RAF Cricket Cup Final – RAF Waddington VS RAF Northolt

On Mon 2 Sep 13, RAF Waddington’s cricket team made its way to the home of RAF cricket at RAF Vine Lane full of hope and anticipation that, after many years of close calls, this would be the year that they eventually won the illusive RAF Cricket Cup.

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Waddington went into the final against RAF Northolt full of confidence after a great season that had seen them claim the East of England Cricket League (EECL) 20/20 Cup, the RAF 20/20 Cup and the EECL League title.

During the journey to Vine Lane, the team management huddled in the corner of the bus discussing tactics and probably the previous evening’s shock eviction in Strictly Come Dancing, leaving the remainder of the team to contemplate the prospect of becoming the first successful Waddington team to lift the RAF Cricket Cup. As the team finally arrived at the ground after the long trip down, the magnitude of the task at hand became apparent when they learnt that RAF Northolt had arrived an hour and half before and had already conducted a full warm up and training session and Waddington had barely enough time to look their best for the obligatory photo. Nevertheless, John ‘JJ’ Jones ensured a delay in all things cricket with his pre-match hair and make-up ritual. The captains eventually headed to ‘the middle’ to carry out the toss with none of the Waddington team actually knowing what captain Rob ‘Mr Happy’ Buckley was going to do, and as is his want, he randomly decided to bowl on a scorching day in NW London, much to the dismay of the batsmen in the Waddington team. Only time would tell if this was a good idea!

The match got underway and straight from the off it was obvious to see that Northolt’s opener Magee was going to be the danger man, taking 12 off the first over. Eventually, the lads warmed to the task and a great over from Neil ‘Gilly’ Gilbert produced the first breakthrough. He didn’t have to wait long for his next wicket either as his next ball clattered into the stumps, sending Cullingworth back to the pavilion for a golden duck. Ganawardana was next in for Northolt and steadied the ship alongside Magee for a few overs but he departed when his audacious attempted drive off ‘Mr Happy’ Buckley led to an equally audacious full length diving catch from Stuart ‘FC’ Fraser-Cattanach. All in attendance agreed that, if FC was actually paying attention, it would’ve been a regulation catch! John ‘JD’ Dawson came into the attack and accounted for the dangerous Magee, who had looked set for a big score after making 60 from 63 balls. This was the beginning of the end for Northolt with no-one else making double figures in the face of a superb team bowling and fielding effort from Waddington. RAF Northolt were dismissed for 127 after 28 overs with Dawson taking 3-14, Fraser-Cattanach 2-10, Gilbert 2-24, Griffiths 2-21 and Buckley 1-31.

Waddington remained quietly confident that this total was within their grasp and enjoyed a hearty tea although it was noted that Capt Buckley was looking even more pensive than usual. Northolt sprung a surprise and opened both ends with spin but openers Craig ‘I’m a keeper, Lamps, not you’ Reilly and Lee ‘Taf’ Griffiths calmly and cautiously saw off the opening threat. Northolt made the first breakthrough, somewhat fortuitously in the 11th over, when Griffiths was harshly adjudged LBW. This brought RAF Waddington’s very own version of a cricketing ‘superstar’ into bat and, although ordered by his captain to ‘have a look’ and ‘take things steady’, he immediately decided that it was time for the social side to begin and promptly upped the run rate, making 18 off the next 3 overs. Northolt made another breakthrough in the 15th over when opener Reilly attempted to join ‘FC’ in his attacking exploits but only succeeded in giving an easy catch to the fielder. In came Paul ‘Mr Calm’ Keymer who soon got to grips with the bowling and eased his way to a score of 25 not out. At the other end, ‘FC’ continued to defy the ‘laws of luck’ as he attacked every ball and used all of the edges on his bat whilst scoring 69 not out off 58 balls and winning the game with a huge 6 in the 27th over. Waddington cruised home by 8 wickets with a mammoth 18 overs still to be bowled.

This historic victory for RAF Waddington was definitely due to a great team effort throughout the match and is hopefully the springboard for a successful era in RAF Waddington cricket history. A special mention should go to captain Rob ‘Mr Happy’ Buckley for his captaincy throughout the season and who finally managed to raise a smile in the bar afterwards; Mark ‘crocodile hands’ Lamper for his monumental efforts in arranging and re-arranging fixtures and, of course, Stuart ‘Prima Donna’ Fraser-Cattanach, who was somehow awarded the Man of the Match Award with his ‘unique’ brand of aggressive batting, two wickets and a superb ‘late reaction’ catch. You have all made the OIC, Mat ‘Mr Cricket’ Haisman, and ‘El Presidente’ Chas Gimenez, very happy men indeed! Bring on 2014.

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