“Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. And I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen”

It may look like I’ve been a slack blogger of late, with no update for over a month. And to a certain extent, that is correct. But forgive me, because in the last month, I have only played a single game of cricket…and I didn’t even bat.

Here’s what’s happened since ‘In Media Res’ was posted:

Week 0 – Defeated South Woodham Ferrers at home. Documented in ‘In Media Res’

Week 1 – No match on account of Hockney dropping out of the league. On the Sunday, I rejected the rain and misery of London for sunnier climes.

Week 2 – Ash takes charge, home to Stock. We only manage 144 (Chalk and Turner making a slow 67 and a quick 41 respectively in an innings that saw only one other double digit score) and Stock win by 4 wickets. I’m told that holding onto catches would have seen us prosper comfortably.

Week 3 – Away to Havering-Atte-Bower. Bat first, put 195 on the board (Chalk in the runs again) but fail to defend it. Again, dropped catches to blame, but it also appears that our normally water tight bowling attack struggled.

Week 4 – I return to take charge sporting a golden tan and a glorious moustache and we head away to Southend-on-Sea and Eko Monarch and Trojans, widely believed to have one of the longest, and therefore worst, names of any cricket club in the country.

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The skipper was happy to be back

We batted first and with a bad weather forecast, Cadman was promoted to open to give some early innings impetus. This didn’t work. However, following him at number 3 was Naeem, who took the sword to SoSEMT and formed a solid partnership with Chalk. Naeem scored a scintillating hundred, whilst Chalk quietly got about his business at the other end. Naeem was eventually dismissed for an Admiral Lord Nelson (111), and Chalk for 43. Some lower order biffing from Powell and Southwell took us to 259, earning maximum batting points.

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Naeem ‘The Admiral’ Aslam, quietly content having scored 111

SoSEMT were never in the chase. Faced with a huge total, they never looked confident. But we can take credit for not giving them a sniff. Marrion and Ovel both demonstrated great control with the new ball. Marrion conceded 20 runs from his 12 overs, but this was made to look careless by Ovel who bowled a superb full allocation for only 3 runs. They took 2 and 3 wickets respectively.

They were followed up by more youth, in Matt Hartley and Tom Mean. Both bowled well, with Mean being particularly unlucky to only pick up 1 wicket. Hartley impressed with his confidence and willingness to flight the ball.

SoSEMT ended 145 runs short.

Man of the Match – The Admiral, for a superb hundred.

Dick of the Day – Chalk had a very good shout at this, for not having got to 50 before The Admiral bought up his ton, despite having opened. However, for asking to bowl “from the end that is uphill but has a downhill slope” and various other clangers, the award goes to Ben Marrion.

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DoD: Ben Marrion

Week 4 – For the third time this year, our match fell foul to the lowered Gulf Jet Stream. I console myself by drinking Margaritas, watching fishing on TV and going to the pub.

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Definitely not cricket

In Media Res

I was fielding at cover, when Mr Hartley walked over from gully halfway through an over.

“Tim, my knee is shot. I’ll try one more over off my short run, but it’s not looking good”.

He bowled one more over, turned to me, and shook his head.

Losing Mr Hartley’s bowling at the best of times is dreadful news, as he guarantees going at under 2 an over and will normally pick up a couple of wickets. But today was worse.

I looked from Mr Hartley to Northy. Northy was sat on the boundary with his leg up. Pulled a hamstring in his second over. Couldn’t bowl. I then looked to Shaheen. Bad back, couldn’t bowl. I then looked to the scoreboard, which told me we had only 138 runs to defend.

This was going to be a tough afternoon.

Earlier on, myself and Chalky had opened the batting versus South Woodham Ferrers. We got off to our usual slow but solid start, getting to about 60 off 20, which is where we like to be, before I got out for 27.

What followed was a steady trickle of wickets, as man after man got out trying to play an aggressive shot. Fair play to South Woodham Ferrers, they took some very good catches, but we shouldn’t have given them the opportunities.

No one took responsibility, and at times I thought I was watching Stick Cricket – boundary or out. Only 3 of us made double figures, Chalk top scoring with 44.

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Another Springfield batsman decides to hit out or get out…with 20 overs remaining…

S.W.F were sounding pretty confident as they walked off, and I must admit I did think we had a tough task on our hands even before our bowling attack was handicapped.

