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The Scottish cricket season came to a thundering conclusion last Saturday as crucial ties all around the country were being decided (with just a touch of help from the elements). For the small isolated minority that do not follow the sporting grandeur that is Scottish domestic cricket (your loss), the impressive Edinburgh-based Grange Cricket Club took the illustrious Scottish Premier League title. Unfortunately, the bookies' favourite, the mighty Aberdeenshire CC, couldn’t repeat last year’s heroics of doing the double as a series of crucial injuries, unfortunate AWOLs and critical retirements took their toll on a stretched squad. The vacuum left by the talented Kiwi pro and amateur duo that dominated our batting and bowling averages the year before proved to be difficult to replenish. More importantly, however, I am sure that Cricinfo readers will rejoice at the news that our second XI, led by the notorious Buck Escobar Oakman, was once again successful in retaining their crown by winning the ever-competitive, and world renowned, Strathmore and Perthshire Union Premier League.
Oddly enough we still managed to get comprehensively annihilated in the last game of our season. However, having already won the league our sorrow was short-lived (there was a 15-second window during which we were truly inconsolable) and the remarkably familiar sound of carbon dioxide coming out of solution as a result of a sudden decrease in pressure (i.e. the opening of cans of lager) could be heard from the crease where I was playing a minor part in a not-so-heroic last stand. Rule of thumb: if I am needed to bat it can safely be assumed that the team is in trouble). My contribution to the match was pretty much limited to a few wickets and a bucket load of no-balls conceded during my opening spell. Unfortunately there was no financial incentive in my case; it was simply down to my inability to jog 14 paces without breaking stride. Although I feel I should add that I am very much open to bribes, preferably in the form of the aforementioned carbonated cans of amber liquid, in return I shall endeavour to bowl no end of wides, no-balls, beamers and long hops (cue riotous “not much different from your usual spell then” remarks).
This year’s league trophy was a particularly sweet conquest considering, as mentioned in an earlier blog, we decided to opt out of recruiting a hired gun. Thus meaning the senior players of the team had to take responsibility for the team’s performance without a pro to fall back on. The first step, to turn up to games relatively sober, was an immense sacrifice for some but, for the greater good, we gradually managed to behave ourselves on Friday nights (to a certain degree).
Thankfully the team’s mainstays did step up to the plate. Runs in our team were scored aplenty by our Sri Lankan wicketkeeper/opening batsman/cheap champagne connoisseur: Jésus (believe me, I am aware of the comic potential in his name. Not utilising it is the hardest thing I have ever done), a trainee nurse at the local infirmary. Jésus has two shots in his armoury, a textbook forward defensive with the obligatory minute-long pose and a flawless drive straight to mid-off. His runs are steadily accumulated rather than belted, the run-rate only increasing once the opponents reach the state of mental incapacity one can only associate with a prolonged Jésus innings. Our other opener/offspinning allrounder (and former captain before the villainous Buck ousted him with his, now infamous, coup d’etat), Drew Baggins, also performed admirably, contributing with several vital innings, despite being given out LBW off his chest, and even helmet, on several occasions (he was still plumb, mind you).
Other notable performers include Christopher Rupert Burnét II, who has the unusual claim to being the first ever Australian Etonian. A gentleman of leisure, his availability is a little restricted due to the complexities involved in juggling the cricket season with the Saint Tropez and Monaco social calendar. When available, he is a stubborn bat and a phenomenally consistent seam bowler. His fielding, when not being carried out by his man-servant, Jeeves, is nothing short of exceptional. Fellow allrounder, and star of several films of the more “passionate” nature, Balsa Luberash, was an absolute weapon this year (on the cricket pitch). His innings generally involve a wild frenzy of strokes, dust and explosions, leaving even the most passive onlookers with a peculiar desire for a cold shower and a brief lie-down.
These characters represent only a handful of the group of misfits that form the core of the glorious Aberdeenshire 2nd XI, probably one of the most successful non-national league teams in Scotland (the system won’t allow the team to promote). Now that we have successfully concluded our cricket season, we can start getting on to matters that really are important in life; planning next year’s pre-season tour. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to leave advice, although before you open up your houses to us, please do bear in mind the disgraceful human beings I shall be bringing with me.
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