FZY CC - MATCH REPORTS 1999 (PART I)
2 May 1999
UCS OB (96 all out in 37.1 overs) lost to FZY (106 all out in 37.1) by 10 runs
A new season begins, and the onset of 1999 means that for all cricket teams a nickname is required. FZY Fitness, maybe? FZY Fusion, FZY Friskies, FZY Haffies (Heavy After Fast Food), FZY Hasbeens?? In the low-scoring encounter at the Hampstead home of the Old Gowers, it certainly wasn't FZY Fresh Faces or FZY I'm so fit it's unbelievable...... More of the same, please: the usual mixture of lemming-like batting skills, duck-like scores and bowling which kept the batsmen on their toes, waiting to see where, if at all, the next ball would pitch. But for six dropped catches, the fielding was solid, however. Not much gets past those midriffs in a hurry.
The match began at 2.20pm (2.00pm JMT) after stand-in skipper Sumo had won the toss, three months earlier than any of FZY's 1998 captains had done. At his disposal were ten players of various competence, and the promise of Wisey's presence in about an hour, following a liquid football luncheon held in his honour. A limit of 40 overs-a-side was agreed, with a maximum of 12 overs per bowler (designed to protect FZY's scarce bowling options). Opening the innings were Anthony, and his 72nd opening FZY partner, Jeremy Davis (one previous match, 1989). Within twenty minutes, both were back inside the Eve Pavilion, Anthony caught and bowled playing a crap shot for 7 (having been dropped by the keeper before he had scored) and Jezza played on, without adding to his decade-old aggregate runs total.
And it didn't get any better. Soon, it was 42-5. The track may have been greener than a Bundestag coalition, and the outfield still passable as a rugby pitch, but a succession of batsmen seemed to ignore what had gone before. When a careful eye was called for to prevent playing too early, first Shorty, then Sumo, then Clint offered catching practice to the grateful UCS fielders (what's more, there were only ten of them!). Clint was another to suffer the Daddles treatment. David Kay and Moishe steadied the ship somewhat, with a stand of 27, before both too were caught, DK for 18 including several of his trademark quick singles.
Meanwhile, Wisey had arrived, and he moped around grumpily as the wickets fell. Luckily, he took out his frustration on the UCS bowlers, soon finding the middle of the bat and registering 21 runs before being bowled looking for Harvey Susser. He was succeeded by Simon Sherrard, yes, the same brother of the Absent Stateside captain, whose last appearance had been in 1993. Now with some free time on Sundays, he was coming out of retirement to bolster the bowling and attempt to outhit his younger brother. And to get the opportunity for a few quiet fag drags without being pestered. After some intensive nets had revealed that the eye was still there, even if the groin was a little strained, Simon strode to the middle to restart his career. Luckily, he was at first the non-striker, for when his turn came, it was not immediately apparent that he was indeed out first ball, caught behind playing a rather rusty shot at nothing in particular. The keeper stumped him as well, for good measure. Tav, another absentee, would have been proud of the return of the Golden Boy!
Paul Jays, in what began for him as quite a good afternoon, got the hang of the pace of the pitch, and ended with a well-earned 11 runs and one asterisk. With Flossy, the last wicket stand brought the 100 up, but with the 40 overs in sight, and the would-have-been challenging 120 target within reach, Flossy too holed out for the eighth catch of the innings, and an early tea was called for. Following a boardroom revolution in the winter, there has been a change of tea lady at UCS.
Dramatic as that may seem, the fare on offer was not much different to what had gone before, with the usual quota of ham sandwiches of course. But the real change was that instead of being served in the main hall, looked down upon by over one hundred years of Old Gowers, the trays were on offer in the bar. Yet another Great British institution goes a-tumbling.
