Sunday Cricket : Two Wins. One run feast, one feast of insanity

Sunday 30th June 2019
Famine to feast again on the availability front and we had numbers to play two Sunday fixtures this weekend, thus avoiding the difficult decision of having to tell a handful of people that they had no game. Plans were hastily changed when the original opposition called an hour after the second fixture was booked to say they couldn’t raise a side; but we found a replacement opposition well known to us selected the sides accordingly.

To say the afternoon was a success was an understatement…

Home Friendly
Stoke D’Abernon 211 for 7 (40 overs)
Hampton Hill 97 all out (29.3 overs)
Stoke D’Abernon won by 114 runs

President Finch looked after matters at HQ and got first use of the pitch used for the previous day’s league match. It still played well and encouraged the batsmen to do the same.

Malcolm Dickson and Alistair McMillan opened the batting, (for the first time this season – a feature on these two will come on a slow news day), but both were gone with 28 on the board.

This provided an early opportunity for Thomas Dennis to get some valuable time in the middle, and he didn’t disappoint, making 54. He lost Neil Foster, (27), along the way; but the run rate remained healthy as the captain continued his great form with 51; Richard Harris chipped in with an unbeaten 30 and others unselfishly gave away their wickets in the pursuit of quick runs. Stoke closed on 211 for 7.

In reply the opposition, who had advertised themselves as weak when the fixture was agreed, never really got going and fell away to 97 all out; but this was as much a credit to the Stoke bowling and fielding. The first five bowlers used all took wickets; Carel Ferreira, (2 for 8), McMillan, (2 for 20), and Rod Thomson, (5-3-9-1), shared the first five.

Chris Finch returned from injury and collected his second best ever bowling figures in his 404th appearance when taking 3 for 11 in four overs. Dennis effected a run out and Rory Harris completed the win by castling No.11. Thanks to Carel for sourcing Louis Lecornu to complete the XI – he was afforded three overs towards the end to make sure everyone had a chance to contribute.

A great afternoon’s work…but this was merely the entrée…

Scorecard :

Away Friendly
Stoke D’Abernon 129 for 9 (40 overs)
Wraysbury 128 all out (40 overs)
Stoke D’Abernon won by 1 run

No match report could ever do justice to the way this one went and for the spirit in which it was played. You just had to be there and 22 players will have a story to tell for ever.

The fixture was picked up after an appeal on social media by the opposition in the week and once again Stoke landed at a never before played at venue that didn’t disappoint; immediate friendship points built when the opposition vice captain brought the early arrivals a drink.

Pre-game discussions saw both sides having a little concern for their batting depth; but the age distribution of the home side led to them asking us to bat first on another warm afternoon. It looked good for batting, but the used pitch was a little more sluggish than it looked and the outfield gave little value for shots.

As a result the first twelve runs of the innings were extras before Moumer Khara found his range and clubbed three shots for 2, 2 and 4 that would have been three fours in other places. Unfortunately his greed saw him bowled off the last ball of the fifth over.

Hamza Hafeez, still suffering the after-effects of a long day yesterday, planted down the line of the stumps and missed; then Ben Townsend got a good-inducker. 20 for 3 and the ‘league’ element of the batting line up were all gone after just 34 balls of the match.

Saud Ahmed played with good method, and getting a chance up the order expecting to face some younger bowlers, (but he was in so early he didn’t first up), Sameer Khara dug in and the pair advanced the score to 64 before Ahmed was bowled in the last over before drinks for 22. It could have been a lot worse for Stoke but for a tremendous act of sportsmanship by the home skipper who recalled Khara Jnr after he pulled a full toss on to his stumps – debate as to whether it was waist high…and it was from a young spinner who tossed it up – but we didn’t know how crucial the extra runs he would then score would be in the final analyses. At this point the home side were playing proper Sunday cricket and putting themselves in a position to have some runs to chase.

Mashood Naeem swatted one four before skying one; and with the Colts Director still somewhere on the motorway after managing his age group game first thing, the captain went in with just Richie Parrett, Vinnie Peters, Jack Townsend and Kevin Morgan left.

The first ball he watched from the non-striker’s end saw Khara Jnr bowled by one that kept a bit low for 16, (extra pocket money for scoring twice as many as Dad, surely), thus leading to the sight of Richie Parrett winning the race down the steps to come in at No.8.

The Big Bird nurdled a few before chipping one to square; so another turgid period saw the captain and Peters opt to bat as many of the remaining overs as possible, (they came together at 99 for 7 in the 31st.)

Those watching paint dry were not encouraged to leave that exercise in favour of watching the next half an hour’s cricket as the pair took what was offered, and added 26, helped by a continued generous portion of extras that would ultimately finish just short of a jug on 47.

Peters hit the only four of the partnership to move to 11 before being out next ball in the penultimate over. The captain, (14 not out off many), and Morgan, (batting in shorts for his 1 not out off two), closed the Stoke innings on 129 for 9.

If there was one positive to come out of Stoke’s situation after demolishing an outstanding tea; it was the presence of bowlers with League experience all around the line-up. As a group they didn’t disappoint.

Parrett started with a filthy wide but found his range quickly, and drifted one through the opener’s defences to claim his 250th career wicket for the Club. He was put out to grass – although was seen moving himself to cover, then slip, then short leg, (basically anywhere he wasn’t asked to field), after commendable figures of 5-0-14-1.

At the other end Ben Townsend bowled balls that League players would have got close to; but was equally economical to give Stoke scoreboard control despite having just the one wicket for their efforts, although two chances did go down. One who did get a wicket was Naeem who after a few uncharacteristic radar issues found an edge that Morgan, (now in borrowed whites), gleefully held on to. 45-2.

With a low pitch the captain, on hamstring watch, could easily have been tempted to have a quick dart himself; but he had another – and much better – man for the job to come on first change; dialling up Jack Townsend who was simply brilliant, conceding just six runs from the six overs he bowled prior to drinks; the batsmen having to deal with a succession of balls that nipped away and some challenging yorkers. He finally got one through No.3’s defences and drinks were taken with the match in the balance at 62 for 3.

With runs still to play with Peters’ off-breaks were a more than a handy variation, and he pressured Siddiqi to a rash hack that saw him well caught on the line by Ben Townsend at cow; Townsend Jnr, Hafeez and Ahmed unselfishly patrolled the boundaries with distinction to help the cause.

Then the pace of the game changed. No.6 Khan, clearly a player of 1st XI standard, arrived and started hitting the ball to various parts of the ground making field placement a challenge. He was successful in hitting Peters out of the attack with a massive six, and he tucked into Khara Jnr too that sadly saw him withdrawn after just two overs.

The Townsend brothers bowled the next five overs in an apparent last throw of the dice but were unable to dislodge Khan or No.4 Rabbani who played equally positively. As the Townsends finished their spells the board read 122 for 4 after 31 overs.

Per the above, you simply had to be there to appreciate what happened next.

Khara Jnr was given another bowl and trying to finish the match in a couple of hits Khan, (32), picked out Jack Townsend at deep mid-wicket who showed great judgement out of the low sun. The batsmen crossed and Siddiqi, (34), then chipped to Peters at cover; and having not appealed for what looked like a good shout, Khara Jnr then fielded the ball off his own bowling and threw the stumps down to run out No.8.

So, who to bowl at the other end? The decision was an initially reluctant Khara Snr. A ringed field with one set half-way back at extra cover in case there was a big shot was set. First ball the batsman tried the big shot, and was excellently caught half-way back at extra over by Ahmed. What’s that saying about the balance between luck and skill? Later in the same over No.9 was bowled. 125 for 9.

So it was Khara Jnr’s turn. 125 for 9 became 126; then 127 and 128 in the next over as the last pair blocked and nudged what they could. Morgan dived to save everything behind the stumps; Townsend Snr and Ahmed saved runs in the covers, Naeem backed up any mis-fields. The vocal support from both sets of players could be heard in the village club over the road.

Khara Snr’s turn again. Three more dots all caused by good fielding; then the fourth took an edge…didn’t carry…bounced off slip to Townsend at short third man…the non-striker called for the run…the striker was ball-watching and Ben Townsend unleashed a rocket to Khara who had made it back to the stumps…to effect a run out with the batsmen having a talk about it in the middle. Cue mad celebrations and consolatory handshakes with the batsmen akin to Edgbaston 2005…

…and it didn’t end there. In contrast to many Sunday matches, no-one wanted to leave early afterwards and the discussions carried on in the bar for a great length of time as two clubs who would never have met but for the power of social media, started what we hope and expect will be a long-lasting friendship. Perhaps only a tied match would have made the day any more perfect…but we’ll take the win!

The correspondent is now going for a lie down…erm, work…

You know the drill. Availabilities in ASAP, please…

Scorecard :