In a parallel universe, preparations were under way for Week 1 in the Thames Valley Cricket League. But something is not right. Something was strange.
On the Tuesday evening, everyone turned up to nets. When asked for availability we had 100% availability – that never happens. Selection only took 5 minutes and the 1st XI skipper, Mike Brown, even agreed with my suggestions for selection. It went like a dream.
Just as I was leaving the ground, someone called Trinity told me that I had to meet someone called Morpheus as they had some insight into this weekend’s matches. I was reticent especially as I had to go to Club One, but she pointed out that if I wanted to know why selection had been so easy then I needed to meet Morpheus.
So, against my better instinct I went to Club One…
MORPHEUS: At last. Welcome, Marc. As you no doubt have guessed, I am Morpheus.
ME: It’s an honour to meet you
MORPHEUS: No, the honor is mine. Please, come. Sit. I imagine that right now; you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
ME: You could say that. And by the way honour has a u in it
MORPHEUS: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Marc?
MORPHEUS: Why not?
ME: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
MORPHEUS: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life—that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
ME: … The Cricksim.
MORPHEUS: Do you want to know what it is?
MORPHEUS: The Cricksim is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work … when you go to church … when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
ME: What truth?
MORPHEUS: That you are a slave, Marc. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Cricksim is. You have to see it for yourself.
MORPHEUS: [Takes out two pills, one of which is purple, the other of which is gold] This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the purple pill, the story ends; you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the gold pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.
ME: [Takes purple pill and wakes up in bed]
The run up to the week was strange, I started seeing columns of ones and zeros at the ground. No one pulled out of the side. I was expecting a call from the 4s skipper this morning, but it didn’t materialise.
When I got back to the clubhouse, all the skippers said that everyone turned up on time, everyone warmed-up and practiced and all the match fees had been collected and we had 100% availability next week.
Also, around at each ground there were banners for a new company called… Cricksim.
Well the weather was excellent, so on to the match reports.
Royal Ascot 1 v Finchampstead 3
The 1s were at home to Finchampstead 3. Phase 2 of the clubhouse development has been completed and the ground was looking great.
Finch won the toss and skipper Ian Rose elected to bat on what looked like a great batting wicket.
However, that looked to be the wrong decision by the end of the first over. Fifth ball from Mike Brown caught the outside edge of Ian Rose’s bat and James Gamble took a simple catch at first slip
I Rose c J Gamble b M Brown 1
2 for 1 – 0.5 overs
Next delivery, Ben Fisher smashed a cut, but Joshua Jayasingh took a super catch at point and Fisher was gone for a golden duck.
B Fisher c J Jayasingh b M Brown 0
2 for 2 – 0.6 overs
But Andy Webb and Chris Wroot soon settled Finch nerves and started to go through the gears as they were 46 for 2 off 10 with Webb scoring at more than a run a ball.
The 50 partnership came in the 12th over and Brown started to rotate the bowlers in search of a wicket.
Kevin May was the man to deliver as Chris Wroot misread a wrongun and he was given lbw at the start of the 19th over.
C Wroot lbw K May 29
79 for 3 – 18.1 overs
Patrick Fall was next in, but Andy Webb was piling on the runs and reached his 50 off just 55 balls at the end of the 21st over.
Finch started to accelerate and Webb and Fall’s 50 partnership came in the 28th over with Fall smashing a six off Kevin May.
But May held his nerve as three deliveries later he got his man as Fall edged behind for Tony King to pouch and Finch were 4 down.
P Fall c A King b K May 26
132 for 4 – 27.5 overs
Matt Harper was the new batsman, but his stay at the crease was short as he chipped a simple catch to Mike Brown off that man again – Kevin May.
M Harper c M Brown b K May 3
142 for 5 – 30.3 overs
Gary Woodford was the new batsman and while he took time to settle down, Andy Webb was on a different planet as he continued on a run scoring spree.
Woodford hung around for five overs but in trying to accelerate mistimed a drive off Will Ellison and Jack Kendall settled under the high ball to take the catch.
G Woodford c J Kendall b W Ellison 11
170 for 6 – 35.5 overs
Two balls later Kevin May thought he had got his man as Webb top edged a sweep but James Gamble at square leg couldn’t hang on.
That was to be a costly mistake as several overs later Andy Webb reached a very well made 100 as he hit Kevin May over long on for six. His hundred came of 108 deliveries with 6 fours and 4 sixes.
With overs running out, Will Ellison struck twice in an over. First, he bowled Danny Floyd out with a great in swinging yorker.
D Floyd b W Ellison 13
202 for 7 – 43.2 overs
Then four balls later Andy Webb thick edged a cut allowing James Gamble to gain redemption for his earlier drop.
