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    Western Tour 2014

    Played 11  Won 3  Lost 6  Drawn 2  Cancelled 1


    1. “I’ve shared the bridge with the major, and it survived, but it did wobble a bit.”
    2. “You just wanted your sandwich!”
    3. “Ice for the umpire!”
    4. “Let’s see how many overs we can bowl.”
    5. “Right off the…..vegetable of the bat”!
    6. “He’s giving me lip!”
    7. “Don’t worry. I think it was absolutely plumb.”
    8. “You ought to be careful, matey. People go missing round here.”
    9. “Do you think it would be better if I went round the wicket?”

    Tour Report

    The Club ventured twice into uncharted territory before the tour proper started. Sides took part in the Rob George Memorial Sixes at Colchester and then at the Falkland Tournament. Your correspondent witnessed the latter, but had not an idea what was going on. We finished as also rans in both events in contests where the standard of bowling left quite a lot to be desired and single-saving seemed to be completely irrelevant. Big shots were the name of the game. Fun, beyond doubt, for the players. Not so stimulating for this spectator, but all in a good cause.

    The tour proper opened at Blundells, under some unaccustomed cloud, with the usual rather casual assembly. The Sou’wester skipper, Sam George, won the spin and chose to bat, fortified no doubt by the fact that only nine O.B.s went out to field. A tenth man appeared in due course, and the eleventh apparently in the gap between the innings. Andy Bolan and Tom Barford, emerging from an early retirement, opened with panache, and a stand of 75 looked promising. However the introduction of spin changed the course of the game. Only Will Payne and Andrew Lewis thereafter reached double figures, and 158-8 looked a good deal less promising. However Simon Hogg, batting in and with the tail, gave a master-class. His not out 59, out of a total of 72, assisted by the solid defence of Sam Sprague and Chris Stone, apparently unphased by his imminent wedding, carried us to a declaration and a defensible total. The power and discrimination of his stroke-play and his aggressive running were exhilarating. The O.B. response was confident. Our bowling was ordinary, and suddenly the outfield seemed large and extremely quick. Bolan hit the stumps to give us some hope and then he caught a catch. Lewis bowled straight enough to pick up two wickets, and belatedly George struck in successive balls, but Andrew Giles soldiered solidly on and steered his side to a comfortable four-wicket win. The usual very convivial supper followed. Win or lose, it is always a cheerful start to the tour.

    The sun shone on Seaton, and apart from the ageless Peter Anderson the home team was youthful and able. A 40-over contest was agreed, and we won the toss. Our opening attack was a bit pacier than usual. Angus Spratling struck twice early on, but the resistance stiffened with a partnership of 87 before Chris Stone hit the stumps. A brace of run-outs pegged Seaton back and tidy spells by Sam Sprague and Sam George slowed the scoring. James Jones (JJ to his friends) took wickets with the last two balls of the innings. 187 looked a bit below par.  And so it proved. Harry Kennedy was well caught. Peter Stone was bowled behind his legs. Mike Hall left the periscope up. Meanwhile Andrew Lewis batted serenely on, with support first from Jonny Kennedy and then Will Payne. We won a cheerful game by six wickets with two overs to spare.

    Sidmouth remains a bit of a test match. On an overcast day, we lost the toss and went out to field, with Lewis our duty wicketkeeper and an umpire wearing a helmet and full protective gear. We seemed to be under the flight path for Exeter Airport; two helicopters, a light plane and numerous air-liners sailed overhead. We had two proper opening bowlers, but Sidmouth produced two very proper opening batsmen. They each scored a hundred and put on 228 for the first wicket. There was a long delay when the ball disappeared over the wall towards the sea. The bowling wilted and nobody’s figures stood up to examination. Kennedy J caught two sharp catches, and the innings lingered on rather longer than seemed necessary. A pacy South African whose arm excited the interest of one or two of our umpires bowled Paul Barford with the first ball of the innings, but Kennedy H and Lewis dug in. Andrew fell to a slip catch to make way for Alastair Thomas. Steady progress ensued before the South African struck again and again. We batted out time with two wickets in hand, but fell well short of the target. It is one of the sadder aspects of modern cricket that hardened league cricketers do not really grasp the science of positive declarations and the art of bowling to take wickets.

