'A view from the boundary' towards the bar area at Long Marston's picturesque ground in the Chilterns, which was conducting 'brisk trade' all afternoon.
Back in the spring, when the world went ever more mad as each day passed, when Donald Trump suggested we drink poison to cure Covid, when Boris' boss had "tested his eyesight" by driving to a castle and when people were running marathons on their balconies, thoughts of those past glorious summer days of PJ's playing away days across the picturesque cricket grounds of SE England, with JT opening the bowling and going for no runs per over and with JM opening the batting and shouting "waaaaaaaaitYessss! as he set off for a quick single were only forlorn daydreams in the ether of global craziness.
Thankfully, some months later, there we were, arriving at a picturesque SE England cricket ground of Long Marston, near the Downs and Tring Valley, to see a colts t20 charity game take place before our game, with some frivolity bubbling on the boundary (possibly more of that later) as the PJ's hastily assembled squad got to know each other as Roddy showed off his new willow and offered Gail's mandolins around (not euphemisms).
Big shout out to Scotty's bro Rory, Delhi Daredevil Sachin and Aussie Jared (just known as Jared in Auz) for their last minute stepping up the plate. It is always a pleasure to play with guys from any cricket mad countries and all the new recruits equipped themselves admirably.
Another massive amount of gratitude must go to chairman/last-minute-player-finder/treasurer/fixture secretary/chief-selector/kit man/co-captain/driver of South Africans & Aussies and about 12 other jobs. JM has worked so hard to keep this club going over recent years, I am extremely grateful and I doff my cap to thee sir.
A toss of sorts was had and we elected to bowl.
Nathan KM opened with a very accurate absolute stone-bonking LBW 1st ball. It was not given by their umpire. Our legal team has advised that is all we are not allowed to write about umpiring in this report, but Nathan bowled a controlled and accurate spell, unfairly, sorry I mean unlucky, not to get a wicket in his opening 6 over spell. He sorted that later though.
At the other end nothing happened. I mean that with the greatest of respect in that, despite having played the day before, our lockdown dreams came true and JT bowled an opening spell of controlled bowling where something like the 1st 40 deliveries there were no runs scored off him!?!?
He finished 8 overs, 6 maidens, 5 runs (i think off only 2 scoring shots) and one wicket. Legend is a word used too much in modern sport, so I won't use it here - but it was a serious spell.
Club legend Dougal replaced Nathan and bowled some serious stuff as ever until a little loss of control spoiled his figures a little.
JT was replaced by Josh KM and the crafty young leggie flighted the ball really well as the oppo's opener A Armitage started to hit out aggressively and Josh was unlucky not to have caught him out.
Josh did get two beauties through to castle their 4 and 5, leaving the father of bowlers, breaker of fingers James JM, on the boundary, suitably proud and wondering what genetic bowling powers must have been passed on by their mum?
Leftie bowling Aussie Jared came on for Douglas and bowled extremely impressively, backing up the "big up" from his boy song bird Roddy, although Roddy did send a decent bit of abuse from the deep at him when runs were scored. What are friends for eh? Armitage had really started to hit cleanly at this point and the super short boundary didn't help us.
Big brother Scotty came on for Josh at the other end and his demon left arm medium pace caused some trouble for the bats.
Then came the craziest over I've ever witnessed in a fair few games of cricket played. Nathan came back from the other end and bowled a waist high full toss that Armitage crushed for 6 to reach his well played ton for a young man. The next ball Nathan bowled him middle stump.
The next ball he bowled the new bat middle stump and, as a young chap (same age as Nath) wandered in, the field closed in and Nathan duly delivered a third bowled for his awesome hat-trick, sending the lad off crying and the PJ's into rapture. Bonkers!
Scottie had a decent chunk of chances dropped off him (speak to the keeper and his brother for those) but did nip a couple out for his mainden PJ's wickets, and was very pleased finishing the lower order off, leaving Long Marston all out for 153.
Tea was nice but I didn't bring enough. Luckily Roddy shared some more of Gail's delights and Dougal has some spicy sausage to nibble on (again, I swear, not euphemisms).
JM and Sachin stroud out to open and looked in good touch, until Sachin was given a slightly dubious LBW by his own umpire, the apparently very fair Roddy.
JM was given out LBW by their umpire shortly later, that shall we say (following legal advice), not even the bowler appealed for. That was another first for me and JM was perfectly calm and not shouty in any way.
This brought the terrible twosome, brothers in arm, Scotty and Rory and it was great to see how much they were enjoying their first ever batting partnership together, until Rory missed one and Scottie followed him a little later, after a few lusty blows with old faithful, the classic County Clipper, brining our Southern Hemisphere contingent to the crease, Roddy and Jared.
Let's say that Roddy started with his usual flourishing intent, much to the consternation of his batting coach JT on the boundary.
Jared did what Aussies seem to do while batting in England and built his innings until he started to see it big and was basically crushing it to all parts.
Roddy actually started to nurdle and supported his buddy beautifully, chasing their total down at a canter.
There was some sideline stuff we won't mention, which was a shame, but it was a really fun, slightly bonkers and joyous day out in a field playing cricket. I, for one, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to play for PJ's on a Sunday, considering where we were not so long ago.