4 losses in 5 games had seen the Famulee slump from their position at the top of the ladder back to the middle of the pack, much like last season. But there were worrying signs this time around. The mid-season malaise where the Famulee list of 30 players shrinks to a list of 6 available had again struck. Big Al had lost his touch, falling victim to the 3 strikes as had DB, Schlang, Hersch and Herc. Sticks was struggling for runs, Knuckles had broken his thumb after falling off his chair asleep at work, Gee had an altercation with the ground while mountain biking drunk, No Look was unable to play as he was lovesick after Holzy left for Ballarat and worse still the Great Man, WaWa, was still recuperating from his ruptured calf tendon. It had been left on the shoulders of Mojo, Kathryn, Inzy, Little Gilly and various other fill-ins to admirably carry the load.
With the pitiful TV and radio coverage of Weston ICA games in India, I was forced onto the next plane out of Mumbai. I arrived on Friday evening in time to view the Famulee's latest Blardyfarken "haven't had a catch-up game in a while" catch-up game.
The Famulee were robbed of the win as Wazza sat perched in the highchair for the latest controversy. Herc was given out shuffling back and across in front of his stumps as the ball Rick O'Shead off his kneecap. Not for LBW, as the Famulee had gone up for, but for caught behind. Herc protested his innocence and Waz offered for the ball to be replayed, but Herc stood his ground and accepted his wicket like a true Famulee member i.e. he stuck his fingers up at his cheering teammates!
Mojo later ducked under a full toss which somehow managed to dip and clip the top of the stumps. Much to his disgust Waz raised the finger which only inspired a run frenzy from him and DB. The last over came around and the runs were flowing, so the bowler decided to bowl one off the pitch with two balls to come - Waz (who must have fallen asleep) declared a fair ball and the game was over with the Famulee short by 4 runs.
And so it was that the Famulee slumped to it's lowest ebb since the early dark days when the team folding looked imminent. Tuesdays team was announced, but once again injury and illness conspired to leave the Famulee with just 6 players and gloom was once again rapidly descending.
That is until a fax arrived at my office from the Great Man himself. In a Michael Jordan-esque statement, the fax simply read "I'm back" and was signed in the left handed scrawl of WaWa.
With WaWa back in the team, it did not matter that the Famulee were left short with 7 players for the first time in 3 seasons. The excitement surrounding WaWa's return was definately going to be an inspiration to his teammates.
In fact in honour of WaWas return, both captains agreed at the coin toss that Tuesdays game would be a 7 a side match - nothing at all to do with the fact that no extra players could be cajoled out of the bar area.
And so the Famulee were sent into bat with DB and Mojo getting the team off to a flyer. DB carried his bat for the second consecutive game and finds himself in the unusual position of facing suspension for not getting out, after previously being suspended for three negative nets! Mojo was treating the bowling with scant respect, and the boys finished with consecutive zaks off the two last balls and came from the field with 43 runs to their name.
Sticks and WaWa were up next and despite getting into early trouble, managed to 'hit' their way out. WaWa celebrated his return with a couple of textbook 'leaves' to full tosses that hit his foot (directly in front of leg stump) but Stickys appeals from the bowlers end were turned down. They came from the field with a hard earned 18 runs, but most importantly the Great Mans calf was still intact!
Next up were Hersch and Inzy. They were looking solid until a West Indies like collapse in the last over with 4 wickets from the last 5 balls. Inzy copping a negative score (fine outstanding) and Clints valiant 2 runs not enough to avoid a negative partnership (both fines outstanding) for the lads. The score was on an anemic 54 runs and the Famulee were struggling.
Enter Big Al and Herschelle selected to bat again. Big Al (who had missed the last game due to getting on the grog in Melbourne for a wedding), treated the crowd to a show with four of the biggest zaks ever seen. The big fella was seeing it like a pumpkin and smashed one ball in particular - it went straight back to the bowler and sliced through his hands and then proceeded through the hands of the fielder at the back and still hit the back net at pace! Hersch rebounded beautifully from his previous innings, bunting singles all over the park. The boys put on a magnificent 53 run partnership and the Famulee entered with field with 107 to defend.