    Budleigh Salterton turned out to be a ‘Senior Members’ dream. The weather wasn’t ideal, but the rain held off, and the home club was delighted to play an old-fashioned declaration game. And what a game it turned out to be! Doubts were settled about the start time and we compromised at 1.30 p.m. We won the toss and batted against at first eight men in the shape of a four-two field. Three further men arrived in due course, and seam prevailed. Paul Barford and Simon Hogg made a good start, but drinks arrived on Nelson, and five wickets fell for thirteen runs. Things looked grim but Harry Thomas and a masterful Andy Bolan steered us to the declaration. A glorious tea filled the break between innings. Our bowlers made a good start. For once we had some pace and James Marks struck with a bowled and an LBW in quick succession. Then Sam George entered the fray, to some surprise as he had the previous day spent most of the day off the field. He hit the stumps with a shooter and proceeded to bowl without break for fifteen overs and five wickets. Bolan, acting wicketkeeper for the day, pulled off a sharp and very professional stumping. Hogg took a catch on the dive. An LBW shout saw umpire Peet’s finger up almost before the appeal was made and at 167-9 we looked to be home and dry. Not so. An obviously competent number ten, with sterling support from the club chairman at number eleven, apparently a man who doesn’t play much these days, took charge. Budleigh Salterton won the game with five balls to spare. It had indeed turned out to be a whale of a game, and a joy to witness.

    The Old Tauntonians game moved about a bit, and we eventually settled on an artificial pitch at a rather elusive Bishop’s Hull. It rained. Both ground and pavilion were locked. Eventually it all came sort of good, and in that order two umpires, the batsmen and nine fielders emerged. An interesting school of captaincy followed. The first seven bowlers were given four overs each, and then three more varied it a bit. Our batsmen were a tad bemused by the pitch and the tactics and it wasn’t until Angus Spratling came to the wicket that the bat began to take control. He hit cleanly and frequently and with a bit of support from Mike Hall took the score to 165. His example prompted some sturdy offerings from Paul Barford, Al Thomas and Henry Pike, and we were eventually able to declare with a challenging total. Meanwhile lunch arrangements proved volatile. At first there seemed to be none. Then we were to go to the pub and buy our own. Then pizzas arrived. Debs Kennedy and Lucy Haynes, on a day visit, ordered twenty sausage and chips from the pub. Somehow most people got fed and neither Debs nor Lucy seemed to be eating a lot of sausages and chips. So it all seems to have turned out O.K. The start after lunch was not early, characterised by the stately march of umpire Williams from the pub to his position. Then the ball could not be found. When it was unearthed, the grass was wet and Sam Sprague was required to open with his leg-spinners with a wet ball.  The bat was on top and remained so. Harry Kennedy notched a direct-hit run-out and for a while we had two leggers in the attack, but the OTs could bat and they struck lustily. Three of our bowlers took a wicket, but the OTs cruised home with nearly fifteen overs to spare. The pub was agreeably close and offered some excellent beer. There then followed the most lavish and luxurious (and delicious) barbecue your correspondent has ever experienced chez Paul and Ruth Thomas. Your correspondent’s welcome, not all that late, at his South Molton hotel was not warm, but he could stand it.

