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Aldbourne CC - Tour 2008

Boars on Tour 13th and 14th September 2008 - Tour Report

From the moment your reporter returned with his daughter to their ancestral village home of Luckett and happened upon the beautiful cricket club he later learned had been formed by two of his great uncles in 1893, it became a burning ambition to play cricket there himself.  The Luckett Fixtures Secretary, Len Roberts was open to the possibility of arranging a tour match in September 2008 provided he could convince his Committee. He felt the family link to the founders would make this a formality so all that needed to be done was to persuade ACC players to make the trip. On the same evening the idea was put to Aldbourne’s captain, Matt Britton, outside ACC sponsors the Blue Boar. His response was that it was a mad idea ... but so mad we should do it! He then put it to the team at the last match of the season at Cold Ash and gained a positive reaction.  

The trip to Luckett was therefore a full year in the making. When Len confirmed the game was on in February, it was decided to allow for the possibility of rain so the game could be played either on  Saturday or Sunday of the weekend of 13/14 September. As the 2008 season progressed the wisdom of this decision became more apparent. Luckett had 6 games postponed due to rain and had to rearrange them in September. On 2 September Len rang to explain that he feared that the game would have to be cancelled because Luckett were being forced to play 2 games over the tour weekend to complete their League commitments.

To ensure that there was at least one game to play, your reporter set about organising another match with another club for the 14th. No sooner had a game been arranged with the Elephants Nest than Len rang to confirm that the Luckett game was on for the 13th. Aldbourne now had 2 matches in 2 days but no back up physio!

As the rain continued to pour down over the next few days, the rearranged match at the Elephants Nest was called off. Sited on the edge of Dartmoor, the pitch had not been played on for 5 weeks, and when walked on gave the impression it could have been the source of a new river. After calls to 6 other local clubs, Bridestowe agreed to play ACC but, as the week progressed with yet more rain, even that game looked unlikely.

On The Eve
Undeterred the Boars began to assemble at their base in Tavistock on 12 September. On that night the team (bar Bishop and Britton) gathered for a meal at Mount Tavy cottage run by Mr. and Mrs. Moule. Ed Fitch was at pains to point out that he could not eat fish or seafood which unfortunately ruled out Mrs. Moule’s Mariniere, her renowned signature dish. Tellwright forgot to bring his alcohol with him, so in typical fashion, he persuaded Mr. Moule to pop into Somerfield’s to pick up some wine for him. On his return, Mr. Moule managed to expend some of his pent up irritation at being reminded of his schoolboy fagging duties when he learnt we would be playing cricket at Luckett. ‘You’ll get hammered’ he exploded without thinking of his guests’ sensitivity to such a declaration.

The mood for most was soon upbeat again at rebel Cornishman Hawken’s riposte when ACC’s bellicose South African new boy, Shane Rowe, suggested England could not play cricket. ‘So that wasn’t really South Africa that lost 4 nil in the recent ODI’s’ he gently enquired. A short sulk then ensued which appeared to go unnoticed by Shane’s long suffering girlfriend Jenny, who probably knew better than the rest of the party, that with 48 hours to go there would undoubtedly be more to follow.

After an excellent meal of home cooked food the diners ventured outside only to find it was raining – contrary to the forecast.
There had been reports earlier in the evening that Fitch senior had a tendency to snore but nothing was heard through the walls as it was your reporter’s sleeping partner,Harry Hawken, who proceeded to snore for England. Only the sounds of the babbling brook competed with him, or so this reporter drowsily thought. By the morning, however, it was clear that the brook sounds had been augmented by heavy rain.

The mood at breakfast was sombre until Len rang to confirm that despite the rain the match was on! The team had agreed to assemble at the Royal Inn at Horsebridge by 1130. Britton and Bishop, who travelled down that morning, arrived first, only to find that the pub did not open until 1200. This was waived by the landlord in view of unexpected custom ‘from up the line’. The sun then appeared in earnest as ACC set off to Luckett and crossed the 15th century bridge over the Tamar and into Cornwall.

Little can prepare you for the fact that you will find a cricketing jewel behind a cemetry in a village of only 142 inhabitants (few of whom have any links to the club). The ground is surrounded by beautiful scenery with modern facilities including nets, scoreboard, pavilion (with showers) and sponsorship hoardings. And there to greet you, sitting outside the pavilion in an old lounge chair, relaxing with her next door neighbour alongside her before the serious business of preparing the best cricket teas in Cornwall takes over, is the Great Cornish Earth Mother, Betty Roberts, who knows as much as her husband Len about Luckett’s position in the league, and what they have to do to stay up, as well as the club’s history going back 60 years.

