Following on from the hit-and-giggle fun of the Super 8 competition, Pippers and Burgers decided on a policy of only scoring in boundaries, but this proved a little hard to achieve through forward defensive shots alone, and it was only a major contribution from Mr Extras that kept the number of runs higher than the number of overs in the early part of the innings. After a brief rain-and-G&Ts break the scoring rate perked up a little, with Pippers showing a lot of invention with his novel switch-hit Chinese cut for four, and it positively motored along when Bummers made his way out to the middle. He introduced the ball to the boundary rope, and repeated the introduction on several occasions just in case of misunderstanding, until the weary fielders had got the message that the ball was no longer welcome anywhere near the middle and belonged firmly beyond the boundary.
Having taught this lesson, Bummers felt in need of a sit-down, and so he took his leave and Sashers and Garners took up the baton. They found it was not much to their liking however and each promptly returned to the pavilion and the refreshments. Skipper for the day Vickers settled in with Dungers and they ticked the scoreboard along nicely, until Vickers remembered his habit of getting out LBW and moved both pads and his bat out of the way of a straight one. Koggers replaced him and cracked along nicely, but the overs were running out so in the spirit of turn and turn about, Dungers strolled back to the hutch to let someone else have a bash. Koggers, however, decided that he was not ready for retirement just yet and instead played his favourite closed-eyes hook shot to a middle-stump yorker and departed with dignity and an average.
Stiffers and Robbers were now in the middle and determined to continue a fine old tradition of comedy calling, with Robbers strolling down to Stiffers’ end after a defensive block to inform him that it was his turn to be run out daftly. Robbers swished away for a career-best score that was almost in double figures, and then Valners played out the last couple of deliveries valiantly to set a challenging total for the oppo.
After a quick break for Mrs Dungers’ sausage rolls and some more sly G&Ts, the Baabaas took the field ready to put the visitors to the sword. The opening over saw Sashers coming off his long run up that started at the boundary and actually saw him running faster than he then propelled the ball, which confused the batsmen no end. Garners took the new cherry from the other end and gave a classy demonstration of swinging it both ways to produce wides down the legside and byes down the off. The combination was so befuddling for the oppo bat that he tried to hurdle his own stumps in true “Botham just couldn’t quite get his leg over” style, though he was reprieved and allowed to stay in the middle in the hope that more comedy gold was to follow.
A couple of breakthroughs followed for the Barbarians and brought to the crease the oppo’s main danger Sir John. The Surgeon wields his blade like a scalpel, dissecting the field precisely and he soon put the scoreboard under pressure. The Barbarian fielders all retreated to the comfy positions on the boundary so they could appreciate his strokeplay more, and indeed they enjoyed his batting so much so that Vickers deliberately fed his pull shot with leg stump full tosses in order to admire it again and again, while Garners and Dungers declined catches that would have terminated the display of skills. After Dungers had put down a fiendishly difficult chance that was coming flat and gently straight at his chest, The Surgeon dollied him up a second one, but Dungers had decided that the Baabaas could disprove the old adage that catches win matches by winning the match without taking any catches, so he again declined the opportunity.
With his halfer on the board The Surgeon decided to let the other chaps have a go and the Baabaas tightened the screws. Bummers’ looping offies bamboozled the batsmen who couldn’t even get a touch on them to send them to the close-catching fielders packing the boundary, and Koggers was also proving unhittable, so that when the batsmen didn’t hit, he did, sending a couple of them homeward to think again. Stiffers was in his traditional form behind the stumps appealing for everything and picking up a stumping off Dungers, his hands moving not so much like lightning as like an energy saving light bulb being warmed up, but still too quick for the overbalancing batsman. The run rate required was floating dangerously high for the oppo, but a cunning combination of extras and buffet bowling from the Baabaa twirlers kept the match alive and interesting, while the visitors politely rotated the strike through their entire team. Robbers got the short straw of the last over from an optimistic skipper who hadn’t seen him play recently, with the last man at the crease needing just over a run a ball. As he wasn’t certain to get them, Robbers decently sent down the odd wide and cordon-piercing bye, but with three needed off the last ball the oppo fell short and let the Old Barbarians record their first proper victory of this or any other season.
Two closely matched teams had duked it out right down to the wire, and although the Baabaas had won by one run, the oppo took no shame in their defeat, having pulled their fingers out, knuckled down and put their hands up, stepping up to the plate and coming to the party where they manned-up, put their gamefaces on and threw their hats into the ring. That is, after all, what it’s all about.