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    Western Tour 2009

    Played 14  Won 3  Lost 0  Drawn 3 Abandoned 8


    1.    “She should do! Dad’s been knocking her in for six weeks.”

    2.    “Oh dear, I am sorry….!”

    3.    “Yes, there’s another… oh f—k!”

    4.    “Fifty might be a challenging score.”

    5.    “Yes…urrr…oooohw!”

    6.    “We’ll provide subs.”

    7.    “How as ‘eeee! Yeaaah!”

    8.    “Was its name Williams?”

    9.    “Run ‘em!”

    10.    “Is that your glass, Chris?”

    Tour Report

    Our West Country season opened, as it has done for some years now, at Sherborne School, where the sun sort of shone and the gather was as usual a bit slow. There were lots of families – three generations of Haynes and Peets, two of Olivers and Thomases and a rich assortment of others. There had been home selection problems, but these were resolved by the addition of Peet JS to the Swashbucklers team sheet. The skipper won the toss and chose to bat. The new flag underwent its maiden hoist, then Haynes C and Thomas A went out to face slowish swing with occasionally over-generous width from both ends. The outfield was large and slow, and early progress was measured and cautious. Peet S was singled out for a slashing catch in the gully, which found the wrong part of the hand, and he had the pleasure of seeing long leg doing his chasing for him. Haynes trudged off rather reluctantly LBW, but Thomas and Hugh McDowell got on top, with some superb leg-side shots from the latter. We lunched on Nelson, deliciously. Hugh fell soon after, finding the middle of the Peet hands. Oliver P found the middle of his bat elusive. Thomas walked on 85. Peet took a wicket. P.J.Clarke and Haynes P contributed not out cameos, and we declared after fifty-seven overs on 216-5.

    Flag hoisting at Sherborne

    A series of apparently anonymous Swashbucklers came out to bat, following a rather reluctant Spray. Oliver P took the gloves and had to cope with quite a lot of width, while Shrimpton, taking the first over, conceded three off the first ball and hit the stumps with his second. Peet J took the second over and didn’t surrender the ball for fifteen overs. Haynes C dropped what seemed to be a sitter at mid-off and Shrimpton almost immediately dropped a c-and-b chance. Mike Nurton for a while showed why he scored so many Minor Counties runs, and tea came at 49-1, in the middle of a lengthy and rather noisy session on sight-screen etiquette for the grandchildren. After the interval the umpires, eight Sou’westers and two batsmen made it to the middle, followed shortly by two more Sou’westers. Haynes C took an over longer, only to drop another catch. However wickets began to fall, mostly to Peet J, who induced Nurton to nick one, hit the stumps twice and persuaded another batter to lob a catch. Oliver P produced a stumping. Haynes P won an LBW. And then Spray came on. As recorded elsewhere he immediately trapped Steve Gray and bowled what for him is a marathon spell of six overs, including, improbably, two maidens and another wicket. This brought Peet S to the crease at number eleven with ten overs still to go. He got everything, bat, pads and body, behind the ball, and though the skipper tried everything (and we managed twenty-one overs in the last hour) the stand was unbroken at the end, something predicted by at least one elderly pundit. A very pleasant day ended with a splendid barbecue and a very tasty barrel of beer in the Gray garden.

