Wield vs Candovers, Sunday 1st June

Wield, 89 all out, were beaten by The Candovers, 90-4, by six wickets.

The word ABJECT has a few meanings, but the two most often used are:
(Of something bad) experienced or present to the maximum degree; and (Of a situation or condition) extremely unpleasant and degrading.
The synonyms for ABJECT are: wretched, miserable, hopeless, pathetic, pitiful, pitiable, piteous, stark, sorry, forlorn, woeful, lamentable, degrading, appalling, atrocious, awful.

Wield Cricket and abject, what on earth is going on, what happened on this sorry day, why so woeful?

On Sunday 1 June, as is customary on most Sundays in the summer months, two cricket teams met at Wield, jovially greeted each other and took the field ten minutes late. As I said, a customary occurrence, nothing unusual thus far.

Furthermore, as is also customary, Brock the Badger Toby and Young Jack Kitten strode out to face the full might of the opposition, in this case The Candovers (for it was a local derby, dear Reader), with smiles on their faces and a willing air. Neither had any idea what was about to befall them.

Indeed, this fancy continued for the first over as “Womble” limbered up and was dismissively dismissed to the boundary by Toby (once he had finished digging himself in, taking three guards at each end and carving up Robin’s immaculate wicket). The sun was shining, the skylarks were in full throat high above the ground and a somnolent satisfaction descended on the spectators.

From the other end Ollie Hewetson-Brown opened his bowling and some of us were glad to be umpiring rather than facing. Bowling fast and aggressively, in-swinging, out-swinging and cutting back off the seam, albeit staying low on the Wield wicket, we had not seen anything like it. Maiden over followed maiden over, interspersed with beautiful defensive shots and dissections of the field from Jack and bludgeoned singles from Toby. LBWs were called and rejected and then one of those out-swinging, off the seam unplayables clipped the top of Toby’s off stump and the long walk back up the hill started for Wield.

Tony arrived and was terrified. What had Tim and Richard unleashed on Wield? Only one of Tony’s own, coached and gently nurtured to be let loose on anyone outside the North Hampshire District. Thankfully a bowling change allowed Jack just enough time to relax before his middle stump was knocked back. Steve went in and returned shortly afterwards, victim of a soon to be rampant LBW finger from Yorkey. Paul went in, nursing a hangover (as I said earlier, nothing untoward from Wield here today) and swung from the hip, soon being caught.

Rupert went in and was told between gritted teeth by Tony, rapidly losing partners and perhaps seeing what was coming, to “get forward”. To demonstrate in very generous fashion, clearly as a coaching point, Tony did not get forward and Yorkey’s finger rose again. Rupert, forlorn, followed shortly afterwards caught at short mid-on attempting to pick the pace up a bit. Ken and Sam, the father and son partnership steadied things a little by not scoring runs but at least staying in as we still had some time to go before tea. Ken too homeward plodded his weary way and then it was Yorkey and Sam and Yorkey definitely tried to pick up the pace.
A six flew over cow-corner, the bell was rung and then we all clapped as Yorkey tried again over mid-wicket but instead returned to the pavilion, his first out since 1953. His average will be devastated. The Candovers put on their ninth bowler, Tim himself and Sam was out having passed his father’s score. Robin and Max desperately but hopelessly held on to tea - it was not to be and Wield piteously crashed to 89 all out in the 36th over, ten awful minutes early.

Happy to be feeding on the egg sandwiches and sausages, we considered our options. Laughter was heard from the other end of the pavilion, steaming cups of tea were served and the best part of the day passed longer than usual but very pleasantly. The lemon drizzle cake and coffee cup cakes were particularly notable, and Jack especially liked the maltesers on top of the chocolate cake, many thanks to Anna Cooper and Rachel Dennys. Our spirits lifted, “Of course it’s defendable, we can deal with this, Ken and Sam opening the bowling, we’ll be off to the Yew Tree in no time.”

Richard and the wicket-keeper strolled out to their creases fresh from being the only two Candoverians not to have bowled and we were off, to defend the 89 all out. The skylarks heralded the re-start and it was looking good, until more pitiful mistakes fell over each other to spoil the afternoon: dives over the ball which inexplicably continued to travel; falls over the boundary line and hurtled chases past the ball. A consolation LBW took Richard out of play, only to bring in Ian Crossley who was clearly in a hurry. Another LBW shout but the umpire turned this one down, on the grounds of height - not something we have heard before at Wield. Yorkey brought himself on and was immediately no balled but it turned out that the umpire did not understand the difference between the two crease lines and the no ball was cancelled. The score moved on inexorably.

Robin came on and the Candovers’ keeper skied one to deep mid-on which was unhelpfully dropped. Ian did exactly the same two overs later and exactly the same happened again - a sorry Rupert was put on stark notice of a jug at three dropped catches. A straight six disappeared through the boundary’s ash tree and another ball had to be found. Fortunately lifting our spirits Toby held onto a dolly at cover and the keeper headed home. Tim arrived at the crease and left again shortly afterwards, utterly bamboozled by Robin’s lofted, looping spin but the pathetic score was close to being overrun. The two Ians now at the crease, Crossley and Millar, looked expectantly at the tray of beers waiting for them.

Rupert was brought on to “finish it off” and promptly bowled a wide causing Crossley to fall over in a vain attempt to reach it outside leg stump. Two balls later and it was all finished off and abject Wield had been beaten by 6 wickets, well before time.

Was it an England at Durham defeat, just so wretched, lamentable, that the only way is up? Let’s hope so. Roll on Thursday’s Twenty/20 at the Candovers, a chance to redeem ourselves on their ground and we know we can do better than that pitiable performance!

Rupert "Coach of the Year" Cazalet