Another trip down the A2/M2 again for most of us this week, despite the Sat Nav seemingly trying to take us down some farm tracks as we got nearer, we all arrived at the very nice and somewhat compact ground in Bredgar in good time. Skip arrives and on a baking hot day (at last) elects to field in a 40-over game. Despite the hot weather and glorious sunshine the pitch is somewhat soft and stodgy… Skip elects to open the bowling with myself and Walkie, Walkie bowls really well but ultimately with no reward and finishes wicketless off 5 overs, i bowl my usual mix of slow loopy liquorice all-sorts and induce one edge with a rank long hop, which gets put down – one of eight catches to go down, improvement on the 11 last time we played here! Ultimately I finish wicketless, but almost immediately Chungy makes the breakthrough by getting one of the openers caught behind and the first wicket goes down on 52. However, the other opener – their skipper Tim – is looking in fine touch despite being dropped on 10 (this would prove slightly costly!) and is looking comfortable. Sashi replaces Walkie and gets a wicket straight away with a strangle down the leg side, following another wicket from Chungy. Changes are again made as Alex East is brought into the attack and bowls very well, claiming two wickets in an over and Bredgar are 117-5, with no one apart from their skipper contributing much, which is all the more frustrating. Chungy finishes with 2-43 off 7 which doesn’t do him justice as he took a bit of tap in the last over as Bredgar accelerated. Their skipper reaches his 100 shortly after before Ryan Garratt gets a wicket with a top edge which loops to Paul at fine leg who does well [extraordinarily well – ed.] to hold on despite Stumpy careering into him at full pelt (well, as fast as he can go anyway). Eventually Alex claims the wicket of their skipper for 150 caught behind, but 150 out of 204 tells you how costly that early drop was. Ryan claims a couple of wickets towards the end as he clean bowls the couple of schoolboys he had facing him and finishes with 3-43 off 4 and Alex finishes with 3-44 off 8. Bredgar finished on 214, which is a stiff target, but on a small ground is gettable!
The variety of packed lunches and meal deals are tucked into as we contemplate the chase, i think supermarkets are the only ones who have benefitted from no teas in the last year, I decided to skip sandwiches etc and just bring a pack of blueberry muffins and some fruit, which makes a pleasant change from a warm Tesco sandwich!
Skip and Sash stride out to make inroads into our daunting target. Skip looks in good touch until a wide long hop stops in the pitch and loops up to cover and he departs for 14. Chungy strides out to join Sash and they take the score up to 40, before Mike is bowled for 10 by the off spinner. Despite the small ground we are finding it difficult to hit the boundaries required on a regular basis. Sash and Stumpy take the score up to 102 before both depart in successive overs, Sash for a patient 27, and Stumpy for a relatively sharp 32. Walkie and Ryan take up the baton and set about the bowling, with Walkie finding the boundary regularly, including one six over mid wicket into a neighbouring garden and Ryan nurdling the ball around for quick ones and twos, it looks like we might have an outside chance. Then, alas, Ryan falls for 15, and I follow shortly after that, for 2, trying to get Walkie on strike as he approaches a possible 50. Gav walks out for some fresh air and is walking back again one ball later, meaning that we have gone from 158-4 to 166-7. The target is now virtually impossible. Hopefully Walkie can get to his 50, with encouragement from Gavin who has clearly spent too long in the sun. The runs and the balls tick down until Walkie requires six off just three balls. Walkie wants to do it in one hit, whilst the opposing skipper challenges him to hit three twos! Walkie takes the former option and is… bowled for 44. This leaves Alex 0* and Will 1* to see out the last few deliveries as we finished on 171-8 to lose the game by 43 runs. In the end, it was a good game that was ultimately decided by our inability to catch the ball, especially their skipper who contributed 70% of their runs!
We said our goodbyes to each other and the oppo and retired to the pub – well, a couple of us did, to debate what had gone before us and also wonder how England will do at the Euros… Is it coming home… Who knows???