Saturday, 30 August 2014

HHCC vs Bank of England

Back in 2004, Andrew Flintoff gave a piece of friendly advice to West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo: “This game's got a funny way of biting you on the arse,” he said, before continuing, worldly-wise: “I've seen it all mate. Let's see where you are in three years time.”

The irony is that in three years time, Bravo had cemented his place in an (admittedly ropey) West Indies team, while Flintoff, the big man, had just led England to a disastrous 5-0 whitewash against Australia, and been fined for drunken pedalo -bothering. When the teams met next, Bravo performed creditably while Flintoff was nowhere to be seen.

If only Flintoff had realised at the time that his words could also be applied to himself. If only Hyde Heath had realised that too, as we made the most straightforward of run chases somehow into the most nail-biting of farces. Although Bank of England bowled tidily enough, it was over-confidence that nearly did for us. Charlie was so confident that he had showered and changed; I batted like a was still not out from the week before – attempting to drill my first ball back over the bowler's head, missing comfortably, and pottering back to the pavilion.

That, it turned out, was the second dismissal in a hat-trick as Liam got himself LBW first ball; Dom – who had earlier continued his fine recent form with another half-century, and alongside Shrimpie, scored the bulk of the side's runs in another excellent partnership – was the first of the trio. It meant that within just two runs of our target we lost no less than four wickets. It may have been embarrassing cricket but it made for entertaining viewing. I've never seen a changing room laughing so much as the wickets tumbled. There's something hilarious sometimes about inevitability.

Thankfully we weren't chasing many, and it was Charlie's earlier canniness that was to thank for that – especially as several of his batsmen, brimming with (over?)confidence were requesting we “give 'em a few” to make a game of it.

We found ourself in such a position thanks to probably the tightest hour of cricket I've seen from the Heath. The pitch – the same as last week – was a little slow and low but played very true, and we were never going to blast through them. But Sohail was as full and straight as ever, Ben hit that perfect, miserly length, Fiddy found his rhythm, and even my first two overs were pretty tight (obviously the next five were total rubbish). We also fielded brilliantly: Dom made a very difficult chance (coming down over his left shoulder as he ran backwards from mid-off) look easy, while I, ambling forwards from mid-on, made a very straight-forward catch look exceptionally tricky. “I've never seen a thirty year-old look more like a seventy year-old,” said Shrimpie, encouragingly.

Perhaps all those teas are finally taking their toll. Devilled eggs, smoked salmon, chikken tikka wraps.... Mmmmm cricket.

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