Tuesday, 26 May 2009

HHCC vs KC (not Nomadic Medics)

After last Sunday’s fixture against Great Missenden was called off due to rain it was back to the hallowed Heath for a match against KC, a last minute replacement for the Nomadic Medics. We won the toss and – in glorious sunshine – decided to take the field.

Despite testing opening spells by Jez and Kiwi overseas player Nick, the opposition built a solid opening partnership. So Richard Austin came on at The Plough End and immediately removed their left-handed Sri Lankan opener courtesy of a neat catch at first slip by Anouj. But further inroads were not forthcoming. With Jez beginning to tire in the heat, the captain turned to yours truly, most probably with a sense of foreboding.

But it turns out that it was the oppo who should have been worried as I proceeded to claim career best figures of 7 for 55 off 13 overs. The first wicket, if I do say so myself, was a classic leg-spinner’s dismissal: it pitched middle and leg, with a bit of dip, the batsman came forward to defend, was beaten by the turn and the ball clipped the off-bail. Magic! Of course, as is the way with leg-spin, some of the wickets were less impressive than others. One was a long-hop top-edged to deep square leg, another was LBW off a low full toss, but hey ho... Generally, I was pretty happy with my control, got enough turn to be a consistent threat and everyone fielded well.

So KC were all out for 170, a total that, on Hyde Heath’s pancake-flat wickets, was never really going to be challenging. We reached the total for the loss of 1 wicket. Capper and Dom Haddock both made aggressive half-centuries and we all walked over to the Plough for some well-earned binge-drinking.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Reader Competition!

There's really nothing like a spontaneous game of cricket, whether you're in the shadow of Everest or being watched by herdsmen in Kabul.

In celebration of this universally acknowledged truth, Cricket Tragics is launching a competition to find the very best photos of hastily contrived fixtures in unusual circumstances: whether they're taken indoors or in the back garden, underground or at altitude, we'll be publishing the finest of the photos you send in - there may even, at the judges' discretion, be prizes.

A couple of pics from my latest sortie will hopefully get the ball rolling. When I'm bowling, as you can see, the field soon spreads...

Monday, 11 May 2009

HHCC vs The Lee

Well, what a cracking win that was. My second match as captain of Hyde Heath (our usual skipper Charlie Samuels was away watching football or something) and the match was a belter. The team I was presented with was distinctly below par – we were missing three first choice seamers, Atif’s bemusingly effective off-spin and our number 3 batsman James Shrimpton. Indeed, so light on bowling were we that I had to churn out 12 overs of increasingly lethargic leg-spin. Took a reasonably respectable 2 for 50 though.

The Lee were our worthy opponents and thanks to some solid batting at the top of the order they managed a reasonably intimidating 207. Despite our limitations in the bowling department we actually did pretty well. Tim Barnsley rolled back the years to take a couple of wickets and Jez (our only front-line medium pacer) overcame a mediocre start to take the crucial wicket of their main batsman, although it was via a pretty terrible LBW decision.

With the pitch playing hard and true there was always a chance we could get the runs, especially if we got off to a reasonable start. Henry Capper made 62 in an innings that alternated between glorious on-drives and fortuitous edges through the slips. Together with, first, the rotund Richard Cousins and then HHCC new boy Anouj, Capper put together a solid platform from which to launch.

Or not. When he top-edged a full-toss, Hyde Heath did what they do best, and wobbled. So out strode the skipper (that’s me!) to the crease. With about 100 needed off the final 20, run-rate was never really issue and Jez and I batted sensibly to bring the target ever closer. With only single figures needed to seal a famous victory came a moment of controversy, and one that could only happen in village cricket.

Their left-arm spinner delivered the ball. It was slow and loopy and inviting the drive. I missed it. Overbalancing slightly I left the crease before turning round to see that the keeper had dropped it. I rather lost interest and made no attempt to get back to the crease, instead going for a bit of a wander down the wicket. Their keeper eventually picked up the ball and whipped of the bails. Capper – the square leg umpire – had also neglected to stay alert and rightly said that he couldn’t give it out because he hadn’t been watching.

What to do? The oppo were maybe being unsporting and I was certainly within my rights to remain at the crease. But as skipper of the noble Heath I had to think of the glory of the club. With only 7 runs needed and 3 wickets surely the match was all but ours? Well, given that 9, 10 and 11 probably had a combined average of 5, we could easily have lost it. Weighing all this up, I’m pleased to say that I did the right thing: tucked my bat under my arm and trooped back to the pavilion. I clearly did right by the notoriously fickle gods of cricket, as two overs later, Jez launched one through the covers to seal a memorable victory.

The real winner then was cricket (and of course Hyde Heath).