But Sven started us off beautifully as ever, showing great control and getting some movement. Chalk took up the mantle at the other end, and between the 2 of them S.W.F were soon slipping behind the run rate, and three wickets down.

Ash took over from Mr Hartley, and started to throttle the batsmen, giving them nothing to hit and always thinking one step ahead. At the other end, bereft of options, I took it upon myself to do my best Mohammed Hafeez impersonation and send down some offbreaks.

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Clancy extracted some sharp turn

I was actually delighted with how I bowled. Yeah, there were a few dreadful balls in there. But mostly I kept things tight, and turned the ball enough to cause their left hander genuine problems with the ball pitching on middle and turning past his outside edge.

The pressure built by the two of us led to some frantic running, some frantic stroke play and some frantic field setting as we tried to defend our sub par total. The innings was bought to and end by Caddy, who had already showed great hands in the deep, producing a good throw from long off to run out their number 11. S.W.F were 24 runs short.

A spirited bowling performance proved to be enough to overcome a sub standard batting effort and some dreadful injury luck. On measure, we probably got away with one. But there will be weeks where we play much better and lose, so it’s best not to dwell on it.

Man of the Match

Tough one, in such a team performance. Chalky and I both batted and bowled well, but ultimately we both got out too early. For me the stand out man today was Ash, 3 wickets at just over 2 an over. Great to have you back, and well played sir.

Dick of the Day

No stand out melts today. Chalky’s dropped catch wouldn’t normally qualify, but his 30 second juggling routine before it went to ground technically means he dropped 6 catches, landing him with his first DoD of the year. The first of many I bet.

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Diamonds

Eastwood came to Coronation Park on the Diamond Jubilee weekend, with the Springfield IIs looking to demonstrate some ‘bouncebackability’ after a poor loss last week at Tillingham. I won the toss, and duly batted.

I returned to open the batting, but didn’t last long at all. Thankfully, Chalk and Frost batted sensibly enough to spare my blushes, and set about building a solid platform. Both brought up half centuries, but failed to kick on, something that I hope they will both be slightly disappointed about. Some late order hitting (including a massive maximum from Naeem, on 2s debut) took us up to 190.

Although this was a decent score, especially considering we were one down for next to nothing, I think a bigger total was on the cards when Chalk and Frost were in and going well together. A little bit more maturity and commitment could have seen us reach 220, which was on at one stage. But this is extremely harsh criticism, especially coming from a man who scored nout.

To be honest, Eastwood never really got going. Northfield and Ovel opened the bowling, with Ovel taking a couple of early wickets and looking dangerous. Northfield was simply too quick for their openers.

Responsibly was then handed to the experienced duo of Hartley and Arain. Hartley was as miserly as ever, but this week collected 4 wickets for his troubles in another excellent spell. Arain, possibly struggling with a slight back injury, was not up his usual high standards but very good none the less, taking 2 wickets.

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Arain and Hartley continue their double act

With the death rattle deafening, Powell came on to put Eastwood out of their misery. They never really looked like getting anywhere near, and even though we won by over 60 runs, we could have turned the screw a little bit more if the situation had required.

Another good win which again demonstrates the importance of building a solid, if dour, platform and then bowling good lines and lengths.

Man of the Match

A bit of a no brainer. Enough has been said about the pure glass Mr Hartley bring to our team, and this was completly demonstrated this week. The first MoM of many, I’m sure.

Dick of the Day

Contentious one this. Having scored 0 and dropped a catch, there were calls for me to be DoD yet again. I will happily score no runs, drop catches and get DoDs if we keep winning. However, DoD is not about playing bad cricket. It is about doing something stupid or inappropriate at any point during the day.

Having said that, I did try to take Bryn off in the middle of an over, which is prime DoD territory.

However, this week I am spared by 3 Dicks of the Day. I am all for guys bringing girlfriends along to watch a spot of cricket. But Luke, Northy and Sven all broke an unwritten ‘girls-at-cricket’ rule, and ate tea with their ladies rather than the lads. Very poor form from all three of them, and classic ‘Dick of the Day’ behaviour.