A Webb c J Gamble b W Ellison 110
203 for 8 – 43.6 overs
Finch finished the innings on 211 for 8 off 45 overs.
Andy Webb 110 (112 balls, 7 fours, 4 sixes)
Will Ellison 5-0-20-3, Kevin May 8-0-35-0
Joshua Jayasingh and James Gamble started the run chase for the 1s. Gamble showed his intent with a pull for six off James Bewick in the fourth over.
After 10 overs, the 1s were making good progress at 43 for 0 and the 50 partnership was reached on the first ball of the 12th over.
The 1s looked in no trouble and then out of nowhere Chris Wroot managed to get one to straighten and hit Jayasingh in front for a simple lbw decision.
J Jayasingh lbw b C Wroot 26
80 for 1 – 16.6 overs
Several deliveries later James Gamble raised his bat, as he reached 50 off 70 deliveries.
Jack Kendall was playing well, hitting at a run a ball when he fell lbw in the 26th over to Ollie Bareham.
J Kendall lbw b O Bareham 21
129 for 2 – 25.4 overs
They say one brings two, and several deliveries later, James Gamble edged to Ian Rose at first slip off the bowling off Gary Woodford leaving Ascot wobbling.
J Gamble c I Rose b G Woodford 80
139 for 3 – 27.4 overs
This left Nick Sweetman and Jerry Hare at the crease. They rebuilt the 1s innings with several quick singles and the odd boundary to take the initiative back.
The 50 partnership came in the 39th over and the 1s needed 23 off 6 overs to secure victory.
In the 41st over in a display of raw power and brutality, Nick Sweetman hit consecutive sixes off Liam Bulteel leaving 6 to win.
The win was secured with 16 deliveries left as Hare took a quick single.
212 for 3 – 42.4 overs
James Gamble 80, Nick Sweetman 38 not out, Jerry Hare 35 not out
James Gamble was named man of the match and skipper Mike Brown will be happy with a strong all-round display to start the season with a win.
Henley 3 v Royal Ascot 2
The 2s started the season as they ended the previous season with a tough trip away at Henley 3s.
Rob Handley won the toss and elected to bat first, and in partnership with Billy Baker opened the batting. They started the innings conservatively playing themselves in, but the pitch was looking full of runs and they showed their intent taking 13 runs off the 5th over.
The 50 partnership came in the 8th over with Handley going at more than a run a ball.
However, Alex Harris-White made the breakthrough with a super delivery to clean up Handley.
R Handley b A Harris-White 39
65 for 1 – 10.4 overs
This brought Gareth Baker to the crease and they continued at 6 an over as the 100 came up in the 18th over. An over later Billy Baker raised his bat for a beautiful 50 as he smashed a boundary off Andy Chappell.
But three balls later, Billy Baker was walking back to the pavilion as he gave Sean Taylor a simple catch off the bowling Chanula Wickramaratna.
B Baker c S Taylor b C Wickramaratna 52
116 for 2 – 19.3 overs.
Jason Carr was now in but the 2s still played aggressive cricket. Gareth Baker hit a large six off Sean Taylor, but Taylor got his revenge next delivery as Rory Blackaby took a superb catch on the boundary
G Baker c R Blackaby b S Taylor 43
154 for 3 – 25.4 overs
Jez Wing was the next batsman in and dominated the Henley attack from ball one. 200 was reached in the 37th over and the 50 partnership in the 38th over.
Wing celebrated his 50 with a 6 off Blackaby and in the final over of the innings the 100 partnership was reached as the 2s took 13 runs off it.
266 for 3 – 45 overs
Jez Wing 76 not out, Billy Baker 52, Gareth Baker 43, Jason Carr 42 not out
David Pattinson and Saqib Javed made a confident start and it was a surprise when Javed gave a tough chance which Billy Baker managed to hold onto at deep square leg off the bowling of Aarav Radhakrishnan.
S Javed c B Baker b A Radhakrishnan 18
29 for 1 – 6.4 overs
Skipper John Neville came to the crease and while Myles Trainor bowled well, he was not having much luck as two chances were dropped off his bowling.
However, Radhakrishnan would be the beneficiary as Jason Carr took a good catch at slip to remove Pattinson to leave Henley in early trouble.
D Pattinson c J Carr b A Radhakrishnan 13
40 for 1 – 9.1 overs
Alex Johnson joined his skipper at the crease, and they started to rebuild the innings and were within 1 run of a 50 partnership when he popped up an easy catch for Aarav Radhakrishnan to give Myles Trainor a well-deserved wicket
A Johnson c A Radhakrishnan b M Trainor 29
89 for 3 – 17.1 overs
Andy Wiggett then joined in on the act as he got Neville out lbw to leave Henley well behind the run rate with only 6 wickets in hand.