    Things looked ominous on the drive to Sparkford. The sky was overcast and there was a bit of drizzle in the air. The ground was wet. They hadn’t been able to cut the outfield and the prepared pitch was inevitably a bit of a pudding. Sparkford won the toss and chose to bat. The game started in light drizzle and the openers made steady progress against the searing pace of Peet J and Kennedy J, hot, if that’s the right word, from a night under canvas at the Game Fair. Amongst a flurry of misses and some rather laboured fielding, Kennedy clung on to a sharp c-and-b and Thomas A picked up a slip catch. The skipper made plenty of (skilful and effective) use of the feet in the field, while a partnership developed. Thomas had an obviously painful one-over spell, which allowed Ed Lyons to enter the attack. He soon struck, inducing a wild pull against what appeared to be a straight long-hop. Lunch came at 108-3 off thirty-two overs. Shrimpton, in a marathon spell, struck soon after the break. Oliver P registered another stumping, and a youthful umpire gave several positive decisions, at least one of which found little favour with its recipient. The innings ground to a halt, when Oliver P used his pads to stump a youngster and a direct hit from Harry Thomas ran out number eleven, the legendary Graham Corke. Kennedy father and son opened the batting, but Harry essayed too ambitious a stroke for such a pitch and lobbed a catch to the keeper. The aforesaid Corke may have lost pace but not accuracy, and progress was at first slow. PJ Clarke had joined Kennedy and both played steadily. There were hold-ups as the senior sightscreen etiquette instructor walked in front of the screen and a cyclist in full kit invaded the playing area with a cup of tea. Then the rain came and there was an interruption of almost an hour. Play resumed, but not for long, and the first abandonment of the tour followed. It was a great disappointment, as Sparkford, a club clearly on the up, had made a great effort to make play possible.

    And so to Tiverton, where the Blundells pitch and its outfield were slow but playable. Our senior umpire was already there and raring to go, as was Halliday. The Sou’wester assembly was slowish, and they were slow too to go out for fielding duties. Kennedy J and Stone C opened the bowling steadily and wickets were hard to find. Luke Tillbrook seems to like our bowling and soon had the measure of the outfield. There was a brief rain break and lunch came at 65-1. Simon Hogg had a little bowl, and debutant Chris Hedley-Dent had a long and profitable spell. Batter number five appeared, so it was rumoured, from a washed out county second-eleven game and immediately looked the part. Nelson once again brought a wicket, and Oliver P netted another stumping, while his father was repeatedly tested at mid-on. We had a short and relatively rapid spell from Harrison Folland, a Malinga lookalike, and after fifty-five overs bowled at a very creditable rate we were set a target of 189. The fielding had been generally impressive. Dave Harrison soon received the first of three LBWs given in inimitable fashion by our senior umpire, who also called a slightly puzzling no-ball, later revealed to be the result of more than two bounces. Two further wickets fell cheaply, but Halliday and Steve Gray built a partnership against some very athletic fielding. Your correspondent, no technophile, began to lose his temper with the scoreboard, but eventually found a modus operandi as we struggled to get 103 in the last hour. Halliday became rather bogged down and was stumped, and it was left to Hogg to produce a late flurry and a bit of hope in carrying us to 168, and he and the skipper batted the last over and a bit out, with nine down. We had received one more over than we had bowled. The lunch was delicious, and so, I am told, was the tea. It was too far away for me!

    Cerne Valley is Spray country. He does the fixtures, organises the juniors, helps on the ground, plays and enthuses, and his colleagues are worried that they are overloading him. The ground is a pleasant rustic one, set under the shadow of a hill, overlooked by countless dog-walkers, surrounded by tall hedges, just around the corner from the Giant, who features, warts and all (a rather coy euphemism), on the club shirts and sweaters. The pitch was a bit slow and the outfield lush. Spray, leading Cerne Valley, won the toss and invited us to field. Charlie Langley ran in with energy and economy up the slope, but Stone C took the early wicket. The bat then prevailed as a young man with fair dreadlocks played some classy shots, among them a six over extra cover. Langley had a short break while Shrimpton took over, and Kennedy J relieved his younger son, who had been doing his fielding for him. He tested our senior umpire by coming on to bowl straight away. Stone P produced the first sliding stop of the tour. Kennedy H took a catch off Langley to dispose of the dreadlocks, and we lunched, sumptuously, at 102-2. Williams J took a splendid catch off Langley to break the next rather promising partnership. Then a catastrophic mix-up led to a run-out, and a major collapse. Kennedy J picked up a four-for and Langley just kept on running in twenty-one overs in all. Shrimpton came back to claim the last man and what looked as if it might be a seriously challenging score rather petered out. Halliday and Kennedy J made a slow start against steady bowling, but Kennedy picked things up a bit, and tea came at 35-0 off sixteen overs. Soon after the resumption, marked by a staggered arrival of umpires, he was bowled, having just survived an attempt by Halliday to run him out. Thereafter it was plain sailing, as we watched a batting masterclass. The arrival of Williams prompted Halliday to open up and against in all ten bowlers they moved calmly to the target. Spray came on for a very expensive over of hasteners, and the end came with almost eleven overs to spare. It had proved a splendid new fixture – a warm welcome, lots of local interest, a beautiful setting and superb catering, masterminded by Honorary Life Member Cheryl.

