Pete on his way to a glorious 68 not out……
Following the Knight’s epically abandoned match against AWE Tadley last week, our next fixture was to challenge promotion contender Hawkley at our home ground of Knightwood. With Barber warning Lee of their talent from a previous friendly, the Knights knew that today could be a tough challenge. Arriving at the ground and inspecting the pitch, Sam decided to replicate a Sky Sports “Ashes Zone” by providing Pete with a 15 minute bowling lesson before the others arrived. With Dan arriving promptly from his round of golf, followed by Matt whom ensured he was on time to correctly set up the scoreboard, the ground preparations were made without incident. However, next to arrive was Chris whom was slightly later than usual and it didn’t take long to realise why. Approaching with a mammoth sausage sandwich, it was clear alcohol was the main culprit and the Knights could soon see why it’s never a good idea to mix beer with gin and tonic. Last to arrive was Ian Messenger who seemed to have missed Dan a lot more than the rest of us, to the point he even tried to caress him…… With a great indecision of whether to bat and bowl first, Lee approached the toss hoping to lose whilst other members of the opposition came to observe the Knights warm up; little did they know that all they would need to replicate this was not cricket equipment but instead fatty food, Amber Leaf and a chair.
With Lee taking his time with the toss (mostly because he won the first toss and then decided to toss the coin to decide whether to bat or bowl first), the Knights were to Bat first, as Dan and Matt began their preparations. Beginning the Innings, Hawkley decided to open up with 2 spinners which already began causing some trouble for Dan. As Chris was being “ill” in the leisure centre, we were all hoping the Knights didn’t lose any quick wickets. Fortunately, amidst a few extras, Dan and Matt began creating a very steady partnership and amassed a modest 33 off the first 8 Overs. With Hawkley still hunting for the first wicket, a bowling change saw one of the opening spinners replaced by a pacier bowler. 11 runs later and the Knights were comfortably poised on 51-0, looking to push on towards a big score.
Well it was clear that this start wasn’t going to last and on the next over Dan was bowled for 23. However there was little concern as plenty of batting remained with Dave approaching the crease. 3 balls later, Dave now dismissed caught, and the score still remained on 51 with the Knights now feeling slightly worried. Lee at the crease and it was now down to the Payne brothers to steer the Knights out of this mini collapse, well on the next over Matt whom had amassed a solid 17, lost concentration and was also caught. Now the Knights turned to Chris for crucial runs, however due to the quick nature of this collapse, it seemed that the excessive alcohol was still taking its toll from his shakes at the sidelines. Clearly these shakes affected both his timing and judgement as yet another catch was presented to Hawkley and another wicket fell. 51-0 and now 51-4, it was Sam’s turn to try and advance past this score. With the Knights seriously concerned and the opposition scorer at least reminding us that we’d achieved a batting point, it was of great relief when Sam decided not to mess about and score off his first ball.
Reaching drinks, Lee and Sam had so far been successful rebuilding the Innings as the Knights reached 82-4 off 21 Overs. Following much encouragement from wife Elaine, and Ollie going slightly hyper again (must have found some Lucozade somewhere), Lee pushed on, determined to “save the team.” However it was at the 30th Over whereby all his thoughts on the game and his hyper son got the better of him ending in him being caught on 29. Pete now at the crease and two balls saw him dismissed by an umpiring controversy… was it a bunk ball or genuinely caught? Maybe next season the Knights will need to invest in DRS, however for now Pete was out for another 0 which is beginning to place him as a serious contender for the duck cup; Barber, Lee and Dave… be worried.
Next it was down to Denis, but would the Knights start another 4 wicket collapse…. well our Chairman decided against this by quickly getting himself off the mark. However, next over Sam whom had batted exceptionally well given the situation was finally caught for just 1 run short of Lee’s total (unfortunate, due to the amount we had to hear about Lee being top scorer at the pub). At 121-7 it was Barber’s turn in the middle; the question is what sort of innings would the team observe? Would it be the usual test match style, or maybe Pete’s recent coaching could inspire some run scoring. Well Barber’s new batting style appeared to continue as he scored off his second ball. With Denis and Barber now on the attack, the scoreboard started to race round and following Barber’s third boundary of the season, chants were heard across the ground “Barber to open!!!!”. However this flurry of runs then seemed to go to Barber’s head (clearly this is where the Pete master class ended) as he missed the straight one, being Bowled for 14. Nick now at the crease, Ian Messenger finally having to get changed into his whites, and some very quick singles began to be achieved. With Denis still on the attack and Nick supporting with crucial runs of his own, the Knights made it to 158 before the next wicket fell.
