The Dodgers season kicked off at The Oval and the team started as they meant to go on: By the 6pm start time only Lee and Matthews were present. At the current rate of attrition of Dodgers bowlers this could well be the opening bowling attack by the first game of the season. Lee invited Matthews to take first knock, explaining that half an hour of facing the Cat's bowling was not an attractive proposition.
The Cat began cautiously, deploying his trademark prod to great effect and pacing himself carefully for a potentially lengthy thirty minute knock which would have been his longest since his famous last wicket stand with Gilbert Jessop in 1902. To everyone's relief NJ sidled in and proceeded to bowl in a fleece, claiming that it was cold despite the sweltering rain forest-esque conditions of the indoor school. He was swiftly followed by the perennially cheerful Hilary. As the bowling attack diversified, Matthews demonstrated that his winter had been spent developing a wide range of new shots - the poke was added to the prod and we even saw the lesser-spotted nurdle. Rumours that Eoin Morgan was on his way over to learn a few things proved unfounded.
Bennett finally graced us with his presence and was immediately dispatched into the cauldron of the batting end of the nets where he played shots all around the wicket and all in the air. Hilary was already demonstrating that his hold on the bowling trophy was going to be hard to prise away, bowling a succession of half-volleys so juicy that the Man from Del Monte was spotted nodding approvingly from the back of the hall. With Bennett's time at the crease almost up, Hilary surveyed the terrifying bowling attack, donned his full protective gear and strode in. Conditions were tricky by now with spin twins NJ and the Cat probing away on very full lengths (in Cat's case, often waist-high), Bennett nibbling it around and Lee exploring the middle of the track.
Lee came in at four with a winter of Friday nets fully in evidence as he was dismissed more often than the England middle-order facing a semi-competent club spinner. A few meaty clubs in the direction of the agricultural pastures redressed the balance before NJ brought up the rear with a curious knock which started aggressive and got progressively more cautious until by the end it was virtually the full McBarron.
The local hostelry didn't benefit from any post-match trade as everyone departed swiftly, Hilary particularly smug that his wife was picking him up.
Innings of Dodgers CC
Matthews b Mystery Spin 12 (minutes)
Bennett c Lots of Times b Quite Well 11
Hilary b Very Agreeably If You Like Playing The Cover Drive 12
Lee c On The Back Foot b Half Track Rubbish 12
NJ b Consistently 14
Priest Absent (Back)
Carr Absent (Presumed Pub)
Extras: 4 byes, 1 cheerio