All Blacks in New Zealand.
Battersea Badgers in Southbank.
Both are examples of long-standing unbeaten streaks. Like the All Blacks, the Badger team has power (BamBam), size (Foord), speed (Blake), a questionable kiwi (Lee) and a terrifying war dance (Jinks). Was it an ominous sign, therefore, when the unbeaten streak of the Best Rugby Team on the Planet was broken on the morning of our fixture? Furthermore, Southbank provide stiffer opposition to the Badgers than any of the All Blacks opposition and this match was no exception.
The week leading up to this match was a frenetic flurry of activity from deep within the Badger sett with the original fixture cancelled at the start of the week. To compound issues, the pitch we had originally booked fell victim to an angry mole and was unfit for use. Thousands of emails later, we heard from a team that were able to host us. Many thanks must go to Southbank for reaching out to us. Fixtureless weekends in Summer, whilst popular with their partners, are not enjoyed by the Badgers.
Fresh from the previous night’s table tennis tournament, everyone arrived at Southbank eager to get started. Everyone, that is, except for Warman. Rumours ranged from “He’s still playing table tennis at Bounce” to “He’s probably analysing Badger stats”. Having been put into bat by Southbank, Clokey was pushed up to open the batting (accompanied by lots of Warman-related whining) with Ammes “Dolli wasn’t that good at cricket at school” Porter with Lee pursuing his latest obsession and opening up on the scoring book.
With Southbank's opening bowlers struggling to find their length in the opening overs, Clokey and Ammes capitalized and got off to a flying start scoring quickly and efficiently at 6 an over. The bowlers soon settled forcing Ammes to playing shots with extraordinarily correct technique.
The Badgers reached 100 after 20 overs without loss of wicket and continued to push on. Clokey and Ammes both reached half centuries before getting out and being replaced by Pete “I only hit boundaries” Warman and Chocolate Wrists himself. With the track not offering much help to the bowling side, the Badgers pushed on.
What happened next was an extraordinary tactical play from Southbank. With the Badgers continuing to continuing to score and on 250 runs, Southbank sent out their secret weapon – their tea lady. She strode over to Captain Foord and asked. “When should I put the pizza in the oven? I need 20 minutes to make sure it’s hot for you”.
Despite our best efforts, we were powerless. Like a mouse to cheese, bee to honey, or Jinks to a pole, Foord could not resist the lure of a hot pizza and promised the tea lady that we would declare when the pizza was cooked. Well played Southbank, well played …
We eventually reached 264/5 off 39 overs. Notable batting performances include: Clokey and Ammes half centuries, Warman’s quick 42 (10 x 4’s and a couple of singles), Cornish getting to face 4 balls before the declaration and scoring 16.
As suspected, tea was delicious and loved by all Badgers.
After some average fielding practice, Southbank’s innings began and the Badgers opened their bowling with Dollimore and Tea Rex. Southbank showed their intent with resolute batting finding quick singles where available. The first breakthrough came after 9 overs when Foord found the glove of James who was pouched behind the stumps by Warman. At this point, Southbank were on 45/1.
What followed was a brutal spell of batting by Gant and Brims. Any short bowling was punished and the batsmen were finding the boundary with ease. The run rate would have been higher had it not been for the flashes of brilliance in the field by T Rex who was eagerly demonstrating the exuberance of youth. Even setting our antipodean Cornish on their antipodean Brims failed to work. Gant was eventually caught off a Rex delivery having scored 62 runs with Southbank on 126/2 after 30 overs.
After 32 overs, Southbank were looking strong on 132 / 2 with 20 overs of play remaining (required run rate ~6.7). They were in a great position with strong batsmen at the crease and plenty of batting to come. The run rate was not trivial but the Badger bowlers were struggling to get anything from the deck. The Badgers even tried sending on the mysteriously un-mysterious bowling of Lee whose 2 bounce yorker has claimed many victims. Sadly, this did not work.
With around 10 overs to go, Foord finally digested the teatime pizza and claimed the wicket of Brims who had amassed 91 runs. Southbank were now on 204/3 off 41 overs (required run rate ~5.5).
Another wicket came in the next over with Rex bowling and catching but sadly splitting the webbing on his claws hands.
Despite this Southbank were still playing to beat the Badgers and remained on the run rate for several overs. Things were getting tense. The Badgers were starting to go quiet. With 4 overs remaining, Southbank needed around 20 runs. Captain Foord had had enough. A quick flurry of wickets from Foord left Southbank requiring 11 runs off the last over to win. Who was brave enough to bowl the last over?
The Last Over
Cornish, that’s who. He charged in steaming like a piping hot pasty. Any thoughts from the Badgers that he complains too much to the umpire were sett aside by his last over which read like this:
. W 1 W 1 .
The game was drawn. Yet another close game at Southbank. Many thanks must go to Southbank for hosting the Badgers at such notice—we are already looking forward to next year’s encounter!