Probably the biggest shambles you could imagine preceded Sunday's game against Longwick.
First we had 12 players, as Richard Austin and a friend of Brad's were due to play in addition to the list of ten names sent to me by Charlie. This then dropped to 10, as Brad's mate was told he was superfluous to requirements and then Amala failed to arrive on the train (and failed to notify Caroline Capper who was waiting at the station to collect him). Thankfully Hyde Heath Chairman Mr J Capper stepped up when the club needed him most, and we managed to field a full eleven.
But this was just the tip of the iceberg. With half of the side well on their way to Longwick (and some already there) the Longwick skipper showed up at Fortress Heath with the rest of his team following shortly behind. I explained that we were playing at Longwick. He explained that we were playing at Hyde Heath. Neither side had a pitch prepared or (more importantly) teas to eat. A right bloody shambles.
Thankfully at a moment's notice our brilliant groundsman Mikey zoomed across the outfield and proceeded to cut and roll last week's wicket. In a frenzy of action we painted the boundary line, put out the flags and benches, set up the clock, and put in the stumps. Cricket, despite everything, would happen. We made sure of it.
In all this confusion I went out to toss – I was skipper by the way – and, despite my earlier tirade against limited overs cricket, conceded to Longwick's captain who wanted a 40 overs match. Anyway I won the toss and, just like Charlie, elected to field – mainly because I had no idea how the pitch would play. It turned out, as Mikey's pitches always do, to be perfect, if with a little more spin than usual.
Jez and Brad opened up and kept things tight, before Nicko replaced Brad at the Plough End. Continuing his good bowling form from tour, he bowled a full length and attacking line and was rewarded with three wickets from his allocated 8 overs (although it probably should be noted that two came from rank long hops, but hey ho). Shrimpie also wheeled away with accuracy, loop and a good bit of turn. He was more expensive than he should have been – party due to some bad fielding and partly due to some pretty bad field placement on my part.
Anyway, he took three wickets, including two in two balls, I bowled their left-hander through the gate with a sharply spun leg-break and we were well on top. From there I rather let things drift and from being about 80 for 6, Longwick eventually scrabbled up to 171 all out., partly aided by about 25 extras. A lot of credit though to Jez for the outstanding figures of 1 for 7 off 7 overs.
After tea – generously put together by the kind folks at the Plough – it was our turn to bat. I have to say I was a little nervous after we'd collapsed the week before chasing a similar target. But a century opening stand between Capper and Haddock effectively sealed the deal. Dom was dropped four times on his way to 60 but in between times played some great shots off the back foot. Several pull shots were particularly withering, and it was amusing that Longwick continued to feed the stroke.
Capper started sedately and was content to push the singles while Dom hit the boundaries at the other end. When he was out though, Henry started to find his timing, and although things got a little tense towards the end as we got a bit bogged down with the total in sight, he drilled two consecutive boundaries to swing the match decisively our way. All in all his unbeaten 83 was a measured and mature innings, that showed exactly how a run chase ought to be paced.
After the embarrassing lead-up it was a well-earned victory and, with everyone chipping in just to even get a match, it once more demonstrated the great spirit that lies at the heart of the Heath.