It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On what was possibly the nicest October day the UK has ever seen, Pacific threw away a winnable game with a careless batting display.
Strongroom skipper David Gower won the toss and elected to bat. Satch and Nuggsy opened and both generated some interesting lift off the greengrocer's display grass that has been laid over the Wray Crescent strip this year.
Satch took two early wickets, and Nuggsy was unfortunate; Strongroom's number 4 audibly bottom-edged it to custodian Benjamin Boorman, but was adjudged not out by the easily-corrupted Ahmed, appearing for the opposition and umpiring with bundles of cash stuffed in his pockets. Despite protests from behind the stumps, and an appeal from the square leg umpire for the batsman to do the right thing and walk, he chose to remain at the crease, and deny Gleadow a well-earned wicket.
The opening pair kept Strongroom to under three an over for the first ten but their number 3 was beginning to frustrate Pacific, performing various long-winded pagan rituals before every ball. When 'Nuggsy Malone' blasted him on the elbow the world rejoiced, but it only added to the delays as Wray's non-existent magic spray was repeatedly called for.
Rohan bowled an excellent spell of away swing, taking one scalp for his efforts, and Pacific kept Strongroom's run rate down throughout the innings despite some pretty ordinary foot-based fielding. Webbo took a wicket with his first ball, a trademark reverse-swinging slower full bunga-bunga flummoxing the batsman.
Sam 'Parky' Parkinson returned to the Pacific fold (fresh from interviewing Muhammad Ali and Rod Hull) with some military medium, and Smiffy bowled a short but solid spell, accounting for Strongroom's previously fortunate top-scorer. As 'room threatened to post a decent target, Toby took two in two balls in his first over and ended with three-for-not many.
Ireland bowled the last over and, although unspectacular, was pleased to have shaken off the monkey on his back that has been making the ball go ten foot down leg every ball for the last month. Strongroom finished on 183 and Pacific tucked into an egg-dominated tea (quiche, scotch eggs, egg mayonnaise sandwiches, egg and bacon sandwiches) with high hopes of chasing that down.
Openers Toby and Ben settled but runs were hard to come by thanks to Wray's Velcro-like outfield, Strongroom's tight line, and their well-drilled fielders.
Nearby, a toddler in a yellow jacket was taking his first tentative steps and exploring the world with wonder in his eyes. Unfortunately he was also in Toby's field of vision, was told to move along, and was swiftly reduced to tears.
Boorman was run out in a way that defies description because your humble narrator was in the toilet, but it seemed to be his fault (positively suicidal - Ed.). The next ball, Toby was bowled attempting to push the score on and the wickets started to tumble.
The October game had drawn a crowd of several cricket anoraks, a unique set of characters who had traveled from Essex to get their final fix of leather on willow before settling into their cardboard boxes and hibernating for the off season. Whether they enjoyed the ensuing batting collapse is debatable, as some of them seemed more interested in the remainder off Pacific's all-beige culinary offerings.
Justin and Joel lived and died by their cricket bat-shaped swords, both making their intentions clear from the start and both departing after heaving the ball vertically. Ireland also fell attempting to bypass the outfield by going aerial, caught by an impressive over-the-shoulder catch slogging to cow, taken by the non-walking batsman no less.
Um... then everyone else was also out. To be honest I can't remember how, but most batsmen batted as if they misunderstood the rules of cricket and thought you could get 50 runs for hitting the ball into a cloud.
Even the aforementioned cricket tragics in the crowd, who between them had watched every game of cricket ever played, seemed shocked by how Pacific were throwing the game away. Smiffy and Nuggsy threatened to save the game with some nice shots, but it was too late.
With the required rate still a gettable seven or eight an over, Pacific were all out for 113. Skipper Ben top scored with 17, followed by the ever-reliable Mr Extras, with 15. Yes, you read it right, Ben top scored with 17.
Some low-cost boozing was done in the Wetherspoons nearby, as Pacific did not deserve the luxury of The Old Dairy. Interaction with the White Lion's gruesome clientele provided a fitting punishment for Pacific's squandering of an obtainable target.
Toby's thirst for Pure Gold (4.8%) was particularly intense, the Pacific stalwart appearing to be double-parked for fair a portion of the evening. Webbo seemed to survive a £3.99 Rogan Josh and was remarkably showing no signs of illness* as the pissed-up Pacifists dispersed into the night.
*Editor's note - not only did Webbo survive the Spoons curry, he seemed to be merely warming up, joining Sam and Ben for a post-pub Nando's (half chicken each, hot sauce, interesting bottle of red)