    Then it rained. Sidmouth and Chard both rang early to say that play would be impossible, and the skipper spent both time and phone credit letting his squad know. It was just a foretaste of things to come.

    A late change of ground brought us to Taunton School for the Stragglers game. It is large, with a handsome setting in front of the Victorian school building, with the biggest array of school buses and minibuses your correspondent has ever seen. The pitch was inevitably low and slow, but the outfield proved to be rapid. The skipper called wrong, which prompted a lengthy and rather public one-man debate, as the Stragglers leader weighed up the merits of fielding with the nine men he had on the ground and allowing his batsmen free rein to chase. Eventually the chasing option won. Guy Bucknell creamed it through the covers several times, but then proved how slow the pitch was by lobbing one to cover. Martin Davis looked in touch until he too mistimed a drive. Williams and Stone P followed quickly, as Halliday meandered quietly on. It was quite a noisy game at this stage, with the captain and the obligatory Australian trying to outdo each other in volume and inanity. Six bowlers had been used as we came off hoping for lunch at 92-4 off thirty-six overs. Confusion reigned; a communications breakdown meant that we lunched on cake and fruit. Assembly afterwards was surprisingly slow. Halliday departed LBW to a good left-arm spinner, but Hogg, supported by Will Penny, kept the impetus up. The noise level dropped as overs mounted and the fielders realised the folly of inserting a side if you can’t bowl them out and set consistently negative fields. The tail did not wag, but the skipper supported Hogg to a declaration at 172-9 off a mere sixty-eight overs. Tea was long, large and very welcome. When we resumed, Penny and Bucknell opened up and just kept going. The skipper pouched a smart slip catch and Penny hit the stumps. Then Paul Thomas dislocated a thumb as he took a low catch and left for casualty. The noisy Australian lobbed a catch to the substitute fielder. Penny was briefly on a hat-trick. Sam Pitcher caught an excellent skier over his shoulder and then came on for one ball to claim the last wicket. The Stragglers innings lasted only into the twenty-third over. The Sou’westers squad put the covers on and stowed the chairs; the Stragglers were clearly having a crisis meeting. We gathered in an indifferent pub, where two of us suffered at the rip-off end of the clamping industry.

    We travelled to Chittlehampton in hope, on Saturday August 1st, to find the pub full to bursting with Sou’westers and Chittlehampton expecting to play us on Sunday August 1st. We lunched and drank, and some of us tested the ground (probably playable) and the nets (playable) or ran the rule over the church or sat in the square doing the crossword.

    In a summer like 2009, Bridgetown was likely to be wet, and so it proved. All credit, then, to Doug Sherring, who cut a strip and let us play on it. It was of course a bit of a pudding and a challenge to strokeplayers, but we played! The skipper agreed a forty-over game and won the toss, and Williams J and debutant Mark Webb made a cautious start against some very tight medium pace bowling. The first wicket fell with the score at a modest 46 in the eighteenth over when a young Sherring ambled up to the stumps and delivered a thunderbolt. Thomas A will not have been proud of his last stroke. Williams lofted a catch off a junior Richards. Migs Chhibber was run out by a direct hit. Third man was kept busy. George R yet again produced a little cameo. Kennedy H gave valuable support to Andy Bolan who with further help from Kennedy J and Hogg (sharpened up by a paddle in the very chilly river) carried the score to a creditable 174-7 and tea, which was as plentiful and delicious as ever. It was greatly enjoyed by both teams and our many supporters – the feeding of the five thousand doesn’t come near it. The crowd must have been bigger than at some County Championship games. There was a very short rain break after the first over of the reply, and on then resumption Kennedy’s new ball flight foiled another member of the Sherring clan. George R produced a trimmer to dispose of Richards senior, and Hogg rocked backwards as he caught the veteran Kenny Cross. It rained again, but we persevered. Wickets kept falling, two of them LBWs picked up by Bolan, while Chris Ridler threatened, as he has done before, to take the game away from us. George came back to hit the stumps. Kennedy S had his first bowl, as did Webb, who picked up Ridler LBW. There was a brief flurry of resistance before Webb and Hogg cleaned up the tail, though not before the skipper showed that even Appleblossoms are fallible under a sitter. What a splendid day it had been, and the Badger’s Holt topped it off with a friendly opposition (sadly not all that common these days), excellent ale and some pretty good grub.

