Thursday, 23 June 2011

President's Weekend 2011

Shrimpy defends, shortly before I ran him out...

President's Weekend: the glittering jewel in the burnished golden crown that is the Hyde Heath fixture list. The three-day feast of sporting prowess and booze kicks off with the annual beer festival, which by all accounts was another triumph this year – alas I was reviewing some dreadful hotel restaurant at the time – before the serious action commences on the Saturday.

The President's game consists of Hyde Heath's mightiest pitched against an assembled unit of hired mercenaries and rag-tag cricketing talent – in short, the best of the opposition from throughout the year hand-picked by HHCC's all-knowing President. This year saw us up against a particularly strong side, but as so often with the Heath, we somehow found a path to victory. Playing 30 overs a side, Henry and Dom put on a rapid-fire opening partnership, dominated by Capper at his aggressive best. At one point he'd raced to 16 before Dom had even faced a ball. In uncharacteristic fashion Dom played the supporting role, before being dismissed for 35. This precipitate something of a drop in run rate as James Shrimpton, our usual number 3, was absent, and his strokeplay was rather missed. With the runs drying up, and the overs running out, our middle order threw caution to the wind (and their wickets away) in a rather desperate attempt for quick runs. Fortunately Capper's classy 85 secured a total of around 150, a defendable but also a gettable total.

Fortunately some accurate bowling from Jez and some tight fielding prevented the oppo's top order form ever really getting going. And although once Jez had been bowled out the run-rate started to rise (my solitary over went for more than Jez's entire spell) wickets also tumbled, with Larry's mate Will mopping up the lower order. Ali and Airdy were left to achieve the impossible and despite a few lusty blows it never quite materialised and Hyde Heath won fairly comfortably in the end.

Afterwards, rather bizarrely, we all swiftly departed for home in order to change into black tie and return to the pavilion marquee for a right old shindig in celebration of Hyde Heath's 40th or 45th anniversary. Nobody seemed quite sure which. What was clear is that everybody was feeling more than a little ropey for Sunday's now traditional HHCC vs Plough 20/20 grudge match.

I face up bravely to some vicious opening bowling.

For some reason, I was elected pinch-hitter and opened the batting with Shrimpy. We actually got off to a flier until I ran him out (for scoring too quickly I think). Shrimpy had his revenge though as Nick (no doubt operating under instructions) ran me out shortly afterwards. Oh well. Thanks to some lusty hitting throughout we managed a pretty impressive total (of I've totally forgotten what).

The Plough's chase never really seemed to get going. And yet thanks to a rapid half-century from Capper they actually only needed 10 to win off the final two balls. Fortunately for the glory of the club it was not to be and HHCC remain unbeaten this season. The highlight of the weekend for me? An astonishing reaction catch by Nick at very silly mid-on off my bowling. Not only was it one of the best catches I've ever seen – the ball was hit seriously hard and he was fielding pretty darned close – but it was also the third wicket in a hat-trick for yours truly on the way to a long awaited five wicket haul. Just thought I'd throw that little snippet in there - shame it's in a match that doesn't count for the averages. Balls.

Monday, 13 June 2011

HHCC vs Red Square

An ex-C hairman writes (again)...

NB: The management of Cricket Tragics in no way endorses the denigration of our Editor in Chief's bowling/writing ability (that's his job) nor do we condone the excessive use of exclamation marks in the following report.

This was going to be the first Sunday of the season playing without our leg-spinning all-rounder and usual correspondent Tom. It would be mighty tricky indeed for the mighty Heath to remain unbeaten without their talisman. There was a few suggestions where he could be, ranging from the Hay Literary Festival to “twelfth man” at Lord’s vs. Sri Lanka (probably helping out with Kevin Petersen’s lack of confidence against spinners – a few overs batting against his bowling does seem to cheer people up). The truth, apparently, was a trip to Venice, in the cricket season!!, and possibly for romantic reasons!!! Where is his commitment?

In reality, the mighty Heath appeared remarkably strong in the absence of “our man”. Ali was back to bowl, Bradders returned after missing last week for a family party, Austin had sorted out his child care (by buying a kitten – novel!), Nick from half term and “Senior Pro” Barnsley on day-release.

The Opposition were an unknown quantity, always a worry in case they had 4 nasty fast bowlers. Mishearing the name of the team I thought they were from a pub and, therefore a team of heavy drinkers however a very pleasant and amusing group, complete with strong female support, turned up, based, I believe round a journalistic background. Perhaps a good thing our correspondent stayed at home!

Charlie, back in charge, won the toss and inserted the visitors. Ali bowled very well and accurately, with little luck, while Brad, at the other end was a bit wayward but quick, nonetheless. Jeremy who, unusually, arrived at the ground almost in time for the start, took over and bowled with his usual reliability. 2 wickets for Jeremy and 3 for Ali was a fair return for both of them. After this the batting looked a bit thin and the spinners lined up to finish things off. Shrimpy taking 2 for 9 and Austin grabbing the last 2 wickets at the end of a tidy spell, aided by yet another good catch from Tim Barnsley. 113 all out, in 32 overs was not a high enough score on this pitch which was a belter thanks to Mike Thompson, the grounds-man. Possibly, a few overs from our man in the Gritti Palace Hotel on the Grand Canal might have produced more of a target but there you go!

During the tea interval, courtesy of Mrs Shrimpton and Mrs Haddock (2 choices of melon, chicken tikka wraps, salmon rolls, hot sausages, cheese and pickle sandwiches, 4 different cakes and no tuna in site – heaven and I’m sure I’ve missed something out) who was going to open was a strong topic of debate. Capper and Haddock were the lucky pair and gave a chanceless performance, unbeaten on 114, with Henry on 61 and Dom on 43. An excellent 10 wicket win against a team who were charm personified despite under- achieving on the field.

It’s always difficult when, like Nick Burgham Tim Barnsley and Spencer North, you’ve not bowled or batted and still are expected to pay the match fee. Tim’s catch was a high-light and so, apparently, was Spencer’s. He had to tell me about it in great detail as I was searching for saw-dust at the time. Yes, it drizzled all afternoon but don’t tell Tom.

HHCC vs Ley Hill

Matt Sims brings the carnage.

It's now over two weeks since Hyde Heath drew their first match of the season, at home against Ley Hill, and with the passing of time has come, inevitably, the fading of memory. Fortunately, Chris' excellent photos on the Hyde Heath website have done a little to prompt my hazy recollections of the match. I think the one of Matt's satisfied admiration of his own scorching cover drive is probably my new favourite cricket image. “Dare thee challenge me, bowler?” it says. “I laugh in the face of your bowling, and dispatch it to the boundary with ferocious elegance, thusly.”

Matt's blistering strokeplay came after a very slow start (I think he took 16 balls to get off the mark), and after our openers had failed, he helped to put on an increasingly confident partnership with Shrimpy, who's in belting form at the moment. While these two were at the crease, the target – about 180 – looked eminently achievable. But as so often, the fall of one wicket led to a clatter, and I ended up having to block out the last couple of overs to secure the draw, some 30-odd runs short.

Earlier, I'd been relegated to third-choice spinner (hardly surprising given recent form) as our severely depleted bowling attack toiled hard against an unthreatening but combative Ley Hill line-up. Jez bowled an extremely long and tidy spell, but only managed the solitary wicket, Shrimpy and Rich both bowled well, but I was again expensive (although I did manage a wicket and, would you believe it, a run-out) and the oppo's total was 30 or so above what it might have been. With more seamers at our disposal (no Brad or Ali today) or a less profligate leg-spinner, perhaps it could have been 5 wins out of 5.