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.