Appropriately for a man built for the heat, Baggo’s marquee fixture of 2017 was played on the longest and hottest day of the year, on the Whitgift School 2nd XI pitch in Croydon. Although not the team’s most recognised aesthete, even Club Chairman George Dean on his journey to the ground was moved to remark on the repulsiveness of London’s most offensive suburb. Once the visiting team had managed to locate the pitch, however, tucked away in the manner of The Perse’s Long Road square circa 2000, they came across Baggo’s literal marquee, a proper hard wicket, well-tended outfield, and picturesque surroundings. Our small corner of Eden in South London! The wicket was so dry and inviting that the usually demure Jamie Rutt was sent into paroxysms of excitement. The thought of being able to extract enough bounce to claim potentially the first wicket of his typically miserly yet barren bowling season brought Jamie charging in to open with debutant League Cricketer Swann.
Rutt made the early breakthrough claiming his usual one wicket for not very many, while The League Cricketer was dispatched to all corners by Whitgift’s burly opening batsman. Enter The Jester from Leicester, on his first appearance for CTCCCC on English soil. After his sordid introduction to the club in Hungary, Chairman Dean is to be congratulated on tempting the talented cueman back into the side – and as well he did. Where The League Cricketer had failed The Jester succeeded, as the opposition’s dangerous opener holed out to mid on and the pride of Leicester got his tail up. More ably supported by Baksh and Davidson, and less ably by Dillon, The Jester split the Whitgift pack with a combination of seam movement, nice lengths, and unerring accuracy. Never one to be outshone, Baggo took an over-dramatised but enjoyable catch in the outfield which bought back many memories of his Valencia heroics; Hammond, too, took an outrageous diving catch at midwicket signalling his return from injury and staking his claim to be the club’s second allrounder. Some pressure was released with an expensive over (23 runs) from Dillon, a charitable move from erstwhile skipper Pearson, E, and despite Lester’s 4-0-31-4 the opposition posted 152 all out from 19 overs.
The traditional CTCCCC opening partnership failed to fire again, with Cassels, B continuing his slump in form from 2014 and Rudkin, H continuing his travails against the short ball, again not managing to convert scorching form with the white ball into coveted red ball runs. Baggo too fell cheaply leaving the rare allies and middle order engine room of Hammond and “Second Season” Dillon to get back on the rate. Dillon, in damage repair mode after conceding 23 runs from a single over, quickly made amends with a series of blistering strikes through his hitting arc, leaving Hammond open-mouthed at the non-stiker’s end, seemingly content to tap the ball around and get the Ginger Cannon back on strike. The pattern of each over became startlingly similar, with Hammond seeing out a dot ball, scampering a quick single off the next, to see Dillon swing-SIX! Swing-MISS!, swing-SIX, swing-DROP! all the way to a 70 from just 50 balls. Hammond scratched around in the shadow of his less experienced batting partner, and was finally pinned in front for a pedestrian 49 from 46 to the delight of his teammates. Nevertheless, this mismatched partnership of 122 runs had all but won the game for us, with the coup de grace fittingly applied by visiting teacher Pearson, E.
With at least one return fixture already arranged for next season and the prospect of the 1st XI pitch, Baggo’s marquee game may well become CTCCCC’s marquee game in the future – a fitting tribute to the man who some call the beating heart of the club.
Cambridge to Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club