Beds fossilised

Bedouins v Fossils at Birlingham, July 22nd

Bedouins lost by 8 runs

In a season littered with “what might have beens”, the Bedouins travelled to the delightful Birlingham ground, near Pershore, for a Sunday afternoon game against the equally delightful Fossils XI and went down by just 8 runs. It was another of those defeats snatched from the jaws of victory and left some Beds scratching their heads (among other things), wondering how they had managed to concoct a defeat.

Certainly, you couldn’t put it down to poor bowling or poor fielding. Both were of a high standard, maintained for 40 overs during the heat of a sunny July afternoon. Spratters made a welcome return to his full run-up and full speed, and trudged off into the deep after five overs that produced just 11 runs and one wicket. Skipper Lee Bywater, at the other end, bowled out his allocation of eight overs for a measly 25 runs and one wicket.

The Welsh wizard, Gareth Callow, emerged blinking from the depths of a valleys coalpit, to make a long awaited return to Beds colours, and, after an unpromising start, completed eight steady overs for 22 runs and two wickets, both clean-bowled. Those of us who had hoped that his idiosyncratic run-up wouldn’t have changed were not to be disappointed – it still keeps the batsmen guessing.

Dave Pearson made another lengthy round trip to turn out for the Bedouins and made a telling contribution to keeping the run-rate down. Seven overs, 1 for 24 was his just reward. At the other end Adrian Susman was bowling the occasional unplayable ball, his eight overs going for 33 runs. But it was left to Paul Lippitt to mop up the late wickets; he kept his nerve as the batsmen tried to accelerate the score in the final overs, and his fair impression of Shane Warne resulted in figures of 4 for 33.

To restrict the home side to 167 for 9 in 40 overs was no mean feat. Pity, then, that the batting, which started off so promisingly, couldn’t match up. John Howells made another telling contribution, making 42 runs at the top of the order. He was partnered by Adrian Susman, who did the bulk of the scoring (36 including six boundaries) in an opening partnership of 64 but succumbed finally to the heat and tiredness in trying a mighty swish to a straight ball, only to hear the clatter of wickets.

Thereafter, Paul Lippitt made 29 – all either boundaries or singles – and several others likewise did their best to get the run rate up to just over four an over, as required. But wickets fell in the chase, and finally the Bedouins finished eight runs short of their target of 168.

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon in perfect summer weather (as long as you could get in the shade of a tree), against a team who have a similar philosophy about the great game as do the Bedouins.

Fossils 167 for 9 (Lippitt 4 for 33, Spratley 1 for 11, Callow 2 for 22, Bywater 1 for 25, Pearson 1 for 24)

Bedouins 159 for 6 (Howells 42, Susman 36, Lippitt 29, Callow 12, Bate 10)

Catches don’t always ….. !

Bedouins v Belbroughton Strollers at Enville, July 18th

Bedouins lost by 24 runs

How often have you heard it? Cricket sages pontificating that “Catches win matches”. Well, as the old song would have it “It ain’t necessarily so” That point was well made in the Beds’ latest attempt to resurrect a largely losing season. The meeting with Belbroughton Strollers was notable for two of the best catches seen at a Bedouins game for many a long day, both completed by the always enthusiastic Mejdi Mabrouk – the first a running one-handed effort, plucked out of the air, and the second, even better, a dive at short extra-cover to take it one-handed, an inch or two from the ground. And this from someone who arrived at Enville complaining of a bad back!

What a pity, then, that two such outstanding pieces of athleticism (when did you last see that word “athleticism” used in a Beds report?) were not rewarded with a Bedouins win. On a hard wicket and with a straw-coloured outfield, it should have been a high-scoring game, but both sides produced accurate bowling, leading to totals of 120 and 96.

Belbroughton Strollers (supplemented by a couple of youngsters following late withdrawals) batted first and found Mike George and Lee Bywater in continued good form with the ball, as they restricted the visitors to 48 off the first eight overs. In spite of his reported ongoing problems in the groinal area, Georgey returned the excellent figures of 2 for 17, while Big Lee bagged 2 for 25.

