Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI v Horndon CC 4thXI
For us this was an away game and the venue was a school cricket ground at St Clere’s in Stanford Le Hope. This was a venue that none of us had played at before. Joe (My younger son) and Jamie Britton our wicket keeper arrived early and were the first players. I took some pictures for my Pavilion typology and then we took a look at the wicket.
The wicket looked fine, a fair bit of grass on it and in a reasonable condition, no cracks or help at this stage for the spinners. Recently here in the UK we’ve had loads of bad weather, June was one of the wettest ever and July has been wet too so far, but today was set to be fine…Breezy, sunny and around 25 degrees centigrade; probably the best day so far this year at a game. The key feature of this ground though was the size of the ground. The boundaries from the stumps at both end were 45 yards, the boundary on the ‘road’ side were 45 yards and the school side boundary was 55 yards, so tiny boundaries all round. The image above, I've had to draw and approximate position of the wicket as there's no aerial views of it as yet as it's a new facility.
With the boundaries being so small, there were a number of different things to think about. (1). It meant that when anyone bowled there was the potential for loads of boundaries. (2). Any batsman coming in – including me were eyeing up the potential to score runs and maybe accumulate new best batting figures, I know I certainly had it in mind.
Our team was made up of mainly regulars; the only new blokes were Nidhish (Sorry mate if I’ve got your name wrong) and Tim Edmonds who was a regular last year, but has had a knee op recently and only joined us to make up the numbers. Dutton won the toss and decided that we’d field. Horndon were 10 points in front of us in the league and we were 5th or 6th.
My younger son Joe (Left)
opened from the ‘School’ end with another youngster Sam Good bowling from the ‘River’ end (South). There was a light cross wind from the west. The first 10 overs were eventful in that virtually no runs were scored. Looking at the situation what with this being their ground, I’d have thought that they’d have filled their boots given that the boundary was so small, but I guess, they know more than most, that kind of mindset leads to a collapse perhaps? So they played very conservatively initially, maybe waiting for the 2nd change bowlers and then look to cash in? In essence that was what happened, the other opener who I think may have been the captain swapped bats around about the 11th over and then started to play with more aggression.
The first wicket came in an unusual manner in that their wicket-keeper batsman hit a ball off of a Yorker and it jammed into the ground and then started to trickle towards the stumps, but, so slow it didn’t look as though it was going to get there, but the kid bent down and with his hand while it was still moving picked the ball up, so it was still in play and Dutton appealed… “Howzat...Handled ball”? The umpire who was also a kid looked as though he didn’t know the rule, but then looked to the senior batsman standing at his end and I think he said to him “Yeah, that’s out”. The finger went up and the kid was on his way back to the sheds.
The next key phase in the match was Jay’s bowling, he bowled well and took three wickets, looking at the scorecard it looks as though he’s been credited with the wicket from the ‘Handled ball’ dismissal to total the three, he shouldn’t have been. Other anomalies include the fact that one of Joe’s wickets wasn’t credited in the bowlers figures, yet he took two.
I had a bowl and if I’m very philosophical I could say I bowled well. One of their blokes went on to score 50 plus, but Jamie Britton dropped him off my 2nd or third ball… The ball pitched on middle and leg and he came forwards with a defensive block, the ball turned and caught the edge and Jamie dived and almost gloved it. He did cover a lot of ground and made a good effort, but I still think he felt that he should have taken it. Two balls were cover driven by the same bloke and were hit straight to the new bloke Nidhish, both bounced out of hard hands and were put down. To be fair the poor bloke only stepped in at the last moment having turned up at the club today with Jay to sign up, the pen hadn’t even finished signing his name before he was asked… “Do you want to play now, we’re short in the 4th XI”? He hadn’t played in years – since he was a kid! Joe said that the two cover drives weren’t the only balls he put down off of me, one ball was hit high down to long mid-off, and Nidhish got there and again put it down, so potentially I may have had 4 wickets. I’m not that fussed, the good thing is – the chances are coming and I seem to have got past having the yips although there were a few full tosses that were hit for 4 through fine leg, without those I may have done really well.
In the first spell both openers Joe my son and Sam Good had bowled really well with no reward, but in their second spell both lads got wickets. Joe got 2 taking the wicket of the last batsman denying Sam of a potential fiver-fer as he’d taken 4.
The target was 179 and looking around at our batting line-up it looked promising. At tea the line-up was announced and somewhat disappointingly, but understandably Joe and I were given the option of 10 and 11. I fancied the idea of batting on this wicket with the boundary being so small, but I’m sure so did everyone else. Joe generally is a far more aggressive batsman than me and hits the ball harder and cleaner and has the potential to clear a normal boundary, so here was a chance for him to build some confidence and go past my all time high score of 16, so I said he could go in front of me at 10.
