'Nobody Got Dive-Bombed By A Seagull'

Minehead from a distance
'Minehead Cricket Club is ideally situated for a game of cricket, falling as it does between the West Somerset Leisure Centre and the deep blue sea.' Deep blue sea visible in this shot of Minehead
©John Pennington

Minehead 3rd XI vs. Taunton A XI West, Minehead Cricket Club, West Somerset Cricket League Div III, Saturday 21st June

Minehead Cricket Club is ideally situated for a game of cricket, falling as it does between the West Somerset Leisure Centre and the deep blue sea.

A gentle on-shore breeze provides respite from the summer sunshine, and the sight and sound of the chuffing West Somerset railway steam trains pulling into and out of the station must be worth several free runs to the home team, as fielders’ minds drift away from the job in hand and relive days gone by.

However, with such a small outfield it was always likely to be Murder on the Orient Express or Evil Under The Sun. I wonder whether Agatha ever got to bowl to grandson Linford in the back garden?
A blisteringly hot day saw second-placed Taunton make their annual excursion to the land of Butlin’s and donkey rides to face Minehead in fourth. There was The Sign In The Sky. Incantations were muttered and lucky rabbits’ feet stroked to encourage the coin-God to pull His finger out and fall the right way and for the first time in many a game Taunton won the toss, electing make full use of the shade and bat.

A lively opening over from Seb Gibbs saw Charles Hunt nick a rising delivery behind and leave the visitors - already without their run-machine Mickey Masters, missing through injury - nought for one and looking a little light on experience. However, from the other end the short boundary towards the old clubhouse and the sloping nature of the pitch were both becoming influential. Left-handed Greg McKay hit straight balls through or over the field and the slope pushed any compensating balls across the stumps for wides.
Georgina Adcock was watchful but less able to pierce the field, although one ball was deliberately lifted over the slips for four.

Despite beating the bat regularly (but unfortunately conceding five penalty runs for hitting the helmet), Minehead were unable to take another wicket until – having already been dropped in the same position – Greg McKay fell to a catch on the deep midwicket boundary, the same fielder making amends. That ended a partnership of 110 and with fewer than half the overs gone Taunton were hoping for a score in around 220-230.  
Georgina did not benefit from her hard work at the start of the innings as she lost her wicket soon afterwards, so Taunton were forced to build again with two new batsmen.

Mhahesh was more circumspect than normal, perhaps thinking of the financial penalty of a £5 fine each time he hit it in the air before scoring 20, agreed without his knowledge by the club Secretary/match scorer DHW.

Mark Darelli was also a little timid, waiting for several balls before beginning an assault on the bowling. His innings contained at least two singles and a two, but he missed another big hit and the umpire had to give The Moving Finger for a stumping.

Unfortunately for him, he was on 49 at the time, and although the scorers were not recording balls faced a rough tally came out at 24 or 25. Will Sweet replaced him at the crease and hit one of the shots of the day, a two-foot-off-the-ground six through point.

Minehead kept battling though, and wickets fell regularly until Reny Devassy joined captain Mel Gale in the Swan Song. Both went for everything in the last couple of overs and the innings ending on a very healthy 269 for eight from 40.
Taunton had put their Cards On The Table. More than 6½ per over would be a tremendous chase, but on a small ground and with Taunton’s catching anything was possible.

And indeed it was.

Daresh Jacob enticed Stuart Tudball to edge the first ball to Charles Hunt at slip, who continued his excellent season in the field...and grassed it.

A four over point second ball was followed by a miscue into the covers where Greg McKay got hands to it but wasn’t able to hold on. Stuart found sanctuary at the non-striker’s end, leaving his opening partner to complete a strange opening over by chipping to midwicket, where an alignment of the planets or a boot on a ley-line caused astonishment in the ranks as Darelli didn’t drop it.

Reny Devassy took the other end and bowled with pace but he also found difficulty in keeping his line; in spite of the wides Will Sweet did an admirable job in preventing extra runs on top. What better way to prepare for your final GCSE, Physics on Monday morning?

Daresh’s pace proved too much for young Archie Marsh as Charles somehow failed in his attempt to drop another one, although it was a bit of a juggle.
Lee Baker joined Stuart Tudball and between them they began to find overcome the inertia and get some momentum (that’s in homage to Will and his Physics revision).

Lee was using all of his bat, especially the narrow side bits. Stuart was generally just using the meaty part.

Fielders got a hand to the majority of balls to which they were able, though, and it was pretty obvious that Minehead were concentrating on reaching 150 and full batting points. Mhahesh couldn’t break through, and after failing to reap the rewards of his spell Reny was replaced by Mel Gale.

And it wasn’t long before the dazzling pace, the extravagant turn, the right divot did the job, finding The Edge and Will took the snick standing up.  
With overs running out the last person Taunton wanted to see coming out to bat was Steve Howard, who had 'gone in the fetlock' while fielding. Ah, the comedy/nightmare of a runner on a small pitch: where to stand? Does the captain put a man 'saving one' right in his path? Can the umpire grow another eye in time to watch all three batsmen?

Fortunately everything was fine, as Steve eschewed singles in favour of boundaries, but after another straight-in-and-straight-out-again drop he got underneath one and Reny did well to take a tricky catch at mid-on, looking directly into the sun.

Could Taunton bowl them out? Could Minehead hold on now they were past 150?  
Daresh came back and with The Golden Ball snapped the off bail into several pieces. And then – 85 runs too late – he finally got Stuart Tudball, bowled, to finish with five for 50. Last over fell on Reny to see whether that elusive eighth wicket and a fourth bowling point could be achieved.

And with the final ball he got his reward, Tom Downer lifting one to Darelli at extra cover.

Verdict:a win by 98 runs. A hugely enjoyable game, played in the spirit club cricket should.

And nobody got dive-bombed by a seagull.

© Cricket World 2014

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