Wickets fell regularly, including the two bits of Mejdi magic, and at 57 for 7 things were looking good for the Beds. But the later batsmen got things moving and the innings closed at 120 for 9. There were wickets, too, for Austin Gregory, Adrian Susman, and guest Martin Smith. Jono Hill brought along his mate (yes, he does have one) Jake Somerville and he weighted in with two overs for just 5 runs, including only one run in the 19th of the 20 overs.

And still the Bedouins managed to contrive to lose, even though chasing a moderate total of 120. With three early wickets going down in the first six overs, and with the total on just 24, John Howells, who had already completed two stumpings to add to his impressive total of dismissals, was left to try to put things right. Trouble was, the bowlers and fielders were not willing to let him.

Joined by Ray Bate, he managed just a couple of boundaries in his 25, while his partner (hereafter know as the “singular” Ray Bate) consistently pushed the bowling around to record a not out score of 20 – all in singles, some kind of Bedouins record surely.

In spite of some hefty blows from Lee Bywater at the end (27 not out), the Beds fell 24 short of the target at 96 for 4.

Belbroughton Strollers 120 for 9 (George 2 for 17, Bywater 2 for 25, Gregory 2 for 21, Susman

1 for 21, Smith 1 for 14)

Bedouins 96 for 4 (Howells 25, Bywater 27 not out, Bate 20 not out).

Seven 4s – on one leg!

Bedouins v Enville at Enville, July 4th

Bedouins lost by five wickets

After his enforced absence, owing to problems in the leg department, Bedouins skipper John Branch is back in fine form, in spite of continuing to do his fair impression of Long John Silver. Opening the batting with fellow returnee and “Ow, me back!” sufferer Andy Hill, JB rattled off a quick 30 (retired) by the fifth over, as the Beds batted first against an Over-45s version of Enville cricketers.

With Branchy back in the pavilion, having hit seven boundaries in his 30 runs and Andy Hill also dismissed, it was Lee Bywater (who might have been expected to suffer nosebleeds, he was so high up in the batting order) and Jono Hill who carried on the good work, with plenty more boundaries and some quick-run singles.

Big Lee eventually went for 26, including five boundaries, while Jono went on to the 30-run retirement point, having also hit five boundaries.

Thereafter, it was not until the unlikely eighth-wicket pairing of John Howells (11 not out) and Adrian Susman (14) that much further progress was made. When the latter was out going for a big hit, the skipper returned to the crease and was promptly out first ball, and Jono Hill, with just one ball to face, added a further three to his own total.

What had promised to be an exceptional Beds score in the first half-dozen overs, rather fell away to finish at 142 for 8. Wise old heads shook, muttering once again about being “about 20 runs short”.

The Enville response was as capable as expected from a bunch of “regular’ cricketers. Neill Smith, however, was unlucky to be run out early on, after a smart bit of fielding by Jono Hill (that man again). Smithy had been transferred from the Beds to the Enville side, for an exorbitant fee, late in the day. After just the one innings, he has been cruelly cast out as additional to requirements, but will be welcomed back to the warm comfort of the Beds’ bosom – although at a reduced salary, of course.

Most of the Enville batsmen made a reasonable contribution and, although starting more slowly than the Bedouins batsmen, they kept up fairly well with the required run rate, reaching a winning 143 for 5 in the19th over. Best bowling came from Lee Bywater with 2 for 15 and Jono Hill (that man yet again) with 2 for 21.

Bedouins 142 for 8 (J. Hill 33, Branch 30, Bywater 26, Susman 14, Howells 11 not out)

Enville 143 for 5 (Bywater 2 for 15, J. Hill 2 for 21)

Beds lit up at Beacon

Bedouins v Beacon at Wombourne, July 25th

Bedouins won by 1 run

Yippee! A win. OK, only by 1 run, but a win nonetheless. Matches between the Bedouins and Beacon have a habit of producing close finishes. And they don’t come much closer than this one. The late-season fixture meant a number of late changes owing to holiday commitments, and those drafted in helped towards a good all-round performance from the Bedouins.

The Wombourne wicket was looking flat and hard, and stand-in skipper John Howells seemed pretty pleased to have first use of it. Paul Lippitt and J.J. Smith (son of Neill and no mean cricketing talent – breed ’em well in the Smith household) opened the batting, and the latter was soon hitting boundaries to all corners. He retired in the 7th over, having hit six boundaries in his 31. Lippo went on to a well constructed 30 before also retiring.

