With the Partridge Family juggernaut back on track after a very mediocre display last week, it was time for the Famulee to show that they are a force (farce?) to be reckoned with in the finals.
It was grudge match time with the ASI Bandicoots. Fears abounded that Famulee jewels errrrr had been revealed urrrrr to the 'coots, courtesy of a bedridden founding member... ahhhhhhhh gee (hmmm?) consorting with The Insider from the 'coots. The 'coots had also scoped us out at the Trivia night (where incidentally we were robbed, only winning a dud prize that defied description). Luckily however we have no secrets to be revealed, apart from us being duds and thats not exactly a secret!
We won the toss and were quickly elected to field by the 'coots who had about four players present. So onto the field we went, sledging Chopper as he proceeded to his seat in the box, although Herc and Schlang must have been kind to him as he made his way past (as will be revealed later).
This weeks first highlight saw the introduction of 'the wig'. The lovely green afro wig is to be worn while fielding, and the wearer is determined by whoever performs a clownlike feat last. The wig is worn for the full four overs until the batsmen change, and then whoever stuffed up (or pulled off errrrrr something freakish) the biggest in those four overs gets the wig and associated calls of 'yeah put it on ya clown' etc etc. It is to be worn while bowling as well if you happen to be bowling an over while in the keeping of 'the wig'. The inaugrual receipient of the wig was Big Bird, for his freakish effort on the ninth at the golf day with the hole in one. He took to it like a duck to water, and besides who was going to tell the big guy he looked stoopid for wearing it anyway!!!
From here the highlights came thick and fast. The initial four overs were surprisingly good for the Famulee, restricting the opposition to not many with some tight fielding. The only exception being one incident involving No Look behind the stumps. A spooned dolly went up and he nonchalantly wandered over and put the gloves out ready to accept the catch. However the ball came down collecting the end of his gloves and allegedly "spun out" onto the ground. Nothing to do with him dropping it cold of course!!! Cries of 'hahahahahaha' and 'hehehehehe' were heard immediately closely followed by 'ya CLOWN!!!!!!' as No Look confirmed he'd be wearing the wig for the next four overs. With the wig on, No Look grew in confidence and the sure hands were quickly back, effecting stumpings and taking some wicked bowling without problems.
Herc was having a night out standing at cover, and after an early miss was threw the stumps down from everywhere. Apparently one of the 'coots had made him angry, and his radar suddenly turned itself on. He was also focused on being the first Famulee member to avoid falling victim to the dreaded three strikes suspension, and nothing would distract him from his cause. His first over was going beautifully (courtesy of a couple of doubtful leg side balls not called by Chopper and booed by the rest of the team) until a ball smacked straight back to him caught him on the end of the finger. It then lobbed over Sticksys head at the back for a seven just to add insult to injury. But a lesson was learnt as the same thing happened next over - Herc initially lunged at it, but pulled out quicker than a Chinese swimmer from the Olympics and left it for Sticks at the back to wrap up.
Speaking of three strikes, Herschelle (who had fallen victim last week) got an eleventh hour reprieve as DB failed to return from watching big men in little tights fondle each other in Sydney (he also went to watch the wrestling too)! And Schlang was praising Herschelle's appearance as he secured run out after run out for Schlangy as he bowled fruit superbly to his field. Schlang also got the benefit of some very close wide calls from Chopper, much to the dismay of the rest of the Famulee who were ready with the "cha-ching" call. Big Bird decided to bowl Schlangy out early in about the 8th over before No Look had even rolled his arm over for his first!!!
WaWa (still yet to serve his suspension) showed he still had the reflex action he showed last week, dragging in some wonderful saves, but No Look and Herschelle soon wished he hadn't. The first attempted run out saw WaWa charge in two steps, gather the ball and then throw down, not the stumps, but No Look from about a foot away! The ball hit him in the shoulder (not quite the stumps) and left an interesting little mark - not quite the same ballpark as Inzys lovebite, but it was there. That effort earnt him the laughter of all assembled (including batsmen) and earnt 'the wig' for the next four overs. He also managed to throw down Herschelle in the thigh when he donned the gloves, but nowhere near as spectacularly!
