Knights Valley vs Tichbourne Park III Match Report 01/06

So following our shi.. ahem below par performance of last week, our next fixture was to challenge Tichbourne Park whom Twyford’s captain described as a struggling side for which we should provide them a good game. Looking to prove him wrong most of the Knights assembled on time at the Cleveland Bay ready to hit the road only to be confronted with the puzzle of how to reach the ground through road closures, busy motorways and the comprehensive handbook directions consisting of a sentence. Racing to the ground Chris claimed the honours of arriving first followed closely by Kev whom tried to catch up through powering down the country roads whilst beeping his horn at arrogant Mercedes drivers.

With all arrived on time, next was the pitch inspection and after walking across a bobbly, sandy and stony outfield we reached the middle to find an old astro turf strip which the opposition at least tried to pass off as a real wicket with the amount of old grass thrown over the surface. With a team consensus to bat first in an effort to repeat the performance at United Services last year, Lee walked to the middle for the toss; however feeling that the Knights needed to work for a win he instead elected for a stifling hot day in the field which was not warmly accepted.

So with the Knights entering the field and Pete happily receiving the new ball to Kev’s inspiring encouragement of his ability, Pete looked to bowl the first over down the hill, supported by Sammy at the opposite end. The Knights began with a steady start, and with Chris finally deciding to stand up to Sammy, this coupled with his accurate bowling also created added pressure to the batsmen. With the batsmen progressing at about 5 an over, given the surface the Knights were so far content and confident the first wicket would come, however after reaching the 50 partnership off 12 overs it was a felt a new tactic was necessary and bowler of the year Kev entered into the attack. Aside from the well picked short ball relying on Cams excellent fielding and an unlucky catch just over the boundary marker, the batsmen continued to make steady progress and were well on the way to the 100 partnership by 15 overs. This situation began to present the Knights with the issue of the opposition upping their run rate through a combination of wickets in hand as well as our slower fielding in the closing overs.

With the first batsmen reaching 50 and their partnership surpassing 100 runs, the first chance presented itself with Steve unfortunately unable to hold the catch and the Knights now deeply concerned at whether another chance would occur. To continue pace bowling down the hill, just after 20 overs Chris Franklin now entered the attack partnered aptly by slower bowler Dave. With the both openers still steadily accumulating runs and Chris looking to “brain” the batsmen through near enough baseball pitches at the face, the Knights again reached the point whereby another bowling change was needed and Kev once again entered the attack at just over 30 overs. With the Knights desperate for a wicket and Cam (whom I’m sure was knackered through being continually targeted by the batsmen) taking guard at the on-pitch telegraph (floodlight) pole, Kev proving his worth for bowler of the year finally made the breakthrough taking the wicket of Tichbourne’s number 2 whom made an admirable 58 runs. With the number 3 entering the middle and Lee worried that Tichbourne would now go “ballistic” to get extra runs, Chris now looked for another wicket and almost got it through two very close LBW appeals, followed by a wide and another braining attempt where the batsmen commented he felt the wind of the ball whizzing by his nose. With the Knights now entering the closing overs and many tired from the heat, the batsmen looked to try hitting everything and through good lengths from Matt they began to look contained…. this was until the ball was hit into Franklins territory whom through being still hacked off and frustrated at his turned down appeals demonstrated this through instead of diving to stop the ball instead just made it a 4 through skilfully shinning it over the boundary.

With only a few overs to go and the Knights ideally needing another wicket, Chris managed to again showcase his excellent cricketing talent to recreate a delivery some thought would never be seen again; through charging in and tactically tripping at the crease and shouldering the floor whilst dobbling the ball, this brought an excellent defence out of the batsmen which unfortunately did not yield same the wicket witnessed against Denmead. After Chris realising the astro turf was harder than grass and thus needing a short injury break, the batsmen still looked aggressive in the final overs. However with Sammy back in the attack, the chance at a final wicket was not yet lost with a rare…(very rare) stumping from Chris, so rare in fact the umpire didn’t even see it and seemed in complete shock at the appeal which unfortunately led to a controversial not out decision. So at the end of the innings the batsmen managed 239 runs with the opener carrying his bat on the highest total hit against us at 133. Certainly this left a mountain to climb for the batsmen and a focused tea break was needed for us to try and attempt a similar United Services performance.