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Girls at cricket – Generally encouraged, but there are still rules

Lobsters and Windmills

I’ve never played cricket, or even been to Holland, but an away day at Tillingham comes pretty close to it. It isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘mid Essex’. In fact, it’s bloody miles away.

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Tillingham, also known as ‘West Holland’

But it is picturesque, with a pretty 14th century church. The drive out also introduced our Aussie Cadman to the beauties of rural England, with hedgerows, meadows and winding country roads rather than the bleak ‘paddocks’ he’s used to.

Having lost the toss and been inserted, Matt Chalk and Cadman Turner opened, but neither lasted too long. Frost and Southwell then came together for a promising stand.

Southwell was aggressive, taking the attack to Tillingham but having pushed the field back, tried one shot too many and holed out for 37. Frost was caught playing a similarly loose shot.

And that was pretty much the story of the innings. Irresponsible batting and loose attacking shots saw us fall from 52-2 to 99 all out. The number of batsman who threw their wickets away was inexcusable, and there was a clear lack of cognition and application. I was left not out at the end, after a dour attempt to post a defendable total.

Tillingham’s bowling was average. Credit is due for bowling straight enough to allow us to get ourselves out. But they were not particularly penetrative, and simply allowed us to press the self destruct button.

We left ourselves a lot to do with the ball. Northfield and Attwell started well, but as last week it was the change pairing of Arain and Hartley who piled on the pressure. Arain was again a menace across 2 spells, pitching the ball up and swinging it to take 4-19.

Meanwhile, the first proper sunshine of the cricket season was too much for the forearms of a number of Springfield’s fielders, who quickly started to resemble lobsters.

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Springfield’s slip cordon readies themselves

But Tillingham’s batsmen showed the application we did not. There was a brief wobble with under 10 runs needed, as Powell and Arain took 3 quick wickets. Powell was on a hatrick, only for myself to put down a relatively simple chance at slip.

But it was too little too late anyway. We lost the game with the bat, and although we bowled well, we needed to take wickets earlier than we did. Having said that, we were probably only 20 runs off what we needed in order for the bowlers to spare the blushes of the batsmen.

Man of the Match

Mr Hartley was once again very economical, and looks to be a key piece of our bowling attack. Powell also nearly stole the show with 2 late wickets. But MoM has to go to Arain. Another 4 wickets, and always looking dangerous, it’s a shame his efforts were in vain.

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Dick of the Day

This is slightly contentious. Ovel made a very strong claim for DoD by asking if Cadman counted as an overseas player. Yes, he does because he comes from Australia.

But popular consensus was that I was again DoD for dropping a hatrick catch. DoD isn’t meant to punish bad cricket – it’s about being a melt, not being rubbish. Dropping a catch on a hatrick is rubbish, but it does also make me a bit if a melt.

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Roaring Back

Roaring back in from a blogging hiatus.

Roaring back at the start of the 2012 season.

Roaring back from 2 frustrating weeks watching rain fall and cricket grounds turning into lakes.

This is Springfield Saturday IIs vs. Boreham 

I won the toss, chose to bat, and strapped on my pads to face the first ball. Old habits.

The first twenty overs were a turgid affair, by no means entertaining cricket as myself and Chalky played safe, scoring at 3 an over to build a solid platform. This was according plan, although we both missed out on some loose bowling and the meadow surrounding the square resulted in a lot of running and few boundaries.

I was the first man to go, playing a poor shot, but thankfully Andy ‘PA’ Frost was able to lift the scoring rate of the next 12 or so overs. PA went, Luke came, and an ever reddening Chalk ground to 50.

Chalk and Luke then took the sword to Boreham, lifting us from around 120 from 35 to 202 from 45 overs. Luke provided vital impetus when it was needed, scoring 36 from 26, whilst Chalk exploded to end on 94 not out. It was an excellently paced innings, and would have been worth well over 100 had Coronation Park been transformed from pasture to cricket pitches. But the running will do him good.

Chalk on his way to scoring 94*

We confidently took the field for the second innings, knowing that our 202 runs were worth upwards of 230 on an average pitch. Attwell and Ovel got us off to a good start. Attwell was aggressive if slightly wayward at times, picking up a wicket. Ovel picked up from where he left off last season, with Boreham unable to lay a bat on his away swingers.

