There is an old Japanese adage that states: 'don't value a badger skin before catching the badger'. Thankfully, no Battersea Badgers lost their skins in their second game of the season against the Full Tossers ... although some blood was shed.
As the players arrived at Wandsworth Common, the tension was palpable. Both teams were struggling to contain memories of their previous encounter, won by the Tossers in a nail-bitingly close fashion. This time round the Badgers were missing a few of their regular bowlers, but this did not dampen their spirits. The weather was fine, with the early morning sun glistening off assorted Stella cans. The wicket was dry and the outfield quick. The only missing elements from this otherwise idyllic scene were the scoreboard and some boundary flags.
The Full Tossers won the toss and elected to bat. Some early confusion in calling by the Tossers soon faded as nerves settled down. Opener A. Ward started strongly, however, the dispatch of his fellow opener W. Lee for 3, (bowled A. Thorpe, caught S. Barker) and Captain N. Barlow for 4 (bowled J. Marchant, caught Thorpe) rocked the Tosser boat. Things were looking good for the Badgers when no.4, E. Ansell, was dispatched for 18 by spinner Chaz of Chazareth. The Tossers steadied their keel with impressive innings from A. King (50) and A. Gibson (30). Ward eventually finished on a superb 74 after being caught by Thorpe off of Marchant (who finished with figures of 3-30 and 2-29 respectively).
Soon after drinks, disaster struck when Thorpe severely injured his finger after narrowly missing a heart-stopping catch (and just missing out on a hat-trick of outstanding catches). Luckily, a passing Boy Scout was on hand to administer some first aid. However, on the resumption of play it was apparent from the general mirth of the pitch that something was not quite right with Thorpe's finger. In its place now stood a phallus-shaped bandage. Alas, the young scamp was nowhere to be seen. A lesser man would have called for his Sedan chair and opium pipe, not so from Thorpe who, instead, battled on to bowl another two overs, showing a grit and toughness not seen since his days on Fun House.
Showing equal grit and determination in the field was P. Warman who fielded expertly, returning ball after ball with the strength and accuracy of a badger reeking havoc on a Viscount's prize-winning croquet lawn. All the Badgers showed fine fielding prowess, with some well executed catches from Messrs Thorpe, Thomas and Blaiklock. Much thanks must go to wicket keeper Barker, whose wise words of encouragement kept the Badgers' morale up through thick and thin.
A ferocious barbecue and several pounds of sausages later, openers Warman and Blaiklock were at the crease, with a mountain of 246 runs to climb. The Badgers' spirits, inspired by the actions of Thorpe and skipper M. Cloke, were high. However, hopes of an epic victory were soon dashed when a sneaky straight and fast ball from Mr. W. Middleton significantly interfered with Mr Warman's (2) off stump. Cloke and Miss L. Hirst followed suit, bowled by Mr Middleton for 2 and 0 respectively.
Sadly 'bowled' was to be a recurring theme on the scorecard (with the exception of the running out of Barker). Even the gradual realisation that the Tossers were repeatedly bowling quick deliveries, on a good length and at the stumps, did nothing to alleviate the Badgers' plight. Blaiklock attempted to dig in at the crease but was dispatched for 4 runs by Mr K. Winstanley (3-1). Two last minute additions to the batting order, Mr H. Elmet. and Sir E. Vian Bouteille, while adding a blistering 15 to the run total, failed to halt the Badger's collapse.
All too soon the match was over with the Badgers effectively demolished for 52 runs. While disappointing there were some positive points. Special fielding and bowling mentions must go to Messrs Warman and Thorpe. Newly initiated Badger recruits Messrs Thomas (8) and Norris (1) batted well under pressure from accurate bowling. Special mention must also go to Mr H. Elmet who narrowly missed out on man of the match with 10 runs. Honorable lunch mentions must go to Pete 'Mr Kipling' Warman for his exceedingly good cake, and all the Tossers for their gallant actions around the barbecue.