After a lack of Lumberjacks and a rather lackluster performance on the park this year, championship-winning standard-bearers for The Bashers CC Shanghai — “Bashers Leisure” — came romping home this weekend in style with a sound thrashing of the Daredevils to storm up the table and into play-offs contention. Herein lies the Lumberjack.
It was a Saturday game for a change, but the weather hadn’t changed; a spotless blue sky and lovely clean air masking the fact that it was about 10 degrees too hot and 50% too humid. We had beer; we had pies; we had XI players which was not a certainty given that there were 3x Bashers teams competing for recruits. Beers at the Camel turned into beers on the bus and the bus dragged us off to SRFC Far.
New Basher ‘J.R.’ brought along a colleague from Melbourne who was to be anointed “Hollywood” at the post-match Fines ceremony. But who could have guessed that Saturday morn that Hollywood would come to bash out one of the most stunning Bashers debuts in club history?
Expertly losing the toss, Leisure were inserted to bat and our goals were simple:  let’s bat right through the innings;  if we do that and get a-run-a-ball we can defend it. After peaceful reminders from the ever-sedate Cranky about not having batted in recent weeks, our back-tattooed teammate was promoted to open alongside Post-op and they set about their work fast. Every over had at least two boundaries. After a frenetic 50 run partnership for the first wicket, Cranky departed early for 20 but first-drop Spanner only picked up the pace and with Post-op clubbed fireworks from both ends. Our poor wicketkeeper Post-op was unlucky not to record the first 50 of the season for Leisure, caught out just four runs short. But that wicket was the event that brought debutant Hollywood to the crease and if you can even imagine, dear readers, the run-rate would pick up even faster.
Professing that he hadn’t held a bat for 8 years, Hollywood begun his business seriously. He was looking to bat out his age in runs scored, and in a 96-run partnership with Spanner nearly beat 1st-drop Spanner to retirement. No area around the wicket was spared. Pirouetting on his toes, bouncers were dispatched from beneath his nose down to the fine leg boundary. Leaning back, a back-foot drive sent the ball like a missile to the third man boundary. Off-side, leg-side; glad-he’s-on-my-side. In the end both Spanner and Hollywood walked off within an over of each other for hard-earned 50s; a monstrous 120/2 at the halfway mark was tempered into an enormous 202/2 from Leisure’s 20-over allotment thanks to good, wise strokeplay from Peking and Shears. Can the statisticians of the club pore over the scorecards and uproot a higher score from any twenty over dig?
Opening bowlers Dot and Growler had a mountain of runs to play with, and the Daredevils were happy to play it out for a draw with quick, fierce bowling like this. Too bad it wasn’t a Test match; too bad Growler was hungry for wickets in his Div 3 debut. Cranky stubbornly refused to oblige however with a brace of dropped catches at second slip. Hollywood though was born for the limelight and came to the rescue once again, holding on to a pacey screamer at first slip. You can find him over on the red carpet ladies and gentlemen, signing autographs before the Oscars begin.
Back in whites after a decade, that other seasoned master J.R. worked his silky magic with the ball and before long had claimed his first 3 wickets for the Bashers. If you haven’t watched J.R. bowl, he takes it right back to the old school with a beautiful rhythmic action not unlike RJ Hadlee. The Daredevils had no answers and soon found themselves in tatters. Even the skipper managed to do something right and knock back a couple of wickets. It was just one of those days where everything went right for Leisure. Daredevils collapsed like a house of cards built on quicksand in a 8.0 Richter earthquake: all out for just 59 runs.
A fine Fines session was presided over by Spanner, with 12th and 13th men Korean and Long Dong chipping in for fines as they’d helped out Peking by relieving his sore back. Long Dong in particular was particularly verbose, managing not one but TWO whole fines. In a single fine session!
Half the team would confirm the next morning (while showing up for Div 2 Pleasure as ring-ins) that we’d all just gone home after the game and crashed out from the heat. And why not — as everything that morning had clicked and played out with a dream result, who could blame the Leisure for revisiting those somnolent memories that afternoon…
Special mention goes out to our heroic Treasurer, Pope Benedictus XVIICLABCD. Mild-mannered bookkeeper by weekday; gritty cricketing sentinel by weekend. Pope played all three games this weekend – Sat morning (Leisure) / Sun morning (Pleasure) / Sun afternoon (Business) – and his game only got better as the weekend marched on. Reckon next time you see him, shout him a Pure Blonde.
Let’s go Leisure, bring it home back-to-back!