Monday, 9 September 2013

HHCC vs Goodwill Wanderers

A win! A bloody win. After a joyless August, the (no longer) mighty Heath registered our first victory since July 28th. With Abbots Langley dropping out on the Thursday, much conferring took place and it was finally agreed that Goodwill Wanderers would be the day's opposition. And what an aptly named cricket team - for they proved a most entertaining bunch, full of abuse directed (as it should be) relentlessly towards their own players.

But before we get to the report proper, first, an apology. Last week's match report was written after a very boozy evening and I'm afraid it all got a bit Mark Nicholas in places ("Stephen Harmison, with a slower ball, one of the great balls. Given the moment, given the batsman, and given the match…" Yep, sorry about that one, chaps.) So this week, a review in strictly rigorous fact-based fashion:

1. Hyde Heath fielded first. (I can't remember if we won the toss.)

2. We bowled. Ben sent down a very tidy opening spell to pick up one wicket; at the other end Spencer picked up three, but was expensive in his second spell. Ateeq took two (or one) and I took one.

3. I bowled the best I had in some weeks but proved expensive as one of Goodwill's batsmen made an inexplicable 60 or so, in which he looked like he might get out any second but periodically timed the ball, much to our surprise.

4. Sohail bowled well, although his figures were ruined by a sole death over that cost 16, and Goodwill finished on an eminently threatening 179 (later upgraded to 180 for reasons that never became entirely apparent).

5. My fielding was ghastly.

6. Tea was belting, with jam and cream bedecked scones the stand-out performance in a strong all-round display.

7. After being horribly dropped offering one of the simplest caught-and-bowled chances you could imagine, Dom proceeded to compile a second consecutive half-century, and along with Capper, finding form after a couple of low scores, put together an increasingly authoritative opening partnership of 120 that effectively sealed the match. Both timed the ball well, with Dom particularly strong on the cut, and Capper timing the hell out of it off his legs.

8. Jez and I then came in to steal some glory with a few boundaries against a demoralised opposition (who have clearly never witnessed a Hyde Heath collapse before).

9. We went to the Plough.

10. The end.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

HHCC vs Roxbourne

The pattern of the 2013 season continued this Sunday at home against Roxbourne, as Hyde Heath again fell just short of victory, with the absence of several key players increasingly keenly felt. On the plus side, it was an extremely enjoyable and competitive game, thanks almost entirely to a quite brilliant innings from Dom Haddock, who pitched up at Fortress Heath having only just returned – engaged, no less! – from glamorous Copenhagen.

With most of the team slow to arrive, the mighty Heath were forced to bat first and the makeshift opening partnership of myself and Capper got off to a poor start, when after a couple of well-times strokes, Henry was bowled by a gently away-swinging yorker. Jez, at number 3, and I steadied the ship – although it turns out there is such a thing as too steady, and after a rather painful 11 off 40 balls (dropped three times, never looked like scoring any runs) I was finally caught behind having a horrible swish.

Thereafter, our middle order stuttered and all looked grim, until Dom rocked up, played himself in carefully, before accelerating through the gears. At first he made himself comfortable, judging the pace of the pitch and the bowlers; then he pushed the singles hard to irritate the fielders, bowlers and captain; before really cutting loose in the final overs. It was probably the best innings I’ve seen Dom play – placing the ball perfectly and running hard, or drilling it through the gaps for boundaries, he made a mockery of line or length or fielding positions.  In the final two overs, there was a sense of inevitability about his batting that echoed Michaels Hussey or Bevan at their best. Whatever field was set, whatever the bowler bowled, Dom placed it where he wanted – for a scampered single to keep the strike, or in the gap for yet another boundary. It was pretty amazing stuff.

Given useful support by Ben, Angus (who injured himself trying to keep up) and Stanley (who played one glorious stroke through the covers) Dom was able to drag us up to a relatively respectable 150ish thanks to his unbeaten 65 off 47 balls. Especially impressive as he was about 12 off 30.

Unfortunately, from there our lack of bowling was exposed. I opened and picked up a couple despite bowling dross (the wickets came from a brilliant stumping by Capper and a quite extraordinary one-handed catch low down by Spencer at cover) whilst, at the other end, Spencer picked up three, bowling with more height and pace than usual. But he probably bowled an over too many, and despite being 7 down , the oppo cobbled together a sufficiently significant partnership to take them over the line. It’s rather been the story of our season – just a bowler or batsman (or both) light.

How we could have done with Richie Austin.