Back to the cricket, and UCS began with an opening partnership which gave the impression that a six o'clock finish was on the cards. Poor Simon went for ten in his third over, and was promptly taken off. Wisey as usual beat the bat at least four times each over, without a wicket. A couple of difficult chances were spilled, typically, but the old war horse has seen all that before. Meanwhile, from the Cemetery End, the introduction of Flossy brought rewards. He removed the openers in consecutive overs, and with the UCS batting line-up showing little in the way of backbone, took one in each of the next two overs, too. At this point, the UCS-retained umpire informed us, Flossy's figures were 6-5-1-4.
The fifth wicket was almost a catch for Paul Jays, but alas his fingers had the worst of it, and he had to be driven away to casualty at the Royal Free by a UCS non-batsman, his bleeding hand bandaged in an impromptu tea towel. For better or worse, his injuries were nothing that a couple of stitches couldn't put right. The collapse couldn't last, and gradually, the batsmen got the upper hand. Thanks to the efforts of Mr Ross (UCS version), the home team edged their way towards victory, although in the case of one Engel full-toss, it was a middled six over midwicket by the big Ross which did the trick. Moishe did break the fifth wicket partnership with an lbw decision sheepishly given after his one-man appeal...well, it was his first wicket for FZY.
Simon had no success from the Pavilion End, and while the big-hitter was in, it always looked like a home win. But, as the end neared, Jezza got one to spit. Well, alright, Ross got a top edge and headed the ball with rather more force than he would have wished. Visibly shaken, he holed out to Wisey, in the next over.
The UCS tail crumbled against the born-again Mamba - DK held a steepling catch, and Wisey was too good for the last two, to finish with 4-12. So FZY gained an unlikely win, which their batting had scarcely deserved, but their performance in the field had just about seen them through. Still, it was the first outing of the season, and there was the luxury of another friendly before the first League game. FZY Freefall? Forget it!
Guest reporter: Padre Pio the Beatified (Il Messagero Vaticano )
Back to top
9 May 1999
Totteridge CC (182 for 8) beat FZY (159 for 9) by 23 runs (40 over match)
On a momentous day for West London football - QPR finishing one place higher than last season - the FZY Gooseberries, having been spurned by Old Haberdashers, Boxmoor and Chalfont St Peter, found themselves on the ground where Wisey had toiled up the hill for 15 overs the previous Saturday - although the slope was not half as bad as he had made out (He did in fact miss the game through ante-natal commitments). Charlie continued the form of permanent skippers and lost the toss so FZY fielded first with 10 players initially (Shorty on his way from Bath or having a bath depending on which version you had heard).
46 runs were crashed off of the first five overs with Marksy's first slower ball of the season sailing back over both his head and the sightscreen and Simon Sherrard struggling again to bowl two successive balls in the same place. Eventually he bowled a straight one and claimed his first wicket for six years. The flow of runs was slowed by the introduction of Flossy and Charlie. Flossy as usual collected some cheap wickets (4-51) and Charlie showed that bowling 13 overs up the hill cheaply (1-24) was no problem (Wisey please note). With the bowling improving so too did the fielding, which included a direct hit run out by Shorty (one for the album), a diving catch (unnecessary?) by Marksy and a well held skier by Moishe Engel (Alberto Tomba please note - Ed.). David Tropp also got plenty of exercise on the boundary (Cindy Crawford please note - Ed.).
Runs flowed again towards the end of the innings (including the home skipper hitting his first ball for 6 off Flossy) as the batsmen hit out and Simon Levy failed to find his nets bowling form. One boundary ended up under a car and with Marksy on all fours Simon Sherrard asked what you call someone under a car - and the crawler correctly replied 'Jack'.
A major achievement was that 40 overs had been bowled in five minutes over two hours. Once more FZY came into their own around the tea table, ably supported by visitors Wisey and Sumo. Surprisingly there was still enough cake left over to last through till stumps.
Anthony hit the first run of the FZY innings, and 21 runs later (including a leg bye) Shorty was plum leg before for 20 after some lusty blows and thick edges. Anthony followed soon after for 9, although everyone apart from him and umpire Simon Sherrard thought he had been caught behind much earlier. Moishe Engel went Rurka-like first ball and there followed some turgid stuff as David Tropp, Tav and Jacky Rosen each struggled to get the ball away despite the efforts of Totteridge to make the bowling as easy as possible. Jacky's innings included the slowest leave, a perfectly driven 4 and a reverse sweep - accompanied by the valid comment from the boundary 'He can't play a forward defensive so what's he doing playing a reverse sweep!'
At last Charlie entered the fray but soon returned to the hutch, leg before playing back. It was left to Flossy to play an excellent cameo (55 not out) with some support from Marksy and Simon Levy to give the score an element of respectability. It should also be noted that Simon Sherrard survived longer than the previous week.
All in all it was a good workout for the team - but will it be turned into league victories come the end of May?
Guest Reporter - Chris Wright (Shepherd's Bush Gazette)
Back to top
23 May 1999
Casual Nomads (68 all out in 37.2 overs) lost to FZY (150 all out in 39.2) by 82 runs
League match, and suddenly it's alright on the day. Nomads were swept aside by an impressive FZY team performance, the champions' greater experience giving them the edge in batting, bowling and fielding (everything, indeed, except the toss). After a close-fought draw in 1998, Nomads were confident and relatively youthful, but if anyone expects the old campaigners to give up their title easily, then this was a pertinent warning.
Ickenham CC was the venue for this match, a new ground for both teams. There was the usual mirage of an arrival - the mouthwatering appearance of a neat and tidy Middlesex League ground soon dispelled by the realisation that the Maccabi League match was to take place on the Second XI 'field' behind the hedge at the back. And a field it further resembled on closer inspection - an undulating area of mostly rough grass which had only just dried out after the winter. The square was cared for, at least, but it's behaviour turned out to be a major factor in the outcome of the match. Occasionally low, it was predominantly slow, and driving was more hazardous than through Dingwall in December. Four Nomads batsmen were caught and bowled, as an illustration. And none of them were Ross County fans.
The '3rd XI Visitors' dressing room (unknown on which square the third XI play) was spacious and soon filled with raucous FZY voices. Charlie was back as captain, and, fraternally, had selected his elder brother Simon to play. Typical FZY really, to introduce a 38-year-old for his League debut. Nomads fielded at least two players half his age.
The toss, unusually, was celebrated in the very same 3rd XI Visitors dressing room. But despite the combined will of 11 versus 1, Charlie's call was wrong. FZY were invited to bat first, an honour they would themselves have bestowed upon Nomads if Charlie had won the toss, and the rest, as was chronicled in the scorebook at the end of the game, is history.
The opening Levy-Lancaster partnership lasted only 5.4 overs, but somehow the tone of the innings was set by Anthony's dismissal. Of all people, he was out chasing an away-swinger, a delivery that surely would have been called a wide if he had left it. Instead, in a frenzy of excitement, he lunged after the ball with the bat, neglected to move his feet concurrently, and gully took a decent catch. But Anthony was sanguine enough to realise that he had perished on the attack, and was far from disconsolate.
Shorty soon perished through the slowness of the pitch, and Wisey hit some fulsome blows before he got one that kept low. He was about to walk for his own lbw, but it was so plum, the umpire had his finger up before the shot was through. Neutral umpires are the norm (and Harry, and George) in the Maccabi League these days, and to the extent that it left the players to concentrate on the cricket, and the game was played in an excellent spirit throughout, it must be seen as a welcome move.
The outlook at 44-3 was not too bright, but Charlie provided a much-needed impetus. Playing through the line, and aiming generally over mid-off, it was successful biffing. Sumo gave staunch support, so staunch, indeed, that an onlooker from the 1st XI match was heard to remark "Blimey, you've got the heavies in there, haven't you!" He had obviously noted the penchant of the pair to turn threes into twos and twos into ones. But the partnership managed 50, entertainingly, before Charlie was out for 38.
Thereafter, the innings did lose a certain momentum, and all ten wickets fell before the 40 overs were up. Simon, promoted up the order for some biffing, hit a four and a six in his 13. Otherwise, Moishe, Flossy, Clint, DK and Tav all found the going slow and low, and the 150 was only just achieved (shame that bonus points no longer apply in the League!).
