overs)

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Ben Youngman4.00800.002.00
Russ Liley6.002839.334.67
John Curtis6.0041141.006.83
Phil Power5.0021121.004.20
Fraser Chave4.53240.500.41
Jack Heslop4.002000.005.00
Connor Johnson-Goodier3.0018118.006.00