Jono Howells (son of) had four boundaries in his 18, while the old man made 19 not out. Adrian Susman was again in good form, hitting 26, including one huge six. But, for many, star of the show was Tony Hancock, who not only hit a superb cover boundary first ball, but went on to smite his first ever six, straight into the canal. In the last over, Austin Gregory just got in, to face two balls and hit the final one for a boundary, which was to prove vital later on.

The result of all this was a Bedouins total of 150 for 5.

As usual at Wombourne, a good crowd of Beacon members had turned up to cheer the home side on, and batsmen came and went and all displayed sound batting technique. However, the 30 retirement point restrained one or two who looked pretty expert (surely not one or two first team players?), and some good Beds fielding contributed too.

Only two wickets were taken – one each for Jon Stanier and Adrian Susman – but the lively fielding restricted the scoring, and the final over arrived with Beacon needing just nine runs for victory. Occasional Bedouin Mick Robertson was bowling, and his accuracy proved vital, as the batsmen were restricted to just seven runs, giving the Bedouins a one-run victory.

Another good encounter with Beacon, and this time it was the Beds who came out on top. A welcome win in a season dominated by mostly narrow defeats.

Bedouins 150 for 5 (Lippitt 30, J. Smith 31, Susman 26, John Howells 19 not out, Jono Howells 18, Hancock 13)

Beacon 149 for 2 (Stanier 1 for 29, Susman 1 for 38)

Record Beds score – 80 not out!

Bedouins v Celebs at Enville, July 1st

Bedouins lost by 7 wickets

Phew – what a scorcher! After many months in the planning, the only plan that could not be guaranteed was the weather. For once, the weather gods smiled, and the day was sun-drenched for this special celebratory match between the Beds and the Insurance Celebs XI. Mr Chairman had a broad grin on his face throughout the day, as he relished his 24-hour release from the confines of the score box, giving him the chance to celebrate his 80th birthday and mingle. And mingle he did!

Not only that, but it was also a game he couldn’t lose. As well as being chairman of the Bedouins, he is president of the Celebs, so a win either way could result in a jolly “Well done, my lads” from him.

The fact is that the Bedouins came up against a team that contained no fewer than three sons of Celebs, who not only brought the average crashing down, but also ensured them a decent bit of bowling and a pretty good bit of batting too.

The Bedouins welcomed back skipper JB after a somewhat lengthy lay-off with a damaged fetlock. His movement between the wickets may still not have been the sharpest, but he showed no loss of batting technique in hitting 43 before retiring and walking – very slowly – from the field, having registered a labour-saving nine boundaries in his innings (83.7%).

Fellow opener Andy Hill, himself no stranger to the physio’s ministrations, also favoured boundaries to singles and hit four of them in his 17 runs before being bowled. He was followed by John Howells, who displayed his customary mix of immaculate forward defensive with some silky drives in hitting 33.

After a couple of quick wickets, it was left to Paul Lippitt (24 not out) and Lee Bywater (15 not out) to put on around 40 runs, to take the total to a competitive 182 for 5, the match having been reduced to 30-overs-a-side, owing to the tropical heat.

The Celebs team contained a few younger members, who were largely instrumental in the visitors reaching a winning total for the loss of just three wickets. Young Ben Oakley showed his dad the way with a patient 42 retired, having opened the batting. The fireworks came from Ryan Thorpe (another “son of … “), whose physique gave a hint of what was to come; he retired on 42, having hit seven boundaries and a six.

Among the bowlers, there were two wickets for Mike George and one for Adrian Susman. David Pearson made one of his very welcome trips from “oop north” to complete five overs (4.5 overs more than he completed last year, when he “went in the leg” after one ball).

The Celebs made 185 for 3, to complete a seven-wicket win.

Chairman’s Note: My thanks to all those who took part and who came to watch and engage in a fair bit of “Do you remember when … ?” The “girls” did a wonderful job of catering for the hordes, and Sam was kept beavering away behind the bar. At the end of play the Beds made a presentation to the elderly gent – a superb cartoon-type portrait by Geoff Tristram – and he went home as happy as Larry. Great day!

Bedouins 182 for 5 (Branch 43, Howells 33, Lippitt 24 not out, A. Hill 17, Bywater 15 not out)

Celebs 185 for 3 (George 2 for 30, Susman 1 for 29)