Sunday XI lose new fixture against new friends in Droxford

Sunday 9th August 2015
Droxford 188 for 7 (40 overs)
Stoke D’Abernon 81 all out (29.5 overs)
Droxford won by 107 runs

At 5.43pm on Friday evening an e-mail, (no phone call made), was sent by Pirbright to say that they only had five players available for the fixture they advertised and agreed on Monday.

Having already spent most of the afternoon trying to patch up the Saturday 3rd XI this presented another unexpected challenge, and a couple of enquiries to fixtures still on the board were made to no avail. An advert was placed more in hope than expectation; but by 6.32pm three replies had come in. One came from a club in Wembley, another quite a way north of Slough and one from a club, (and a place no-one still at the office had heard of), came from Droxford CC. A quick search on Google revealed a Hampshire post code.

Droxford had suffered a similar opposition cry-off experience. Could the Stoke side initially lined up to go to a local-ish game near Woking be prepared to travel 65 minutes southbound on a Sunday? (Bear in mind that two of the XI would be travelling from Kent!)

A quick text-around produced a surprisingly positive response; only two were unable to make the trip, (one kindly agreed to help with numbers on the Saturday instead and by way of ‘apology’ made 64), and another two were signed up. With the opposition offering assistance with a couple of players if needed the fixture was inked in.

The determination and enthusiasm to get a game on on the of part both clubs and players typified the spirit of cricket. It was pleasing to arrive at a lovely village ground, (see below), and all parties were rewarded with a fun game.

Droxford CC

Now for the toss. Normally a negotiation of some sort can take place, but neither side knew each other’s strength and a look at the home team warming up on arrival, plus an age distribution similar to Stoke’s but, perhaps, the younger ones a little older, didn’t offer any insight either. Droxford themselves don’t play league cricket, but a few of their side had played for points the day before.

Thankfully the home skipper called correctly and took the problem away from us. He elected to bat first on a pitch that looked like it would play slowly as it was spongy & grassy but dry, and a number of ball indentations on the neighbouring strip suggested a soft underbelly. This assessment proved accurate as the game wore on – in retrospect batting first was the correct thing to do.

Stoke started well and things were kept tight. Richie Parrett did what Richie Parrett does and ran the ball into the right-hander and across the left-hander. At the other end Matt Mustill was simply superb. He beat the bat repeatedly with good pace and got the odd ball to jump. How he would end his allocation with a 0-for defied belief as so many deliveries nearly cleaned up the batsmen and thundered into Rod Thomson’s gloves. Rod kindly agreeing to wear Will T’s gear and he would go on to keep a clean sheet.

Although neither bowler took a wicket in their opening spells, Stoke were on the board when Keitley, keen to start accelerating the scoring rate, called through for a single from the non-striker’s end but found himself standing alongside fellow opener Wright who didn’t move. Alex Thomson gathered the ball cleanly and showed a good presence of mind to send a sensible throw to the bowler’s end.

An attritional period followed as Wright and No.3 Burton tried to move things on. They found this a difficult task from one end as Zac Gilbertson bowled a commendable five over spell, his age, (or lack of it), meaning an adjustment to a 22-yard strip which he coped with well. The pressure he created earned him a wicket when Wright drove to mid-off where Dad took a straightforward catch. 56 for 2.

Wickets were taken either side of drinks as the No.4 and No.5 Lambert and Philips were bowled for ducks by Ralph Coleman and Alex Thomson respectively, (64 for 4); but the next breakthrough proved to be annoyingly elusive; however much of this owed to making sure everyone who travelled to play was given a chance to contribute in the match.

One bowler used was James Palmer who was sourced by the opposition. Although some of his leg-breaks were a little untidy, “JP” enjoyed his short spell against his mates and made back a number of the runs he conceded with good fielding on the circle, notably in front of two trees that were in the outfield and had the same boundary rule we are used to when we visit Claygate. (See above.)

Burton passed fifty, (he had about 50 of roughly the first 80 runs scored), and eventually found a couple of partners who could hit the ball better to help him boost the total. The odd difficult chance didn’t quite go to hand, so Paddy Wilson switched ends, and his line of attack, and castled No.6 Holman for 22. 116 for 5.