J Neville lbw b A Wiggett 24
96 for 4 – 19.2 overs
Samm Daniel then joined the attack and had Sean Taylor plumb lbw to deepen their woe.
S Taylor lbw b S Daniel 8
103 for 5 – 21.3 overs
But Blackaby and Lubbock were not about to give up the chase. The 50 partnership was reached at the end of the 34th over.
But with the reintroduction of Radhakrishnan into the attack Rory Blackaby fell to a pearler that him right in front of middle and off.
R Blackaby lbw b A Radhakrishnan 37
179 for 6 – 38.3 overs
With 5 overs remaining, Henley needed 79 to win. Adam Lubbock reached his 50 with a glorious 6 straight back over Trainor’s head but fell with 2 deliveries remaining as he edged behind to Dan Corsini off the star bowler – Aarav Radhakrishnan
A Lubbock c D Corsini b A Radhakrishnan 58
218 for 7 – 44.4 overs
219 for 7 – 45 overs
Adam Lubbock 58, Rory Blackaby 37
Aarav Radhakrishnan 8-0-31-4
So, Henley finished on 219 for 7, 47 runs behind and Rob Handley will be very happy with the win after the poor start the 2s had last season.
Man of the match was Aarav Radhakrishnan
Windsor 2 v Royal Ascot 3
The 3s had a difficult trip over at Home Park against Windsor 2s. It was a bat first wicket and skipper Marc Ames was glad to win the toss and see how much the 3s could put on the board.
Windsor struck early through Dean Bean as Ryan Doye took a simple catch behind to remove Tom Clarke.
T Clarke c R Doye b D Bean 11
24 for 1 – 4.6 overs
Windsor bowled and fielded with great discipline as they kept the 3s at 36 for 1 off the first 10 overs.
Bean then picked up his second wicket as he had Deep Mohain plumb lbw.
D Mohain lbw b D Bean 12
52 for 2 – 12.3 overs
Calum Dougal joined Ralph Weeks at the crease and despite some risky singles slowly got a partnership going.
Consecutive boundaries in the 23rd over saw Weeks first reach his 50 and help bring the 100 up while the next boundary brought up their 50 partnership.
The innings then went up several gears as the 150 was reached in the 30th over. Dougal reached his 50 with a boundary off Bean and then there was further celebrations as Ralph Weeks hits a wonderful six to go to a well-deserved 100.
Dougal finally went to good catch on the boundary by Richard Noble off the bowling of Ben Svenson
C Dougal c Ri Noble b B Svenson 64
212 for 3 – 41.2 overs
This still gave Mark Wiggett the chance to play a great cameo of 23 off 10 balls as 33 runs came off the last 2 overs to leave the 3s with a total that they’ll feel they’ll have a chance of defending.
But the star of the show is Ralph Weeks with a well-timed innings, accelerating towards the end to make 130 off 140 deliveries with 12 fours and 3 sixes.
257 for 3 – 45 overs
Ralph Weeks 130 not out, Calum Dougal 64
Dean Bean 9-1-31-2
Windsor needed a good solid start, but James Summers third ball was an absolute ripper as he bowled Robert Noble.
Ro Noble b J Summers 2
4 for 1 – 1.3 overs
Andrew Chorley was next in and just as he was getting started Tom Dummigan swung one back in to have him lbw.
A Chorley lbw b T Dummigan 11
33 for 2 – 6.2 overs
Dean Allen-Turner and Henry Evans looked to turn the innings around and had just put on 40 for the third wicket when disaster struck.
Allen-Turner played on from Mike Wyatt after scoring quickly at a run-a-ball.
D Allen-Turner b M Wyatt 45
74 for 3 – 14.2 overs
Then a couple of overs later Henry Evans is well caught at point by James Summers off the bowling of Tom Dummigan.
H Evans c J Summers b T Dummigan 12
85 for 4 – 16.4 overs
Skipper Richard Noble tried to hit Windsor out of trouble but went several overs later with a straight-forward caught and bowled by Tim Howson leaving Windsor a lot to do with only 5 wickets left
Ri Noble c & b T Howson 21
103 for 5 – 20.3 overs
Mohit Kulkarni and Ryan Doye started to rebuild the innings and get some momentum back Windsor’s way. They reached the 50 partnership in just under 10 overs and at 154 for 5 from 30 overs, they had got Windsor back into the match.
But just as Windsor looked like they had a chance of winning, James Summers was brought into the attack and first ball he took the edge of Doye’s bat for Dan Mallett to take a simple catch.