Betty and Len’s son Ian was Luckett’s captain on the day. He had decided that he would not bat first whatever the outcome of the toss, and that the match would be 40 overs. As ACC preferred to bat first this was not a problem provided ample time remained after the match to have a drink with the home team and still get back to the Elephants Nest by 2100 for dinner. Sanders and Fitch E opened the batting for the Boars with Sanders regularly providing the fielders with catching practice (something he would later wish he had had more of himself). When the score had reached 36 he was finally bowled by a full toss for 20. Bishop strode out to the wicket and he and Fitch dug in until Billing came on to bowl. He was destined to only bowl one over as Fitch clubbed him for 18 including one six and two fours. Finally putting Betty’s pasties to the back of his mind, Bishop then joined in the run fest, hitting two sixes before he was amazingly caught off his own bowling by Matthew Robins for 33 with the score on 95 after a partnership of 59.

Tellwright and Fitch then put on another 38 when Fitch was out to a catch at long on trying for his 50. Aujla joined Tellwright, who continued to play elegant shots, amassing 40 runs before he was caught off Trembath, a refugee from Saltash. Enter Hawken, ACC’s token Cornishman. Troubled by injury since his first game for the Boars in 2006 when he had to retire hurt following a thigh strain, it was clear he was fighting the beckoning finger of the twilight of his cricketing career. Aujla did not keep Hawken company for long, after cracking two boundaries he was out for 11 to a catch by the hypermetropic Luckett wicket keeper who had come out of retirement especially for the game. The stage was now set for Rowe to deliver. With 4 overs remaining he and Hawken kept the scoreboard moving – a 6 from Rowe, a tantalising 5 from Hawken, who by now had incurred an Achilles tendon problem but nevertheless managed to hit a towering 6 into the trees at the pavilion end. In the process of this charge though, Rowe was caught behind for 12 and Hawken was bizarrely stumped for 15 but not before Britton crashed another boundary and the ACC total had reached 204 for 6.

The tea that Betty had prepared was like nothing Aldbourne had witnessed before. There were warm pasties and cheese pies amongst the regulation sandwiches and cakes but topping the bill were the clotted cream scones with strawberry jam. Betty, already a firm favourite of the ACC team was now a superstar.

ACC now took to the field with Fitch E marshalling all activities. Luckett’s opening pair were Parker, who had also opened the bowling, and Piper, whose young sons Robert and Adam had been included in the day’s proceedings because both teams had only 10 men. Ashley opened the bowling with his first over producing just one run. Aujla’s opening over from the scoreboard end mirrored this but then the scoring rate began to increase and had reached 43 in the tenth over when Fitch E struck for ACC. Piper was caught trying to clear Sanders at square leg. This catch proved notable as Sanders would go on to drop three more opportunities over the next 24 hours.

Piper’s departure heralded the arrival of Robins M. Earlier in the day Len Roberts had apologised for having to include him in the team as he was not only the opening batsman for Cornwall but also was on Nottinghamshire’s books. Although he had the bearing of a good cricketer he appeared to be out of form. Despite this he hit Britton for a straight 6 but then fell into a trap set in Britton’s next over to an excellent catch on the cover boundary by Tellwright. Meanwhile, Parker attempted a quick single but was run out during a Fitch over.

Billing and Trembath were the new batsmen at the wicket and under some pressure. Unfortunately, this was relieved when Sanders dropped Trembath off Fitch R when he had not scored. The pair then put on over 80 runs before Bishop finally removed Trembath and the hapless Allen in successive deliveries.

The Luckett captain came drekly to the crease. He bumbled along for a while until he latched on to one from Bishop which was despatched for 6. This outburst was short lived as he was bowled soon after by Fitch E for 7. ACC were now in the ascendancy, although there was a brief period of concern for Fitch R when Hawken advised him to move a little more frequently as he had spotted a pair of buzzards circling menacingly over his head.

Shane then came on to bowl, having switched his wicket keeping duties with Tellwright. He had kept wicket well and batted with promise. ‘Shurely’, Betty could be heard to say under her breath ‘the buhy can’t bowl too canne’? It was a stretch for most of his team mates too, because he claimed he had only ever bowled previously in the nets, but he nevertheless set about removing the rest of Luckett’s resistance by first bowling the dangerous Billing for 34 and then Bushby who had smashed two balls to the boundary. He would have taken another wicket if Sanders had not conspired to drop yet another catch.

The pride of Trenant then came on to bowl and Cornishman was unleashed upon Cornishman. Hawken had decided to trundle rather than run in and no doubt lulled the batsmen into a false sense of security, as he dismissed not one but two batsmen in successive maiden overs.

Now with the hypermetropic wicket keeper (HWK) at the crease and the hyperactive Piper brother bowling at his sibling ,the scene was set for a crescendo not unlike the Beijing closing ceremony. Despite Luckett’s score being 171 for 9 and 34 needed for victory, there were gasps of disbelief when Sanders came on to bowl for ACC. Unsurprisingly, Piper minor showed total disdain for his bowling as he thrashed a single to the leg side. HWK stoutly defended his first ball from Sanders but a rush of blood saw him sky the next into the waiting hands of Tellwright.