    There was thunder about, and it dumped on the Chulmleigh ground during the morning, but the pitch absorbed it and we made a fairly prompt start. The club has a splendid policy under which the pavilion clock is set at the agreed start time, and the game proceeds under its direction. A bit testing for dyed-in-the-wool notchers, but a good idea none the less. Our side was a bit young and diminutive (and late too), but we chose to bat and opened productively with a pair of Kennedys, who put on 115, before a disagreement over a second run led to Harry’s dismissal. I was on Jonny’s side. Spratling followed almost at once, strangled off a very wide ball. The bowling was a bit short of the highest quality and there were rather a lot of wides, but Kennedy J soldiered on in the company of Lewis. With a combined age around the hundred the running was unambitious, and another leg-side strangle broke the partnership. Philip Oliver struck some lusty blows to steer us to a pleasing declaration total, and tea (another feast) came fifteen minutes after a drinks break. Martin Oliver, making his first appearance of the tour, slotted a catch for the first wicket, but a partnership developed. However first Kennedy H and then Charlie Thomas struck, the latter to dispose of the rather grumpy South African on 49. He was not pleased and his entry to the dressing-room was powerful enough to knock the HOME sign off the door. Kennedy H had a hot patch and three wickets. Our not very large wicket-keeper was pinged on the helmet, but it did not stop him offering high fives all round whenever a wicket fell. Thomas C struck twice more, and we enjoyed the sight of him chasing a blow off his own bowling to the long-off boundary. Hugh Ogle took a wicket and George Thomas had an over, but we couldn’t take the last wicket in what had been a very cheerful game (for all but the grumpy Springbok.)

    The magic and mystery of Bridgetown persists. The sun shone as an apparent farmer crossed the bridge and carried a white flag down the river and back again. The imagination boggled. There were as usual a great many spectators to witness a rather leisurely start to a 40-over game. The Sou’westers batted and opened with two thirds of the Webb car-load. Mark was in fine form before he holed out to the opener, but Matt Barrett, back after a fallow year or two, picked up the thread and with some solid strokeplay moved inexorably to a hundred. He had a little support from Johnny Atkinson, and later Will Payne helped us along after a mid-innings collapse. The Bridgetown ground-fielding was excellent, their catching less so. A target preceded what looked from the far side of the ground to be the usual spectacular tea. We were then entertained by a fine opening stand, with Kenny Cross inevitably dominant. Thereafter the bowling took control. Olly Atkinson took a brace of wickets, his father one, and Oliver P had two spells, punctuated by a spate of wides and three wickets. Kennedy H also notched three wickets and Charlie Thomas cleaned up in a notably economical spell of off-spin. The most memorable features of the innings, however, were the extraordinary catching in which Angus Spratling excelled, and a Bridgetown batsman having his post-innings shower in the river.

    The sun was still shining at Instow, but the wind blew. The home side, a mixture of two Antipodean pros and talented youth, won the toss and chose to bat against a Sou’wester side reinforced by the return of Robert Wiggs to the front line (or at least the rear end of it). Charlie Langley was back too to open the bowling, rather more accurately than the support seam. A promising opener, who seems to have scored all but one of the first twenty-one runs, fell to one of those run-out farces which keep us old fogeys enthralled. A diving catch by keeper Paul Offord took the next wicket, and then we turned to the spin of Henry Pike and Mark Meyer-Webb. Wickets fell while the opening Antipodean sped majestically on. There were many wides and many ball-hunts over the down-wind bank, and some catches spurned. Webb and Pike picked up three wickets apiece, the Antipodean reached 150 and Wiggs had a little bowl which he and his admirers will wish to forget. The other Antipodean, skipper for the day, showed a delightful understanding of the way to play a time game, and declared to give us plenty of time. Kennedy H reached fifty, and Offord, Atkinson J and Webb all made good starts, but pressure told and Wiggs strode to the wicket at number eleven with the last two overs to survive. Webb seemed to have farmed the strike until with three balls left he found Wiggs beside him and was forced to run. Wiggs, pure in thought and deed as befits a man of the cloth, held out for the draw. He later confessed that he was expecting another over, an assessment of the situation which excited some consternation in the away dressing-room.

