Sunday League Season Review 2002

Elenor's Army celebrate second time around in season of rain, pain and spiritual gain.

After the disappointment of the previous year, when the side missed out on promotion and the Division 7 title, there was unfinished business to take care of as the new Sunday season dawned. Mere's protest over an abandoned fixture at the end of 2001, (leading to Triangle being penalised 25 points) was a distant memory, as the Captain prepared his team for the season ahead, in which promotion and the championship were the least Graham Elenor would settle for, and defeat was not on the agenda. There was a new face in the side as Kev Dodson had been plucked from obscurity by Grant Neven, after a chance meeting in the Dorothy Inn, with a successful career in Surrey League cricket behind him. Pete Walburn unfortunately left the side due to a recurrence an old hip injury sustained after years of banging in goals for Portland United. .

Graham was in bullish mood when the year kicked off with a 6 wicket victory against Suttoners at Kinson Manor, the skipper stole the show with quite magnificent figures of 3-11, as he dismantled the home side's tail with gusto. There was a portent of things to come as a questionable umpiring decision by Ben Doidge led to Kev Dodson being dismissed lbw on his Triangle debut, then later Suttoners' firebrand Paul Barber squared up to the equally as fiery Grant Neven, over a disputed stumping call, luckily Barber Snr. was on hand to dispel any trouble.

Ibberton then fell to Elenor's side as Jan Davey destroyed the visitor's bowling attack, except the mighty Brian "Hoppy" Hopkins, bludgeoning his way to 153 as Triangle amassed an insurmountable total of 325/6. This time the Captain had to step aside and play a supporting role as Richard "Rikishi" Stewkesbury took the plaudits, bagging himself career-best figures of 5-16, which included 3 sublime stumpings by Neven.

Dave Males took the reins for the away trip to Broadstone II at the Delph, as the main man, Graham Elenor, was sunning himself at the Dorset Echo's expense in Tunisia. Without their spiritual leader, all looked doomed, but Dave proved a more than able substitute as he masterminded restricting the home side to just 139/9 off their 45 overs, as future first team skipper, John Ryan, along with Jan Davey and Males Jnr. shared the wickets between them. However, the pressures of leading Triangle took their toll as Dave fell for a disappointing 13, but luckily Ben Doidge was on a roll on Sundays, after scoring an impressive 72 against Ibberton, followed that with a match-winning knock of 75*. The islander's umpiring was called into question once more, as yet again Kev Dodson succumbed to a debatable lbw call, this time Jan Davey pulled the trigger.

Rain then caused the next, highly anticipated match against Wimborne at Reforne to be cancelled, which was already being touted as a championship decider so early in the season. Back from his sojourn in the Mediterranean, the aptly-titled "Bronze Bullet", Graham Elenor, was back in charge and it showed as Parley didn't know what had hit them as the Captain shared in a 108 run partnership with Bill Trevett, after the top order had surrendered meekly for a paltry 114 runs. The home side replied in kind, knocking 100 runs for the loss of just one wicket off the first 15 overs, but the captain had a few aces up his sleeve, shuffled his pack, and gave Trevett and veteran spinner "Stone Cold" Jon Dixon the ball. Coming out of enforced retirement due to a knee injury, Dixon could, and should, have had 5 wickets if not for Doidge's abject display behind the stumps. A combination of the captain and John Ryan secured the maximum points as Parley were dismissed for 176.

Rain then struck again as the games against Wayfarers and Cranborne were abandoned, but this didn't stop Elenor's "Babes" returning to winning ways after the enforced break with a decisive victory against Oakdale Conservative Club. The highlights being John Ryan's quickfire 51 to open the innings, then Grant Neven's equally as vital 48*, an innings that deserved to be recorded as a half century, if it wasn't for his batting partner, Jones, blocking the first 3 balls of the final over before being bowled and then leaving Trevett to try to get the little guy on strike for the final delivery.

The captain was on a roll, after 5 straight victories (ignoring the abandonments), Elenor had yet to experience the bitter taste of defeat, but that was to change against Bisterne. After suffering mental anguish when the World Cup Final result had gone the wrong way for the betting industry, and then being asked by the groundsman if he was the umpire, the skip wasn't in the right frame of mind as he took to the field against Bisterne Willows. Following a bad day in the office in the field, where a number of catches went down and the Captain unable to conjure up the vital wickets, the home side were still reduced to an easily makeable score of 146/7, helped by the tail going after Jon "Dicko" Dixon in his final overs.