    Sat-navs again led a convoy to the County Ground at Exeter, which was, like everywhere else, pretty wet. There were lots of additions to our playing strength, who were not pleased to see rain drifting in soon after 11. However a toss was held, won by stand-in skipper Oliver S, and we were able to start only twenty minutes late. The fielders preceded the batters to the middle; they in turn preceded the umpires and the stumps. Webb and Bolan put on 33 against steady bowling. Andy Lewis, down for a very wet week, played round a straight one. Chhibber made a start. There was a brief rain break and a short resumption, but lunch brought an end to things as the heavens opened. We went our separate ways. Your correspondent, who could see his lift home in the President’s car through the downpour, but couldn’t see whether it was occupied, was much relieved when the spectators’ lunch party, led by Peter George to a wonderful pub he happened to know (he seems to have a pretty wide knowledge in this field), drove back in.

    A call from Axminster early the following morning led to further lengthy sessions on the skipper’s mobile, and we had another bucket-and-spade day, as it used laughably to be called.

    No call came from Instow, to general delight. When we arrived, it was dry overhead, but the square was wet. We were promised an early lunch and then perhaps play. Our youth section moved to the beach for a game, while the seniors amused themselves with chat or gossip or whatever you like to call it. Meanwhile lunch kept retreating; apparently the vegetables had not been delivered. Eventually the (frozen?) peas appeared and we ate. The toss was lost and we were invited to bat. Eventually the scorebox was opened and connected to modern technology, and the North Devon squad, rather more mature than in recent years, drifted out in series, only then waking up to the fact that they were just ten in number. The early overs were peppered with unsuccessful pleas to sundry youths to get some whites and play. Williams and Lewis took the field against young seam and a slinger with a shirt so long that it could have doubled as a kilt. They were not accurate; there were eleven extras before a run came from the bat. Then runs came apace. First change was a hopper with a windmill action. Williams hit a six and lost the ball. A desultory search produced nothing. Will Penny, who seemingly never fails, found it first shot. Williams set off for a run, turned back and won four buzzers. We earned a long stop. It came as a bit of a surprise when Williams slammed one into the gully. The hundred came up in the nineteenth over as the fields became more defensive and the noise level, much if it with an Antipodean twang, rose. Wickets fell steadily. Leek made a brief comeback and picked up some slanderous and protracted hostility for an act perpetrated by Matt Barrett, which didn’t really merit much hostility at all. A splendid partnership of 60 between Hogg and Penny brought us back into the game. Pete Stephenson hit a six. Youngsters purveyed impressive offers and leggers. The over-rate was not impressive. The North Devon skipper, like the Stragglers man, learned the hard way that you don’t get an early declaration if you insert. Hogg was out at last, the tail gently wagged and the declaration eventually came after fifty overs.

    Penny struck in his second over; having conceded a sweetly struck six over long on, he hit the stumps next ball, while Joel Martin generated a fair burst of pace in a lively and economical spell of seven overs, which included a mildly controversial lobbed catch to Leek at slip. The batsman, who didn’t appear to have much faith in umpires, waited for the decision and lingered for quite a while afterwards. Martin also disposed of the opposition skipper, while Penny got the other opener. Then the chatty Antipodean, who seems to have been around for a year or two and turns out to be a Kiwi rather than the Australian we all thought he was, showed his very obvious class in a long partnership with an Overton twin. Stephenson bowled a long spell of left-arm spin with no luck, but then Barrett made a couple of skiers look ridiculously easy. Jared Ashworth appeared to hit the stumps to earn a run out, though discussion later wasn’t so certain. Whatever, it was out. However the other Overton and the young legger held out with ease for the last six overs and what had been a pretty good chase petered out twenty-two runs and two wickets short of a positive result.

