Warborough v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sun 05 Sep 2021 at 11.30am
Erratics Cricket Club Lost by 8 Wickets

Match report The Inaugural Steve Berry Memorial Trophy Game

Mark Hailwood reports...

I didn’t really know Steve. I only met him a handful of times when he came along to watch games. But I became aware of his legendary status in Erratics lore very quickly after joining the club – rarely a game went by, or indeed goes by, without a fond reference to his bowling prowess or character. Many readers will require no introduction to Steve from me, but for the benefit of newer members, Steve Berry played for the Erratics between 1979 and 2010, notching up 565 appearances. He was best known as a fast bowler, using a combination of away swingers and a slower off-break to torment batters across the county, with which he picked up 16 five-wicket hauls. He was no mug with the bat – he has a 50* to his name – and is also remembered as a master of friendly cricket captaincy (see Brian Carpenter’s essay in ‘Unicorns Rampant’, p.28, for a game at Marldon where Steve ‘pulled the strings in a manner worthy of Brearley or Illingworth’).

Steve sadly passed away in the late summer of 2020, and plans were made to hold a regular trophy game in his memory. The rationale for choosing this fixture away at Warborough is that this idyllic Oxfordshire village is now the home parish of Steve’s long-time bowling partner and friend, Mark Searle. A trophy was needed, so up stepped Sam Cook, to whom, like brother Matt, Steve was an important avuncular figure in their formative years as young Erratics.

Sam put his artistic talents to work to carve a likeness of Steve in his famous ‘Rio Umpiring Pose’ (see below for a pic). Steve had once gone out to umpire in bare-feet, shorts, and a long white umpire’s coat. He had long hair and beard, not unlike that of Our Lord and Saviour. When he turned to signal a wide to the scorers, arms outstretched, the non-striking batter turned and caught a glimpse of him, and proclaimed – ‘Bloody hell, I thought I was in Rio for a minute!’ (a reference, of course, to the Christ the Redeemer statue that towers over that city). As I found out on the day of this game, that incident had occurred at North Nibley, creating a nice link between the old Gloucester Tour – of which Steve was an enthusiastic patron – and our new Oxfordshire venture.

The setting couldn’t have been more perfect, as the sun beat down on the Warborough village green. Our preparation could have been. After enjoying a restorative breakfast of pastries and fruit courtesy of Bev and Mark Searle, the Erratics spent an unseasonably warm hour toiling in the village’s fantastic nets. Already depleted energy reserves were left dangerously close to the ‘red zone’ for many of the third-day tourists. This may have had something to do with what came later.

Thankfully though we were to bat first, so feet could be put up for a bit. Martin Wright and Ben Youngman battled long and hard to lay down a foundation, but it looked like this might be squandered until Sam – not for the first time this weekend – came to the rescue. Steve would surely have enjoyed his boundary-laden 40, the ball sent skimming rapidly across the parched outfield. And it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have grinned at his partner-in-crime Mark Searle holing out to mid-on off his first ball. At least it provided an opportunity for Mark to deploy Steve’s catchphrase – engraved on the Trophy itself – of ‘Oh, For F*cks Sake!’

The result at tea was that the Erratics had accumulated a round 180, easily our best score yet on a ground where our previous games had all yielded totals in the 120-130 range. We thought we were well placed as we settled in to enjoy a real-life full cricket tea generously laid on by our hosts.

We weren’t well placed. A bowler can, one hopes, be forgiven for opening proceedings after a heavy tea, on day three of a camping tour and wearing hard-earned Guinness-eyes, with a bit of a loosener. Warborough’s opening bat, Tom, was anything but forgiving, and my gentle half-tracker was crashed to the mid-wicket boundary. Like Steve Harmison’s infamous wide to open the 2006-7 Ashes, this rather ominously presaged what was to follow. The left-handed Tom, and a few handy support acts, made light work of reducing the deficit, playing powerfully and clinically all around the ground. By the time Tom retired well past his hundred, the game was long gone, and the job finished in just 32 overs.

Could things have worked out differently? We had a good back-pad lbw shout against our tormentor turned down early on, and just before the drinks break Sam uncharacteristically dropped him on the boundary (one Erratic was heard to cruelly quip that Sam might just have dropped ‘the Berry’ in that moment). But the truth is we didn’t take 10 wickets all tour, and it wasn’t likely we would have done so this day. What would Steve have made of it all? It was a pretty miserable afternoon for bowlers and fielders. But maybe the high levels of bowler grumpiness in the Erratics’ ranks were, in a roundabout way, a fitting tribute to Steve after all.

A fitting tribute was certainly delivered by Dave Berry: Steve’s brother had travelled up from his home near Swindon to watch the game, say a few words, and to present the Trophy to the victors. And Steve would undoubtedly have enjoyed events that evening, as some of his closest cricketing pals – Chris, Mark, Pete, and Phil – returned to Casa Searle for a last supper, exchanging memories over numerous bottles of Rioja to a soundtrack of Steve’s favourite tunes.

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
for 8 wickets
Jonathan Kirby Bowled  2 1
Martin Wright Lbw  30 2
Ben Youngman Caught  35 2
Jonathan Beverley Caught  4
Sam Cook Bowled  40 7
Peter Colclough Caught  0
Mark Searle Caught  0
Martin Weiler Bowled  12
Chris Cook Not Out  6
Fraser Chave Not Out  13 2
Penny Price  

Warborough Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
No records to display.

Warborough Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
for 2 wickets
184 (32.0 overs)

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Mark Hailwood6.0035135.005.83
Chris Cook5.011100.002.20
Fraser Chave11.0057157.005.18
Phil Power6.013500.005.83
Sam Cook2.003100.0015.50
Ben Youngman2.001300.006.50
Photos and video of Warborough v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sun 05 Sep 2021 at 11.30am

Chris Cook and Mark Searle with 'the Berry'

Tom of Warborough

Tom of Warborough puts the Erratics to the sword in the inaugural Steve Berry Trophy game

The Teams for 'the Berry'

Warborough CC and Erratics CC line-up after the inaugural Steve Berry Trophy game