Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
One side-effect of this was that I arrived only 20 minutes before the start of play; the other that I was a tad hazy about what was going on. No matter though – erstwhile vice captain Capper sorted out all the pre-match bits and bobs (including finding in Spencer's mate Liam a last-minute replacement for Amala who'd phoned in sick).
The oppo were the London Dragons, a new fixture with an intimidating name. We lost the toss, were sent into bat, and things quickly fell apart. Capper was out cutting to point for zero, Shrimpie edged to 1st slip, and when Haddock was out too, it was left to Jez (promoted to number four by his confident/drunk captain) and Ben to steady the ship. Which they largely did, until disaster struck. Four wickets fell for the addition of not a single run (including myself for a rather humiliating second ball duck and Richard Austin contentiously given out LBW by Capper). We were suddenly 100 for 7 and staring down the barrel.
Enter Brad and Spence who both batted superbly to rescue the innings. For probably the first time ever, Spence not only realised that the forward defensive is actually a real shot but also actually managed to deploy it, in between some clean strikes to the boundary. When he fell for a mightily valuable 28 it was down to Ali to support Brad, which he duly did rather well: the two put on an unbroken 49 for the ninth wicket, of which Ali made a doughty 2. Brad's innings of 76 off 60 deliveries was quite brilliant and rested the match well and truly our way. After starting cautiously, his last 40-odd runs came from just 20 balls as he took the Dragons' attack to the cleaners in a calculated assault. There were some great shots, none more impressive than a pulled six that seemed to require no effort but still sailed miles into the trees.
So having secured an ultimately impressive total of 214, it was now a case of seeing what our bowlers could do. And thankfully they didn't let me down. Jez and Ali bowled excellent opening spells, with Ali in particular causing all sorts of problems for a top order that looked potentially pretty strong on a fairly flat pitch. By bowling at middle and off and hitting an impeccable length with the odd variation in pace, he made captaincy easy, and the wickets duly came along in a rush – four were bowled and one excellently caught by Shrimpie. Apparently I dropped a bit of a shocker, but I'm still feigning ignorance.
Ali's five wickets broke the back of their innings and then the spinners mopped up – Rich with two, myself one, and then Brad wrapped things up when the last man chipped a catch to Ali to give the Heath a satisfying 99 run victory. All in all an excellent match, that I feel rather vindicated my controversial early morning captaincy decisions.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Capper scores through the leg-side.
Having said that, things didn’t start exactly as planned. Apart from Jez’s opening wicket – a full delivery that enticed the drive only to result in a nick to Richie Austin in the gulley – we bowled and fielded poorly in the sweltering heat. This allowed Chesham Bois to rattle along at almost a run a ball. Brad, Nick and I were expensive (although Nick at least picked up the second wicket) whilst Capper, Danny, Nick and I all dropped catches (Nick’s admittedly was a bloody toughie). By the drinks break, Chesham Bois were ominously placed at 110 for 2 and it was looking like we’d be chasing something like 250.
But Charlie rallied the troops and made two canny bowling changes. Recalling Jez at the Pavilion End resulted in the immediate removal of the oppo’s chief run-scorer, sharply stumped by Capper as he overbalanced on the drive. From the other end, Charlie turned to Shrimpie’s part-time off-spin, and it proved an inspired decision, as he combined accuracy, changes in pace, and a bit of occasional turn to roll through the Chesham Bois middle order. He finished with five wickets and Jez four as they collapsed horribly to 137 all out.
Haddock collects 4; JC looks enthralled...
Against a pretty ropey bowling attack such a total was never going to be a problem, unless we really decided to balls it up completely. Which we didn’t. Dom and Caps batted with calm aggression and Chesham Bois were quickly demoralised. A ten-wicket victory was no less than we deserved – if anything, simply for the quality of the tea alone. It was probably one of the all time great Heath performances in that department – I mean, smoked salmon sandwiches! Sheesh. Let’s never play away again
Monday, 5 July 2010
But Charlie's return saw a marked improvement in discipline from the bowlers and enthusiasm from the fielders and we were soon right back in it. Jez bowled splendidly on a pitch with a bit of pace and bounce to scythe through Ballinger's powerful, if a little cavalier, top order. To take six wickets after an expensive start was a great effort – the highlight probably being the uprooting of the middle stump on no less than three occasions.
After some tedious resistance from Ballinger's tail – during which time I struggled to find much rhythm – we eventually bowled them out for 168, an eminently gettable target.
Tea – as so often when we play away – was distinctly below par. It made one yearn for the home-baked cakes of Hyde Heath and Nick's signature chicken tikka sandwiches, which I inexcusably forgot to mention last week.
Anyway, to the run chase, and against some disciplined bowling we didn't start well: Capper was caught and bowled, Shrimpie edged a drive to 1st slip, and Napes had his off stump removed. But Dom was still there and playing with increasing fluency, and he was joined by Brad who helped to steady the ship. When he was out, in strode Nick who – probably in an attempt to prove a correlation between quality of sandwiches and quality of batting – proceeded to destroy Ballinger's bowling attack.
With Dom and Nick in full flow we cantered along towards the target, and although it all must have been very entertaining, I'm afraid to say I spent more time concentrating on our own little game in the net with a half-width bat. But Nick made 40 with a couple of sixes and Dom was last out for 75, and in the end we won pretty comfortably. Back home next week – thank God.