If you are searching for an omen at the start of a cricket match, look no further than the team warmup. On one side of the outfield a young, keen, exuberant outfit, newly promoted and confident are executing well-rehearsed fielding drills with energy and precision. On the other a disorderly rabble are gradually emerging from the safety of the dressing room to begin a game of football as chaotic as it is lacklustre. A last-minute scramble for a wicket-keeper, two faulty sat-navs and a few souls left behind in the Harris Garden meant that Teddington could have been better prepared. Far Eastern betting syndicates were piling in on Shepherd’s Bush to continue their strong start to the season and for Teddington to extend their disappointing run of results on the Saturday of a Lord’s test.
However there were two men who hadn’t read the script. Captain Keightley, fearing the wet weather on the horizon, opted to field and promptly ordered his bowlers into a private on-field meeting. Whatever was said during this meeting is still the subject of great intrigue, however it was sufficient to rouse the attack into their best performance of the season as the home side were dismissed for 194. Jack Sever, fresh from a weekend of pre-marriage soul-cleansing, led from the front, bowling with pace and movement to make early inroads and leave the Bushmen on 35-2. Jack was complemented after the game for his resemblance to Liam Plunkett, and on this performance he could rightly claim the confusion to be created by his bowling rather than just his beard. Shepherd’s Bush recovered well with some counterattacking strokeplay from swashbuckling captain Jack Brydon, well supported by Massey and Bryan in the middle order. However Teddington’s bowlers kept plugging away and were rewarded with wickets at vital times. Bryan was the fourth wicket to fall at 158, and from this point it was a steady procession of wickets as Teddington began to turn the screw. Sever came back to complete a well-deserved five-wicket haul and Charlie Hopkins completed the innings as the final 7 wickets fell for 36 runs.
Throughout the first innings Tim Armstrong stood brooding at slip. Nine misery overs for 13 runs and his first throw in anger of the season were the only brief glimpses of what was to come.
Teddington’s response didn’t start as planned, with both of the opening Toms quickly back in the shed without unduly troubling the scorers. This brought together the pairing of in-form James Fear and Armstrong, who watchfully saw off Shepherd’s Bush’s lively opening pair of Morse and Howell, gaining in confidence as the partnership grew. Armstrong in particular seemed at home on a pitch where other batsmen had toiled, effortlessly sending a series of glorious back foot shots screaming to the boundary and a towering six that had nearby tennis players ducking for cover. Their match-winning partnership of 150 swung the game in Teddington's favour and when Armstrong was eventually out for 99 from 97 balls the visitors needed only 30 to win. Fear followed soon afterwards for 60, unbelievably being run out while backing up for the second time this season. The series of calamitous dismissals continued as the Harris Garden once again threatened to rear its head but with the home team sensing an unlikely victory it was left to the calm and collected Johnny Smith to take Teddington over the line.
A brief mention for Stefan Bullon, who stepped in behind the stumps after a mysterious escalator-related injury for regular gloveman Will Rist. Stef kept with aplomb, taking two catches, and then saw the team home when the batting was looking dicey. Most notably he performed an admirable lapping service with Dave Keightley, setting a new record for marching round the Shepherd’s Bush ground of which several guardsmen, trooping the colour not too far away, would have been proud.