Tonbridge Foresters CC vs. Stone CC, 18th May 2024

Following last week’s not-so-tremendous batting performance, we trooped down to Tonbridge to take on our old friends. Last season, we played there but sadly it was against Dartford CC 6th XI when we couldn’t host and unfortunately Tonbridge couldn’t field a side.  After collecting Benty from the pre-arranged pick up point outside the Hilton in Dartford, we set off.  Upon arrival we were the first there, but like buses, the rest of the team followed shortly after and we eventually had a full squad of eleven.  Unlike Tonbridge, who had nine… but more of that later…

I believe we won the toss, and we elected to field in a 34 over(?) a-side game – they seem to like this 34-over thing to save time, quite what difference an extra over makes is neither here nor there in my opinion but hey! The new ball was given to myself and Ram, who again bowled with great control and got the opener for a duck to continue his fine start for Stone. I took the second over and was able to snaffle two wickets with Tom Rogers, making a welcome return, and Benty holding on to chances. Their top three were removed and all had failed to trouble the scorers – early finish on the cards… Kuldeep replaced Ram, now known as Rambo, and he started off well, with a nice and tidy start. I picked up another couple of wickets, as Skip held on to one at square leg, then Rambo took a blinding catch in the covers off a rank wide half volley from Tonbridge’s Skipper who departed for 18, just as they looked to counter.  Kuldeep soon took a couple of wickets in quick succession – a fine caught and bowled off the Tonbridge ‘keeper before clean bowling the next man in for a duck. Adith replace me and bowled very well off his two pace run-up and claimed his first wicket for Stone when the batsmen popped one straight up in the air for me to take the catch at mid-wicket. 35-8 – early finish… NO! Our skip decided to let the two openers who had ducks have a bat again. Unfortunately for us, they batted a little better this time despite both being dropped, one by Kuldeep in the deep and the other by me at slip… Kuldeep claimed his third wicket when he removed the stubborn Wellard (actual surname, not the dog from Eastenders) for 19.  35-8 had become 87-9 thanks to the rejuvenated openers before Mr Keenan came on and finished it off bowling the Number 11 to have Tonbridge all out for 93.

The rare site of a homemade tea was devoured, and our openers set out to rip up this score…  The volunteers this week were Paul Keenan and new opening batsmen Tom Purton.  Everything was ticking along nicely as Tom put away a couple of freebies to ease himself to 10 before he played all around one and was bowled. Stumpy was in next, steady, dependable, ultimately reliable and will surely see us home. Nope, he slightly misjudged his first ball and was bowled leaving one that jagged back in… Paul was the next man to depart, popping one up to mid-off for 2. The standard Stone wobble was incoming… Skip & Rambo’s boy were now at the crease. Skip’s bludgeoning style and Rambo Junior’s more careful approach was certainly a contrast. After two huge 6s, Skip departed for 24 from a ball that barely got off the ground. Tom came and went for a quick 1. Kuldeep then followed for 2 and the collapse was on. Benty stuck around and was joined by Rambo, who decided to bat left handed this week [NB. no-one is entirely clear about why this was the case – ed.]. Unfortunately he was bowled behind his legs for 1.  Adith joined at Number Ten and hung around, hitting a fine shot down the ground for 2 before he was caught for 2. I was hoping for a rest, but with around 20 still needed, I strode out to bat. I got off the mark with a nice single, then Benty hit a delightful boundary to take us within 12. I then decided that I would take the attack to them but sadly found long off, much to my own surprise that I could hit the ball that far. All out for 82. A draw was decided as the outcome, as we had let a couple of their guys have an extra bat. So there we go – a match that was simultaneously a defeat, a win and a draw.  Just remember, cricket was the ultimate winner!

The awards were discussed in the pub afterwards, Stumpy somehow convinced everyone that a couple of dropped catches from Kuldeep in the deep was far worse than a first ball duck and thus skilfully handed off the Shitbag Award in the process. I was lucky enough to take home Big Pat this week for 4-16 from 7 overs, helped by people who could catch.  Ah well, on to next week, where I am having a rest. Over and out.

– Richard