Knights Valley vs Crown Taverners II Match Report 08/06

Another sunny Saturday morning spelled the start for Knights Valley’s next fixture at home against Crown Taverners II. Considering our epic performance of last week and the fact the opposition are bottom of the league with yet to hit a competitive score this year, Stato informed Lee that this should be treated as a fun match and what should be a calm walkover. However what the Knights overlooked is that this week we were at the dreaded Winchester pitch and… well, we are Knights Valley…. need I say more.

With me and Pete arriving first for a pitch inspection, the Groundsman informed us it was a bit muddy and dusty following the poor weather from Friday; with us both feeling suspicious at the Groundsman then making a quick exit whilst the rest of the team arrived, the Knights approached the middle to ascertain how “muddy” the wicket was. Well what was clear is the Groundsman forgot to inform us that instead of preparing the Wicket with a roller and mower, it appeared that instead he used a combination of a spade, rake and possibly a hoe; certainly this was also shown through Lee’s disappointment and Chris’s summary of “F*** me” upon seeing the sight of the holes, divots and other unexplained animal/boot markings.

Elated at getting our full £80s worth for the pitch, next came the decision of whether to bat or bowl first. Certainly feeling this would be a walkover match, batting first on a pitch which could only get worse would at least make a full game out of the day. However Sammy was having none of this and felt that the Knights had their priorities completely wrong and we should bowl first in the interest of more pub time later; of course following last week it was clear that our headstrong and esteemed captain would make his own decision regardless of what any (all) of the team thought. With the opposition arriving with both an impressive 10 players and method of deciding captain through passing the responsibility round until someone decides to do it, Lee obviously agreed with Sammy’s pub idea and elected to bowl first.

So following a short warm up of bowling practise, catching practise and Chris dipping into his Amber Leaf, Pete looked to open down the hill with Chris supporting him on the uphill straight. Apart from the odd short ball, the Knights made a steady start against the openers with the Crown Taverners being restricted to only 32 off the first 10 overs. However fearing a similar batting resistance of last week, a bowling change was called with Sammy entering the attack. With a small struggle to get his length and Barber having a mare behind the stumps, runs not scored by the batsmen certainly began to accumulate in extras. With Sam then finding a tricky length and underused Dave and Dennis also using slower bowling to great effect, the Knights continued to restrict the opposition to under 4 an over with the scoreboard only at 81 off 21 overs.

So 81-0, the opposition displaying a similar batting performance of last week and the team feeling a bit riled at less time later for alcohol (and graaavy for me), it was important the Knights made a breakthrough to create pressure and to at least acquire a few bowling points. Continuing a combination of slower bowling from Dennis, Dave and Matt coupled with a final (slightly better) spell from Pete and an impressive use of shin fielding from Dan which instead directed the ball back into play as opposed to over the boundary; the Knights reached the 30 over mark with the opposition now on 126. The Knights now began to enter our usual fielding slump scenario in the later overs and unfortunately this match was no different with a couple of dropped catches, Barber yet to learn how to catch a ball even with test quality gloves and the batsmen even commenting how poor our fielding was and where he felt the fielders should be. Then finally Chris entered the attack again and with a mixture of swing bowling, slow bowling and braining deliveries, the first opener (and voted? skipper) appeared too tired to run and instead prompted an accurate roll (for once) from Barber whom after taking 36 overs to warm up finally demonstrated some basic keeping ability to stump the batsmen for 50.

With the other opener surpassing 100 and claiming he needed to get out to have a break; the Knights instead enacted their revenge through just restricting boundaries to make him suffer through having to run everything. Wrapping up the match with Chris and Dave closing the bowling, wickets began to tumble quickly as the batsmen looked to strike everything, so quickly in fact that there was no time for celebrations between each. This led to a good double wicket closing over from Chris rounding the first innings off at 218-5 (a lot more than the pub walkover score originally planned….. well done Stato).

