From the moment Mike Sneyd admitted he'd turned up because ``it's Wednesday, isn't it?'', there was a sense we were going to struggle against The Beehive (a side we last beat in 2001), and struggle we did -- for much of the match it seemed we were trapped like a wasp in a jar, and it was only towards the end that a few stings were managed.
The Beehive put us in and, mainly due to some very impressive bowling, we scored just 41 in the first 13 (six-ball) overs, with Ev Fox (18) and Tony Malik (53) having to scrap for every run. The balance of power can be accurately judged from the fact that both called for helmets when The Beehive's fastest bowler started sending the ball past their faces at over 70 mph.
So busy were Ev and Tony ducking and diving that they missed a few singles along the way, as did the umpires, due to a general lack of knowledge of the wide and no ball rules-- er, sorry, Laws. Way back at the AGM there was talk of covering such matters in a little umpiring ``crib sheet'' which, had it ever been written, would presumably include the fact that, according to Law 25.1, a wide should be called if the ball is not ``sufficiently within the batsman's reach for him to be able to hit it with his bat by means of a normal cricket stroke''. Now whilst this definition could, rather stupidly, include deliveries like Shane Warne's ``ball of the century'' that Mike Gatting was unable to hit (or eat), it is intended to cover short-pitched bowling over head-height. Most of the team seemed vaguely aware of all this, at least in so far as thinking it was the wide Law and not the no ball Law that should have been invoked. But it turns out a call of "no ball" would also have been legitimate, as Law 42.6 (a) (ii) which states that, for ``any delivery which, after pitching, passes or would have passed over head height of the striker standing upright at the crease, although not threatening physical injury . . . the umpire shall call and signal no ball''. So, in summary, next time you're umpiring and a bowler starts bouncing them over head height, be suitably impressed, but no ball him each time he does it.
The Beehive were sufficiently kind -- or confident -- to rest their express man before he'd bowled out his allocation, and they seemed took their foot off the gas in the last few overs. Combined with some aggressive running, it meant we more than doubled our score in the last third of the innings, ending with the still still sad total of 88/4.
The only real hope of defending so few runs was to take wickets, and we began by fighting fire with fire (i.e., using our fastest bowlers), Joe White (0/8, as unlucky as ever) and George Speller (2/17, and as unshaved as ever) both bowling brilliantly. Add in some stirling fielding efforts from Mike Sneyd (promoted into the eleven due to yet another no-show), Max Shone, Dave Green and, particularly, ``fur-ball'' Speller and suddenly we had a game on our hands, with The Beehive just 34/2 at the half-way point.
If we could get just a couple more wickets then we'd really be in the game, and Daniel Mortlock (2/21) and Paul Jordan (1/28) both obliged on this front . . . but, critically, also presented The Beehive's batsmen with a few too many long-hops. The (relative) flurry of runs and wickets meant that the limited overs nature of the game didn't really play a role for once. Instead it was a return to times past, in which we simply just had to bowl them out before they scored the required runs -- The Beehive couldn't fail to win if they batted out their 20 overs. And it is in this context you should judge Rupert Brown's spell of 3 overs, 1 maiden, 2/6. Superb in line, length, pace and movement, Rupert took us to within two wickets of what would have been an unbelieveable win (as The Beehive were a man short).
He might have taken us all the way if he'd gotten the chance to bowl his fourth over, but that opportunity never came -- in the end we just didn't have enough runs to defend. Appropriately enough, it was the aforementioned Beehive bowler who flicked a sublime boundary through mid-wicket to finish the match off with exactly two overs to spare.
After that it was just time for everyone had a few drinks at Dave's bar -- that's Dave Green's bar as, with Mr Norman off fathering, it was left to Dr Green to impress us with his minimal knowledge of the golden nectar referred to by many as ``beer''.