Stone CC vs. Gravesend CC 5th XI, 18.06.15

For the first time in a while, we didn’t have any new players making a debut. What we did have, however, was the first match for Sandy, the new club roller. For the benefit of all those new to the club, Sandy [Message] sadly passed away just over a year or so ago. Sandy was a long-standing club member, an all-round great sportsman and a former club president whose attitude to how he approached life and sport in particular a fine example to anyone who knew him. He was a fierce competitor but at the same time the fairest and most gentlemanly person you could ever wish to meet. A true club legend, he donated a significant sum to the club on his passing and, given we have used some of this for the development of the club this season, it seems fitting that the new roller bears his name. Looking at Sandy the roller, you will not fail to see that he has already lived his life to the full, much like Sandy the Legend.

There was a lot of pressure on Sandy this week with all forms of social media trending re. the Rec turning into a #batsmansparadise. Well over 410 runs scored and 16 wickets to fall, I think shows that the Justin and Sandy partnership will continue to produce good cricket wickets with runs there if you wait for the bad balls but just a little bit of devil still there if you hit a good length.

Having lost the toss, we were put into bat by a Gravesend CC 5ths team a bit heavier on experience than they have been in previous years with a couple of young ‘uns thrown in. The Ref was partnering Stumpy first up having answered the social media SOS a few hours before the game to help us out. Unfortunately the Ref’s innings last about as long as a misbehaving centre half would in a match he officiates on and he was back in the pavilion for 4.

Joined at the crease by Jackie Chung, Stumpy then set about watchfully building a platform, then solidifying our position before then accelerating through the gears. It really was a masterclass from the two of them in how to build an innings and punish the errant ball. The last time I saw someone in the runs like Stumpy, it was after a trip former club captain Darren Harris made to the Raj in Crayford when he took on a rather powerful King Prawn Butterfly and Butter Chicken combination. The two of them saw us past 100 before Jackie fell for an enterprising 39 and Stumpy just after he had secured another 50.

Wickets fell at regular intervals from there onwards, but every batsman scored at pace with myself, Dartsy (pre heart attack) and Jack all getting solid scores, Slatesy falling early and then The Stig and Walkie Talkie seeing us through to 204 for 7,both of them contributing efforts for shot of the day (young Jordan’s cover drive was beauty) in the process. A more than solid 40-over effort but we knew we faced a tough task heading into tea with an outfield that was as quick as a Tom Rogers beamer.

Huge thanks go to Dartsy and Mrs Darts this week for their tea efforts. It was another cracker with chicken nuggets a lovely addition to the spread. Preparing plain sandwiches that can then be adorned with condiments earns extra marks from this skipper who has very little time for overly dressed sandwiches.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly pretty much sums up Stone CC in the field on Saturday. There was still plenty of good but just a bit too much bad and ugly that allowed Gravesend to get away from us a little at the start and gave them some free runs with too much short bowling on leg stump, some simple chances dropped and some balls kicked over the rope.

After Jack picked up an early wicket, spirits were high, but the Gravesend CC 5ths version of Tino Best then went on the rampage. This guy had more lives than Jack Bauer and literally no idea where he was going to hit the ball but when he did connect he hit it hard and long and was nigh on impossible to set a field to. Slatesy got him in the end towards the end of his spell and then picked up another quick wicket to take two wickets in his eight overs and Jack deserved more reward than the one wicket he picked up. The Ref then starred in a two over two wicket spell before his mum invoked his 6.30pm curfew to reduce them to 120-5.

Tom and Walkie Talkie then went wicketless in four-over spells each that were economical enough and perhaps both deserved a wicket before the experience of the Skip and Vice Skip was called upon with Gravesend around 160-5. The runs were dried up to an extent and then some pressure exerted before, at the start of my third over, I removed their dangerous all-rounder. Next ball their skipper was back in the hutch after a length ball lifter took his attempted slog by surprise and Dino took six attempts to grasp the ball at square leg. I can then confirm that bowling a hat-trick ball at a 12-year-old midget is no fun at all. All I could think about was “don’t bowl a beamer and even if I do get him out, celebrations would be muted”. I couldn’t even bring the field in for fear of intimidating the little fella. Anyway how the ball missed the leg stump I have no idea, given it pitched half a foot in front of it only to bounce over but at least that meant I hadn’t killed the guy or given him a massive send off. The sixth ball of the over I came off two paces, dollied one up and bowled him. Classic captain picking up a cheap wicket stuff.

Anyway at 180-8 we were right back in the game and then, after a combination of Jack, Tom, Stumpy and Dartsy effected a cracking run out to leave them 190-9, all of a sudden we were slight favourites. How the fifth ball of Dartsy’s last over didn’t hit the stumps again is difficult to fathom however that was our only real chance as their Number 4, who batted well to then shield the Number 11 and complied a very good knock in his own right, saw them home by the slimmest of margins.

With just a little bit more sharpness and composure, it is a game we might just have nicked, but whatever it was another very good competitive game where hopefully everyone got something from it. The more we now work on our skills I am sure if we find ourselves in a similar situation again we will win through.

Thanks to Dino for putting his body on the line with a twisted ankle, to Alfie for stepping up at short notice, and to Dartsy for covering for my shortcomings on the day.

– Blainy