R Doye c D Mallett b J Summers 28
165 for 6 – 33.1 overs
Despite that Mohit Kulkarni made a great 50 in the circumstances taking a well run 3 off the bowling of Deep Mohain.
With 5 overs remaining, Windsor needed 61 runs with 4 wickets in hand.
Michael Peacock fell in the chase as Mike Wyatt had him lbw.
M Peacock lbw b M Wyatt 28
216 for 7 – 42.3 overs
And in the final over Kulkarni finally went bowled by Mike Wyatt.
M Kulkarni b M Wyatt 59
221 for 8 – 44.1 overs
Bean and Svenson saw out the final deliveries as Windsor fell 36 runs short.
222 for 8 – 45 overs
Mohit Kulkarni 59, Dean Allen-Turner 45
Mike Wyatt 7-0-24-3
The 3s will be incredibly happy with that win against a strong opposition.
Man of the match was obviously Ralph Weeks
Royal Ascot 4 v NPL 3
The 4s were at home at Locks Ride to NPL 3. Despite normal skipper Richard Baker not playing, the 4s won the toss and fielded first in his honour.
Churchman and Schofield opened the batting for NPL. They made a solid start and were 51 for 0 in 10 overs.
An inspired bowling change bringing Gary Abrams into the attack was rewarded with a wicket second delivery as he bowled Chris Churchman.
C Churchman b G Abrams 26
51 for 0 – 10.2 overs
James Morton joined Schofield and they continued to make good progress when Dylan Baker finally struck as Josh Schofield was caught at mid-wicket by Bas Pal.
J Schofield c B Pal b D Baker 41
93 for 2 – 18.2 overs
George Bradley was next in and never look comfortable, taking 15 deliveries to get of the mark. He eventually fell to Ian Dummigan who got one to beat the bat and bowl him.
G Bradley b I Dummigan 8
120 for 3 – 25.1 overs
Taplin joined Morton and at 134 for 3 off 30 overs looked well placed to push on.
But Gary Abrams was the man to get James Morton as he got him to edge on to gully for Rob Bennett to take
J Morton c R Bennett b G Abrams 45
137 for 4 – 31.3 overs
Andrew Conboy came and went as Jacob Parry got one to straighten to get a good lbw.
A Conboy lbw b J Parry 2
147 for 5 – 34.4 overs
Harry Taplin and Sam Day looked to get runs but some tight fielding kept them from finding the boundary.
In the 42nd over Taplin broke free with 2 boundaries and 1 six but Abrams got him as he was well caught on the boundary by Jacob Parry.
H Taplin c J Parry b G Abrams 38
183 for 6 – 41.5 overs
Some late hitting from Day and Atkins saw NPL reach the 200 mark but with the outfield looking lightening quick will that be enough
202 for 6 – 45 overs
James Morton 45, Josh Schofield 41, Harry Taplin 38
Gary Abrams 6-0-34-3
The 4s started strongly. At one end Rob Bennett was punishing the bad ball and keeping the 4s above the run rate while at the other end John Dunnet was watchful and keeping the scoreboard ticking over and giving most of the strike to Bennett.
The 50 partnership came in the 10th over but Bennett went for just one boundary too many as he was caught near the clubhouse by Will Atkins off the bowling of George Bradley.
R Bennett c W Atkins b G Bradley 41
59 for 1 – 11.1 overs
Trapani and Dunnet were watchful for the next few overs but they reached the 50 partnership in the 23rd over.
Nino Trapani was the first to reach 50 off just 50 deliveries with 7 boundaries and then John Dunnet soon followed with 50 off 84 deliveries with 2 fours and 1 six.
The hundred partnership was completed by the 30th over and the 4s needed 44 off 15 overs.
Despite Day rotating the bowlers, Dunnet and Trapani comfortably saw the 4s home with more than 5 overs left.
203 for 1 off 39.3 overs
John Dunnet 76 not out, Nino Trapani 71 not out, Rob Bennett 41
A comprehensive win for the 4s and Richard Baker was very happy with the overall performance.
Man of the match is Nino Trapani
First, thank you to all 38 managers who are taking part in this Virtual Fantasy League. Thanks to you the club have raised £570 of much needed funds while we await to see if any cricket will be played this season.
Hopefully, this will provide some light entertainment while we’re all in lockdown. I know that several of you have lost people to this virus and the impact is unlike anything most of us have ever seen.
The impact on cricket at the professional and grassroots level is going to be very hard and hopefully we will get through this with the cricket family still strong at all levels and that we won’t lose any clubs or players during this pandemic.
So, it leaves me to say, I hope that you all keep well and keep safe, and you can check out the standings at: