Sunday XI beat Claygate by 2 Runs

Sunday 1st September 2019
Stoke D’Abernon 160 for 8 (40 overs)
Claygate 158 for 7 (40 overs)
Stoke D’Abernon won by 2 runs

You could forgive home supporters for leaving this one early with the opposition 122 for 2 with two well-set batsmen in and a fast outfield; but Stoke’s bowlers and fielders conjured up a narrow win in an exciting match played in a tremendous spirit.

Games against Claygate are always fun and this one was no exception, the opposition captain electing to field on winning the toss.

Stoke made the worst possible start when Malcolm Dickson cut the first ball of the match to point; and decent opening bowling, notably from Louw who bowled his allocation through in one spell for a personal cost of just 17 made it hard for Alistair McMillan and Rob Butler.

The departures of McMillan, (21 from 58), and Arman Zaheen just before drinks saw Stoke with only 67 on the board.

Butler Jnr fought hard on pitch that was tough to get in and stay in on. He needed 74 balls to reach his half-century, and found it difficult to kick on as Claygate’s change bowlers provided a good support cast to their openers, notably Oliver, (on Play Cricket as Oliver but in the book as Daniels!), who took 4 for 22 in two spells.

He found good support from Chris Finch who made 17 in a partnership of 62 before being bowled looking to up the rate. Rod Thomson was well caught, Geoff Vinall biffed one four before being bowled off his pads; and with overs and partners running out Butler Jnr tried to go big to help the team to a score. He holed out on the line for 85, (from 115 balls faced with 13 fours), in the penultimate over.

Andy Butler hit a quick twelve before Rory Harris and Shawn Dyson – thanks to the latter for helping us make an XI and for his contribution to the day – nudged Stoke up to 160 for 8.

No Jo this week, but the players all chipped in to make a tea with the supplies she left, and the team did a great job off the field before going on to it.

As per last week accuracy and early wickets were essential; Andy Butler and Harris delivered again, taking a wicket each to reduce Claygate to 24 for 2. Harris – who also saved many runs in the field that would ultimately be crucial – snicked off McPhail; then Butler Snr was rewarded for a full length when he castled League player Labacik.

Yet with the bounce becoming a bit uneven making keeping very difficult – thanks to Dyson and Thomson for sharing duties – and Claygate skipper Roberts frustratingly hitting the ball in unusual areas; the board was starting to rattle a bit, (it was 56 for 2 by the end of the 11th), so boring fields had to be the way to go.

Vinall and Rod Thomson share nine overs to the drinks break that saw just 22 scored; Thomson bowling three successive maidens before taking over the gloves.

Thomson’s replacement Dyson bowled a tidy eight over spell himself to ensure the run rate got back up to what it was from the start; Vinall also did very well to concede just 26 from his allocation; but Stoke simply couldn’t break a partnership that was now running at 96.

Patience was maintained, though, and Stoke got the spark they needed courtesy of Rob Butler who castled Holly for a well constructed-40, then in his next over he knocked over Schultz and Oliver/Daniels with successive deliveries. We were told afterwards that the latter, whatever his name was, was their best player.

But captain Roberts was still there. He got to 56 but couldn’t get enough of the strike as the asking rate pushed towards fives. Butler Jnr finally got one through him with 22 still needed; but with wickets in hand it was still very much Claygate’s game.

More committed fielding, notably from Zaheen, Harris and Dickson, saw the asking rate reach a run a ball for the last three overs. Whilst Claygate could point an accusative finger at Van Koynenburg who needed 20 deliveries to score just 4 – the 38th over was a maiden – this was as much down the excellent bowling and fielding.

Andy Butler had returned for the death overs did everything but get a wicket in the 39th…but the total had another helping of four byes as one rolled then kicked horribly over Thomson’s gloves, then his last ball was squirted wide of third man for four. Figures of 8-0-37-1 did not do justice to how well he bowled.

So it was down to baby brother to see if he could defend the six runs Stoke had left to play with going into the last. The field was set back to prevent a boundary that would have ended things; and whilst a few single and a bye were taken, a dot ball and a run out effected by the home captain left five needed off the last two and four off the last. Louw got a single off the only ball he would face; then MacCallum, well known to us from his days with the Old Ashfordians, was only able to run a single down to third man and Stoke were victorious by two runs. Butler Jnr finished with Stoke career best figures of 7-2-20-4.

A great match played out in lovely September sunshine. Get your availability in and we can see how late into the month we can extend the season.

Scorecard :