I have always considered this to be the most boring sporting event in history.
South Africa and England were coming to the end of their 1939 cricket series, this after four drawn tests. Both teams agreed to play the final match to a finish.
The game in Durban begins and after six interminable days South Africa at last set England an unlikely target of 696 for victory.
But at the end of the seventh day England are still plodding along at 253 for one.
Rain washes out the eighth day.
At the end of day nine England have lumbered to 496 for three.
At tea on the tenth day England have trudged to 654 for five, needing just 42 for victory.
Then it starts to rain.
As the England team is due to sail home later that evening both sides agree to abandon the match as a draw.
But as I study the match cards from this season’s team knockout quarter finals, I can’t help but think that a ten day cricket match would offer more excitement than the fare on offer last Thursday. Still, I suppose I should be grateful that the Dockers ‘A’ and Cricket Club tie at least needs a final leg, Rob Melling the man that ensures all four big hitters make it safely through to the semi final stage.
Thankfully, the Plate offers up a cracking encounter on Poulton Road, where the Strawberry Gardens are taking on Highbury ‘B’.
The visitors take an early lead, courtesy of Darryl Butler, this before Lee Nield squares things up at 1-1. Cliff Ashby and Steve Hayton ease the Highbury ahead by 3-1, an advantage that rapidly disappears as John Rowe, Michael Shaw and Ian Ball make it 4-3 for the home side. A promising position indeed for the hosts, had they managed to locate a player for the final game.
Things continue to go downhill for the defending title holders when John Shaw makes it 5-4 for the visitors in extra time. But Michael Shaw once again comes to the home team’s rescue in levelling things at 5-5. So it is that Ian Ball takes centre stage in securing a wafer thin victory for the Strawberry, as they look to make it through to the final for the third year on the bounce.
Elsewhere, skipper Trish Hughes delivers the coup de grace for the Femme Fatales as they dump the Peripatetic Pensioners out of the competition, as indeed does Paul Gair in seeing off the challenge of the Royal Oak. Completed the semi final line up this year are the Biased Boys, this after whitewashing the Querulous Queens on Upper Lune Street.
On Friday, the Olympians travel to the Land That Cabs Forgot to take on the aged ones in the latest round of league fixtures. Wins for Pete Jackson and Brian Bond get the visitors off to a flying start, this before Mick Buckingham, James Unsworth and man of the match Harold Davies send a shudder through the ranks of their illustrious opponents in making it 3-2 for the retirement home.
Top banana Dave Coulborn and Cavan Thake ease the visitors back in front at 4-3, before final pairing Joe Lavery and Steve Riley take to the oche. When Joe hits his finishing double first dart, things look to be up for the Mount. But with astonishing aplomb, Jocky matches his opponent’s accuracy to pinch both points for the fortuitous foreshore flingers.
Meanwhile, Highbury ‘A’ are relishing the visit of the recently eviscerated Beach Road Boys. But things begin with an almighty hiccup for the hosts as Lee Howell gets the Queens off to an unanticipated winning start. Alas for the visitors, pretty soon they find themselves 5-1 in arrears, this before man of the match Matty Chorlton and Ian Rees bring some respectability in reducing the deficit to 5-3 by the close. Carl Simey continues his rehabilitation with a splendid cameo for the footballers as they continue their dogged pursuit of the table topping Cons.
Steve Hadgraft is best again this week for the Lotharios as they ease past the challenge of visitors Dockers ‘B’ by 6-2. Craig Gill is best on the night for the Spirits, his man of the match performance severely denting the title aspirations of home star Dale Newton.
Bottom feeders the Cricket Club huff and puff to good effect in their match down Broadwater against the Collapsibles on Friday, excellent wins for Dave Pilling, Dean Stockell and man of the match James Kilburn squaring things up neatly at 3-3. Sadly, that is as good as it gets for the home side as Gaz Whitehead and Stan Billington prove too strong for their opponents in the dying embers of the tie.
There is to be no repeat of the successes achieved twenty four earlier for the four Plate semi finalists. The Femme Fatales subside to a home defeat at the hands of Highbury ‘B’, this despite a bravura performance at the oche by Kirsty Bancroft.
And yet things look extremely promising earlier in the evening for the girls as they munch their halftime sandwiches at 3-1 to the good. However, a quartet of second half successes for Cliff Ashby, John Shaw, Ray White and man of the match Andy Helsby see the visitors escape the clutches of the darting dames for a last gasp 5-3 victory.
The Workingmens also see a 3-2 advantage evaporate in quick style against visitors the Rossall Tavern, as late wins for Al Morley, Tony Ashburn and Chris Garton secure the points for the Blasted Heathens. Brian Wood is best on the night for the Workingmens, with Peter Hornby securing his place in the sun for the victors with an emphatic 105 finish.
An even bigger collapse is taking place on Poulton Road as the Fuzzy Ducks take on the Royal Oak. Man of the match Andy Gratrix, Michael Shaw and Ian Ball ease the home side ahead at 3-0, this before a total collapse sees the visitors romp home courtesy of top dog Daniel Atkin, Sean Atkin, Billy White, Tony Brogden and Dave Spencer.
A brace of wins for Les Ivison and Alan Jackson gets the Bowling Club off to a flyer away to Dockers ‘A’ on Friday, this before Brett Dawson, Mark Smith, Adam Blyth and best of breed Mark Shewan make it 4-2 for the hosts. A shared experience between skippers Paul McCann and Chris Donnelly is enough to nudge the home side across the winning line, the victory rubber stamped by last man Anthony Hadgraft.
Thanks for reading.