    It rained hard most of the way to Kilmington, but it dried up, and we made a pretty prompt start. Our innings centred on Guy Bucknell, who opened and batted through to the declaration. His dominant 136 made up considerably more than half our score. Around him Kennedy J fell to a one-handed slip catch, Richard Godfrey to a ball that popped, Will Payne to a leg-side strangle. George Walker and Olly Atkinson stood up for the younger generation, batting well in support, as the church bells urged us on. Our opening attack of Andy Pring and Kennedy H offered economy but not penetration, and it took the introduction of Hogg to break through. He bowled two and induced a catch to wicket-keeper George Walker, who sharply raised the recent standard of Sou’wester keepers. Spratling too hit the stumps and at 55-4 things looked good. Then Joel Seward, a guest we had often met at Axminster, came in and the balance swung. Kennedy J took three late wickets, one of them another staggering catch by Spratling. Other catches were not held, and Seward, hitting handsomely, reached the target with a six and four balls to spare. Another slightly bitter triumph for declaration cricket!

    There had been overnight rain at Cerne Abbas (why do cricketers always obsess about the weather?), but we were greeted by the sight of our President cutting and mopping and rolling, and a fairly prompt start was made, with Simon Heazell presiding over the home scorebook. We won the toss and batted, against initially a solid attack. Mark Meyer-Webb and Richard Godfrey put on nearly a hundred for the third wicket, and Mark went on to complete a not-out century with some clean hitting. The first-team bowlers came on seventh and eighth and seized the initiative back. It took an unbroken tenth wicket stand of 53 between Webb and acting captain Kennedy H to take us to a declaration score. The lunch which punctuated the innings fully matched the beauty of the surroundings. Cerne Valley started confidently with an opening stand of 66. Kennedy J was steady, Spratling less so, but Webb stamped his authority on the game by taking the first five wickets, aided by some sharp work behind the stumps by Walker G, and then another later. Several batters made starts, but Kennedy J picked up a couple and Paul Barford took his maiden wicket for the club. Charlie Langley broke down, and we completed the last over with eight wickets down and nine catchers round the bat, with Cerne Valley twenty-eight behind. Another thumbs-up for the declaration game.

    The Heathcote ground was a revelation, with a magnificent new pavilion, constructed  largely with timber from the Knightshayes estate. The ever-reliable Hogg arrived with a full car-load or two of last-minute recruits to ease the worries of the skipper, who was forced reluctantly to play himself. A 40-over contest was agreed, and we won the toss. A leisurely and rather cautious start followed. Stone P, fresh with news of his brother’s nuptials, made most of the early running, but wickets fell and at our worst the score was a slow 73-2. While ten bowlers were used in short spells, Cyril Kelly and Will Penney took charge and gradually picked up the pace with some explosive running and with help from Jay Darrell carried us to a respectable total. Tea was a feast (what a joy it is for a tea-lover continually to repeat such sentiments). Guy Bucknell, now in opposition, led the chase. Messrs Darrell and Hogg shared the wickets and Will Payne again put in some neat work behind the stumps. We were in control for a while, but the arrival of Q.Adams, the pro, who had been working on his fitness in the early part of the innings, brought a brisk fifty in company with Bucknell. We lost with three and a half overs to spare.

    The Berkshire Gents game was cancelled early on – only two of us declared availability. So the tour broke up at Knightshayes, which, I can tell you, is quite a long way from Lockerbie. It (the tour) had many good points, wins perhaps not so plentiful as we would wish, but lots of sun and not much rain, some very good cricket, most of it in declaration games (we seemed to declare and get stuffed quite a lot) and lots of senior members. It was more than a little sad that we should never see Paddy and Julyan or Robert George again, but we saw the President, three Past Presidents, three Vice-Presidents, all the Management Committee, four life members, five non-playing members and assorted playing members. Marion Oliver graced the scorebook quite a lot and manned the phone. Martin managed the playing side with his usual aplomb (and even donned the whites twice). We had lots of umpires. We scored lots of runs (and bowled rather a lot of wides) and held some outstanding catches, but we could profitably recruit some penetrating bowlers. Well done, everyone!