Tea was splendid, especially as this match went in to feed before the other match, giving first choice of sandwiches to the hungry boys. For Moishe, it was Mars bars as usual, but form the rest, a huge pile of egg, cheese and other sandwiches, plus biscuits, cakes, fruit and, lo and behold, chocolate eclairs! What with the World Cup on the telly, Nomads were certainly congratulating themselves on their choice of new home ground.
Suitably calorified, and with ears ringing from a Charlie teamtalk, it was time to field. The Nomads' innings had three stages - consolidation at first, an attempt to up the tempo in the middle, followed by growing desperation and eventual panic at the end. Full credit to Charlie and Wisey for making it so difficult for the batsmen to score at the start, and to the fielders for a virtually faultless performance.
Charlie bowled throughout from the northern end, with Chiltern Line trains passing regularly behind him, taking 4-35 in 18 overs. Wisey bowled 11 overs from the pavilion end, taking 1-23. It was the same old story - he beat the bat countless times, bowled his customary wholehearted spell before erunning out of puff, and conceded more runs than he had scored with the bat. But worse, much worse than that, was to follow: Flossy took 7.2-3-9-5 and, also true to form, several of these five wickets were taken with completely tosh deliveries. If such fortune is hereditary, his forthcoming child will play for England.
Nomads, having realised that they were so far behind the rate that victory was impossible, tried retrenchment. But such was the FZY grip on the game, the innings was wrapped up well within time. There was a slight delay during the last wicket partnership, as the no.10 batsman, just out of Heder classes, called for a runner. His only obvious encumbrance were the protruding tsitsit, but he later claimed to have suffered a migraine at the crease. Such is the pressure of playing FZY in the League! Needless to say, the runner spent more time rushing to pad up than he did thereafter in the middle. Flossy soon ended the innings with the no.11 clean bowled.
So, mutual back-slapping in the 3rd XI Visitors dressing room, where the smell of August medals mixed freely with that of sweaty whites. It appears that the ageing FZY bandwagon will see out the Twentieth Century at least.....
Guest Reporter: Wajahatullah Wasti (Peshawar Post)
Back to top
13 June 1999
FZY (160 all out in 36.3 overs) beat Maurice CC (133 all out in 26.5 overs) by 27 runs
The delights of park cricket were once again brought home to FZY on a sunny afternoon in East Barnet, with foul-smelling dressing rooms, a short-boundary ground infested with canine detritus, and opposition of the 'weak' category, who were bowled out in two-thirds time by a second-string FZY 'attack'. But there was a guest appearance by the pensioned-off Edgwarebury scoreboard, trusty detonator by its side carrying the numbers. National Lottery it wasn't.
Oak Hill Park was the venue, a council pitch paid for by the Newton team which had cried off 72 hours earlier. So opponents were hastily arranged via the three-Cs, and voilà Maurice! The park was well-used all afternoon, on a warm, sunny day, just right for walking the dog or doing a bit of sunbathing. A grassy bank overlooked the pitch, and there was a healthy public toing and froing throughout the match. Sadly, not many people stayed to watch for too long (spectators nor batsmen). Glances were frequently averted to the Members' enclosure, however, at the Pavilion End, where several of the guests of the visitors were to be spotted soaking up the sun. Unfortunately, it was the only talent that Maurice brought along.
Charlie lost the toss, and, surprisingly, FZY were invited to take first knock. Good news for Clint, who arrived 45 minutes late after an automotive failure on a never-ending motorway. He didn't miss much. At 2.45pm., it was 26-0 off 9 overs. Soon after, Shorty was badly dropped at cover. Anthony went for nine, followed two balls later by DK, who was bowled by an absolute jaffa. Duck à l'orange, you could say.
Enter Chas, who made mincemeat of the short boundaries. Just as the accurate opening bowlers were finishing their spells, and it was discovered that there wasn't much back-up, the skipper began to pepper the grassy bank, admittedly not very far away, with sixes. He scored 64 in roughly half an hour, and dominated a fifty partnership with Shorty. One straight six winged its way towards the pavilion, where seven complete cowards scattered quickly, only to see the ball clatter into the sandwiches.
