Ponthir v DinkyPooTwos

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Reigning champions. Glamorgan and Monmouthshire League Division Three, second XI in 2012.

We’ve got the trophy to prove it – already hidden away in the pavilion in the musty green cupboard on the shelf above the one where we keep the stumps. Picture to follow next week.

Rare to turn up anywhere as a team so esteemed so let’s make the most of it while we can.

The motley crew's first assembly of the year
The motley crew’s first assembly of the year

In fact it was a bit of a default title. In a 2012 scarred by vile weather we played seven games out of the scheduled 18 and won six which gave us the best points average ahead of probably equally good sides in Monmouth and Pontymister.

But, hey, someone had to win, and this second team have lost maybe six games in three years so it wasn’t a fluke.

The venue

Ponthir, up the Gwent valley. Nice place. Never been there and a top spot for village cricket- a suitable sward on which to wield the Newbery, a 2lb 7oz Mjolnir. Yes, I had it weighed.

Not so long ago, our hosts’ first team were skippered by ex-Glamorgan spinner Phil North. Skipper Andy Ford remembered playing him and not been able to lay the blade on him. So a pedigree club which has probably fallen down the rankings, though the first team did beat our firsts at home.

A vintage Ponthir side
A vintage Ponthir side

Track was green-ish and moist. Andy Ford registered his major contribution of the day by winning the toss and plumping for first use of the red raspberry, much to this opener’s relief. I might have chinned him otherwise.

In his charge we were a motley crew – three journalists, a plumber, a bank worker, sales director, civil servant, schoolboy Ruby whose twitter motto is ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (ladies, follow him at @reubenmitch21), a post officer engineer, a restaurant manager and Fordy – I’ve forgotten what he does.

Ponthir’s second team struggled to put out a strong batting line-up. ”Twenty players out’ meant that they fielded only ten men and we skittled them for 82

Singh when we’re winning

Demon opening bowler – our Indian stalwart Upinder Singh who swears he has appeared on Indian TV as an actor in a soap – accounted for the first four on his own, as though the rest of us were mere useless appendages to his rampant, explosive season start.

We were extras in the Bollywood action movied that was the first 12 overs.

A caught and bowled, then an lbw (opener was a long way down the track, mind – I’d have been steaming), a bowled and then a run out from backward square. To misquote David Lloyd: “He blimmin’ murdered them.”20130505-184913.jpg

They were 30-odd for four when Ford stopped him savaging our hosts and rested him because maybe he has an audition coming up and they never recovered.

Waiting in the wings was club chairman Jason Harries and , not to be upstaged, he was almost as deadly with his loopy spin. He swooped for an even better caught and bowled, capped by a blood-curdling howl of glee, and picked up two extra wickets to finish with three for 17. Their top scorer made a handy 23 not out and wides was second top for 16.

Our turn

Ponthir barely tried to look as though they could win this and we put on 42 for the first wicket myself and Lloyd Dimauro, playing his first game for the village since 2001. An elegant 16 before a plumb lbw.

On came the spinners and we hit a glitch. Two down for 52 and 14 scraped painfully off seven overs and the best leg spinner I have ever faced. He swung one in to pitch on leg and beat me outside off stump. Two pubescent spinners backed him up and had they scored more than 120 we’d have been in a bit of trouble.

They picked up four wickets for about 30 runs in 15 overs and managed to do what Phil North couldn’t – bowl Fordy (ladies, he’s at @Dinasfordy) but the chairman slapped one youngster for two fours to take us home by six wickets in the 27th over.

All finished by 5pm!

But, with Monmouth next week, I have a sneaking feeling it’s going to get a lot harder from here on.

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