When North Kilworth were forced to withdraw it appeared the Duckhunters were faced with a blank weekend of what ifs. What if we didn't play a host of bad shots this weekend? What is our bad balls didn't get walloped to the boundary? What if we didn't lose and boost the morale of our opponents? Then Oakham honed into view.
Now obviously Oakham is not exactly on our doorsteps , indeed it was such a trek it might be considered a tour match, but the good name of Fleckney Village Cricket Club cannot be upheld by protecting our averages watching endless reruns of Olympic beach volleyball. The call to action led us to beautiful Rutland.
Initial looks can be deceiving. The youthful stature of our opponents belied a pint sized ( in most cases) junior heap of technique, talent and application. You know the really rude and unSunday like stuff of straight bats and straight bowling. The kind of thing that mere mortals aspire to before the reliance on agriculture kicks in.
Oakham got off to a flier. It seemed the more Ben O'Reilly lengthened his run the further the ball went. Home batter Blazey , well blazed his way to a brief 44, before youngsters Chappell, Gilman and Corbett showed their own mettle. At times it felt like a (beautifully mannered and well meaning) younger generation picking which nursing home you would be sent to.
Thankfully second spells proved more fruitful. Ben was a cricketer reborn, Sam Hill wore one on the ribcage before snaffling his victim and Scotty Roberts got a wicket with a first ball loosener/ pie.
255 is a long way to travel at the best of times , even in the context of a trip to Oakham and back. It would need a first class ticket on the Orient Express and we had the cricketing equivalent of the Trotters Three Wheeler but , we heard, this time next year we'll be millionaires so it was worth a go.
A solid platform provided by Messers Dunkley and Holmes and even a wicket treading misfortune by Saga Hill wasn't too much of a blow. However 107 for 3 became 110 for 7 in a collapse that would hardly be bettered if you had kicked the legs away from an overgrown giraffe. Late order obstinacy from skipper, vice skipper and son of vicar saw the Duckhunters to 134 for 8 at the close.
Strange to say despite a heavy defeat it had been a good weekend. Oakham had lent us two players on Saturday and ties were strengthened by a very friendly game on Sunday. Distance between the two clubs makes it seem more like pen pals than neighbours but certainly good pen pals, not the type that turn up on your doorstep unannounced with a large suitcase, a three month visa and incurable love of loud show tunes .
Barkby V Duckhunters III next weekend. The return of Hoggard? We shall see