Whitgift Staff v. Cambridge To Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club
“Bagman,” noun, British dated, informal: “A travelling salesman.”
With a full list of domestic fixtures this summer this ‘touring’ side moves from infancy to youth but some features don’t change. No doubt the rank and file remain grateful to the ‘gun’ cricketers for their sterling service, runs and wickets. Grateful if not loyal. The little people remain the beating heart. Smaller feats, maybe, but bigger heroes.
This was 21 June 2018, the Summer Solstice Cup, and the second of the year’s biannual Croydon pilgrimages. Yet another exemplar of the ‘barbecue-and-ice-box’ hospitality on display south of the river.
Toss won, CtCCCC to bat.
Senior clubmen were in disarray. The Chairman: late, muttering quietly about ‘going upstairs.’ The Director of Cricket: absent full stop. Irrelevant perhaps to this report, committee members Cassels (Social Secretary) and Davidson (no portfolio): busily under-delivering the (Tou)Rwanda Report by, at today’s count, nearly six months. But even when the dog doesn’t bark the tail can wag.
Enter the Bagman.
A false dawn; opening the batting Baggo fell early, not atypically but valiantly, on the hook in the fourth over.
Sure, the ‘gun’ batters made runs. 205 of them. Chapeau, Will Hammond, who scored 105 retired by 7.05pm following a 6.05pm start, a run every 36 seconds: a berserk episode in the middle of a strike-hogging patch purple enough to embarrass hallucinations. Tip of the cap to Ben Cassels, 22* off 11, smashing a pavilion window to conjure memories of a past more glorious than the present. Nod of the head Edward Pearson, a flawless 48* off 23. True performers.
These were great successes, no doubt, but the evening should be judged in context. 40 overs overall leaked 393 runs at 9.83. A true batsman’s paradise and run-plundering carnival. But yet, into this unpromising environment, onto this unwelcoming stage, up to this intimidating crease …
Enter the Bagman.
First, a little background. Off the pitch and on his touring debut Ollie “Baggo,” ”the Bagman” Roberts famously made the carrying role his own with an enthusiastic debut which even now shows no sign of abating. On the pitch, in truth, Baggo has been better known for self-celebratory episodes of momentary individual brilliance, mostly in the field, and one glorious extra cover drive in Corfu. Maybe he carries the bags, but not the team*. So they thought.
Somewhere tonight, as the Bagman handed the umpire his cap before bowling the first over, bells tolled and angels sang. His first over: a maiden. The other opener, much heralded young recruit and fast bowling so-called rude boy Thomas Sherwin, bowled the second over for 17. One run off the bat in Baggo’s third. Nervous to lose their wickets to this part-Basset hound and full time talisman, Baggo’s staff colleagues prodded nervously forward, wafting outside the off stump. Shez’s second went for 16. It went on like this.
First change, the skipper switched to ever-present Jamie Rutt and renowned B&P cricketer Mark Conway. Rutty economic, Conway solid.
Whitgift scored 90-0 in the first 10 overs, primarily off Sherwin whose overall figures were 47-0 off four. (The more generous minded were liable to assume that his placid spell, not to mention the suit he wore to the game, were intended to buy social capital among his new staff colleagues.)
The first wicket finally fell, snick’d off by Rutt. 97-1.
Conway bowled a ball so unthreatening that the batsman endangered people quietly filling their cars at the petrol station some distance away across the A235. Not to mention endangering the opposition as they scuttled out of the ivory towers to ask locals for their ball back. Whitgift back on track.
Ed P to bowl now – risky choice at this stage but maybe the right call, bowling the other Whitfgift opener and only a single overstep. 152-2. Another over from Gimson passed safely. Whitgift were poised on 165-2 off 17 overs, needing 41 off three with proper hitters at the crease. Wicket needed.
Enter the Bagman.
Five off the first three balls. Baggo under pressure. Fourth ball: the breakthrough. Joubert – a enormous South African – was caught by Dean at midwicket. Checkmate. Baggo getting the job done. The Bagman set off at a sprint, waggling his finger in magisterial send-off. After the grandmaster stepped away from the board Whitgift were reeling, 170-3 needing 36 off 2, and limped blandly to 188-4.
4-1-15-1. The travelling salesman had earned his commission.
*Ed: Those that saw Baggo bowl 8 overs in the heat in Brittany or his full allocation in Valencia, when no-one else was physically capable or mentally willing to bowl, may suggest otherwise
Cambridge to Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club