WaWa was then asked by skipper Big Bird to bowl his over with the wig on, and the green dye proved to have a toxic effect on him. Remember last week how the batsmen hit it to him at the bowlers end and he fell into the stumps instead of running them out? Well he got the same shot played to him again. Determined to make amends, he crouched ready and once again the ball managed to elude him, hit his toe and go for four as the run out went begging. At least this time he didn't tumble into the stumps, so he's improving! However in the absence of any other clownish efforts, it was enough to retain the wig for the final four overs.
Inzy came out with an inspired spell of fizzing, dipping off spinners which were wasted inside Weston ICA. He should have been weaving his magic in the sub-continent, bamboozling young Kenyans in the streets such were the high standard of the deliveries. And of course, as we all know, it's only fruit that gets wickets as Inzy went largely unrewarded for his efforts.
Big Bird bowled his overs not often getting up too top pace (due to girls facing), but when he did, he was deadly and bowled a tight line and length to keep a firm grip on the Houndstooth lead. He then tossed Sticks the ball for the last over and the customary approximately 8 balls to come calls rang out. However Sticks, dazed by WaWa and the wig up front, somehow managed to bowl a legal last 8 deliveries, in what Inzy termed a "sustained pace over". That the pace wouldn't have bruised a ripe peach did not matter!
Big Birds captaincy was also not lost on the Famulee in Sticks first over. Having managed to find the edge with a speciality ball (i.e. a slow nude one), the ball just cleared No Look's gloves. It Rick O'Shea'd off the back net and No Look was unable to snaffle it on the rebound. The batsman had taken off like a startled gazelle, but the non striker was Schlang-like rocking back with no intention of running. He was stranded mid pitch and looked back just in time to see No Look deliver a speeeeshal no look backhand flick at the stumps. It missed but the batsman didn't bother running as Inzy was apparently backing up. However Inzy hadn't seen him still stranded and slowly retrieved the ball. The batsman took off again and made his ground just as Inzy realised and flicked at the stumps - duly missing. Big Bird smiled the grin of a satisfied captain, Sticks let fly with several expletives, Chopper laughed and the rest of the Famulee cheered as it hadn't happened to them. The batting pair also cursed the fact that they probably could have safely run five!
The Famulee came from the field with a very modest 83 runs to chase. However chasing big targets isn't normally the specialty of the Famulee who have choked while chasing targets similar to these! Call of the night went to Tony who offered "Give that bloody wig to Chopper to wear - he'll look a treat!"
No Look and Sticks volunteered to go first. "There's more time for drinking when you bat first" was No Looks quote as he left the sheds. They wasted no time in establishing a choke-hold on the game with Sticks hitting several zaks and No Look blasting the ball along the carpet to rattle the back net. About the only shot he lofted all night was somehow caught by a bloke using only his forearms! No Look decided he wanted a really early start on the drinking by walking off after three overs before being sent back. Then came the highlight of the night. Sticks charged the bowling swinging like a 70's couple and managed to find the middle of the edge with the ball. The ball dribbled towards a fieldsman and being halfway down the pitch he kept going despite No Looks calls of "NOOOOOOoooooo" ringing in his ears. No Look ventured a step outside his crease and then jumped safely back in just as Sticks was run out at the other end, and didn't the crowd and Chopper love it! The boys came from the field short of an outright victory, but with 63 runs on the board.
Inzy and Herschelle were next up with Inzy playing a swashbuckling innings. He played the ball to all corners of the ground on his way to another top score for the Famulee. He also got back some luck that he did not have with his bowling as the opposition couldn't hit the stumps, and on one occasion when they did, the bails didn't come off! Herschelle played his typical anchor role and blocked just about everything back down the middle of the pitch for his customary singles. They came from the field with about 120 runs on the board and victory seemingly assured.
