Back in July when Henry Capper dropped an absolute dolly against Chesham Bois, I wrote “Surely this year’s Cack Award is in the bag?” After Sunday’s loss away to Ivinghoe & Pitstone, that may well have to be reconsidered. I emerged as a serious contender for the award by dropping two (or, according to Richard Austin, 3) moderately straightforward catches at long-on. The sun was at a pretty tricky angle though…
At least I had earlier contributed to the team cause by taking a rather good catch, running and then diving forward at mid-wicket. In a rare limited overs game for the Heath, I had also bowled tidily to record figures of 2 for 18 from my allocated 8 overs – both wickets plum LBW. Capper, on the other hand, reasserted his hold over the coveted Cack Award with a performance of masterful incompetence. Waiting at the Plough before heading off, I received a call to say that he had just woken up, under an hour before we were due to start, in Hackney. When he did eventually arrive, about 30 overs into the match, he kicked off with two terrible throws from the outfield, both leading to overthrows, and was then out, caught at mid-off for single figures. Classy.
Despite all this, the Heath started well. We had the opposition 45 for 5 after they had won the toss and elected to bat. But from here our fielding disintegrated and we allowed them to finish on 174, with their young left-hander scoring one of the worst 50s I’ve seen in a while. In all, we dropped eight catches – Nick two caught and bowled chances (one was admittedly very tough), Dom two behind the stumps (and he failed to collect the ball for a run-out), Airdy one running backwards at point, Jez a sitter off me at mid-on, and of course my two (or three) at long-on.
Our top order then made a meal of the run-chase and before long we were about 35 for 5 with myself and Nick at the crease. We proceeded to forge a partnership of 103, with Nick playing some fantastic shots, none better than a gloriously timed straight six back over the head of their off-spinner. We ran well between the wickets and I simply sought to give Nick as much of the strike as possible. With about 35 needed off 6 (I think) I was bowled for 36, cutting one that kept low and the match was very much in the balance.
Nick then took their other off-spinner to the cleaners, with some clean hitting over mid wicket and with 14 needed off 18 balls surely the match was ours for the taking. But then their opening bowler returned to bowl his last over. He started by clean bowling James Aird for 0, but when Brad struck him beautifully through mid on for 4, we were surely home and dry?
Alas, no. Brad was bowled off the penultimate ball and Jez was then cleaned up first ball, the last of the over. Charlie strode out, needing only to give Nick the strike. Their medium-pacer bowled a clever slower ball, Charlie played down the wrong line and was bowled – another Heath duck. We were all out 8 runs short, with Nick left unbeaten on 93. It was a pretty poor team performance in an exciting match: Nick’s innings was brilliant, and we really let him down.
But we won the Ashes, and that’s all that really matters.