United Services III Match Report

Meeting at the Cleveland for our last away game of the season and happy to find a postcode which did exist in the handbook, we began the long journey to Portsmouth for what would have to be a win if our promotion hopes were to stay alive. As we approached the entrance to the ground, we were greeted by a locked gate and an intercom; this proved to be a formidable challenge for the Knights and to this extent Sam and Jason decided that forming a roadblock in protest was necessary. With the intercom not working and the armed guards obviously still at the Olympics, Kev decided to put an end to this by shouting across the pitch and asking if we could get in or if not where we were meant to go?

Now that we were directed to the other ground at Clarence pier (nicely unconfirmed by the opposition Captain) we drove to the seafront to find a football, rugby and cricket pitch; however it appeared that they were often used simultaneously by all the long grass and painted lines still present. So with an astro turf wicket, short boundaries (or at least I think that was the correct line), long grass and enough birds and feathers to show that this pitch doubled as an Attenborough documentary location, Pete approached the middle with the Captain for the toss.

With us losing the toss and going in to bat first, we looked to at least surpass our 74 against Denmead and build ourselves a good platform to defend. Unfortunately the nerves already began early when our first wicket fell at 7 and Matt unfortunately being dismissed for a Duck. With Sam still looking to build a steady innings, Steve approached the crease and decided to stop all our batting tension by prolifically hitting almost every ball for runs. With the fielding side struggling (helped by Chris trying to psych them out with his comments as well as showing his disgust for Vans trainers), Sam and Steve managed to put on 101 runs before the next wicket fell. At 108-2, we seemed to put our batting issues to rest and were now in a strong position to hit a big total. However the Payne’s still thought we needed some more incentives to bat well and 10 runs later, Lee was dismissed for 6.

With Pete looking to hit a steady Captains innings, he thought that whacking the bowler for 6’s and 4’s would be the best idea (well it certainly was working for Steve). Both began scoring runs until Steve got himself caught equalling the club record of 79 (and now realising the importance of mentally counting what total you’re on), at 159 Chris Franklin now approached the middle and I think it was safe to say that any runs in the next partnership would come quite quickly…. and we were not wrong, 6 overs later, 44 on the score and Pete was unfortunately bowled and the Captains innings finished on 37.

With Chris Barber now in at 203 with 10 overs to go, there was a concern that Lee’s recommended target of 220 was now in jeopardy. However the other Chris realised this as well and certainly helped himself to the strike as much as possible to keep the runs flowing. So with this good use of tactics Chris managed to also level himself with Steve on 79 however his not out now makes him the club record holder for highest batting score. Furthermore, finishing our innings on 278-5 beat our previous club total record of 261-7 (which was scored against Cadnam III last year).  So now at teas and with the highest total we’ve ever scored, surely after last week this was going to be a certain win………..

So onto the bowling, after a very tactical discussion, Pete decided this game would be won on boundaries and thus set a deep field to account for this. With Pete and Chris this time opening the bowling, the batsmen immediately went on the attack and made a quick start. However Chris this time had first blood and a good delivery bowled their opener for 24 and with so many runs to chase this increased the pressure on the opposition. With the number 3 approaching the crease and Pete beginning to find a rhythm, a top bouncer caused a glove hit to me for a finger tip catch (proving Lee’s whining for why I needed to get new gloves with more grip).

Now with the youngsters in, it was looking promising that we would now defend the total. As the bowling continued to restrict the batsmen, further helped by good spells from Sam and Adam (as well as some mysteriously high scoring Maidens), we reached the drinks with the score just below 100. As the opposition obviously lacked 2 people who could score, our book was not completed properly thus making it difficult to be sure on when wickets fell. However this didn’t stop Kev who from a deceptively slow ball enticed the batsmen into hitting it into Finlay territory for a good catch.

In order to be victorious the opposition recognised that it would take more than their high scoring Maidens and instead decided to take some more risky runs. However this was well spotted by Toby who with a quick an accurate throw (with a surprise and accurate stumping from Chris unlike last week) managed to achieve his first run out and got the remaining and dangerous opener out for 43. With another youngster approaching the crease (who managed to rile our bowlers into competing for the wicket), it was Jason who managed to strike by bowling him out for 6. As the batting order was obviously going in reverse of age, a 12 year old now approached the crease with still somewhere over 100 runs still needed.  However Jason had also noticed Kev’s method of bowling and also lured the other batsmen into whacking it to Pete and this followed by another top catch dismissed the number 3 for 24.

With only 4 wickets needed for max points and the game looking in hand for us (or at least what I can tell from the blank scorebook next to me), Pete returned into the bowling attack looking for blood (ahem wickets) partnered by Adam. With the younger Gadd showing a solid technique, the overs kept passing without any wickets falling, until Adam struck with a top swing delivery to bowl out the youngster for 12. With everyone in elation with our performance so far (apart from Lee moaning about his batting, the party he was missing and Kev not helping him with his groin injury), Adam continued his pressure with the ball and managed an excellent caught and bowled against batsmen 8 who was dismissed for 17.

2 Wickets to go and only a few overs remaining for the last bowling point; and Chris entered back into the game by bowling batsmen 9 out for 4 and batsmen 11 entered and the last wicket was all on the last ball. Unfortunately this was missed by keeping Chris and went for 4 leg byes (although if it was an edge I think I may have been Taxiing back). A top performance with the opposition only making 183, club records all round and Chris Franklin rightly earning the Man of the Match trophy. With such a good win and the season climax against Ram next week, another win would now take us up to Regional 2 so COME ON THE KNIGHTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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