Fakenham cricketers caught cold in Great Witchingham friendly defeat
Back in the 1960s, before many Fakenham and Great Witchingham players were born, the Beatles released a song called ‘Michelle’.
‘Michelle, my belle, these are words that go together well, but some words don’t .
‘Alligator’ and ‘vegetarian’ for example, ‘Ben Stokes’ and ‘embroidery’ or ‘Easter’ and ‘cricket’.
Was this the coldest day that anyone had ever played cricket? It was thought not. Various horror stories were told.
None of them, however, followed a pandemic lockdown when even the clubhouse was excluded from entry.
The scorers’ huts resembled the old TB hospitals where patients huddled outside in blankets.
It was a four-sweater day and that was just for spectators.
It was a pre-season friendly. Many local players won’t play friendlies. You don’t play cricket to be friendly.
Inevitably, conversation turned to the great Brian Whitwood, who at the start of the league season picked his bat out of the bag where it had lain since the end of the previous season.
Whitwood once left his mark on this fine ground through fielding as well as batting.
Playing for Hillington against West Acre in a cup final, Mark Jarvis hit a ball from Robert Taylor so hard and high that it disappeared in the clouds, circuited the earth a couple of times and descended in the far distance.
At West Acre it would have been 12 or perhaps 18. At Fakenham it fell just inside the boundary. West Acre’s Whitwood was waiting to catch it, end of story.
Batting first for Gt Witchingham, Sam Arthurton and James Spelman made the first of what will no doubt be many century opening stands of the summer.
It was not made easy for them. Despite the lack of practice few balls fell short and Luke Caswell bowled several that kicked like mules from a good length.
David Coyle begins his run up like a man looking for an antique shop.
After a couple of paces he remembers why he is there and he pings down a batch of dipping off breaks that brought him an eventual three wickets.
When he also took a neat, no fuss catch at short extra cover it was hard to distinguish him from that other authoritative captain, Joe Root.
Witchingham scored 186 (Arthurton retired 51, Spelman 37, James Hale 25).
In reply, Fakenham faced four high class seamers, two of them swinging the ball both ways in the growing murk.
Ben Harvey had bought a new bat. In the first over he hit a four and a two with classic drives.
He allowed three balls to pass him. He blocked one and then discovered that his bat was broken.
As someone said, his costs would include fire lighters.
Now a sight you seldom see. A batsman, out leg-before-wicket, agreed that he was out! And he praised the bowler!
Another batsman watched the ball carefully as it passed him. Watched it all the way as it hit his stumps. Always a crowd pleaser, that one.
The match seemed evenly poised but it was not. Fakenham were out for 71, Brett Stolworthy takling five wickets.
Nevertheless, shaking off the cobwebs and armed with a good team spirit, Fakenham expect to do well again in the Alliance.
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