The De Montfort team arrived to find a UWMCC 4s team in high spirits, having beaten Aston 2s convincingly the previous Wednesday. After inspecting a pitch noticeably greener than the one four days before, skipper Sittampalam elected to bowl, having won the toss. Warwick wasted no time in going about the task of restricting De Montfort to a small total, with Hobbs once again getting the early breakthrough, courtesy of a searing yorker. This left a simple LBW decision for the umpire – the opener sent packing for a duck. Thereafter, however, De Montfort mounted impressive resistance to some persistent bowling, with Hobbs and Beauclerk plugging away to no avail. Beauclark in particular exacted the occasional alarming bit of bounce from the pitch, justifying the skipper’s decision to send De Montfort in. Sanger too charged in admirably, bowling a restrictive but ultimately fruitless spell.
Without doubt the turning point in the innings was the introduction of Sam King, who began with a maiden – some serious T&Bs and F&Gs from the get-go. With the De Montfort batsmen under pressure, Warwick’s fielders could smell blood, circling like the sharks of the POP! d-floor. Alas, King was to go wicketless, despite beating both batsmen countless times on the outside and inside edge, as well as seeing aerial drives fly inches past fielders and a dropped catch in the deep. Meanwhile, at the Legion of Gash Offspinners, Hall, Larkins and Stephenson were busy hatching a devious plan to rob King of his wickets. This was not before finalising the minutes of the meeting with president and stalwart member, Marlon Samuels. Larkins bowled in tandem with King, eventually removing the other opener with a lovely delivery that turned through the gate and castled him for 39. The Legion will not be best pleased with such sacrilegious dismissals. With Larkins removing the new batsman in the same over, Warwick realised that there was a distinct possibility that De Montfort’s batting line-up was going to be, to put it in diplomatic terms, slightly top-heavy.
Stephenson came on to find himself instantly in the wickets, bagging two in his first over. He would wheel his way to a five-for, which – all jokes aside – was clinical in that he kept things very simple: bowling full and targeting the stumps, which batsmen of a lower calibre generally struggle against. Amusing moments of his spell include Jewson standing under a ball, casually enquiring as to where it might be, before looking up to find it right above him – an impressive catch in fairness. Even more impressive was Hobbs’ catch – making up for the drop off of King’s bowling – taking a skier running at full pelt, juggling it and plucking it out of the air one handed on the second attempt. Lastly, one of the batsmen rocks up in outrageous pink trainers, leaves one on his stumps, gets bowled, and walks off casually explaining, ‘I’ve got a shift at six!’ With Beauclerk chipping in with a run-out, De Montfort had been bowled out for 134 – credit must to the number three batsmen, who made an impressive 57, giving the total some measure of respectability. Bowling figures: Hobbs (1-18), Beauclerk (0-14), King (0-22), Sanger (0-21), Larkins (3-33), and Stephenson (5-22).
As an interesting aside, in the lunch break the umpire pulls out a pack of cards, revealing he takes them wherever he goes.
‘So, do you know any card tricks?’
‘A few, I do a bit of magic.’
‘Go on, show us then.’
[with scarcely concealed delight] ‘Oh alright then.’
In fairness, the card tricks were gun – for instance, replacing two cards in Hall’s hands with a couple of Queens without him even realising, which drew polite applause from the audience. Larkins then enquiring if he had ever considered taking up pickpocketing.
Magic aside, openers Yeti and Hall strode out purposefully in the knowledge that a strong opening partnership would make the job of chasing De Montfort’s total straightforward. This they did, and then some, putting on a fantastic stand of 120. Both batsmen played near chanceless innings’, with Hall [61 (69)] looking his languid self at the crease and Yeti [52 (63)] playing a punchy, workman-like innings, using the late cut to good effect. Such was the commanding nature of their partnership that just after Yeti reached his half-century, the fielder offered some helpful advice to the bowler, shouting, ‘bowl a googly!’ Chat even Rooty would approve of. Soon after this, however, the umpire demonstrated his pièce de résistance by making the Yeti disappear, courtesy of an alleged trigger. Jono Cook also fell by the wayside, but not even the UWMCC could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at this stage. A solid win for the 4s, and although they will face sterner opposition further on in the season, ultimately one can only play what’s in front of him. Caps for debutants Stephenson, Sanger, and Jono Cook – Stephenson securing himself a baggy on debut, picking up from where Lippiatt left off in the last game.