    Christopher Carruthers

    The Quotes Explained

    1. Your correspondent talks bodyweight and recalls the bridge at Bridgetown.
    2. Debs Kennedy consoles Angus Spratling on getting out.
    3. The call from the field at Budleigh Salterton. Vernon Lewis had been felled.
    4. The Old Tauntonian match strategy.
    5. O.T.keeper as the umpire signals runs, not leg byes.
    6. The indignant Chulmleigh South African. The pot, perhaps, calling the kettle black.
    7. Charlie Thomas, responding to Dean’s apology for giving him out.
    8. The cry from the pavilion as Oliver P unleashes a beamer on a diminutive batsman.
    9. A worried looking Wiggs, after his first two balls at Instow had been punted for six.


    v Old Blundellians Monday 28th July Lost by 4 wickets
    Sou’westers 230-9 S.Hogg 59*, T.R.Barford 46, A.Bolan 37, W.Payne 22
    O.B.s 233-6 A.Giles 87*, A.H.Lewis 2-30, S.J.E.George 2-47
    v Seaton Tuesday 29th July Won  by 6 wickets
    Seaton 187-8 T.Mitchell 66, J.Jones 2-26, A.Spratling 2-45
    Sou’westers 190-4 A.H.Lewis 71*, J.P.Kennedy 32 W.Payne 26*
    v Sidmouth Wednesday 30th July Drawn
    Sidmouth 369-6 W.Sorcazk 124, Z.Bess 119, A.Thomas 2-56, J.Marks 2-62
    Sou’westers 256-8 A.Thomas 84, H.Kennedy 69, A.H.Lewis 22
    v Budleigh Salterton Thursday 31st July Lost by 1 wicket
    Sou’westers 205-6 P.L.Barford 65, A.Bolan 56*, S.Hogg 27, H.C.J.Thomas 21*
    Budleigh Salterton 206-9 J.Dart 67, S.J.E.George 5-64, J.Marks3-59
    v Old Tauntonians Friday 1st August Lost by 6 wickets
    Sou’westers 261-9 A.Spratling 86, A.Thomas 31, H.Pike 29, P.L.Barford 20
    O.T.s 262-4 A.Watson 68, N.Neubert 66
    v Chulmleigh Saturday 2nd August Drawn
    Sou’westers 202-3 J.P.Kennedy 84, H.Kennedy 39, A.H.Lewis 31*, P.G.Oliver 28*
    Chulmleigh 171-9 H.Kennedy 3-19, C.Thomas 3-27
    v Bridgetown Sunday 3rd August Won by 92 runs
    Sou’westers 255-7 M.Barrett 115, W.Payne 69*, M.Meyer-Webb35, J.Atkinson 21
    Bridgetown 163 P.G.Oliver 3-32, H.Kennedy 3-33, O.Atkinson 2-24
    v North Devon Monday 4th August Drawn
    North Devon 256-8 J.Roach 150*, H.Pike 3-49, M.Meyer-Webb 2-55
    Sou’westers 208-9 H.Kennedy 50, J.Atkinson 39, M.Meyer-Webb26*, P.Offord 24
    v Kilmington Tuesday 5th August Lost by 3 wickets
    Sou’westers 219-6 G.Bucknell 136*, O.Atkinson 32, G.Walker 22
    Kilmington 221-7 J.Seward 122*, S.Hogg 3-47, J.P.Kennedy 3-47
    v Cerne Valley Wednesday 6th August Drawn
    Sou’westers 225-9 M.Meyer-Webb 104*, R.Godfrey 61
    Cerne Valley 197-8 M.Meyer-Webb 5-31, J.P.Kennedy 2-40
    v Heathcoat Thursday 7th August Lost by 6 wickets
    Sou’westers 211-8 W.Penney 58, C.Kelly 51, J.Hare 33, P.Stone 29
    Heathcoat 215-4 G.Bucknell 69*, J.Darrell 2-29, S.Hogg 2-44

