Off the back of a resoundingly soggy defeat to the Old Paulines CC the week prior, the Badger camp trickled on to the well-kept lawn of Wandsworth Common with a real sense of purpose. The Badgers had become accustomed to winning of late, and this was a trend the Battersea Sett was keen to continue.
With a healthy crowd of support having mustered for the occasion, and even the luxury of a 12th man (woman), the Badgers turned out on to the pitch against the wily veterans of the LJ Wanderers looking resplendent in their dazzling bright new strip – our thanks to The Latchmere, and Sambrooks Brewery. We shall do you proud!
Having won the toss, captain Jinksy (Back in the fold after last week’s absence), took the reins of a squad chomping at the bit to take on the Wanderers. In an early stroke of luck, we won the toss, and as is customary in this situation, opted to post a total and let the Wanderers do the chasing.
The two Badger’s openers, Warman and Cloke, strode out to the crease under dappled sunlight, as the inclement weather promised both sunshine and rain in quite democratic equal measure. After the first balls it became clear the wicket was unpredictable, with the LJ’s opening bowlers getting head height bounce, and no bounce at all off of similar length deliveries. The Badgers toll was soon taken with Warman having his stumps rattled by the ball after facing just 5 balls.
It was up to Cloke to stand firm, as third man, Stuart ‘Badger’ Barker departed for a mere 2 runs – the unfortunate recipient of Wandsworth Common’s legendary unpredictable bounce. With the Badgers top order creaking under the pressure from the LJ’s first string bowling attack, on just 8-2 in the fifth over, things looked precarious.
With Cloke still anchoring the innings with stubborn impunity, Marchant strode to the crease knowing full well that the middle order needed to fire on all cylinders on this occasion. Playing himself in with careful ease, and showing remarkable calm for a batsman of such fiery temperament, Marchant carefully began his accumulation of runs – safe in the knowledge that well within his grasp was the accolade of being the first Badger to knock up 1,000 runs for the team.
With the runrate beginning to tick over nicely, Cloke began to open up and play some shots, hitting a tidy four in amongst them, when disaster struck. Cloke had his stumps torn out of the ground by Zane – no less than the fourth bowler that day to attempt his removal from the crease. Undeterred, ‘Bam-Bam’ Mackrell strolled out to the crease, with his cockles warmed by a couple of pints of Cider, and the fact that his team again needed the use of his impressive strike rate. Inspired by Marchant’s careful approach to playing himself in, Bam-Bam took his time.
Marchant sensing a bit of competition at the crease, upped the tempo – dissecting the LJ’s field, and reaching the boundary with alarming regularity. A hearty congratulations to Jan for his impressive knock of 51 runs not out (retired), and not least – being the first Badger over the 1,000 runs mark – who’s next gentlemen?
With Marchant departing through retirement, Morse strolled to the crease – sporting a batting average worse this season than anything in Monty Panesar’s nightmares.... 3 innings, 3 ducks. However - today Australia had clearly come to the aid of its English brethren, with Morse accumulating runs at a rate that even eclipsed the Badgers favourite artillery piece ‘Bam-Bam’.
Mackrell was soon out, pouched in the field swinging at a lovely delivery from House – 28 runs off 25 balls, a fine and timely knock. With Mcluskey striding out to the crease, also looking to erase the memory of the previous week’s soggy duck, and under strict captain’s orders to ‘swing at anything!’ an interesting and short partnership developed. Rotating the strike to Morse through a series of swipes for singles, Mcluskey had the best seat in the house for two ridiculously huge sixes dispatched from the Aussie’s bat – one of which cleared the ground by a good 15 yards.
After a short appearance of 5 off 12 balls, Mcluskey departed caught on the leg-side, having been dropped off the previous ball. Morse soon followed, also caught. Leaving a last gasp stand from the number 8 and 9 batsmen – ‘Skip Jinksy and Josh ‘Great wall of China’ Lee – with Josh relying on his staggeringly solid forward defensive strokes to fend off the attacks on his stumps, it fell to captain Jinksy to up the tempo. Jinksy, (swinging at everything within arms length) played an untidy knock, rattled in part no doubt by the jovial abuse from his own team on the boundary. When in a fit of brilliance, he launched a ferocious 6 out over the covers to inspire the Badgers fielding unit for the test to come.
Binks the pick of the bowlers for the LJ’s with a tidy haul of 2 wickets for 11 runs off five overs. Winch and House both proving costly, with scores of 36 for 0 off 4 overs, and 44-1 off 5 overs respectively.
As the weather began to turn, the LJ’s openers suffered the same early fate as the Badgers. With the Badgers field working with metronomic precision, the LJ’s were left aghast. The ‘none-shall-pass’ attitude adopted by the Badgers outfielders, providing an example the builders of the Maginot Line would surely have benefitted from. Despite the resolute batting throughout the LJ’s middle order, the Badgers bowlers and tight fielding did just enough to bring the victory back to Battersea – winning by a mere 8 runs in a thoroughly enjoyable and extremely close encounter.
Thank you LJ’s for a healthy test of our skills - with both bat and ball, and pint pot in hand. I fancy on another day when the Badgers field wasn’t quite so invincible – you would have had us. Sporting gentleman that we are – we welcome your worthy challenge next year!