Sidbury complete an ‘invincible’ campaign with last outing victory at Woodbury
- Credit: Archant
Salt and pepper, peas and carrots, rum and raisin - and now Woodbury and Newton St Cyres, writes Alex Paget.
The Sidbury team bus had less distance to travel than the second half of Saturday's opponents, one of whom added yet more miles to his trek across Devon by turning up at The Millfield by mistake.
At least he had an excuse for his tardiness, whereas Sidbury's Ben Pollard, Olly Paget and Stephen Howe all rocked up past the appointed hour for no good reason, and apparently in fancy dress.
Pollard came as a dodgy insurance salesman, Paget a poor man's Worzel Gummidge and Howe a rather comely Bo Peep.
It was a shame they had to rush for their flannels because Woodbury's ground deserved to be taken in unhurriedly.
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The return to league cricket has seen Sidbury visit some of Devon's loveliest cricketing venues.
The country estate at Filleigh is most probably unsurpassable anywhere in the Kingdom and Kilmington might be the perfect village-centre ground, but Woodbury was equally lovely in its way.
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Surrounded by farmland and apple trees, the flat square belies a steep uphill boundary to the east and a precipitous drop with views to Dartmoor in the West.
Saturday's hot sun was mitigated by a shirt-flapping easterly and Sidbury once again won the toss and batted.
Pollard emerged from his 'beemer' a couple of overs in, striding towards the pavilion before peering at those in the middle and dropping his coffin in disbelief: Josh Reed was at the crease and had been from the start. "It was hard to know what was more shocking," said Pollard, "that he'd been allowed to open the innings or that he was still there after two and a half overs."
Things were soon back on an even keel, Reed reaching the pavilion before Pollard, having edged to first slip for eight.
This brought Paget to the crease, buckling up his pads and chewing the cud as he went. And there he stayed making his way serenely to 106 not out,, taking his season's batting average to 115 and ending the campaign on a cumulative 262 not out. He was last dismissed when the leaves were still coming out, back in early June!
Paget's partner for the second wicket was Mark Bishop and he too proved hard to shift. Like all eighties babies, Bishop nurses an obsessive nostalgia for the nineties: the time before the internet bomb; the time when there was time; when you were allowed to talk to girls in real life, rock stars were rock stars and international cricketers ate cake at tea.
Bishop has been partying like it's '99 ever since, and Saturday was no different. Yet to record a century for the club, Sidbury's Prince finally gloved a lifter to the keeper, and turned to trudge off.
Not being a 'counter', it was Pollard who conveyed the news: "Would you like a flake in that?" asked he, sympathetically, as incoming passed outgoing, and off went the heartbroken Bishop to sit on a lonesome bench. The second wicket partnership was worth 194.
Ed's score book read 240-2 after the 40 overs, not a digit out of place, and Sidbury trotted out to take the field for the last time this term.
Reed took the new ball with Bo Peep and it was Peep who drew first blood with everyone's favourite dismissal: caught behind!
She shaped one in which offered away off the seam and there was Pollard to snaffle the nicked cherry with his mitts.
A leg before decision followed the very next ball, so plumb that even umpire Dave 'The Pope' Pople couldn't keep his trigger finger still.
Next it was Reed's turn, and another caught behind. Simon Astley-Jones had given up the gloves for the day, presumably having despaired of seeing action like this, and Pollard's two catches were enough to win the coveted bottle of homemade sloe gin, awarded by the scorer for services to proficient and enthusiastic fielding.
Poor Astley-Jones then went haring after a ball to the deep and pulled up with a pinged hamstring. At least he'll be back before the next competitive game.
After Reed had notched another couple of wickets, there was a slow down as Sidbury encountered the usual stolid resistance of a beaten team playing for pride. Even Chris Fitzhenry couldn't shift them.
Windy Miller got rid of one and Alex Paget a couple but Sidbury came up a wicket short and dropped her seventh point of a possible 280.
No other team in the entire Devon league has dropped fewer and only two others boast a 100 per cent winning record.
This has truly been a wonderful season and a whole new set of away grounds to look forward to in a new league in 2020.