Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ivinghoe & Pitstone vs HHCC

A scintillating return to form for yours truly this weekend, as I managed to bowl no less than six overs for less (just) than a run a ball. I didn't take a wicket, and in the context of the match that was actually really quite expensive, but hey ho. At least I managed to land a few, and two even turned quite sharply.

The game was away against Ivinghoe and Pitstone, the scene two years ago of Nicko's brilliant unbeaten 90 in a losing cause, and as it's their ground, it means their rules – ie limited overs. Urgh. We lost the toss and were put in, and after Dom was caught behind by their juggling keeper, Shrimpy and Henry put on a monster 2nd wicket stand of 149. It was by no means plain sailing though, on a very green pitch, that not only offered plenty to seamer and spinner alike, but was also slow and therefore attacking shots were hard to time (or at least, that's what it looked like).

After seeing off some accurate and threatening bowlers, both batsman grew in confidence and flourished against some average change bowling. Shrimpy battled away for an unbeaten 74, whilst Capper made an excellent 86, during which both batsmen had to work (and run) hard for their runs, due to both the size of the ground and some clever fielding set by the oppo. Although quite why they insisted on trying to block Capper's non-existent square cut I'm not so sure. Towards the end of our allocated overs, Harry McHugh came in and belted a couple of big sixes in his run-a-ball 32 and we closed on a highly creditable 216 for 2.

At this point, a quick word on ringers. After a fearful rant a few weeks ago about the use of a semi-professional cricketer by Chesham 'whipping' Bois, I should mention the use by Ivinghoe of a ringer of their own. This time, however, it was less of an onfield scandal as an off-field revelation. Clearly threatened by the strength of the Hyde Heath tea, I&P brought in their heavy artillery in the form of a crack tea-making unit. Coronation chicken sandwiches, egg and cress (clearly home-made), scones laden with jam and clotted cream, sausage rolls, strawberries: truly, this is what cricket is all about. And on behalf of the Heath, I urge the use of such ringers by certain other clubs we play against, mentioning no names of course...

Anyway, back to the field (a stone or two heavier). The Heath were very light on bowling, something which can be badly exposed during limited overs cricket. Fortunately, we were saved by three key figures: the first was Jez, our only full-time 'pace' bowler, who took two wickets in his opening over to put the pressure firmly onto the oppo. The second was Ben, who getting movement both ways, and hitting a niggardly length, proved practically impossible to score off, and bowled all his eight overs off the reel for only ten runs, with the one wicket too. (It would have been more had Capper not dropped one of the all-time great howlers).

And the third was Charlie, who deftly juggled his bowlers (I was first change!) and set some well-balanced fields in order to prevent Ivinghoe from ever really settling. Apart from their tall 'keeper, Daniel (I think) who made 70, nobody else was able to get going, especially as Spencer destroyed their middle order with three wickets, including two in two balls. A bit like Stuart Broad, he stopped with the long-hops, located a fuller length, and reaped the rewards.

From there, the match rather petered out – as is the way with limited overs when one team has no chance of winning. The last ten overs saw both teams rather going through the motions and it all became a bit dull (despite Tim Barnsley and Dom Haddock both taking a well-earned wicket) and we all left thanking the Lord that we play proper time-based cricket every Sunday.

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