We are all aware that cricket is a pretty odd game. Be it in the fact that you stop half way through and have a cup of tea, or the unnaturalness of the bowling action, it is all a bit unusual. But maybe one of the strangest quirks of cricket is how often those picked for their bowling skills often end up batting at the end of an innings in a tight run chase! This, inevitably, throws up some very unlikely heroes indeed.

Another type of unlikely hero is the late replacement. When there is an unavoidable change in XI and the man called up plays the pivotal role in the match. In Somerset Harold Gimblet is the most famous of these, who after being told he would never make it as a county player by Somerset, was called up as a late replacement and proceeded to hit a century in just 63 minutes!!

On Saturday at their Field Road ground Huish and Langport took on Barrington, a side they bowled out for 6 in the corresponding fixture the previous year. HLCC fielded first and taking the first over was their young, tall seamer, aptly nicknamed Pike or G-Rafe. This boy is only 16 but bowls fast with great maturity, and set the tone for the match as runs were initially hard find. In fact, even though the freak result of the previous year was not repeated, all the HLCC bowlers bowled well on as useful pitch.  Barrington made 161 in their 45 overs.

The robust openers for HLCC started in a confident manner, setting about their task with hitherto unseen speed and aggression. In the case of Powell, a late replacement that morning, things had definitely changed. This week this most generously proportioned opener batted with skill and at a tempo most unusual compared to his normal batting style. He lifted the opening bowler over his head for four, dabbed runs through the slip area and even ‘sprinted’ quick singles. It was impressive stuff, until he ended up getting caught for 41.

At that point the score was 109 for 3. Then after quite a few non scoring overs HLCC had collapsed to 127 for 7 and things were looking bleak for the home side. Their mood darkened further when news of their second teams match came through, they were being thrashed. More bad news followed as third team captain, Toby Strang, arrived with smoke visibly coming out of his ears such was his ire at his team’s performance!

But in amongst all this things started to change in the middle. G-Rafe had come to the crease and was joined by HLCC captain who is most definitely not nicknamed G-Rafe or anything else that would indicate one of a tall slender physique! These two started to almost play tip and run, and the pressure started to show with the fielders making mistakes. The tension mounted, the runs were slowly being ticked off, and HLCC were crawling towards victory. But then G-Rafe went back to one and was LBW, which brought to the crease Cox, the late replacement wicket keeper, who is not renowned for his batting.  

In fact Cox is not really a batter at all. A most skilful keeper in more ways than one, firstly he has exceptional hands and lightning reactions, especially down the leg side. But, secondly, he is the most irritating and gobbiest of keepers that it is possible to imagine. A feisty fella, he is constantly giving the batter verbal, making him fully aware that he is actually not a batter but some sort of joker who is pretending to bat. Cox personifies annoyance!

This behaviour comes at a price though and it is unlikely that Cox was very well received in this tight situation. In fact he is probably never very well received whatever the situation!   

4 were needed of the last over. Cox on strike. The HLCC team were awaiting the fall of another wicket. A swing and a miss, followed by a hit for 2.  Then with a flat bat swipe he connects with the third ball to win the match, hysteria follows, Cox roars like some demented creature from the deep, and Barrington hang their heads.   

This was a great game of cricket. But, even though not quite a performance to match that of the legend of Gimblet, the unexpected players of this game definitely made an impact to the outcome!

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13.02 | 21:33

Not forgetting Wilfred Rhodes, George Hirst and Schofield Haigh.

02.09 | 19:19

Nice piece. I will put the flying pig next to the smile it has drawn to my face, into the depths of winter, and the rebuilding of English cricket !!!

02.09 | 18:23

Can anyone in Somerset Club..or maybe Charlie, tell me why such glee is to be had when Australia get thrumped by lil' ol Zimbabwe? Keep it under 3000 words..

02.09 | 11:12

Charlie - playing for the Brunswick pub, Derby, against everards brewery 11 next Sunday. May need some coaching beforehand.

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