Brockman Cup: Ex-Chairman’s blog
Winning the Brockman Cup in 2009 had been my most memorable cricketing moment (a bit sad perhaps…) and since then I’d harboured a wish to have another crack at it. We’ve had some good cup performances in the interim but it was never possible to get our strongest team out or anything like it until this season. At the start of the season my aim had been to beat Harberton, who we had been drawn against in the first round. I knew they were likely to have registered some of the players who had regularly featured in our second team last season. We managed to put in a good bowling performance to beat them- Glenn took 4 wickets. We were indebted to an uncharacteristically slow innings from Jarvs for getting to a defendable, if modest, total. Amazingly given what was to follow I didn’t even put Alex Hartridge on to bowl in that match.
Stoke away in the next round with only 10 men as Scott Colegate was unable to get away from his bank as the money did not add up! My plan all along has been to bat first whilst the light was better. Winning the toss at Stoke I elected to bat, as I had against Harberton. We lost early wickets but KT and Tom Petherick and then Andy Bligh gave us a defendable total. Stoke’s batsmen seemed very powerful but we bowled and fielded like a dream, bowling them out for 70 odd. I had decided to open the bowling with Andy and Scott in the first match. Playing in the threes I’d seen Alex bowling at first hand and had no hesitation in starting with him and Andy. Both were tremendous and the top four Stoke batsmen were back in the hutch after their opening four overs. Andy had been a bit wayward in his first couple of overs, as he had in the Harberton match. I sought Jarvs’ advice. Jarvs advised me to take Andy off but I remembered how he had bowled better after a couple of overs against Harberton and I kept faith in him and he did the business.
It was a brilliant win with ten men. I kept faith with Scott in the semi and was very relieved that his tills had balanced that day and he made it on time. Ipplepen would be tough. They won the toss and asked us to bat which suited us to bits. Scott put in a man of the match performance and scored 67 not out and then took 2 for 11 in 4 overs. Tom Petherick batted well with Scott and laid the foundations of an excellent total or 146. Again, as at Stoke everything worked out for us. We got off to a tremendous start when Glenn’s bionic arm took a catch in Alex’s first over and everything we tried seemed to come off. Even I was picking up 3 wickets per game. We again used Gareth’s variation to close things down at the end. At the start of the season I asked Jarvs to skipper the team on the pitch which he turned down. By the semi-final he was unable to contain himself and half way through the Ipplepen innings he took over the captaincy and I wasn’t going to argue with him. To be fair I would have done things similarly other than bowling Matt! (I had not seen Matt bowl this season)
We were all absolutely delighted to beat Ipplepen so convincingly to get to the Final. Harold deflated me almost immediately by telling me that Ipplepen had been missing some of their best players. The ones they had had looked decent to me! He also told me that he was reliably informed that Abbots, who we would play in the final, were easily the strongest team in the competition. Thanks Harold! We knew Scott would not be able to play in the final as he was on honeymoon. I secretly hoped he’s call off his wedding, but no such luck. I had been trying to keep faith with the players who had done so well and only to make forced changes. KT had been unavailable for the Semi but I had managed to secure Liam Bligh’s services.
I decided to replace Scott with KT- not a hard choice- reckoning we had enough bowling. I had a decent team all sorted and sent out a text to remind them. Alex replied to say he had forgotten that he was unavailable as he was going to Yorkshire to watch a number of men in colourful Lycra ride bicycles past him very quickly. What to do? I studied my registration list and asked Josh to play. I’d tried to get him in previous rounds. He had agreed to play one match and then remembered he was going to party instead. Josh later told me he was more of a batsman at t20 cricket and had not been bowling much. I got a bit panicky about having enough bowling. Liam dropped out injured and I replaced him with Dave Griffiths who fortunately had not earlier played for Harberton. Gareth had been unwell and ruled himself out on Friday morning the day the Final was scheduled to be played. Fortunately, Jack Allen who had impressed me with the thirds recently, had agreed to play if needed.
The match was rained off and Alex would be able to play on the Monday. Tom Petherick was by now unavailable due to being in Kuwait. I planned to replace him with Neil. Neil did not seem particularly bothered about playing either way, saying he hadn’t played for several weeks and I had heard Rewey was interested in playing so offered him a spot, with Neil kindly offering to be 12th man. By now it was late Sunday afternoon. I needed to arrange lifts as I would be in Torquay and could not pick people up. Alex fixed up a lift with Glenn. I had a missed call from Josh who needed a lift from Harberton. I suggested he try KT or Jarvs. Would he do it? I got a text from KT on Monday, match day, saying he would bring Josh and may be a bit late? Yikes!
Would they all turn up and on time? Would the match be played? Amazingly yes to both. Through the afternoon the rain was dripping off my office roof about a mile from the Torquay ground. I phoned john Webber the Cup secretary at 4pm and he confirmed the game was still on. Not trusting our lads to turn up I sent all the team a text. The rain continued and I phoned John an hour later to be told it’s still on- he was getting a bit narked by my phone calls but I just wanted to save people a wasted trip.
I arrived at the ground about 5.15 to see Rooster out on the pitch with a bloke in working gear and a fluorescent jacket who I took to be a member of the ground staff. From a distance he seemed to bear more than a passing resemblance to Matt Haw. It turned out to be Matt. I greeted him with “I didn’t realise the dress code was smart casual, Matt”.