The match had been won by ACC by 32 runs and Mr. Moule would have to eat his words!

Betty took the defeat with good grace and immediately invited Aldbourne back to play again next year.

To say the win was unexpected would be an understatement. It was apparent though, that Luckett’s league commitments had weakened their team but that did nothing to quell the delight of ACC. After team photos were taken outside the pavilion the teams drove back to the Royal Inn for a bevy or two. The good humour of the match continued into the early evening and it was evident before ACC left for the Elephants Nest that there really was an appetite for a return game next year.

Arriving just before the 2100 limit, the orders were organised by Jenny, and the team retired to the private dining room. The food and drink seemed to disappear without complaint in a convivial atmosphere accompanied by a great deal of pleasure that the match had taken place at all – never mind winning!

The team then departed leaving Sanders to the tender mercies of Harry Hawken’s impression of the snoring of a freshly onanistically sated pig, which he maintained throughout the night in their twin bedded room.

ACC woke to a beautiful morning and the prospect of a full day at Bridestowe. The entrance to the ground was waterlogged and some wondered whether it was wise to venture in for fear cars would be stuck in the mud later. The pitch itself, was somewhat muddy having been cut the night before and the outfield was very wet from the morning dew. The Bridestowe captain, Adam Griffiths, correctly predicted the game could start at 1130. He then won the toss and surprisingly opted to bat.

Ashley again opened the bowling for ACC and immediately bowled out Bridestowe’s opening batsman for a golden duck. He then had the other opener out LBW with his fourth ball. Bridestowe were already reeling, when Fitch E had Ewen C caught behind by Rowe with his first ball. The score had reached 34 when Ashley took his third wicket, clean bowling Ewen J. Griffiths A had, however, begun to settle and was striking the ball around the ground with all the charm of the Tonton Macoute.

Earlier in the innings Sanders had pondered what he might do for the rest of the day if Bridestowe wickets kept tumbling. Griffiths resolved that when he smote Ashley for a straight 6 that also went straight through the back window of Sanders’ car.

Tanner had joined his captain and had scored 16 when Britton had him caught to usher in what ACC thought would be the tail. Sadly, this was not the case as Bridestowe had inserted second team players to begin the innings and now first teamers were coming out. Griffiths A then put on 40 with his brother before Griffiths N was out for 21 to Rowe who had now swapped wicket keeping duties with Tellwright. It was left to Aujla to finally dispose of Griffiths A for 56 when he was caught by Fitch E at mid on after the ball had made a hollow (and disconcerting) sound when bouncing off his chest into his clutching hands.

Scotty Dog and Gazza kept the score board moving, contributing 12 not out and 18 respectively until Bishop removed Gazza and Cos while Rowe had Rylands LBW to end the Bridestowe innings at 157 in the 30th over.

The break confirmed that teas in the South West were in a different league to those found in Wiltshire and the surrounding area. Scones with clotted cream were once again in evidence but the surprise today was the honeydew and water melon.

Sanders and Rowe opened for ACC but Rowe was well caught off his third ball for 0. Earlier in the day, the ornithologists in the ACC team had already observed flypasts by cormorants and herons but the alarm went up when buzzards were again spotted flying over Fitch R. When he came out to join
Sanders he had perhaps been motivated to keep moving by this overhead threat. As if to demonstrate this, he took off on a run that his partner never expected him to call, and consequently Sanders was run out for 1 in the second over.

Taking the unexpected opportunity to remove the shattered glass from the interior of his car, Sanders missed some of ACC’s reply. He was, however, able to witness 2 splendid consecutive 6’s by Britton off Hatton before the Hitman responded by bowling both Britton and Fitch R to have ACC on the ropes at 27 for 4.

Ashley and Bishop now joined forces but had only added 10 when Bishop was bowled for 7. Aujla and Ashley took the total to 59 when Ashley was bowled by Tremayne for 13. Tellwright, Fitch E and Hawken came and went quickly before the reincarnated Rowe was brought back to allow ACC 11 men. He was determined to make amends for his first effort of the day and smashed 4 boundaries, including a 6, before he was the last man out for 19, leaving Aujla stranded on a top score of 27 for ACC when the innings closed on 108. Bizarrely Bridestowe had used 12 bowlers due to Ewen C damaging his knee and his substitute being allowed to bowl.

Although the loss to Bridestowe took some of the gilt off the gingerbread, the purpose of the tour for your reporter was always to play Luckett. To have beaten them was a welcome bonus and the vagaries of 3 dropped catches, a run out, a smashed rear window, filling a diesel tank with unleaded and arriving home 24 hours late as a consequence, merely balanced the good and bad karma of the weekend.

As Len might say, ‘Ah’ve not had so much fun since Granma caught ‘er tatty in the mangle’!

Bring on the next Boar’s Tour Aldbourne.

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