With the Knights slightly concerned Cameron’s tea would only be an array of crackers, cereal and other dried goods, most were pleasantly surprised by the array of sandwiches, savouries and cakes including a very delicious homemade chocolate fudge and carrot cake. With only Chris being a picky eater and showing his distaste for no melon (which would probably just get kicked over anyway) tea was thoroughly enjoyed with Cameron definitely saving himself from excessive banter in this report.

During the 1st innings, the opposition accumulated a steady 171 partnership for their opening wicket and it was clear if Knights were to win, they should look to replicate this partnership and fully put our recent performances at Winchester behind us. Well…. being typical Knights Valley 4 overs in Steve ended up being bowled for 12 and Cameron batting like an absolute (sledging omitted due to an excellent tea) produced a solid catch from the opposition fielder. With Lee now walking in and me and Matt already discussing where to bat in the tail and when to pad up, the opposition continued the pressure with their opening bowlers. With a close stumping call producing a quality decision from Dennis and uncalled chirp from the opposition, this quickly riled Chris and in only a few overs there was already the risk of a 2nd injury break (the wicket keepers elderly legs causing the first).

With Lee and Dan steadily accumulating runs and causing the opposition opener (now identified as Lefty by Chris) showing pain through running continuously for the ball the Knights put on a respectable 39 partnership until the 11th over where Dan, now realising his potential through no Steve-esq run outs looked to power the ball for 4 but unfortunately fell to another solid fielding catch bringing Sam to the crease at number 5. With Lee finally reaching double figures it appeared the Knights would at least surpass the shower of 82 the previous fortnight.

With the opposition now looking for another wicket, a bowling change brought their number 3 (now referred to as Trousers by Chris) and number 5 into the attack, through well placed boundaries, plentiful wides and a keeper whom like myself would have had Gilchrist spewing on the pitch, Lee and Sam continued to perform excellently to the point where a win was becoming a conceivable result. The opposition were now becoming so desperate for a wicket that Lefty now brought himself into the attack; after him saying how he opened the bowling for the 1sts, the Knights were hesitant at what would happen next… well 1 ball in it was clear that running him ragged at batting was an excellent approach as the other team took their 3rd injury break. Further to this Lee also decided to up the attack further with an excellent 6 with the pose to match, however at 46, the Knights ready to go nuts, Lee was then struck by the lack of judgement and timing which caused his recent performance slump and was caught. An excellent innings and how did the Knights feel…. well thank god, after 2 years of winging, moaning, throwing his bat around and dissing the team he had finally found form only to then winge about getting out; it certainly appears our esteemed captain will never truly be pleased with his batting but at least the scoreboard had moved and looked healthier this time.

So next Dave substituting a Knights Valley cap for… well… something blue took guard aiming to be proud at a double figure score. Although a slow start, Dave did soon show pride for Scottish cricket with his batting soon surpassing his confidence scoring almost every other ball. With Sammy looking shattered from Dave running 3’s, the opposition’s missing number 11 obviously being the team physio due to the slow running looking close to another injury break, Sammy now reached 49 runs with the Knights again poised to clap his first 50 for the club. Well Chris again summarised things well through his next word “sh**”, cringingly Sammy got done by the inconsistent bounce or lack of it and was bowled. With Stato (for once) finding it best to remain silent, Chris now entered to see the team home with the score on 188. The Knights now so close then suddenly produced an excellent delivery from Lefty getting Dave out LBW and with the scores tied, Dennis depadding, Stato refusing to leave his baby (ie porn mag.. ie. the scorebook) and Matt just well not padding up meant Pete had to stay in to avoid the match being tied due to the other wickets being timed out. With Lefty chirping Pete on entry, this provoked a reaction with Pete disregarding fear of his wicket and just kicking the ball to finish the match.

So another rare batting spectacle saved the Knights blushes against a usual Winchester f*** up and instead allowed us to come away with a solid 21 points. For a closing note, following the recent withdrawal of North Baddesley from Knightwood, we are now looking to organise this as our home pitch for the next home fixture in 3 weeks time, so exciting times ahead for the Knights.

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