More drama was yet to follow, though at the early stage of the innings it looked to be going in Triangle's favour as Dave Males and John Ryan got the side off to a steady start, interrupted by Bisterne's opening bowler removing himself from the field of play after his back went out. Bisterne's Captain, Redgwell, then made short work of Ryan, then Doidge, before Jones joined Dave in the middle and successfully slowed the run rate considerably. With Elenor trying to bring his troops in as the heavens almost nearly opened, but alas only a few drops of rain fell. Neven then replaced Jones (who had manfully resisted a barrage of full length balls that had popped up off the unruly pitch), but objected strongly to a Ben Doidge lbw decision claiming the ball had hit the toe of his bat before the pad (albeit in line with middle stump) and duly dispatched Stewkesbury's Big BerthaTM over the boundary rope.

The Duke then entered the fray and provided able backup as Trevett looked to close on the victory target. Coming under sustained pressure from the Bisterne bowlers, Stewkes finally folded and the Captain replaced him. With just a meagre 5 runs required for victory, Elenor lost his cool for the first time that season, calling for an unnecessary quick single, and Jones, after carefully studying the crease (from an angle not square on, but more like a side step away from his position behind the stumps) as the appeals rang in his ears, ruled Trevett run out. The remaining batsmen then crumbled as their Captain lost his head completely and tried to smash a yorker for 6 and Triangle limped to a 3 run loss. At this halfway point PRT had just lost just one game, but morale had been destroyed as Jones was dropped indefinitely for his part in the "Battle of Bisterne" and the relationship between Doidge and Neven, and that of Stewkesbury and Elenor, would never be the same again.

Luckily the visit of Suttoners to Reforne gave the Captain the perfect stage to get the season back on track and win back the respect of his disillusioned flock. Just one year ago this tinder box of a fixture had provided more than one flashpoint with the Barber family and Graham Elenor clashing on numerous occasions. This wasn't helped by the involvement of a certain two young, hot-headed Triangle batsmen playing their own mind games in the middle of it all, aided by the old campaigner Dave Tremlin who unfortunately resorted to physical retribution in the face of a torrent of abuse from PRT's favourite Suttoner, Malik Kudmany.

This year's vintage was no different, though on this occasion Paul Barber managed to arrive on time and was able to bowl his full quota of overs, but as last year, Triangle were glad he did when he finished with figures of 1-48, also contributing in the field with 2 massive boundary-to-boundary overthrows for fours. Kudmany was in fine form as he took particular pleasure in running out young Doidge, after a mix-up with Dave Males. Then later, when batting, he questioned a definite nick to the keeper, before then querying whether his eventual dismissal had not looped off his bat to Quayle at short gully, but in fact had been a bump ball. Not to be left out of all the fun, Grant Neven then voiced his doubts over the umpire's (Barber Snr.) credibility, as Paul Barber was at the crease, and then after a short debate over this claim, was offered the chance to either have a length of willow wrapped round his cranium or to sort their differences out in the car park. "Henry Kissinger" Elenor then acted as peacemaker telling his gloveman to button his lip, and with this the sweet little guy removed his gloves and marched to the pavilion.

John Ryan then turned to Ben Doidge, standing next to 1st team wicketkeeper Dave Blackman, and told him to get his pads and gloves on sharpish, before sanity in the form of the Captain intervened, and Dave took up his position behind the stumps. "Pocket Pasty" Neven then tried to return to the field of play after being given the go ahead by Barber Snr, but his own skipper turned him back and subsequently gave him a 2 match suspended ban. The 10 men of Portland then proceeded to bowl out Suttoners, helped by some inspired fielding from Doidge who claimed two run outs by direct hit and Melvyn Tremlin turned back the years with a masterful display of spin bowling, as the visitors were vanquished in a 123 run demolition.

Graham then took his team to deepest Dorset as Hoppy's Ibberton entertained the islanders putting them into bat without a coin being tossed. They probably wished they hadn't as Triangle amassed 315 runs, Dave Males scored his first century (108*) for the club, sharing partnerships with Jan Davey (92), Jon Dixon (44 off 29 balls) and Jones (16). Triangle then ripped through the home side's batting line up as they finished on 70 and 20 valuable points were secured with a convincing 245 run win. Broadstone were Triangle's next victims at Reforne, as an 89 run victory and maximum points were gained with the final ball of the match off evergreen John Ryan's bowling.

Triangle then suffered their second defeat of the season and possibly it was here the championship was won and lost as Wimborne cruised to victory over a poor Portland side. Elenor was not impressed with Wimborne's debutant, wearing a combined universities sweater, christened "Dinger the Ringer" or the fact that they included their overseas professional. The highlight of the game was John Ryan giving out his Captain from square leg as Graham went walkabout outside the crease, after playing and missing for the umpteenth time. Portland could only muster a score a little over the hundred mark and despite the loss of their top order Wimborne were never in trouble in winning this 'battle of the big boys'.