Then the nuisance partnership. Lower order runs came courtesy of Butt who found the gaps, and the aforementioned trees, with regularity. He made a brisk 27 before pulling one into the deep where Coleman took a second catch at cow in as many days to give Parrett, (1 for 38), an entry in the fourth column with his final ball.

Mustill’s last two overs yielded just one more boundary and would finish with 8-4-19-0. Coleman took the last two overs after him and collected a wicket off the final ball of the innings to account for Alan Saunders Snr who was well caught at deep mid-on by Matt Mustill.

The innings closed on 188 for 7, probably above par but gettable. Burton walked off unbeaten on 106; we were informed it was his second century in as many weeks and the week before he made a 97, the score he was dropped on this afternoon.

After a multi-coloured tea, Peter Phipps and Doug Gilbertson renewed their opening partnership from Ewhurst. Phipps survived an early chance when he was dropped at “45” when mis-pulling a short ball that didn’t come on; but he could do nothing about the ball that did for him in the second over when Aaron Saunders Jnr clipped the top off his off-stump with a ball that was drifting towards leg and wouldn’t have been leg-before had an appeal gone in. The batsman was so shocked he nearly had to be given out bowled. Yes, it did that much.

Rick Mustill continued his record of playing every year for Stoke since he joined the club in 1984, and opened his account by clubbing Saunders Jnr over his head for four, but the next ball he punched a return catch back to the same bowler. The ball stopped on him and others started keeping very low suggesting the pitch was on the respirator.

Gilbertson and Matt Mustill dug in. The latter hit three boundaries to get the board moving but the slow, low, nature of the pitch meant he missed out on balls that he would normally despatch for four or six. Both fell with the score on 43, for 5 and 26 respectively, meaning a repair job was needed by Rod Thomson, “JP” and Alex Thomson.

Sadly “JP” was bowled behind his legs without troubling the home scorer who had all sorts of gadgets plugged in to keep track of things, (the opposition also supplied a jovial umpire to stand), and the same bowler, (Channon), trapped Thomson Jnr leg-before to finish with the match’s best figures of 5-1-7-3.

Thomson Snr and Gilbertson Jnr went on the attack and found the boundary a few times; but the former was bowled for 15 by Phillips, (65 for 7), and with no addition to the score Gilbertson was unable to do anything other than spoon a catch to short mid-wicket when a ball popped on him.

The bowler was Lambert and he cleaned up Wilson shortly after he had hit him for four. This left last pair Parrett and Coleman the task of scoring 115 runs from the last 12.4 overs. Sadly this was not a pair to compare with Richards and Holding in the 1984 Texaco Trophy; but things started well when Coleman clipped the first ball he faced into the base of one of the trees; but there were no other freebies, nor pie-chucker from the other end to make things interesting. Instead, Butt was thrown the ball, ragged it square and needed just five balls to finish the match, Coleman incorrectly guessing that a wrong-un was coming and had his own “Mind the Windows” moment.

The margin of victory, possibly the result itself, might have been different had Stoke decided to ‘go league’ at the expense of making sure everyone who travelled had a chance to contribute. The performances of the younger Mustill and younger Gilbertson provided much optimism for the future; the former indicating he may be interested in playing league cricket for us next year as he won’t be too far away if his results means he gets his first choice university place. Fingers crossed there, (for the A-Level results…obviously!)

The absence of a bar at the ground meant the players made the short trip to a lovely village pub for a pint or two before heading back. The discussion was very much how two sides had a common belief to make a game of cricket happen, and we will try to investigate another game; possibly see if the opposition fancied coming our way for an afternoon or mid-week fixture. In a final act of generosity, the home side declined all offers from us for any tea money, so the safe at HQ contains a full compliment of match ten fees; “JP” was obviously given a freebie.

Next week the Sunday XI are on the road again as they travel to the multi-million pound complex that is the Bank of England Sports Ground. Regulars for this annual fixture are reminded that this one is a ‘timed’ game starting at 2.30pm, so remember to (i) give your availability to Ralphie, and (ii) give notice to your wives and partners that the dog might as well have your dinner rather than wasting any tin of Pedigree Chum, (other brands are available), from the cupboard.

Scorecard :