However, it was the change bowlers, Arain and Mr Hartley (on 2nd team début), who did the damage. Mr Hartley confounded the Boreham batsman, picking up regular wickets with his surprisingly nippy bowling, to to end with 4-21 (which could easily have been more if slip catches were taken by myself, Powell and Chalk, who was by now pretty much immobilised.)

The remainder of the Boreham lineup was accounted for by ‘Apprentice’ Arain, who bowled full and straight with great accuracy and consistency. His 5 wickets (for 20) were very much deserved, as much for doing the basics of bowling exceptionally well as anything else.

Ultimately, it was a straight forward win of 101 runs. This was by no means sexy, box office cricket. But it was a demonstration of the effectiveness of setting solid platforms, taking risks only at the right times, generating pressure with the ball and most of all, doing the basics well.

And that is how we roll.

Man of the Match

Arain can consider himself unlucky to miss out having taken 5 wickets, as can Mr Hartley. But it was Chalk who showed maturity and commitment to put us in a position we were never going to lose from, and therefore he takes the first MoM of the season.

Dick of the Day

Tricky one this. No one said or did anything riduclous. But I scored tediously slowly, then played an awful shot, then headed away a slip catch, whilst Powell, Pattani and Turner took TFCs. So I’m going to give it to myself. Just this once.

Seven Increasingly Festive Reasons Why I Love Christmas

Despite decorations in shops going up in August and my wallet taking a huge hit, I bloody love Christmas. I don’t get people who don’t bloody love it. Here are seven increasingly festive reasons why I love Christmas. Surprisingly, the X Factor Christmas single doesn’t feature.

1. Christmas Parties and Christmas Boozing

Any excuse, isn’t it? Christmas presents a perfect opportunity to meet up with your friends and family in as many different combinations as possible and have a couple of hard earned pints. It’s been a long year. The days are short. It’s freezing outside. So lets huddle in the corner of a pub and remind each other why we are all mates. Christmas day is also one of the few days all year when you can justify having your first drink at 9am.

It’s also the time of year when your company makes a token gesture to repay all the stress you have endured and all the over-time you have worked by locking you and your colleagues in a room, plying you with booze and seeing who is inappropriate first. Best case scenario is you have a splitting headache the next day and have to stay at the office until 9pm because you weren’t capable of working until sometime after lunch. Worst case scenario, you crack onto your boss and you’re queuing at the Job Centre come January. I love the danger.

2. Christmas Shut down

Whilst the office Christmas party is riddled with pit falls, I am very fortunate to work for a company that shuts down over Christmas. This means three extra days off, and hopefully a pretty quiet week before as everything is slowing down to a halt.

3. Christmas Box

Last year as a Christmas bonus from work I got a jar of retro sweets. It was a nice enough thought, but nothing to get excited about. Even so, this year I think we’ll be lucky to get a lump of coal or a satsuma. Or orange peel, for that matter.

But that doesn’t stop me loving the idea of a Christmas Box. When I used to deliver papers as a nipper, I used to be so happy when someone gave me a quid at Christmas. The money wasn’t relevant, I was just touched they wanted to give.

So now, it’s not the receiving of the Christmas bonus I love, but the giving of something a little extra. I’ve already tipped the car wash bloke and the barber more than I normally would. I won’t shy away from sharing the festive spirit with others too when the time is right.

4. Mince Pies

I’m a big fan of mince pies. Normally I won’t do anything Christmassy until 1st December hits, but with mince pies, I’ll get going as soon as they hit the shelves. I also have a great story about the history of mince pies, but I’ll save that for next year…

5. Christmas Tree Smell

Pine tree air fresheners just don’t do it for me. Neither does Glade or funny flavoured candles. The best way to get your home smelling a treat is to put a great big Christmas tree in the front room. Practical, not so much. Fragrant and festive, hells yeah.

6. Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner is like a roast dinner on steroids. I don’t get people who don’t like turkey, cranberry sauce should be enjoyed all year round (but I’m glad it isn’t, because it wouldn’t be such a treat) and I love the extent people will go to in order to nail their roast potatoes.