When these two were out, resistance was only just better than pitiful. Only Ben put up some fight, strikingly clubbing his first ball of the summer for six. No-one else reached double figures, and the forty overs, for the second match running, were not achieved.
And so to tea. One of the highlights of a park tea is its unpredictability. So add together Sumo's mum's exemplary cheese, cheese and tomato and eggie sarnies, Moishe's Beth Din-bachelor selection of salmon curlies, a mini-roll mountain from Tav's local Tescos and a chocolate cake sent by Marksy via the Foster's Oval radio commentary box, and you just about have it! Marvellous effort, all of £15, which Maurice thought that was excellent VFM.
Suitably refreshed, the 'chase' for 161 in 40 overs was on. There were three wides in the first over (from Simon) as well as two twos. It had taken FZY 28 overs to score their first Scooby. And Anthony was troubled all innings wondering when FZY had ever had an attack quite like Rurka, Sherrard S, Sumo, Moishe and Tav. And, in the style of Flossy, Sherrard C came on with seven down and took 3-2 in three overs.
Maurice had only two batsmen who troubled the fledgling attack, being the ones who were most adventurous in trying to beat the boundary. Once they were out, though, the result was never in doubt. Jackie and DK took good catches as all the bowlers took wickets. Ben twice hit the stumps with peaches - he had quite a fruity return to the fold. Maurice caved in as Charlie picked up the two tail-end teenagers (I told you it was like Flossy - Ed.), and the innings finished in the 27th over, just in time to hear Steve Waugh drive the Aussies into the World Cup semi-fianls on the pavilion radio.....
Guest Reporter: Pauline Green (Le Journal Alsacien de Strasbourg)
Back to top
20 June 1999
Newlands (111 for 9 in 42 overs) drew with FZY (182-6 dec. in 37 overs)
Whilst an unimportant World Cup Final was taking place at Lords, a crucial Maccabi Sunday league was taking place on a typically true and lifeless Roxbourne Park pitch. Charlie lost the toss again and FZY were asked to bat first. Teflon and Sumo opened and before the fall of the first wicket there was a change of personnel as Granville replaced Lancaster. Unfortunately, I cannot explian why for legal reasons. Safe to say the scorebook records - 'Lancaster went home 1.58 (reasons unknown)'.
Opening Newlands bowler M Segall was no balled on his first delivery, whereupon the umpire asked him if he would now tell him his action! Both openers struggled to get the ball off the square and were soon out to the relief of the rest of the team - they claimed that the time they were in saw off the new ball. Enter Charlie and Wisey for a splendid 84 partnership in just 10 overs and the score to 128 for 2. A mini collapse ensued accounting for Wisey (63), Sherrard (44), Ross and Rurka. Ben claimed that he didn't usually blame someone else but it would help if Marksy wasn't talking to the umpire whilst the bowler was running in.
There then followed a surprising wag in the tail as Messrs. Marks and Kay put on 33 in just 4 overs which enabled Charlie to declare the innings early on 182 for 6 after 38 overs - the idea being to give enough time to bowl Newlands out…
Tea at Roxbourne Park was its usual mix of homemade sandwiches and purchased cakes and biscuits, but as usual FZY did not let anyone down in this department.
The Newlands innings turned into a frustrating affair following an early wicket for Flossy, as Turek (defending) and Durban (semi attacking) took the score up to 53 in 16 overs. When Wisey finally found the edge of Turek's bat (after beating it numerous times and for the 4 previous deliveries), Teflon duly dropped it. He later made amends off the same bowler but the lost time would later prove costly. Durban holed out to Rurka (who also later missed a relatively easy chance) and the innings quickly subsided to 70 for 6.