After a good tea and stato excitedly copying up the scorebook, Steve and Dan began padding up for the challenge ahead, with a steady start both openers began building a steady partnership reaching 50 in just under 11 overs. With Steve and Dan continuing to bat with excellence and the sideline conversation turning to off-cricket topics such as Lee’s apparently poor sex life (standard topic for us), the opposition felt a bowling change was necessary and the unbeatable opener looked to break our first partnership. With Chris still frustrated from earlier and showing temptation to make editions in the oppositions book not to be repeated here, both Dan and Steve continued to put away the opponents wide bowling and keep hope of an emphatic victory alive.

With the umpires rotating at the sidelines more than the batsmen (for once) the Knights reached drinks at 114 for no loss and Lee continued to keep Cam focused at number 3 with his words of batting inspiration and experience………. With Dan reaching 50, Steve felt that now was the time to up the runs and a comfortable two for him unfortunately led to curtains for Dan due to the first bit of good fielding from the opposition leading to a direct hit at the stumps. With Cameron initially looking steady and Steve continuing to wallop boundaries, the Knights still felt comfortable and with a bit of quick addition from Stato, Steve was rapidly approaching the title of the clubs first centurion….. and at the 29th over this was realised, an excellent innings applauded by only one of the opposition (surely he was clapping on behalf of all of them?) which launched the Knights into a powerful position. However Steve’s prolific innings came to an end soon after with an unfortunate high shot leading to a catch and Lee entering the middle looking to maintain the run rate and leading the side to victory.

With Dave commenting that with such dire bowling we should be shot if we fail to win, surely this would be Lee’s day to make a valued total with the bat. Assessing Lee’s innings “the skipper got off the mark first ball with a Cook-esq cut, however he was to fall a few balls later to a very full toss but he wasn’t at fault as now was the time to try and hit out.”….. Now for the honest assessment I’m sure Dave would be proud of, Lee indeed did get a cheer from his first shot although as clarified by Chris this wasn’t for a potential boundary shot but more for hitting the ball, and Lee’s few indeed was 2 more balls leading to a full toss which in reflection just led to a lapse of judgement and a good catch by the fielder. But with Lee rightly making the point it was time to hit out, next week we will be expecting not so much a Cook-esq but a Barber-esq innings to build a steady total. Although Lee did feel the full toss could have been a no ball, indeed he should also remember the decision at Newport whereby a poor shot at any delivery in our club deserves to always be out.

At 192-3 and the Knights still needing to keep up the pressure to ensure enough runs are achieved, Sam now entered the middle. With wickets starting to fall I aptly suggested the possibility of me padding up, but this lead to a surprise lack of encouragement with Chris commenting we needed to win the game, Pete just laughing and Kev saying it was such a stupid idea that I was now number 11…. thanks lads.  With Lee showing like son (Ollie) like father behaviour in the changing rooms, Sammy didn’t feel too comfortable at how the bowling was now keeping low and difficult to hit. At 207 Sammy then fell being bowled for 1, leading to a short race to the crease by Chris and Pete which indeed Chris won thus promoting himself to number 7 for the day. With Sam returning and the opposition already showing poor sportsmanship tendencies through not applauding Steve’s 100 and throwing unnecessary sledging at the batsmen, we decided to ask Sam how he found it out in the middle. For the benefit of younger readers all I will say is that he managed to break the record for the most bad language, violence and threats in one sentence with no one in the club having ever shown such aggression (except Franklin of course).

With the Knights so close the opposition were getting desperate and like ourselves in the first innings were hurting for wickets, thus the number 4 bowler (also number 2 batsmen) realising the potential of Chris’s special delivery thought it best to imitate it himself. However through lacking talent, letting go too early and shouldering the ground too hard this left tu.. ahem the opposition keeper no hope of stopping the ball and instead watching it go for 5 no balls. With Chris slogging for victory (whilst holding good conversation in the spirit of the game with the fielders), Cameron then hit the final shot for 4 achieving both his 50 and the highest run change the Knights have ever made for a well needed and well deserved victory.

With Steve claiming the man of the match and Dave saying how he would happily shower in the dark with Chris, that signaled the rest of the team to regroup at the Cleveland for what would lead to a piss up, consisting of an agenda of excessive alcohol, storytime from Kev, another bout of sexual conversation topics and the intriguing suggestion of a tour.. watch this space. Until next time, let’s hope the weather remains clear as we look to host Crown Taverners 2nds at our Winchester ground.

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