Summer had arrived but hunting had been lean. Injuries, migrations, the weather gods and away days with WAGs had all contributed towards a slow start to Division 1 and the Dewey had witnessed more commiseratory drinks than celebratory. It was time to set things straight.
A trip beyond the fringes of the Shire was an opportunity to turn the season around in pastures green. The wolf pack’s finest soldiers descended on a bright and sunny day (defying Mark Child’s supreme pessimism) into (not so) Great Horwood without their General Procter. He, having just launched a highly dubious weather forecasting business, had yielded to the proverbial crack of the whip and considered his time better spent surveying the banality of country life. Worse still, stand in captain, the good doctor Ahmed had been delayed (surely filling a cavity cannot be that time consuming) for the umpteenth time and had to be proxied. In the meanwhile, the usually upright Babbsy had hatched a devious plan to bribe himself into some form by offering one of the umpires (Messr Pudder – he could author an entire volume on lbw decisions) a lift in his splendid (but dented) car. And the weak batting performances had led to mercenaries being hired from London.
All said, things were all looking rather odd and out of character for the wolves.
A long debate about batting or bowling first was rendered pointless by the toss being lost, and the wolves were put into bat by ‘Perky’ Parker.
What a dreadful start it was. Mark ‘childishly’ wafted his wand at the first ball from Armitage and only succeeded in securing his first ever platinum duck. Enter John Turner (he of the 007 cap) who flattered for a while only to deceive, falling to yet another well guided missile from Armitage.
The prodigal Hobbit, who had returned to the pack in a most timely manner, set about restoring stability in the company of Babbs. Sensible batting mixed with bold hitting progressed the innings slowly but surely. However it came at a high cost – the Hobbit’s ‘Legend’ary bat finally succumbed (RIP). A quick change of the willow and it was back to business. However disaster struck and Babbsy fell to a flying catch for 32 well compiled runs while Agarwal was foxed by the off-spinner with the only ball that turned all day (22). The task of the second resurrection fell to TSL and JVS, both in need of serious form. The spongy wicket suited JVS perfectly and he bludgeoned his way to a jug avoiding (but innings defining) 48, while TSL compiled 27 fluent runs. With overs running out, a couple of mighty heaves from Gus the plumber, and some quick running by Doug Holden helped the wolves post a respectable 170 from the reduced 36 overs (clearly the Umpires had shown solidarity with Mark’s pessimism about rain).
After an ordinary round of teas (rated 5.5/10 by the food critics), the second innings commenced. Toby came out of his ‘Shell’ to pick up two early wickets, (one of which should actually be credited to Stuart Parker for some ill timed coaching from the non-striker’s end) raising early hopes. However ‘perky’ Parker help up one end and grafted his way to bad blooded fifty before being dismissed by Holden who had the final word in this duel. Barkat and Amit made short work of the middle order to bring victory within sight. However a late display of mammoth hitting by Simon Ridgway threatened to scupper victory before Toby castled him. After that Doug returned to torment the tail enders with well directed body blows which will no doubt leave their mark on the victims for a few days to come. The home side folded in for 142 all out.
A complete team performance is probably an apt description of the day’s exploits. This was made sweeter with the WolfPack making history by all three teams winning their respective league games. David Quinn, the unlikely hero for the third’s looked particularly smug at the after-match party and by the looks of his top, was ready to skip off to a college BOP. He was run close in the fancy dress competition by TSL’s African print shirt.
What a perfect weekend it would be if First’s could win their cup semi-final game as well. More to follow…..
Written by: Sahil Agarwal