The rest of the team arrived in dribs and drabs (what is a drib or a drab?). We all stood around outside. The wicket was covered and I suggested we would need to be limbo dancers to inspect it. John Webber summoned me into the pavilion to correct the teamsheet, realising we would be unlikely to field the same team as we had planned to on the previous Friday. The Abbots skipper gave his team changes to John and my ears pricked up as he mentioned a few players who I knew had done well in previous rounds for them. I heard one lad say the change of date had stuffed them re: player availability.
I got into several conversations with the chap who had umpired our previous matches and who I assumed was the umpire. It turned out I’d been talking to the wrong one. A couple of other umpires suddenly appeared and said they were keen to get the match played and would I consider starting the match in the drizzle. I generally try and be helpful, Abbots seemed ok about it and I’d heard they had some good players out. I also knew I would be away for the next possible date and wondered who would do the organising. It had been a lot of work getting people there and I agreed to play. At 17.55 we strode out onto the pitch and Charlie the young Abbots captain showed his inexperience by feebly tossing the coin which barely flipped, just going straight up and down. “Heads” I called and it came down tails. “We’ll have a bowl” he said- I couldn’t believe our luck. I couldn’t resist commenting on the fact the coin had barely flipped whereupon he sportingly offered to re-toss but I refrained from taking him up on his offer for obvious reasons. We had wanted to bat first though the light was not great.
I went into the changing rooms to hurry them along having discovered the game was meant to start at 6.00 and not 6.15 like the previous rounds. I’ve agreed to start the match and we’re batting. Naively I thought they would be glad, only to be met by what seemed like universal disbelief and disgruntlement. They were very clear that I had not been in my right mind by agreeing to start, though one or two were amused that we had been put in to bat. If it gets dangerous the umpires will call it off I said, though wasn’t really convinced. I felt rotten and felt even worse when Jarvo was soon bowled. Fortunately the rain stopped and James Nicholls and Rooster batted brilliantly. Rooster was the epitome of sartorial elegance in his brown boots, which caused some raised eyebrows from the Cup Committee- the Rules state white kit to be worn. It’s been a feature of our cup campaign that when some of us have not fired others have stepped up and this match was no exception.
99 for 2; 7 overs left. I had another big shift in emotions, began eyeing a big total and to entertain ideas about winning which Harold’s information had all but banished. Unfortunately, the runs all but dried up as the middle order flickered but disappointingly did not fire. Only a paltry 4 runs off the last 2 overs as wickets tumbled. Should I have batted myself-surely I would have managed to hit one or two balls (I know the consensus here would be ‘no’) We would have to win it the hard way. Given there was one very short boundary our total did not look brilliant.
KT got us in huddle on the pitch and did what he’s so good at, firing us up and insisting we were focused. I’d worried about his hamstring earlier as he had taken some very quick 2s.
Abbots got off to a good start with Charlie Mitchell hitting several fours and also a big six off Alex. The next ball Josh almost caught him at long on, injuring his finger in the process. Amazingly he hit Alex’s next delivery in almost the same spot and Josh made no mistake with the catch- a fine effort. After he was out his dad Paul started biffing the ball around, hitting another 6 off Alex who came back well bowling Owen in his last over with a beauty. Andy Bligh was bowling well in tandem with Alex. After their 4 overs apiece Jarvs brought on Dave who trapped Paul Mitchell plum in front for 16.
I came on at the other end but the ball didn’t seem to want to go where I wanted it to. I was bowling too short which the batsmen enjoyed. I hadn’t bowled for 3 weeks until the Saturday and blamed stiffness but to be fair I’ve bowled ok before with a bit of stiffness. My first over went for 10. I thought I could only do better but Andrew soon hit me for a 6 before I got French lbw and after the fillip of the wicket I began to bowl well for the few remaining balls and might have had another wicket. However, Jarvs had seen enough and that was the end of the action for me. Dave picked up another wicket when Andy took a great catch on the long on boundary to nail Birt for 12. Matt replaced me and started erratically with short balls and wides. He then bowed one on the stumps and Adams the new batsman was so surprised he missed it.
A fine throw by Josh ran out McMurray but Tom Andrew continued to biff the ball around. They only needed 37 off the last 34 balls and I was getting a bit concerned. Matt’s next over was a real curate’s egg-3 wides and 2 wickets including Andrew, bowled for 38, at which point it was virtually game, set and match. Glenn needed 2 balls to finish things off and then on to the presentations. Some debate about who should lead us off -was it Rewy? KT took me aside and reminded me that at the beginning of the season I’d told him my aim was to win the Brockman. I couldn’t remember this but then it’s been my aim every year since 2010.
I hadn’t enjoyed the evening anything like the first time when we won the Brockman-it had been a beautiful balmy evening then, I’d had a dream start with the ball and had even taken3 catches. No responsibility then, which was probably the key factor, so my head was not full of concerns about getting a team out etc. I remembered we had the trophies presented and then everyone seemed to melt away into the evening when to my mind we should have been in a pub celebrating. Monday was no exception and I had a sense of déjà vu again!.
I had planned to hold the Cup aloft jubilantly, like they do when winning the FA Cup (or used to do when I used to watch it) but when the Cup was presented I had to pose for photos before briefly holding the Cup exultantly in the air-did people cheer or laugh-I can’t remember. That’s the thing with aging the short term memory goes. That’s the thing with aging the short term memory goes.
I wished I’d managed to hold the Cup up for longer. Need to practice for next year……… ………