So then it started. Lee Dutton and Jay went out first, Jay got off to a good start initially – a series of consecutive 4’s. Lee was looking desperate to hit the boundary swinging wildly at everything and the inevitable happened and he was clean bowled for 1 run as I recall. Jay fell shortly after, mistiming a ball that was hit to mid-wicket. Our centurion Jamie Britton strolled out and soon came back for a duck and we were looking as though we were in a spot of trouble. I’m not sure of the exact order, but Nidish, and Time were in around this time and neither of those made any impact with neither of them reaching double figures. Our next centurion was in around this time – ‘Village’ AKA Adam Green, but his first few overs were scratchy and he had to be patient watching the game most of the time from the bowlers end. Same Good came in and scored a handful, I think he may have score just over 10. ‘G-Man’ Graham Davies joined ‘Village’ and got off to a flying start with the help of one of their bowlers. This bloke might have been ‘Marshall’ though I’m not 100% sure? He had a Paul Adams ‘Frog in a blender’ bowling action and had a terrible spell on par with my yips spell 3 weekends ago… Wides, head-high no-balls, drag-downs and then when he did get it right the ball was legside and G-Man was just able to flick the ball down to fine leg. He got 24 in double quick time before ‘Village’ run him out, leaving him too much to do and their fielder threw down the stumps from mid-wicket with G-Man a couple of feet short with his dive. This left Joe and I and ‘Village’.
Joe was up next and I was hoping that he’d have a good knock, but he was out with the 1st or 2nd ball he faced for nothing. That left me and 86 still needed. The prospects weren’t good. The only scenario that was possible was that I played cautiously, and looked to get ‘Village’ on strike as much as possible and let him get the runs, so that was my plan…
At this point, Village still hadn’t seen much of the strike, so no-one was sure whether he’d have another good knock like his maiden 100 last weekend? At this point he was on 13. I think I had to face about 3 or 4 balls before the end of the over. In previous games I’ve blocked for loads of overs… 20 I seem to recall in one instance facing some very aggressive and fast bowling, coming away with 5 runs! It was that kind of knock that was needed, so I had to completely forget the size of the boundary and just see that Village had the strike as he was the bloke that had a chance of getting us across the line. I saw out the first over and it was okay, nothing like Joe my sons bowling who I face regularly when practicing – I can’t score off of him, but can keep him out and frustrate him. This first bloke I faced was dibbly dobbly in comparison to Joe.
So the plan was simple… When village batted he looked to score 2’s, 4’s or 6’s with the first 4 or 5 balls and then the last 2 balls we looked for the single to get him back at the strikers end at the end of the over and I only faced 1 or two balls. It soon became obvious because of the 40 yard boundary that 2’s were not an option – G-Man’s run-out had demonstrated that. Bit by bit Adam started to find his groove and started to find the boundary 4’s with the occasional 6. Anything that looked like risky run to the frustration of the Horndon boys we just left. They tried the old tactic of moving everyone out on the boundary when Adam was on strike trying to tempt us into the run to get me on strike early in the over. I didn’t want the strike, me trying make runs would be our downfall, this was going to be a series of ever increasing frustrating overs of me blocking and Adam clearing the boundary when on strike.
Initially with more than 80 runs to get with the No.11 in (me) they looked confident. They had two dibbly dobbly bowlers and the two openers with overs in hand, it looked like forgone conclusion. As the overs passed, it became obvious to me that the two DD’s were no threat at all… no swing, no pace, no real variation, they tried wide of offside - trying to tempt me to hit the ball, and I just left it. Straight balls – soft hand blocks, the fielders came in, to no avail, I was not going to be playing any shots. When Adam was on strike the ball was flying over the boundary 4’s and 6’s, no two’s and only 1’s at the end of the over, if they came up for him at the end of the over, he then smacked it for 4 or 6 over their head and I just blocked for 6 balls.
Then off of one blokes bowling with still about 40 runs to get, there was an LBW shout for caught behind. Dutton gave it not out, Adam said he’d have walked if he’d hit it. At this point they still seemed to think there’s was for the taking…
“Just one ball”! They kept shouting to the bowlers… “Just one ball”! I blocked, Adam smacked. One ball went straight to mid-off hard and fast, the bloke spilled it. Adam chopped two bottom edges onto his feet and almost onto his stumps, one going down to fine leg only missing the leg-stump. As each of these events happened their heads began to drop “Just one ball” the call from the field, “Just one ball lads, we’re still in this”.
The big guns were called in with about 30 runs still to come. These blokes had destroyed the top order and their captain needed them to do a job. But they weren’t that much better than the dibbly dobblies, maybe another 5mph – up and down medium pace and they saw their bowling go to the boundaries in 4’s and 6’s. The last ball was from their main bowler who’d taken to berating himself every time the ball sailed over the boundary, the last ball that took us over 179 was another 4. We’d won!
We came off to a standing ovation from our team who were all in disbelief that we’d gone from a dead cert loss situation to a win! Then we discovered that Adams last ball (the four) had taken him to 99! If it had been a 6!
A great game for me after all the recent crap bowling, it was brilliant to make such a significant contribution without scoring a single run!!!! Not out for 0. I need to learn how to make a few runs.