We don't know the collection noun for a set of P&Js together..... maybe a 'clown' of Jesters?!
On an afternoon when United fans' protests caused the Liverpool match to be postponed, days later followed by the IPL being cancelled due to Covid, whilst the crucible was full of actual real human fans, the sporting world seemed to be in a certain amount of flux. The same could not be said of the mighty Jesters however, as our regular early season birth against our traditional first opponents Bamville CC was held, after being dutifully arranged by supreme leader JM as ever.
JM was originally going to be 12th man. A combination of gallantry, excellent availability and suffering a bit of man flu in the week, meant he was happy as back up. But JM (or Johnstradamous as he is now known) said someone would drop out as "someone always drops out" and Jesters legend Baino duly obliged, due to injury.
Pre-match, our focus was mainly on introducing PJ's returning icon JP to the youth team policy and then obviously the team's strict warm up routine of milling around on the side-line chatting was run through.
The toss was lost by captain Evans and he was thrilled to be asked to bowl on a proper green top.
The familial pairing of Taylor tall and less tall Taylor opened up with the ball for PJs. Tall Taylor Matty bowled some absolute jaffas and some less jaffa-ery stuff in a mixed 5 over spell, only going for 21 runs and picking up a deserved wicket in his final over, after Bamville's openers were two unorthodox "hitters".
With PJ's technological supervisor Douglas photographing the action from the rather short side-line, JT used his metronomic skill set to great effect once more. There cannot be a Jester who has bowled even half as many dot balls as JT, whose line and length were never in doubt throughout a straight 8 over set, unlucky to be wicketless at the end.
This allowed the young KM twins to come on with proud dad James at slip, and grandma and grandpa on the boundary. Seamer Nathan came on for Matty and spin twin Josh from the other end for JT. Both lads bowled with maturity vastly beyond their disgustingly young years. Most of the senior PJ's have bats and pads older than these two. Josh got some nice flight and turn on an unfriendly track for a spinner, including 2 absolute stone-dead LBWs that the home umpire somehow felt were both going under middle stump or something. Nathan bowled with control also, picking two timely wickets, including one that must be a Jesters first: a bowled off a knuckleball. The idea of a Jester even knowing what a knuckleball is seems farcical, let alone trying and succeeding in bowling one. His young face was an absolute picture (think Stuart Broad when Stokes took that worldy catch at backward point).
It was then the turn of the Luxton father-son combo to take over and Dave and Ben got through their overs with their usual serenity, with particular mention to Benno who managed to claw back his rhythm after a pretty inauspicious first over, which this author knows all too well how hard that can be to do.
It left Bamville, after some decent hitting to the short boundary, on a competitive 179 all out on a green topped track.
Teas were all brought by individuals to abide with covid regulations, but it turns out Matty Taylor is doing a masters in nutrition in the autumn, so he is going to be making us all strict diet plans once regulations are lifted.
PJ's legends JP & JM opened up and it was an absolute pleasure to see the pair bat together for an opening of 38 runs. JM kindly reminding us all before lift-off that he "hasn't scored well at Bamville in 25 years"?!?! Purkie, like no time had passed, was his usual stylish self and he and JM proceeded to deaden their opening bowlers, perhaps finding the lack of pace slowing their scoring somewhat on a tricky up and down green top wicket (in the middle of a golf fairway remember).
Markie came in for JM in what can only be described as metaphor the brutality of batting. Mark, having fielded in the deep almost all the 1st innings, faced only a few balls from a youngster with initially absolutely no control, several massive wides followed by a very nearly no ball beamer on to off stump for 0. Rough!
Dave Luxton looked set but quickly followed suit, as did son Ben and then with Purkie then gone as well, our sudden serene start crumbled to abject panic.
It did allow Taylor tall to stride to the crease and he got the long handle out at sensible points to take the momentum back somewhat. Matty, ably supported by lovely looking shots by Josh and then Nathan KM, meant the PJ's heavy investment in our youth team policy was coming to fruition.
Evans replaced outgoing Nathan, and he and Matty started to really pressure the oppo, until Evans gifted his wicket to their off spinner (for the 2nd time in 2 days) and hope seemed to have faded for a glorious PJs recovery.
It shouldn't have though.
Taylor snr got a lovely partnership going with his son and the two of them took the total down to needing only 6 off the last over. Their innings included brutal hitting from Matty, who top scored in the match with 55 (which his 50 was disgracefully not applauded by his teammates who were too wrapped up in the chase) until he missed a straight one. But special mention to JT who smacked a few absolute beautiful boundaries and ran super hard to keep us in the game.
Self-proclaimed number 11 specialist James JM came in the last over for Matty but sadly JT heroically fell to the last ball of the innings, with us needing just two to win (after cries of "super over" from the youngsters).
An absolute corker first up, reminding us all why we love this crazy and beautiful game and why we are so lucky to be playing it, with fathers and sons and friends and random golf balls onto the outfield, as horses rode by and cyclists fell off their bikes, lost balls as grandparents and wags watched on.