When I say seemingly, it was Two Strikes (Herc) and Two Dots (Schlangy) up next and they strode out confident of delivering a thumping. Herc was intent on making enough runs to be the first Famulee member to fight off the third strike rule, and didn't offer a chance all innings. He batted superbly to ignore the ruthless sledging (from the back net) in a display of concentration and determination and was probably also helped by his phone not ringing while he was batting! Schlangs first ball was a corker - nice height, just outside off stump delivered by The Insider and Schlang almost fell over himself hitting it... no hang on he did fall over while almost hitting it.. that's more like it. The Famulee erupted at the back net while he looked up from his knees and cries of "don't waste the good ones on him" and "just aim at the stumps, he'll do the rest" rang out around the centre. Schlangy didn't have the happiest of nights with the bat as the bails fell off the stumps when he ran to them at any chance they got. The boys came from the field to raptourous applause, with 100 and plenty on the board, as the sweat broke out on Herc's brow. Had he done enough with the bat to save himself the ignomity of joining the three strikes club?
We would have to wait four more overs as Big Bird and WaWa were up to finish the game off. The result was long decided - it was now all about averages and the chase for the Houndstooth and zak trophies was on. Big Bird quickly registered a zak and WaWa even got in on the spirit falling just short of a zak as it brushed the side net and another couple which spooned to the field. However Big Birds bid for Houndstooth points was denied time and again by some freakish foot fielding. Three times customary Big Bird blasts were stopped by shins and feet - one almost ending in a Rick O'Shea runout. And then the catch - who could forget last time we played this team when Al fell victim to a freakish catch. Well it happened again - same batsman, same fieldswoman, just a different pitch. He cracked it and as the ball soared by, she stuck out a hand and it lodged for a catch. Chopper shook his head, raised his finger and commented "well thats just b*****t!"
The boys recovered from this and were looking good until the pace came on. The commentary from the back was in full swing as predictions that the first ball would be a zak from the captain, WaWa would be bowled next ball. Sure enough, the first ball almost left the arena via the back net and the next almost sent the stumps out of the arena via the front net. As did the next one and another one snicked the leg stump, but much to WaWa's relief the bails stayed on. However WaWa closed out the innings, winning the skin and pushed the winning margin over 100 runs for the first time in a long time.
Then the real interest was on - Chop handed over the scorecard with a glint in his eye and a quick "you should all wear wigs" as the Famulee rushed upstairs to check the scores. Herc (with frozen peas on his finger) had switched on his phone and was making a quick call to arrange some emergency surgery to be done before next weeks game. His total batting score of 18 was read out as was one over where he was taken for only 4 runs. The pressure mounted as his next over was read out - but alas he had been taken for 17 runs and the 'three strikes' rule claimed it's fourth victim.
Next point of interest was Houndstooth points and Schlang (courtesy of Herschelles runouts) had tremendous bowling figures as well as handy batting score to take the 3 points with a positive 32. Sticks (27) just beat Big Bird (26) to the 2 points by a solitary run. But Big Birds 1 point was enough to see him retain the lead by a single point as Schlang leapt up the leader board. Many players were unlucky tonight as positive nets that would normally get three points by the length of the straight, got bugger-all.
So the race for the Houndstooth is on as the season begins to wind up. With only four games remaining before the finals, all Houndstooth points will be held in camera for a Brownlow medal style presentation/drinking event at a date and time to be determined.
A draw has also been released for the final month of the season with games as follows:
* Tues 17 Oct 6:50pm
* Sun 22 Oct 3:00pm (instead of playing Melb Cup day - a team bbq will be held before this game probably at Weston behind the ICA arena)
* Tues 24 Oct 9:30pm
* Tues 31 Oct 9:30pm (probably being moved forward a timeslot or two)
* Tues 7 Nov NO GAME - MELB CUP DAY
Then finals begin
* Tues 14 Nov Qualifying Finals
* Tues 21 Nov Grand Final
Please advise Sticks of your availability if you haven't already done so.
The 8 man squad squad for next week is currently:
* Big Bird
* No Look
* with DB to confirm availability otherwise we're hunting for fill-ins!
The other point of interest is outstanding suspensions. All suspensions are to be served by finals time and will be decided on the following grounds. Once a squad of 9 is available, a suspendee for the week will be selected based on whatever I decide it to be! As Houndstooth points and stats won't be sent out till the end of the season, Schlang will be notifying any upcoming possible suspensions.
So onto next week at the unfamiliar time of 6:50pm. Will the Famulee continue their rise up the standings? Find out next week... until then, this is Reuben signing off.