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Cricket Club

Winter Tour Report

Malham CC v Appletreewick CC

11th January 2009

This midwinter madness in the Dales is catching. Together with the regulars from Leeds, Burley and Lancaster, a couple of spectators from Huddersfield also turned up for the first time. As always for visitors to these games, the main attractions are the exploits and performances of individuals rather than scores and who wins. And, of course, there is always a very warm welcome from the locals.

Winter Tour action, January 2009, Malham v Appletreewick

Noticeable this year were some new features: a new ground of a humped-back field, and a game that started early - that is to say, just an hour or so late. So it was to be 16 overs per innings, with about 15 players on each side watched by a good gathering of spectators despite the biting cold wind.

It took the MCC, batting first, several overs to get used to the pace of the wicket. Actually there was none, and hardly any bounce. The few early runs were scrambled and slithered singles. With the ball keeping low and wellie boots not being the best footwear in slippery conditions, most batters, unless they retired, were run out, clean bowled or played on. Not until two mighty sixes did the MCC score get a real move on. One six into the road was followed by another clean over the road and into the far field after the ball had bounced off the top of the stone wall. With this late effort the MCC totted up 67 runs. Oddly enough, to the credit of both sides, there were hardly any wides or no balls. Perhaps the lone umpire was intent on keeping his hands warm. (The other umpire was last spotted in the Buck Inn with another pint in his hand - three overs into the game.)

Spectacular on both sides were the fearless diving efforts of the outfielders - one fielding point, at least, for the man in the red Santa hat. Most flamboyant however, was the ACC keeper who, on the last ball of the innings, dived full length for four yards and slid another two to break the stumps and claim a run-out.




Winter Tour action, January 2009, Malham v Appletreewick

Throughout the game, the drinks man (from Huddersfield, of all places) wandered amongst the players - and spectators - dispensing swigs from his bottles of port, whisky and bourbon. Consequently, on top of their pre-match consumption, some of the ACC players must have been at a disadvantage in their innings. At least one, an affable ACC tailender, was in no fit state to get to the wicket if needed and was last seen with his head buried in a stone wall. Another told us that he intended to use his home-made bat chiselled out of a lump of oak and which, with its three layers of cable round the handle, weighed as much as a railway sleeper. On top of that, so it was reported, ACC's request for a fresh batting strip, instead of the one that was now a mud patch, was declined. Sportingly, however, the MCC allowed the use of a very off-white ball as the light faded. But, and despite the efforts of the ACC league players, the run rate of 4.2 was too much for the visitors.

Winter Tour, kit bag, January 2009, Malham v Appletreewick

In the gathering gloom, the flourescent yellow head-to-toe garb of the veteran MCC player helped to shed enough light for the last over in which fours were needed instead of the few singles. A close game, nevertheless, with the home side winning by five runs (so it was thought). But everyone was merry, convivial, and well satisfied with their teams' efforts in the most outrageous of conditions. After handshakes all round and farewells to the travelling fans, the players made their way back to the pub, as if the match itself had been just a bit of a fresh-air break in the main business of the day.

And lastly, the other game. In a corner of the field, a four-year old kept wicket to his slightly older sister whilst Dad lobbed down the ball. The littl'un had had a full set of cricket gear for Christmas. Since then, he'd hardly had his pads off and had probably eaten his Christmas dinner in batting gloves. Future of the game assured!

Thanks for the Sunday entertainment, and best wishes to you all,

Mick Bourne


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