Enter Julian Wood for a performance of dogged defense reminiscent of Levy and Lyons at the same ground in 1993 - batting 20 chanceless overs for 4 not out. Wisey caused panic at the other end including a run out but the final wicket couldn't be taken in the allotted 42 overs. A real shame for man of the match Wisey, who followed up his 63 with 5 for 26 in 16 overs and then had to put up with Flossy moaning about the result and his own lack of overs all the way home. Nevertheless it had been a good workout in preparation for Manchester and it is always good to see Newlands coming off second best.
Guest Reporter: Imran Khan (Cow Corner Gazette)
Back to top
4 July 1999
FZY (78 for 5 in 40 overs) drew with Northwood & Pinner (152 for 9 dec. in 40 overs)
FZY, reigning League champions, felt the pressure at the top, and were unable to progress further than a losing draw against a youthful and positive Pinner who, whilst they never looked likely to win, were good value for their majority share of the points. In truth, the hosts never recovered from the morning blow of losing their captain. Charlie's absence, with an ankle injury, was felt not just through a lack of middle-order aggression or one-third of the bowling resources, but equally through, with the lack of a replacement, having just ten men in the field. (Moishe, it should be noted, was absent at Henley of all places!)
Old Habs, after one postponement and two rained off matches, hosted its first FZY match of the season. Hospitable it was not, however. Nothing at all wrong with the ample teas, of course - a special non-pork spread was prepared - or the comfortable changing rooms, but the pudding pitch. Pleasantly coloured, but hardly sun-burned, the track did little to reward back-breaking bowling and had batsmen flailing forward to counter the bounce. The kind of pitch that has made English strokeplay what it is today.
Halfway through, FZY thought they had done quite well, but their two and a quarter hours of toil in the sun was later put into context by the Northwood bowling and fielding. There really was a one batsman, one bowler and one fielder difference between the teams. Wisey lost the toss, and FZY were sentenced to an early outing in the field. Flossy and Wisey opened the bowling and, forty overs later, closed the bowling, Flossy unchanged from the bottom end, Wisey giving way to Marksy for a break of five overs. Two marathon efforts, with just the odd snicker or two by the batsmen.
The start was slow, very slow, as two of the more senior Northwood players dug in. But from the ten-over mark, they upped the tempo, hitting over and beyond the gaps as well as through them. Very little was hit behind the wicket, evidence of the lack of pace in the pitch, although the bat was beaten occasionally. DK was keeping, as the match co-incided with the annual Levy family beano to Bournemouth, and he did very well, thank you. There were one or two fumbles, but made up for by some impressive leg-side takes. Even a catch, effortlessly taken following an outside edge off Flossy.
The breakthrough didn't come until Flossy finally got through in the 18th over, with Wisey snaring the other opener in the very next one. But the momentum held up, even after the Northwood captain was outed by his Old Habs colleagues, caught Lancaster bowled Wise, a fine diving effort at square leg. A couple of finger-shattering chances went down, Flossy off his own bowling and Wisey off Marksy, and then the Short one dropped a high one, which most of the other fielders already had as a 'caught' in the scorebook. Every time FZY thought they were back in it - Flossy took two wickets in two balls at one stage - so the new batsmen maintained the scoring rate. The innings was declared two overs before the maximum allowed, Flossy having taken 5-64 in 20 overs and Wisey 3-57 in 15.
The home innings never got going, and it plodded on somnolently without so much as a change in pace. The conditions were less humid than earlier, but the bowling consistently accurate, from all five bowlers employed. Just when the long handle was called for, with about 100 needed off 18 or so overs, on came a Mr Marcus as third change and bowled four consecutive maidens. Sumo scored five in 28 balls, macthed by Ben who was just a shade slower. Wisey scored 15 in an hour, but never got going. Shorty stayed for just over two hours, falling two overs before the end - his total: 28 off 102 deliveries. Only a magnificent 6 not out by Tav at the end got the total up to the halfway mark.
A losing draw and, ultimately, maybe a losing League as well. The unbeaten record may remain in tact - that's six years without a defeat - but the manner of this draw will have set off some alarm bells. And made the team all the more determined to pull off a victory in the Cup quarter-finals in Manchester. It was time to look forward.
