After a night of tropical storms around the Chelmsford area, we rowed into the picturesque village of Terling and were confronted with a less than picturesque pitch. Having gained a reputation for winning the big tosses, I called heads and elected to bowl before the coin had even hit the ground. Needing 5 points for promotion, the game was set up for us on a wet wicket to wrap it up by 4pm and be back to the club for 5 ready for to pop the Champers (Lambrini). Easy!
Chunder monkey Whelan who was suffering from a severe bout of the yips got us under way bowling up the hill after I had successfully convinced him that bowling down the hill with the Lords esque slope was more conducive to my demon nibblers. #alphad
2 minutes later, I was the one being alphad. Having managed to pick up half the pitch in my spike after the first ball, I completely slipped the second ball and sent down a ball that almost yorked the batsman at the second bounce. Restricted to bowling at Eastwood speeds to maintain balance, the threat of my extra pace had been nullified and I thus sent down 6 overs for almost no runs.
At the other end, Sean was chucking them down at a decent lick but despite some heckling from their own players/fans, the Terling openers resolve was considerably better than their chat and so they easily blocked out for 12 overs to see us off.
As the Terling batsman crawled past 20, Dinesy and Meadows came on keen to break the deadlock in this frankly terrible match. Keen to test our love of him after bailing us out, Dinesy gave the Terling batsmen a few 4 balls and they were promptly despachito'd.
However what us 2nd team clowns had failed to grasp was that this was a plan to lull them into a false sense of security and it finally paid off as a catch was spooned up to FG Stimpson at cover.
With the opener gone, the middle order finally had their chance to up the run rate and so the biffing began. Chaz came on to replace Dinesy and was quickly rewarded as Sappy claimed his first stumping of the season to cap off an impressive end to the campaign with the gloves for him. Their skipper came out and having pumped us around last time, we were wary that this could still end up being a decent total on a poor pitch.
The Grubmeister General came back on to replace Meadows who had bowled really well for no reward and he quickly sent down a trademark daisy cutter which pegged back their skippers stumps. At the other end, Yorkey finally had the opener caught by Meadows and we were on our way to wrapping it up.
With the middle lower order needing to go at 15 an over to get to 180, they tried to open their arms up but it was too little too late as the pitch stifled any attempt to hit big. Dinesy had his 3rd caught by me at mid wicket and then snaffled a run out after misfielding at fine leg. Yorkey got his 3rd caught by Gunnar after some expert hat chucking and they were 7 down with only a few overs to go.
With only 2 wickets needed (yeah forgot to say they only had 10 and we still couldn't bowl them out), I turned back to my big guns. Whelan gave ringer Bailey something to do by enticing the batsman into a lofted pull and Whelan and I had 3 overs to get the one wicket to confirm promotion.
Despite Dinesy's best chat, hoping to force the Terling batsmen into an attacking shot that might see them either get out or at least get 1 batting point, they politely declined and carried on playing for the draw. As Whelan chucked down the last over, the field got more and more ridiculous but they survived and we went in at tea needing 120 to win and confirm promotion.
Angered by the lack of a showstopper at tea, Sappy marched out and quickly put Terling to the sword with some hefty blows. His fun was sadly cut short as he spooned one up to cover and we were 26-1. Albert strolled out to join a resolute Gunnar who was admirably focused on making sure he was there at the end to ensure the victory.
Albert found runs easy to come by playing a few nice flicks off his hips for four. As the bowling grew tired/they ran out of bowling, he cashed in and we started to canter towards our total. Gunnar kept it ticking over and Alb hit the boundaries as he eased past 50 to take us close. Needing only 1 to win, Gunnar swept and a really anticlimatic victory was confirmed. In my dreams the night before, I'd imagined us either skittling them for not much or chasing down 200 in the last over but in the end, it was somewhere in between after Terling's batting performance killed the game. Not one for the archives but the win we needed all the same and after some high fives and back slaps on the boundary, we all shot off home to celebrate promotion with he ones!
After sticking our whites back on for the photos in absolutely village fashion, we sprayed the Lambers (trying to make it sound more exclusive) around and got ready for the moment 4 of us had been preparing for all season. SLIP N SLIDE!!
At the time of practicing and in the subsequent losses that followed, I wondered if our premature sliding for Waring's birthday would come back to haunt us but as I gracefully slid past a shocked Swinney and into the hose reel in front of the many fans who had turned out to see our sloppy rigs, I suddenly felt a wave of emotion and relief as the realisation of what we had achieved sunk in.
After that, I don't remember loads owing mostly to the fact that Peth had blinded me with Lambo (better?) but I know it all got a bit emotional with at one point, a sober Sappy declaring his undying love for the Renegades. It was however in that small declaration that Sappy had captured the essence of why were were successful. Ability is key to success for any team but arguably banter, team spirit and decent chat are more important and it is in those areas that we scored top marks this season and so could regain our place in Division 1.
Congratulations to all involved and of course to the 1sts. A great sign for the club and for the team and I know that despite the fact I am stepping down as Champmaster/Captain, I am leaving the team in a much better position than when I found it. I have no doubt that whoever takes over the team next year, they will be successful as they will have the support and backing of the best bunch of muppets around. Vive les Renegades!
Meadows - No wickets but no duck so decent game!
Beaney - Impressive Bambiing and the most exquisite stint of the season - 26.4 overs!
Whelan - Top quality chundering behind the tree, showed a lot of character coming back on for a 2nd spell with mums spaghetti dribbling down his chin
Sprules - Did he even touch the ball!?
Stimpson - 3 tfcs in a row, surely a shoo-in for Clubman of the year?
Bailey - Another of the several gun cricketers we have introduced to the club and then promptly bought down to our absolutely village standard