By Alex ‘The Historian’ Smickersgill
2nd XI Away v Church Fenton
1st June 2019
In November 1922 when Howard Carter broke through into the burial chamber of Tutankhamen, a thing of awesome majesty and beauty, long hidden, was revealed to the world. A similar thing was experienced at Church Fenton on Saturday when John ‘Gun’ McDermott walked to the crease, willow light sabre in hand. When Crick and Watson stood up in the Eagle pub in Cambridge to announce the discovery of DNA, the boundaries of what is humanly possible were pushed that bit further into the distance. Likewise as ‘Gun’ took guard the limits on one man’s capabilities were about to be extended. Human history has unfolded through a series of transformative events; the discovery of fire, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution etc. Add to this list of seismic changes, the batting of ‘Gun’ McDermott. I am sure you will agree that in summarising this, your correspondent has managed to give these events an appropriate sense of proportion.
Church Fenton is a road. The flattest track and fastest outfield in the division. Unsurprisingly Church Fenton chose to bat on a steamy, sauna like day. Early promise was provided by Ian Medlicott’s first ball; an absolute Jaffa that nipped back to take out middle and off. After this initial breakthrough the second wicket pairing showed their knowledge of their own track by continuously cutting balls from off the stumps or just outside. This can only be done if the batter has complete confidence in the pitch. All Crossgates’ bowlers bowled well with minimal reward. Sam Bentley produced his best spell for the team. Bowling with pace and hostility, he gave the hurry up to set batsmen and in the context of a high scoring game his 5 overs for 16 runs was a commendable effort. Ian’s 2 for 29 off 7 was also a great performance. The other wicket was deservedly taken by Ray when Adil pouched the edge. Church Fenton batted with a freedom that comes with familiarity with a benign strip. One area we could learn from them was that their running between the wickets and pushing of quick singles was excellent from over 1 to over 40. A stand of 206 for the second wicket was the bedrock of their eventual 234-3.
The Crossgates reply began with great promise. An opening stand of 51 was dominated by Adil. Such was the cleanness and power of his hitting that his 39 contained six 4s and two 6s. He was very unlucky when another brutal strike that seemed destined for 6 was juggled and caught on the very edge of the boundary. With Adil’s departure the strike rate inevitably slowed. Now the Church Fenton skipper demonstrated his local knowledge by packing the boundary and taking all pace off the ball. This was backed by good fielding and excellent catching with Will, Ian and Paul being notable victims. When a useful partnership between Paul (16) and Zaheer (15) was broken, it seemed as if the the innings was sputtering to a conclusion like a candle burnt to the wick.
Suddenly a hush descended as if the whole of nature was drawing breath, aware of the deeds of daring do about to be witnessed as ‘Gun’ strode to the crease. A few perfunctory slaps straight back to the bowler gave no hint of what was to follow. The first hint that we were witnessing events of historic import came when Rob Friend ran a 2. I will repeat that; Rob Friend ran a 2. What is more it was only just outside the time of the London marathon winner.
This unleashed the ‘Gun’. With the eye and force of a shinty playing Jedi, ‘Gun’ proceeded to smite the Church Fenton bowling to all parts of North and West Yorkshire. Five mighty 4s were smeared, some even off the middle of the bat. Solid defence and a single to Rob allowed the 9th wicket to add 30 and a bonus point for achieving 75% of the Church Fenton innings was looming into view. When Rob departed, George Warner came out to join ‘Gun’. A landmark moment came when George scored his first run for Crossgates but sadly was out soon after. ‘Gun’ blew the smoke off the end of his bat and returned it to its holster. Leaping aboard his horse he rode off into the sunset.
Picking over the bones, what do we learn? On a hot and muggy day we showed grit. There was hostile bowling from Sam and great striking from Adil. But most of all, we will all be able to say ‘I was there’ when ‘Gun’ strode into town like Clint Eastwood minus the poncho and cheroot and made the bad guys rue the day they met him.
Up the Gates.
Fielding point: Ray
Man of the match (inevitably): ‘Gun’ McDermott