Ah, roast potatoes. When I was at Uni, in my final year, I decided I was going to do a Christmas dinner for my mates. The original idea was I’d sort out the turkey, and everyone else would chip in with the sundries. Originally it was meant to be for 7 or 8 of us, but a few housemates bought friends so I think there was about 12 in the end.

Anyway, this idea of everyone chipping in never really worked out, so I just did everything. Except the roast potatoes, which my mate George ‘Man Tits’ Sanderson kindly said he would bring along. He was very excited about this, and claimed to make awesome roast potatoes.

So I’m cooking away, and people are arriving. And there is a knock on the door. Tits is standing outside holding a tiny Tupperware box with about 3 roast potatoes in it. For 12 of us.

Thanks for helping Tits. I kept your Tupperware box as a punishment.

7. Christmas Music

I get very excited about Christmas music. I only have it on my iPod from 1st December every year, and I listen to it loads. I’ve condensed every Christmas compilation ever made into a rockin’ playlist of about 20 songs. It has The Darknes, Jethro Tull, Coldplay, Elton, Cliff, The Killers, Shakin’ Stevens, The Waitresses, and the greatest Christmas song every made, The Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’. I listen to this last song at least three times a day for the length of December, and I’ve never tired of it.

So there are seven very good reasons to love Christmas. But it’s not just these reasons. It’s the good cheer and happiness that comes at this time of year. We don’t normally need much of a reason to start complaining, so I think that it’s good we have a great reason every year to love life and our fellow man.

Haircuts


There is a lot that I haven’t learnt in my 22 years. I can’t speak a foreign language, I can’t play an instrument and I can’t fix anything that happens to be broken. By and large I’m fine with this. For me, the payoff for acquiring these skills just hasn’t been there.

But there is one thing that I really think I should have learnt by now. And that is how to get my haircut.

I understand the process. You pick a barber shop, you take a seat, you wait, you take another seat, you say some stuff and then someone starts cutting your hair. At the end, they show you the back of your head with a mirror, you pay and walk off.

(If this isn’t right, please, please let me know, as this could be the route of my problems)

So I get it. But what I have never cracked is the stuff you need to say after taking your second seat and before you are shown the back of your head.

Having tried saying all sorts of different things, I have only ever had two outcomes:

1. I come out with ridiculously short hair, only a few millimeters away from looking like I should put on some DMs and go and hang out in the 1960s

2. I come out looking pretty much the same as when I went it. I wanted a hair cut, but I actually just paid £15 to have my hair wetted, combed and then put back into place.

There have been a few false dawns. I thought I cracked it once by showing a photo on my phone. It wasn’t a particularly special photo, just one with my hair a bit shorter but not too short. This worked once or twice, until I was told my hair was too long to be cut like that. I couldn’t figure this out at all. If it was still the length that it was in the photo, ie. shorter, then coming to get a hair cut would be pretty redundant and would represent a very easy £15 for the person with the scissors.

I think I have two main problems at the barbers. Firstly, I take the view that the person behind me is the professional, and who am I to tell them what to do? They don’t sit down in my office and tell me how to plan a course of research (although if anyone, absolutely anyone, would like to do that, then fine by me). An example of this blind faith in the system was when I quite clearly said “off my ears” only for the bloke to repeat to me “yeah, yeah, we’ll do this, and that, and keep it over your ears”. I didn’t like to say anything though because I assumed he knew what he was talking about (this ended up being haircut option 2).

My second problem is that I’ve been going to the same haunt since I was a nipper. So the haircuts are crap, and it’s not dirt cheap. They don’t offer you a drink and they never have a decent radio station on. But I would feel bad going somewhere else now. Ok, they don’t deserve my loyalty, but where would we be without customer loyalty? We might as well ditch capitalism and go back to communist Russia, where you get your shoes from a shop called ‘Shoes’ and your books from a shop called ‘Books’. And we all know how that ended up, don’t we? I’m having no part in it.

There was a time, a short but happy time, when I was in Southampton and I was obliged to have my haircut down there. I used to go to this tiny little place run by two lesbians. Not the sexy ones, but the football shirt wearing ones. They were really nice, pretty cheap and cut my hair well. But those days are gone now.

So I don’t know what to do. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out. Or maybe I won’t, and maybe I should forget about the whole thing. It’s worked for Boris, I suppose.

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