    We got as far as Seaton, which seemed to have been singled out for a downpour, and the predictable early morning call told us that Falkland was unplayable. And so ended the wettest tour in my experience. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. There were lots of able new players, and the skipper even had the rare of experience of being able to rest himself in the second week. Cerne Valley is a welcome addition to the fixture list. The victory over the Stragglers was pretty pleasing. At one stage we had the President (an ever-present) and three Presidents Emeriti, as the Year Book insists on calling us, on the ground at the same time, which is certainly something which has never happened before. Messrs Alexander and Mole were in terrific form. We saw a lot of Peter George and his extended family. Lucy Haynes was with us for a spell. Our senior umpire seemed a little slimmer and a bit more easy-going. Simon Heazell braved the boarding house stairs. Barford joined us for a last night beer and reminisce. We enjoyed the usual round of charming pubs and the food and drink that they had to offer, and found one or two new ones too. We were able to congratulate Charlie Langley on his engagement, and to commiserate with Martin Davis and your correspondent on the clampers of Taunton. Once again none of this would have been possible without the cheerful commitment of Marion, who even undertook bed-changing duties this year, and Martin, who was undefeated both personally and collectively,though his aggregate of runs won’t challenge any records. Thank you both. The sun must come out in 2010.

    The Quotes Explained

    1. Young Swashbuckler explaining the mellow sound coming from his bat. Love knows no bounds!

    2. Spray, while the ball he had just delivered was still in the air. Steve Gray holed out off it.

    3. A Swashbuckler contemplating another run, and his reaction as he collided violently with his partner.

    4. The Sparkford opener on his return to the pavilion.

    5. As best I can transcribe it, Spray calling for a run, which was rejected out of hand.

    6. Our umpire, betraying his neutrality, as the Stragglers debate about their potential nine-man field continued. Our skipper did not seem amused.

    7. The Stragglers left arm spinner. The decision was not out.

    8. A very cutting comment as the main Chittlehampton man revealed that they had acquired a heavy roller from Eton.

    9. The loud instruction from the pavilion as Mark Webb stood and admired his cover drive, It didn’t go.

    10. Lewis to the President, who was drinking from his (Lewis’s) glass while his own stood over his right shoulder.


    v Swashbucklers Saturday 25th July Drawn
    Sou’westers 216-5 A.Thomas 85, Hugh McDowell 56, P.J.Haynes 20*
    Swashbucklers 157-9 J.Peet 4-45, P.H.Spray 2-11, J.S.Shrimpton 2-53
    v Sparkford Sunday 26th July Abandoned
    Sparkford 155 J.S.Shrimpton 4-36, J.P.Kennedy 4-55
    Sou’westers 56-1 P.J.Clarke 28*, J.P.Kennedy 25*
    v Old Blundellians Monday July 27th Drawn
    O.B.s 188-5 C.Granger 65*, C.Hedley-Dent 3-38
    Sou’westers 168-9 S.J.Halliday 68, S.Gray 51, S.Hogg 22*
    v Cerne Valley Tuesday July 28th Won by 9 wickets
    Cerne Valley 163 B.Ellis 60, J.P.Kennedy 4-28, C.Langley 3-34
    Sou’westers 167-1 J.Williams 75*, S.J.Halliday 61*, J.P.Kennedy 21
    v Sidmouth Wednesday July 29th Abandoned
    v Chard Thursday July 30th Abandoned
    v Somerset Stragglers Friday July 31st Won by 99 runs
    Sou’westers 172-9 S.Hogg48*, S.J.Halliday 44, G.Bucknell 20, M.Davis 20
    Stragglers 73 W.Penny 7-30, G.Bucknell 2-35
    v Chittlehampton Saturday August 1st Abandoned
    v Bridgetown (40 overs) Sunday August 2nd Won by 44 runs
    Sou’westers 174-7 J.Williams 40, A.Bolan 33*
    Bridgetown 130 M.Webb 2-3, R.J.P.George 2-20, J.P.Kennedy 2-23,       S.Hogg 2-24, A.Bolan 2-39
    v Devon Dumplings Monday August 3rd Abandoned
    Sou’westers 88-2 M.Webb 36*, M.Chhibber 22*
    v Axminster Tuesday August 4th Abandoned
    v North Devon Wednesday August 5th Drawn
    Sou’westers 227-9 S.Hogg 58, J.Williams 45, W.Penny 28, A.H.Lewis 22
    North Devon 195-7 S.Rhodes 75, J.Martin 2-25, W.Penny 2-31
    v Seaton Thursday August 6th Abandoned
    v Berkshire Gents Friday August 7th Abandoned

