This week’s fixture saw us visit Chislehurst to play Foxbury Exiles in what is usually a keenly-contested game. This also presents the opportunity to reverse the result of the previous encounter, earlier this season, when we managed to bugger up a run chase of under 100 at home. Skipper Billy is away this week at a wedding that he was definitely, unreservedly and willingly happy to attend so Ross returns to lead the team in his stead. Sash conducts an excellent piece of negotiation with his family to enable him play on his birthday weekend, while King Louie returns for his second game of the season. Unfortunately, we are only able to field players, so we are hoping for some generosity on the part of the oppo to lend us a spare. If not, well, we could always escape early to watch the Charity Shield. There was also the welcome prospect of a provided tea to look forward to.
Things began with a somewhat unexpected turn of events when, having won the toss, His Lordship took the decision to bat first in a 40-over-a-side game. To be fair, there weren’t many dissenting voices in the dressing room (see above, re. Charity Shield) and the oppo were happy to provide a spare player for us, James. Batting order quickly devised, the Lord decided to build a solid platform with Stumpy and Richard as openers. Part of this plan worked like a charm, as Dave batted in an exemplary fashion to compile 66 (from 100 balls, with eight 4s) in just under two hours. Richard was a bit unlucky to be caught quite early on chasing one around the corner and being caught for 1 at backward square. Ross joined Stumpy to steady things and they compiled a 90-run stand before Ross nicked one behind to the keeper for 24 (two 4s). Next in was Gracie at Number 4, who watched the ball well and made his top score of the season – 18 (from 23 balls, one 4). He and Dave picked off useful runs between the wickets with quickly-taken singles and twos, but Dave was trapped LBW with the score on 127. Muttley was next in and hit a cracking boundary off his first ball, but swiped at the next one to be clean-bowled by the venerable Russ Palumbo, who soon after had Gracie stumped (and finished with very good figures of 4-25 with his nagging, accurate line/length). Sash and Alex then batted at Number 6 and 7, pushing the score along very usefully. Each made 21 , but Sash fell near the end of the innings, leaving Ryan to face just two balls for 1*. Overall, we had made a very creditable total of 189/6 in our allotted overs and the bowlers certainly had something to bowl at.
Tea was served in their pavilion and was greatly appreciated – their bar wasn’t open yet, but in the circumstances (i.e. with fielding ahead), that probably wasn’t a bad thing!
With our reserves suitably restored, we are led onto the field again by His Lordship and he has a cunning plan. We will not open with our usual seam/pace options, but instead with spin and guile. The aim is to keep the run rate at a manageable level and thereby increase the scoreboard pressure further down their innings. The outfield in very dry and so anything with pace on it is tending to head to the boundary. Given our previous experience at this ground (one match a few years back saw them pepper their own pavilion in a 200+ score) and a RRR of 4.75, this seems like a good strategy. Dino and Richard are the men chosen to implement it – they do so with only a few hiccups (i.e. boundaries). The first wicket falls at the start of the 11th over for 35 when Dino catches the edge and Stumpy collects safely behind the wicket. Dino is then joined by Muttley, who continues to keep things reasonably tight and behind the RRR. The run rate increases when Sash comes on to bowl as his radar is suffering a bit in the breezy conditions which leads to several wides. The introduction of some pace also aids the oppo’s pursuit of boundaries. Richard takes a blinding catch to remove their well-set Number 3 for 26, leaving things very much in the balance, at 89/2 from 23.4 overs. The match then moved into its decisive phase, which revolved around two particular contributions. Firstly, Alex East came on to bowl and immediately took two wickets in his first over (a double wicket maiden indeed). This removed their other opener (for 27) and their Number 4 (for 1). More of King Louie’s contribution to come, but before that, the second contribution – James, playing as a sub, removes their big-hitting Number 5 (who had bashed his way to 27 in about three overs) with his first ball. His face (which will sadly not be visible on Gracie’s match video) was a picture! I should also add that he had a really great day in the field for us – he took the second of Alex’s initial two wickets with a good catch and chased absolutely everything. This left them on 122/6 in just over 30 overs – requiring about 7 runs an over, which is tricky but do-able. We then return to the contribution of the King of the Swingers, who proceeds to take the remaining four wickets to fall in his eight wicket spell, ending with his Stone career best figures (to date) of 8-3-18-6. He is supported by James, who cops some friendly flak from his colleagues at the crease, but finishes with 1-15, and Scrappy, who bowls a couple of overs at the end for 11. The result is a really decent win for us, by 35 runs, and an uncontested MotM award for Alex. The SBotD is not awarded – it doesn’t seem appropriate after the efforts made.
The bar opens and we celebrate over some very welcome beers. There is some good chat between the two sides about their respective seasons so far – they have been really good hosts. Beers finished, some head for home and some head for the pub, but we have had a good game and a good day against a good oppo – cricket as it should be played.