    Batting Averages

    Batting Innings N.O. Runs H.S. Average Ct/St
    M.Meyer-Webb 3 2 165 104* 165
    S.Hogg 3 2 86 59* 86 1
    A.H.Lewis 4 2 138 71* 69
    M.Barrett 2 0 127 115 63.5 1
    A.Thomas 2 0 115 84 57.5
    A.Bolan 3 1 105 56* 52.5 2/1
    H.Kennedy 7 2 201 69 40.2 1
    W.Payne 5 2 118 69* 39.33 5/2
    J.Atkinson 2 0 60 39 30 1
    P.G.Oliver 2 1 30 28* 30 1
    R.Godfrey 3 0 81 61 27
    T.R.Barford 2 0 49 46 24.5
    J.P.Kennedy 7 1 136 84 22.67 3
    H.Pike 2 0 44 29 22 2
    P.L.Barford 5 0 87 65 17.4
    A.Spratling 6 1 104 86 17.33 4
    G.Walker 2 0 32 22 16 2/2
    P.Stone 3 0 46 29 15.33
    O.Atkinson 3 0 40 32 13.33
    H.C.J.Thomas 3 1 25 21* 12.5 1
    Sam Sprague 2 1 10 7 10 1
    J.Marks 3 1 19 12* 9.5 1
    M.Hall 4 0 39 16 9.75
    P.Offord 3 0 28 24 9.33 2
    E.W.J.Walker 2 0 11 7 5.5
    C.Langley 2 0 9 5 4.5
    S.J.E.George 2 0 1 1 0.5

    Also batted; G.Bucknell 136*; P.J.Clarke 5; J.Darrell1; H.Eaton 6; J.Hare 33; J.Jones 4 (2 ct); C.Kelly 51; W.Penny 5 8; A.Pring 18; C.D.Stone 5*; C.Thomas 0 (2 ct); R.J.Wiggs 0*.

    Also played: H.Ogle (1 ct); M.R.Oliver (1 ct)

    Bowling Averages

    Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Average
    C.Thomas 17.2 5 42 4 10.5
    P.G.Oliver 6 0 32 3 10.67
    M.Meyer-Webb 25 4 86 7 12.29
    J.Darrell 10 3 29 2 14.5
    H.Kennedy 26.5 1 112 6 18.67
    S.J.E.George 31 5 132 7 18.86
    A.H.Lewis 11 1 59 3 19.67
    S.Hogg 18 0 107 5 21.4
    J.Marks 28 3 167 6 27.83
    J.P.Kennedy 52.2 8 242 8 30.25
    A.Pring 11 1 61 2 30.5
    H.Pike 20.5 2 101 3 33.67
    A.Thomas 17.3 0 115 3 38.33
    O.Atkinson 14 2 98 2 49
    A.Bolan 17.2 0 103 2 51.5
    J.Jones 14 2 113 2 56.5
    Sam Sprague 22 3 132 2 66
    A.Spratling 39 1 199 3 66.33

    Also Bowled: J.Atkinson 3 – 0 – 15 – 1; P.L.Barford 4 – 0 – 36 – 1; R.Godfrey 26 – 4 – 109 – 0; J.Hare 5 – 0 – 31 – 0;C.Langley 9.1 – 0 – 15 – 1; H.Ogle 3 – 0 – 21 – 1;W.Payne 5 – 0 – 28 – 1; W.Penny 1.3 – 0 – 14 – 0; C.D.Stone 12 – 2 – 67 – 1; G.Thomas 1 – 0 – 4 – 0; R.J.Wiggs 2 – 0 – 45 – 0