Dodgers v Ministry of Justice

Weather: Dry, sunny
20 overs
Retire at 25
MoJ won the toss and elected to field

Match report

On an unfeasibly sunny spring evening, a strong Dodgers team finally took the field for the belated first game of the season, Superstars having avoided their inevitable and richly deserved thrashing the previous week by dint of the miserable weather. No such worries this time round though, as the Dodgers players slapped on sun block, borrowed head gear to cover their modestly hirsute heads and prepared to face down the might of MoJ.

Justice did indeed prove blind when their captain, fresh from a victorious toss, chose to offer Dodgers first use of a decent pitch, a firm outfield and rapidly vanishing daylight. His judgement was almost immediately called into question as Dollin set about MoJ’s religiously monikered Hallchurch with gusto, unleashing firm drives and withering cuts to good effect. At the other end, Taylor, the lesser-spotted Dodgers cack-hander, bedded in and watched the carnage.

Sadly, it was short-lived as Dollin went for one expansive, lofted drive too many and was snaffled athletically at long off. Qureshi came to the crease and was immediately into his stride, involving himself in a couple of early run out chances that reminded us all about the need to exercise care when entering the TQ zone. Hallchurch, who by this time had switched from donkey-droppers to a variety of slow leg breaks, picked up his second victim when Qureshi went for an expansive drive was bowled.

In came Priest to complete a delightful nomenclature pas-de-deux with the lanky opening bowler. He immediately was granted a life when the keeper missed a straight-forward chance low to his left, and cashed in with some spanking shots. The run rate was a pleasing 6 an over, and the received wisdom was that 120 would be a handy score.

A change of bowling bought a change of fortune as Priest went for one drive too many and was bowled by Murray. Taylor completed his 27 and retired, having batted solidly for 30 odd balls. This bought the 2007 winner of the player, batsman, bowler, fielder, pipe-smoker, PFA Young Player, rear and train operating company of the year awards to the crease. However, clearly intent on giving the rest of the team a chance this year, Fox began the 2008 season by bunting a slow full toss straight to midwicket for a golden blob. Suddenly, at 4 down, Justice could sense momentum shifting back to them.

The big Mo was rapidly snatched back via a feisty partnership between McBarron and Lee. With McB staying solid at one end, Lee put last season’s batting disappointments behind him by thrashing the MoJ attack to all parts (well, the agriculturally-named ones anyway). McB completed yet another red inker 25 in the last over, and Lee spanked the last ball of the innings for 4 to finish 25 not out. With five batters getting to double figures, this was a solid team innings of 133, a total that most observers felt would present a challenge.

The glacial pace of MoJ’s bowling of their overs meant that that sun was already setting when Dodgers took the field. The Cat, positively sprightly in his 86th season for the club and resplendent in his new gloves (their antique predecessors having being flogged for £250 on Cash in the Attic) took his place behind the stumps and was immediately in business as Paterson charged in from the top end and beat the bat. At the other end, Hilary took some early season tap as the MoJ top order began the task of chasing a tough target at 6.5 an over.

Justice was not what the openers got as chances went begging and wickets failed to fall. Paterson was replaced by Cooper who bowled a solid initial spell. However, with the MoJ’s Steve McManaman look-a-like playing some particularly expansive shots, the scoring rate climbed up to 6 an over and stayed there.

Hilary completed his spell and was replaced by Lee, who proceeded to entertain the crowd with one of his more variable spells that was such a feature of his early Dodgers career. The top three were soon retired with 25 each to their names and things looking good for keepers of the constitution.

When the going gets tough for Dodgers, there is only one man they can call upon. Fresh from his first ball quack quack and his pre-bowling bout of pilates, Fox quickly got back into the groove, bowling the appropriately named Flury and cutting Bigham down to size. Paterson weighed in with a wicket, doing Hutchinson for pace and completing an excellent spell of 4-0-14-1. With the remainder of MoJ’s tail-end looking encouragingly floppy-eared, the game appeared to be slipping away from them, a view reinforced when Bowman was run out by half a pitch via Taylor’s quick work in the covers.

With MoJ running out of batsmen, and their opening trio slavering hungrily on the boundary rope, Priest was faced with a tricky conundrum. He opted to re-introduce Lee in the hope that his wild inaccuracy would see the game out. Sadly, whilst the inaccuracy remained, the ability of the Justice batsmen to succumb to it was a whole new factor. Hallchurch, after a spectacularly hooked four off a head-high full toss, fell to a catch from Cooper and Connah to McBarron. In between, the run out of Hoare ensured a tricky finish. With 2 overs left, 22 were needed.

Some sparky running and hitting garnered 11 from Fox’s last over, and by some dint of creative maths, this left Dodgers needing to defend ten off the last over. Lee (3 overs for 23) was tasked with closing it out in the gathering gloom. He immediately snared Pascoe caught behind, and with three balls left the equation was 7 runs or one wicket. Nerves got the better of him and he dropped his delivery short and on the leg stump. Smith swivelled and pulled and looked towards the boundary. However, Priest snaffled a stunning catch at short midwicket to win the match and the champagne moment.

So a close fought victory for Dodgers, played in an excellent spirit by two strong teams. Lee was man of the match for his good batting and stupendously jammy bowling.


Innings of Dodgers

Dollin c (mid off) b Hallchurch 16
Taylor not out 27
Qureshi b Hallchurch 4
Priest b Murray 16
McBarron not out 25
Fox c ? b Murray 0
Lee not out 25
Hilary not out 1
Sub-total 114
Extras (2b, 1lb, 14w, 2nb) 19
Total 133

dnb: Paterson, Cooper, Matthews


Olsen 4-0-14-0
Hallchurch 4-0-28-2
Connah 4-0-26-0
Murray 3-0-29-2
Smith 4-0-18-0
Hoare 1-0-15-0

Innings of MoJ

Smith c Priest b Lee 26
Pascoe c Matthews b Lee 36
Olsen not out 29
Flury b Fox 4
Bigham b Fox 6
Hutchinson b Paterson 0
Bowman run out 2
Hallchurch c Cooper b Lee 12
Hoare run out 0
Connah c McBarron b Lee 4
Sub-total 119
Extras 8
Total 127


Paterson 4-0-14-1
Hilary 4-0-27-0
Cooper 4-0-26-0
Lee 4-0-26-4
Fox 4-0-26-2


Umpires: Fox, Hilary, Dollin
Scorer: Cooper
Taylor retired on 27 at 19:09
1 run short (Lee) 14.4 ovs
McBarron retired 25 at 19:31

Man of the Match: Lee (10), McBarron (1)