Guest reporter: Victoria Adams (Luttrellstown Castle Leader)
Back to top
11 July 1999
Stuart Neils Cup quarter-final
Manchester Maccabi (149-9 in 40 overs) beat FZY (128 all out in 38) by 21 runs
Oh, what might have been! This match was one that could have been won, and maybe should have been won, and it was a long old journey home courtesy of Global Minibus Hire as certain defining moments were played over and over again. FZY had set themselves up to win the game, but ultimately the batting fell short. The performance in the field was good, and the bowling held up. From early on, when it looked like Manchester would race away, it was a fantastic effort to restrain them to under 150, although it could have been fewer……
Not least among the reasons given for FZY’s misfortune was an outrageous ‘not out’ given in favour of the Manchester no.10 before he had scored many. His dismissal would have left the score on 106-9, as it was he top scored with 44 not out. The edge he gave to Anthony was audible to everyone except the bowler (Moishe) and the umpire (Geoff). Even the batsman knew he had hit it.
Suffice to say that sometimes decisions don’t go your way, that they usually even out – over a season if not a match – and that the failure to win the game can be put down as much to batting, bowling and fielding shortcomings as to bad luck. But everybody KNEW that it would make a difference. When he was given not out, when he went on to make his runs, at tea time when it was the main topic of discussion, and whilst the chase was on. There you are, it shouldn’t have made a difference, but this one incident has already taken up two paragraphs of the match report!
The day began early, very early for a Sunday, in the car park at Old Habs at 8.30am. Wisey arrived driving the 18-seater minibus, which with a heavy load found hills difficult, had the road holding of an iceberg and the turning circle of , well, a minibus. He and Flossy were the chauffeurs, with all except Moishe in the back, plus lots of kit. Impressively, the half-hour stop at the services saw not one Burger King nor greasy breakfast eaten in anger, and the journey was completed in around 3½ hours.
Winton CC was the venue, a pleasant ground just off the motorway, but located in an area that required shutters to be drawn over the pavilion at night. Not quite as grand as Flixton CC, where the original waterlogged game had been scheduled for two weeks earlier. A junior match was in progress on arrival, the team batting second were skittled out for 41 to lose by 81 runs. Playing on the edge of the square, one boundary was so long that even Linford Christie would have had trouble preventing the batsmen from running at least four, whilst the other boundary was no more than 30 yards from the pitch in some places.
Amazingly, the ground authorities (i.e. a grizzly old Mancunian with a one-wheeled lawnmower) then informed the captains that the next match would be played on the same strip. Charlie lost the toss, although this can be viewed with hindsight as an irrelevance as Manchester elected to bat first, which Charlie would have given them the privilege of doing anyway. With a short boundary to protect, and eight overs to be found from a fifth bowler somewhere, FZY were looking ahead to a long stint in the hot sun.
Enter Wisey, from the Pavilion End, and, as he had done the last time these teams met in the 1997 final, he hit the stumps in his first over. Only the sight of Ian Davis striding out tempered the fielders’ joy. Davis holds the record for the highest FZY individual score, 137 at Manaton. Here, he fell 99 short of that total, but while he was in, always looked dangerous. At 39-1 after 10 overs, Manchester looked well-set. Charlie bowled from the Eccles End, but was hampered by a goutish ankle, whose swelling had prevented him from playing in the previous week’s match. Now, it was not so bad that he couldn’t play, but he hobbled so much that Jake the Peg Leg must be worried for his job.
Guess who got the breakthrough, though? That man Marks, not hitherto known as a bowler this season, but suddenly finding an 8-over spell to evoke past glories. By which I mean two of his three wickets were taken with outrageously bad deliveries. First of all, he won an lbw shout, a reward for straight bowling, but then, two balls later, a two-bouncer way outside off-stump was mown into the hands of a grateful cover. Later, another widish delivery was guided into the hands of Flossy at backward point.
