Monday, 14 June 2010

The Misfits vs HHCC

Much discussion has of late been afoot at the Heath. The corridors of power have been abuzz with intrigue. Nothing less than the very fabric and future of the game has been at stake. The issue? Some – yes, some even from within the mighty Heath itself – have been suggesting that we play limited overs rather than time-based matches. The outrage!

Well hopefully this Sunday's match – away against the Little Missenden Misfits – will put paid to such nonsense. It was an excellent match that neatly showcased the diversity that time-based matches will always have over limited overs. Cricket, perhaps more than any other sport (although probably not), has always had room for different shapes, styles and characters – the dashing aristocratic opener, the dour Durham stone-waller, the lanky paceman, the chubby leg-spinner, the wily old village pro – and it is only in time-based matches that this diversity is truly given the space to express itself.

And Sunday's match demonstrated this nicely – predominantly it has to be said during the Misfits' attempt to save the match. First things first though, and having lost the toss, we racked up a rather hefty 254, thanks in large part to an excellent unbeaten hundred from Henry Capper. Never at his most fluent against the Misfits' slow bowling and slow pitch, Capper nonetheless maintained a sufficient run rate to set up an intimidating score. Nick Burgham also looked in fine touch before being bowled for 35.

At the time the worry was that we'd scored so many that the Misfits would only ever seek the draw and we wouldn't have enough time to push for victory. Such considerations just don't come in to limited overs cricket, where the role of the captain is more formulaic and reactive. In this kind of game, captaincy can win matches, and Charlie's was quite brilliant.

After a brief opening burst with the seamers in which Ali removed one of their openers (and as last week was unlucky not to take three or four wickets), Charlie turned to my leg-spin and asked Brad to bowl his chinamen. The reasoning was that even batsmen dead-set on blocking can't resist the occasional hoick against a well-flighted delivery. And so it proved. Bradley varied his pace and gained appreciable turn to take 5 wickets – his first for the club, and the first time he's bowled spin in a match. Perhaps a future as a spinner beckons? I was less threatening but managed a jammy wicket when the batsman had a heave at a wide long-hop and top edged to Amala who took an excellent running catch at cover.

Talking of excellent catches... I took what can only be termed a screamer, one-handed diving forward from gulley. I don't need to blow my own trumpet (not all the time anyway) so I'll give you instead Tim Barnsley's description. He said I looked rather like a dotty old dowager stumbling desperately forwards so as not to spill any of her vintage champagne. And succeeding. Thanks Tim, you old twat.

Anyway, with the batsmen beginning to look comfortable against the spinners and with time running out fast, Charlie made an inspired decision by telling Amala to resort to pace. In four balls he took the last two wickets, detonating the stumps each time, and the match was won with an over to spare. Tactical, intriguing and showcasing far more than just tidy line-and-length seam-up boredom with a ring field, this was village cricket at its best. And we won – which made it all the better.

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