    Batting Averages

    Inns N.O. Runs H.S. Ave Ct
    S.Hogg 4 3 140 58 140.00 2
    S.J.Halliday 3 1 168 63 84.00
    J.Williams 4 1 170 75* 56.67 2
    M.Webb 2 1 50 36* 50.00
    A.Thomas 2 0 96 85 48.00 1
    M.Chhibber 2 1 34 22* 34.00 1
    P.J.Clarke 4 2 62 28* 31.00 2
    A.Bolan 3 1 54 33* 27.00
    J.P.Kennedy 4 1 65 25* 21.67 2
    W.Penny 2 0 42 28 21.00
    A.H.Lewis 2 0 28 22 14.00
    P.G.Oliver 2 0 7 7 3.50 4 ct/4 st
    H.Kennedy 2 0 6 6 3.00 1
    C.D.Stone 2 0 2 2 1.00 1

    Also batted: J.Ashworth 2; M.Barrett 11 (2 ct); G.Bucknell 20; M.Davis 20; H.Folland 5; R.J.P.George 16; S.Gray 51; D.Harrison 0; C.D.Haynes 14; P.J.Haynes 20*; C.Hedley-Dent 0; A.Leek 4 (1 ct); Hugh McDowell 56 (1 ct); J.Martin 6*; T.Mumford 0; M.R.Oliver 0*, 1* (3 ct); S.R.Oliver 5*; S.Pitcher 0 (1 ct); P.Stephenson 7 (1 ct); P.Stone 0 (1 ct); S.P.H.Thomas 0 (1 ct).

    1 catch was caught by a substitute.

    Bowling Averages

    Overs Mdns Runs Wickets Average
    M.Webb 4 1 3 2 1.50
    P.H.Spray 6 2 11 2 5.50
    W.Penny 21 4 61 9 6.78
    R.J.P.George 6 0 20 2 10.00
    C.Langley 21 9 34 3 11.33
    J.Martin 8 3 25 2 12.50
    C.Hedley-Dent 13 0 38 3 12.67
    J.P.Kennedy 49.1 9 153 11 13.91
    J.Peet 24 4 63 4 15.75
    J.S.Shrimpton 37.2 10 119 7 17.00
    G.Bucknell 11 3 35 2 17.50
    S.Hogg 18.5 2 96 3 32.00
    A.Bolan 12 0 72 2 36.00
    C.D.Stone 24 5 73 2 36.50

    Also bowled: H.Folland 5 – 1 – 11 – 0; S.Gray 4 – 0 – 24 – 0; C.D.Haynes 4 – 1 – 7 – 0; P.J.Haynes 4 – 0 – 13 – 1; S.Kennedy 3 – 0 – 16 – 0; E.Lyons 8 – 0 – 35 – 1; Hugh McDowell 1 – 1 – 0 – 0; T.Mumford 3 – 0 – 19 – 0; S.Pitcher 0.1 – 0 – 0 – 1; P.Stephenson 12 – 1 – 56 – 1;  A.Thomas 1 – 0 – 9 – 0; J.Williams 2 – 0 – 11 – 0.


    1000 runs
    T.W.R.George 24 innings 2 not out 1025 runs 129* highest score 46.59 average