Triangle had to wait 3 weeks to get back on the victory trail as first the game at home to Parley was cancelled due to rain, then Triangle travelled to face Wayfarers who then delayed coming out to bat while there was "still moisture in the air", even though their openers were quite content to bat in the nets. Play was then abandoned after 12 overs as the drizzle returned, but not before Ben Doidge showed his prowess behind the stumps taking two fine catches off the bowling of Trevett, and almost one off Jon Dixon. The following week Cranborne decided to scratch their game rather than make the long journey to the south coast with little more than half a team.

Away to the Oakdale Conservative Club was what the fixture card read and what Stewkesbury predicted would be the next game, as Triangle travelled to Bournemouth in late August, confident of repeating their earlier season's success against the Tories. Batting first and after having lost John Ryan to a comical run out in the first over and Stewkesbury soon after (he just couldn't time the ball, it was going for six but somehow short mid-on managed to get it). Males and Doidge proceeded to put on 148 runs for the third wicket, though Dave started his contribution just 49 minutes into the innings when he finally got off the mark, a fact a certain Mr. K. Dodson, formerly of Surrey and Manchester, was very keen to criticise. Dodson carried on the good work (after taking his sweet time to get his first runs on the board) and notched a half century, and Portland set a challenging total of 266 for victory. The home team were never close in their chase and with a Morris run out (one for the scrapbook) securing the twenty points, more interest was found in the Oakdale Conservative Club's cheap beer and both Red Neven and Comrade Males decision to put pecuniary matters before idelogical tenets.

The season's grand finale presented the Triangle boys with the double opportunity of guaranteeing promotion and gaining revenge for the result that could have cost them the championship. Bisterne Willows were the opponents, the very Bisterne who had performed a Lazarus-like comeback in defeating Portland some two months previous, and Elenor on winning the toss decided to make first use of what appeared to be a pretty true wicket. Again Portland amassed a total well in excess of 200, Dave Blackman top scoring this time with a well crafted, and unbeaten 72, and again Dave Males at the top of the order notched close to fifty. Five runs were also contributed by the visitor's very aptly named opening bowler, "Psycho", who after seeing a loose delivery stroked to the boundary by Males, first knocked off the bails, then removed the middle stuimp with a sweet strike of his left boot, leaving umpire Rusty Davey no option but to invoke a 5-run penalty. Bisterne were given a rather easy ride by the home captain, who deciding that promotion was already a certainty and victory inevitable, set fields that some would have questioned. Bisterne in scoring 215, fell only 35 runs short of what would have been an avoidable defeat, but victory it was nonetheless and with the news that Wimborne had defeated Parley, promotion though not the championship was assured.

All in all, this was a good season for Triangle, losing only twice on the way to second place in the league, and only a few points behind Wimborne. Ably led, as ever, by perennial favourite Graham "Vitesse" Elenor, certain players proved they can more than cope with the demands of lower division Sunday cricket. Dave Males was a tower of strength at the top, his son (Scott) looks like developing into a very good player, Ben Doidge scored runs whenever his hectic lifestyle let him, and in Grant Neven they have the league's best wicketkeeper (when work commitments prevent Dave Blackman from playing) and a very fine batsman to boot.

Umpiring decisions played their part in many matches this season and the website would like to salute these brave souls who showed that when the pressure was on, no matter who was standing in the crease and no matter the situation they found themselves in, they were willing to put their reputations, and in most cases their places in the next week's side in jeopardy, as they strove to make their decision. This wasn't always the right one, but we must admire the strength of their convictions as tight run out calls were not given a second thought, as very disputable lbw's were ok'd immediately, as faint nicks were ignored. Let us raise a glass to these foolhardy folk, and long let they stand their ground next season, taking our caps and jumpers, acknowledging our request for a guard, and calling out the bowler's action. Spare a thought for these men, because it could well be you, yes you that has to raise the finger and send Neven or Graham on his way to the pavilion and face his ire later on when the points are won or lost.

Of course a team is a collective effort but in this season, as in so many others, the efforts of "Ele" or "Dirtbag" as his players affectionately know him, or "the nastiest man in cricket" as one opposing player christened the great one (Mr. P. Barber, Suttoners), leads from the front always with a word of encouragement, never beaten, never down, a true giant of the local game, and betting scene. A man who epitomised the phrase "cool in a crisis", there was no time when this man let the pressure get to him; no time when players were rushed to the crease as a barrage of wickets were falling; no time when a bowler was discarded after just one 'experimental' over; no time when he said "Someone's got to win us this game, I'm having a bowl". This website salutes you..."My name is Graham Elenor, King of Kings, look upon my work ye mighty and despair."