With the weather staying dry on the Bank Holiday morning, we all made our way down to Hursley Park for an annual fixture with the Newport Gentleman. Since breaking away from Baddesley, this fixture has always been interesting due to some mixed opinions from the players. With 10 men ready to begin (with Jason still travelling back from Reading in a half sloshed state), Roy won the toss and we were fielding first. Pre-match tactics was very much on how to fill out the 40 Overs due to most of our bowlers unable to play.
So to begin, Chris and Cameron looked to open the bowling and take quick wickets to set us on our way. The Newport Gents to this extent opened with Merv and Deano (so we suspected one would be quick). With Merv steadily starting with a single, Deano now took the strike. With his new (from the bootsale) Matrix bat at the ready, and with the extra stickers to increase its value, he managed to see off the first over from Chris. With Cam taking next over and Merv hitting another single, Deano took strike again; with his blood boiling from our Baddesley break-away he now looked to smack us round the park…. however he unfortunately missed a straight one and was bowled for 0.
Now Amjad (Lee’s hero) approached the crease and most of us knew that this was to bring an increased challenge. With Chris and Cam still steadily bowling (including Cam trying the 4 wides and then a peach tactic), Lee thought that a change would be the key to the next wicket. Next the best of indoor now came to the outdoor track, Dave took the next over and by placing it in good areas his first over only went for 1 (plus a couple of byes). At the other end, Cameron’s dad Ian now entered the game and decided to teach his son how it’s done with a well (slowly) bowled Maiden first up. With Ian and Dave frustrating the batsmen, on the 14th over Merv went for the big shot only to Bowled round his legs by Ian for 16, placing the score on 44-2.
With Jim now approaching the crease and both surgeons being out in the middle there was a worry that the Newport Gents would be seriously looking to accelerate their run rate. However by continuing their steady bowling the Newport only managed to amass 57 runs by drinks. As Jason had now arrived (without being breathalysed), Lee decided to enter him into the attack partnered by Chris’s brother Nick. With Amjad and Jim batting confidently we knew a wicket soon was crucial. However at the 23rd over, now that Jason’s Alka-Seltzer had done its job, a good in-swinging delivery saw Jim Bowled for 9 putting the score at 69-3.
With Nathan now in to bat and Alex now joining me in slips to keep my company, the innings resumed. However after a couple of Byes and a missed edge from me (with Cameron saving the boundaries) Alex was unfortunately removed and Dennis replaced him. In an effort to return Alex to slips, it was crucial that no more chances went past and with Nick placing the ball in good areas, Amjad was caught behind on an unfortunate 49 with Newport on 107-4 off 30 Overs. With Fisher next in and Nathan still showing that he was yet to learn the defensive, Jason and Nick continued to keep up the pressure. This almost resulted in another Wicket with Fisher trying an ambitious single which when called back left him falling back onto the wicket. With Fisher on the ground and shouts for Dave to throw in to me, he left his bat on the ground and scrabbled and dived across the line in a rather muddy fashion.
As Chris was now looking to come back on, he decided that throwing banter at Nathan was the way forward, and didn’t this start a battle of batsmen vs bowler. With Chris putting some extra pace on the ball, he kept Nathan restricted and was very unfortunate not to get his wicket. With Matt supporting well and following Dave and Ian’s trait, we now reached the last over with Nathan to take strike. Dennis feeling it was his fatherly duty to protect his kids decided to take the potentially punishing final over. However through his good bowling, Nathan only amassed a single and Fisher lofted a nice catch to Lee. With 1 ball to go, Mark Hannah at the crease, we knew this would probably go for runs as he picked Chris as his fielder for a quick 2 to finish the innings at 139-5.
After the plethora of egg and tuna sandwiches at Tea, we now looked to knock off what seemed to be the same score of last year. So, a low score to chase, plenty of time where have we seen this before. With Dennis, Dave and Cameron as the first 3, with their batting power we looked in great shape to knock off the score. So without fail after 5 Overs we didn’t have to wait long to realise our worries being at 16-2; Dave unfortunately being LBW and then Cameron missing the straight one. So with Lee at the crease a partnership began to form. However then came the rain, but would we come off, certainly not as the Umpires felt that we may not win on Duckworth/Lewis and that continuing to bat would be favourable (well at least Roy agreed saying that the ball would skid on nicely; certainly those who played Calmore last year would disagree). With Chris making good conversation with the relatives of the Gents, Dennis unfortunately not favouring the rainy conditions was bowled with the score at 23-3.
So with a worry of the >100 total Alex now approached the crease and did a good job of seeing off Newport Gent’s new Asian pace bowler. Lee however decided he was going to play smartly and looked to whack a beamer for 4, unfortunately this was caught but being a no ball all was well… or was it, it wasn’t called no ball, the umpires weren’t sure and the Newport kept very quiet. Thus this was given as a wicket and Lee walked out for 11. Some would say that being Knights Valley captain he should have known that with our umpiring you cannot hit extras or let the ball hit your pads; others (Dave) said that it was an awful shot that should have gone for 4 and thus it deserved to be given out. This now meant Chris had to pad up and as he was now bored with the relatives conversation he promptly told them to be quiet as he left.
With Matt now at the crease the score was looking delicate (more so with Alex being unfortunately bowled for 4), however he made a positive start with Chris Franklin and at 42-5 we were really hoping they could both get us to the 100 runs mark. With both looking in good form it was unfortunately Chris who was out for 21 and the score was now reduced for 74-6 as the darkness began to set in. With Amjad and Fisher now tying the batsmen up with spin, we were looking delicate on batting, runs, wickets… basically things just becoming a bit of a mess and Dave already raiding the bar for beer. Fortunately though both Matt and Nick remained strong at the crease and put on a crucial 30 run partnership before Nick was unfortunately bowled for 4.
There is only so much stress a man can take, and with Matt batting for 20+ overs, against Amjad, the poor light, the pouring rain at times, with wickets falling and almost being beheaded by a straight drive from Chris…. as Barber approached the crease and began killing the run rate it was all too much for him and he was caught on 35…but was a very admirable innings which certainly revived the match. With Jason (and the 2 slowest batsmen in the club) now in, the steady 4 an over started became a mountain and before long the rate became over 5. With shouts from the sidelines to hurry up and the fielding side become increasingly bored, Amjad decided he’d had enough of this and promptly bowled Chris out for 3.
With Ian now in and saying he was going to sort Amjad out, the scorebook certainly seems to reflect he was taking no messing with a quick 4 runs off 8 deliveries. Why I didn’t see this? Well it’s a rare feat for me to be bowled and there was a need for composure time in the changing rooms (yes, there may have been tears). End of the day (or evening given the darkness) we were 20 runs short which was unfortunate given the weather and Lee’s shocking shot selection…oh sorry meant the uncalled no ball. Still a good match and we certainly look forward to next year.