WaWa was champing at the bit and was given the ball to spearhead the Famulee attack. And he didn't let the fans down, with a wonderful over containing a wicket (2nd ball) a zak that vanished into the atmosphere (5th ball) and in between fizzing, dipping and turning deliveries that had the batsmen in all sorts of trouble.
Inzy was up next and the spin king was on fire. He lured the batsmen into an array of false strokes, including one on drive that rebounded off the non-strikers knee and straight back to Inzy for a tremendous reflex caught and bowled! He took 2 wickets amongst 3 dot balls for a minus 5 over in a display that will be beamed back to the Australian spinners for lessons in the craft of off-spinning.
DB was next up at the plate and his Funky Miller like medium pace, off-spinners bamboozled the batsmen. Reflex catches from Sticks and Mojo combined with a runout saw the opposition demoralised on 8 runs after 3 overs.
Wig bearer Hersch continued the rot next over with a couple more wickets (courtesy of Inzys runout flicks) with a paltry 10 runs off the first four overs, the Famulee were off to a WaWa inspired flyer!
The fielding of the Famulee had been solid early on - now it was about to turn freakish. Big Al was impassable at mid-off. The big fella took several reflex catches and made a couple of run-outs to inspire the Famulee. Anything that got past Big Al was cleaned up by Mojo, doing his best to score a place in the Fabulous Fruit Fly Circus with a number of diving tumbling saves in a pike position at the back net. Hersch and DB were keeping like demons and even WaWa got in on the act taking a briyyyyant catch up in the front corner and throwing the stumps down.
In fact WaWas second over showed how determined he was to lift the side to victory. One batsmen blasted a straight drive along the ground and where the WaWa of old would have leapt out of the way, the new version was in behind the line. He even took a magnificent return catch that was slapped back at him (rather than escorting it for a zak) for an unexpected three wicket return at the cost of only 1 run.
Apart from Big Al, Mojo and WaWa covering everything in the field, the fielding highlight was undoubtedly provided by DB. He charged in from the Woolies end and let go off a beauty which was at pace, nipped off the seam and SWANG Lillee style into middle stump. Everyone went up in celebration which was rudely interupted by the man in the highchair (Adam) calling a front foot no ball. Apparently DB while striving for pace had managed to overstep by about a foot, thus earning himself the wig for the last four overs!
With the third pair coming from the field with 30 runs still to get, the game looked close. However out came the bunnies and it was a procession from there on in. Mojo repaid Als good work with a freakish flick off the back net for a zak to runout turnaround and WaWa and Hersch (who had a busy night) were chosen to bowl again. The wickets still tumbled and even Herschelle's customary extras in the last over (to get the opposition up to the required points spread) saw the Famulee cruise to a tremendous 33 run victory victory.
THE WRAP UP
Best bowling for the night:
WaWa 7 wickets for 6 runs (off three overs)
Sticks 5 for minus 8 DB 4 for 14
Best batting for the night:
Big Al 29 runs off 13 balls - 4 zaks
Hersch 24 runs off 19 balls - 0 zaks (in his second dig. 2 runs from 16 balls in his first dig)
Mojo 22 runs off 16 balls - 1 zak
Plumbest LBW ever seen but not given:
WaWa twice struck on the full in front of leg stump without even waving the bat in self defence.
REMAINING GAMES AND FINALS
With not many games remaining in this season before finals start, the Famulee are looking good to once again see finals action. And once again with finals approaching, there will be a sudden rush for places in the team.
With a couple of suspensions still to be served, all Famulee members are required to announce their availability for the next two games which are:
TUESDAY 13 MARCH 8:10pm TUESDAY 20 MARCH 9:30pm
Please let me know ASAP whether you can or CANNOT make the game on Tuesday night which is at 8:10pm. We may even have a theme and pizza night to take advantage of the later game.
Until next time,