Meanwhile, the Manchester middle order failed to perform. Soon, the score had subsided to 77-7. Davis went, driving a trifle early at Flossy and caught by Clint. Moishe, at mid-off, took the catch of the innings – three times. If only the kill could have been carried out, but in fact the final three wickets more than doubled the score. Some factors contributed to this – bad luck, for one, a couple of dropped catches another, the fact that Manchester batted all the way down (Davis was unsure of the relative strengths of some of his team), the lack of a fifth bowler (Moishe and Sumo were bowling at the end, when the chase was on) and, of course, that ‘not out’.
So a kosher tea was taken, and the FZY batsmen prepared for their innings. It was a relief to be out of the sun, but no such luck for the umpire Geoff. He was faced with another 40 overs of trotting backwards and forwards umpiring from both ends, complete with match card to note the bowlers’ overs and little machines attached to his fingers to count the runs and the balls each over. Not that it helped him much during the FZY innings. Finding concentration difficult owing to the non-stop chat of the fielders and the embarrassingly excessive appealing whenever the ball touched the pads, he allowed at least four seven-ball overs. And of course on the last one the last wicket was taken. It was a tough day for old Geoff, and he did well under pressure.
Flossy lasted no longer than his Manchester equivalent, also being out bowled in the first over. But the two Anthonys consolidated, and even kept the runs ticking over at a healthy rate, at least compared to Manchester. There was no need to rush, and a platform was built. However, after seeing off the openers, there was a fatal mix-up in an over from the first change, which otherwise cost 14 runs. A Wise played a shot out into the offside, and when the throw went wide and far, he and A Levy embarked upon a second run. Unfortunately, the second throw was far more accurate, leaving Wise a few yards stranded. The first unnecessary wicket.
Charlie’s second scoring shot was hit into the trees on the short side, and bounced down either over or behind the boundary line. Geoff the Umpire originally signalled six, but changed this to a four on the advice of the closest fielder. It is unknown what the local rules say, but that was two runs fewer for the total. Still hobbling, Jake the Skip called for a runner, Flossy to be precise, generously agreed to by the opposing captain in the circumstances. So for a while, the fielders were confused, and although Charlie kept his head, he couldn’t keep up his early-innings heroics and troubled the boundary markers much less. Anthony also became bogged down, despite one pull for four which was inches away from his first ever six!
Anthony was bowled, and, after a brief stand with Shorty, Charlie was caught. It was an important wicket. Manchester had found their reliable third and fourth bowlers. Like FZY, they would have to find overs from others to make up the forty, but could they take all the wickets beforehand? FZY were up with the rate, and scoring four an over was not a massive problem. The total was in the eighties when further disaster struck, with Marksy run out going for the third. Unfortunately, his eyes were faster than his legs, as, egged on by the supporting non-batsmen, he went for another run where there wasn’t one at his speed. A desperate dive was in vain. When Shorty was caught in the next over, the innings had effectively come to a halt, and a new start was required.
Sumo and DK began the fightback, DK playing the shot of the day with a lofted straight slog for four. But there were few giveaways from the bowlers, and the pressure was mounting. DK perished as he had prospered, caught driving. There were still 40 runs required, and nine overs remaining. Sumo dug in, but Moishe lasted only three balls. After two appeals when he was nearly out, he tamely guided the next ball to midwicket. Clint scored just one single before he was out lbw, so when Tav came in, it was all but a lost cause. The end was delayed by some enterprising snicks from the greying solicitor, enough to breathe some life into the FZY hope, but it was too much to ask, and he was caught on the boundary, much to the delight of the home players.
So near and yet so far. A game there for the taking, which was thrown away. Nearly but not quite. The omens were bad, after the washout an hour earlier, but having got into the game and engineered a winning position, hopes were raised. Perhaps that was why the mood in the southbound minibus was reflective, in the knowledge that this was a golden chance gone begging. Not to mention the frustrations of the opposition, be they motormouths or alleged cheats. But in cricket, all you can do is look at the scorebook. No cup heroics for FZY in 1999, it will say.
Guest reporter: Brandi Chastain (USA Women's Football Today)
Back to top