Friday, 10 August 2012

The world's greatest 8th XI

Playing team sports as an adult is an interesting experience. For some people it might be the camaraderie, for others a small way of living out boyhood day dreams. For me it's about playing a sport I love with my mates and having some fun whilst I do it.

mid game

I've been luck enough to play for the past 6 years at Blackheath cricket club, for the best amateur cricket team in London, the UK, dare I say it, the world. The Mighty 8's.

There are a lot of things that make the Mighty 8's unique and before I get into the meat of this post it's time for a potted history-

Blackheath Cricket Club has been in existence for 150 years. During it's 144th year of existence, during an unusually hot summer, four intrepid cricketers from New Cross starting netting with the club.

After a few Sunday games and snatched chances here and there they had started to get a few games under there belts. Then the real chance came. Saturday cricket beckoned when Alan Bosworth called them up for a Saturday friendly game. Obviously seeing their great potential (or just looking for numbers) they were down to play.

It's widely agreed that the first official game of the Mighty 8's took place on the 9th June 2007 against Northfleet. It's a game the 8's won. It certainly wasn't the start of a winning habit, but did give birth to another habit. The Mighty 8's play hard, fun cricket. Hard, because we make it hard on ourselves most of the time, but most definitely fun (for us, not the oppo).

The 8's are pioneers of internal sledging. We would much rather take the piss out of ourselves than give the oppo any shit, although when it's required we've been known to use mental distengration to great effect (mainly against those more feeble). This internal sledging does sometimes irritate the oppo. Usually because during one of the 8's innings a bugle will inevitably sound out across the pitch. It just so happens that normally this will coincide with a bowler delivering a ball.

For the past couple of years the Mighty 8's have been given the honour of organising and playing in the Wednesday of cricket week, now known as "Mighty 8's Wednesday". The oppo has, so far, always been the Hobgoblin Nomads. So far the Mighty 8's are undefeated.


Before the game can commence though as 8's, we have to do something unique for our game. Last year we created a souvenir programme. This year 'Tesco' nobly volunteered to create a trophy. His brief was to construct something that represented the 8's and the majesty that came with 'Mighty 8's Wednesday'. He came up with this-

big, wobbly, cock

I think he did a good job.

The other thing that is required for a game with the 8's, regardless of whether it's a friendly or not, is some sort of contentious moment. This moment will inevitably turn the end of what has been a good spirited contest into a bitter finish to the game. 'Mighty 8's Wednesday' was no exception.

Without a doubt this moment will stem from a run out, LBW, or sledging a minor. In this case it was a run out. One of the oppo batsman had gone for a run, there was a direct hit on the stumps. Unfortunately the bails had already been dislodged. The umpire gave the batsman out. I, as captain, in a moment of human weakness, upheld the decision. The batsman had his 50 and I didn't want to lose (I also didn't realise the bails had been dislodged). The oppo got the shits and it lead to what can only be described as cataclysmic running in the final overs.

What is marked regarding this incident is that in the opening overs the opening batsman was given out LBW despite the fact that the ball would have struggle to hit another set of stumps down the legside.

It's funny what gets people riled?

Despite all of this the 8's, uncharacteristically, put in a sterling batting performance. An opening stand of 60 runs, a middle order batsman with a 50, and a tail that wagged lead us to an imperious 218 for 8 of 40 overs.

scoreboard

Another highlight of Mighty 8's Wednesday is the after match celebrations. This year included a cracking game of stumps and the usual Blackheath tea party.



The Mighty 8's have now played about 130 games. Probably 120 more than any of us expected as the team grew organically from a group of core players. Despite changes to the playing side the spirit lives on and grows as it endoctrinates other players into the ideals of 8's cricket. That being, playing half cut, trying to win, and giving you're mates as much shit as possible. Despite the 8's now being the 7th XI, if you ever find yourself playing against a team calling themselves the 8's and treating the game without a shred of respect, remember, they do respect the game, just not those who refuse to play with a smile. So strap in and prepare to play a game against the worlds best 8th XI.

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