Ian was not amused at this and as Nick was walking back, he made a request that Lee declare the innings on 158-9. Although this request was refused, Denis managed to at least keep Ian off strike until he himself was finally dismissed by a slower delivery, ending the Innings on 165. A modest effort by the Knights as tea was taken. Another excellent tea consisting of assorted sandwiches and savouries, plenty of melon and a lovely chocolate cake; the Knights now prepared themselves for Hawkley’s Innings.
With Chris still in hangover recovery mode, this week it was up to Pete and Sam to open the bowling. Looking at the sky, the Knights were concerned at some of the darkened clouds approaching the ground and thus it was clear the first 20 Overs needed to be bowled quickly. With Barber having played Hawkley before and warning the Knights of the strength from their opening batsmen, quick wickets would also be essential for victory. Pete certainly took this in his stride through attacking the batsmen, including hitting the opener in the back. However it was Sam’s spin which took the first victim as the opener chopped on for a duck. Hawkley’s most dangerous batsmen remained, however a super speed delivery from Pete created a fast edge and an excellent catch from Barber.
With Pete following this wicket up with another from a slower ball, Hawkley were reduced to 3-3, surely a commanding position to fashion a win. Excellent bowling and fielding created pressure with Pete taking yet another wicket to place Hawkley at 17-4 off 10 Overs. With Sam still supporting Pete with consistent economical bowling, an edge chance passed Barber leaving Sam growling in frustration and Barber hesitant at what the reaction may be if he dropped another change or let go a bye. However with the next delivery down leg side hitting Barber in the knee cap, and Sam still frustrated, no injury break to be had and thus mortally wounded, Barber had to carry on. Sam’s bowling however was to be rewarded before the end and his final over produced a simple catch meaning at the 20 Over mark, Hawkley had only amassed 56 runs. Now that rain was no longer an issue, the Knights could relax and Barber could at least now have his injury breaks if/when needed. With Denis now entering the attack through the Knight’s youth and experience tactic, Hawkley were still very far adrift of the Knight’s run rate. Consistent bowling from Pops aptly supported from both the Franklins and Hawkley only advanced to 66 off 23 Overs. With Chris (aka. The Barrel (from Liphook), The Tank (from Nick) or The Sightscreen (from Dave) beginning to recover from his intoxicated state, clearly there was still little focus and thought behind his bowling as he suddenly began taking wickets. This even began with two in two balls before the over was called… or was it, a small miscount from the umpires and Chris had the chance for the club’s second hat-trick. Well even with all the fielders in and Barber bricking it in case of an edge, the Batsmen survived with Kev still holding the club’s hat-trick honours.
So 71-6, the game firmly in the Knight’s hands and the blemish of Aldershot beating us when they were 50-8 clearly forgotten, Denis continued to pressure the batsmen through his ever consistent bowling. However eventually the pressure got to the batsmen and another wicket was bowled with Denis finishing his spell of 1-16. To finish the game off, the Knights now felt Pete should be brought again into the attack. Well Pete didn’t hang about and instead of aiming at the stumps he careered the ball into the batsmen’s head; a truly savage delivery which certainly had Barber nervous, not just for the safety of the batsmen but due to the lack of coverage from our insurance. However it was The Barrel who had the final moment of glory through lofting a good catch to Sam and then another final catch to Danny who unlike Aldershot remained composed to finish the innings.
An excellent victory followed up by a good pub session to reflect on the day’s events amongst our other ‘educational’ topics. To finish I will leave you with a quote from our captain “Inspired captaincy in opening the bowling with Sam and Pete and batting first. Captain fantastic!!!!” Bold words which we can only hope to be followed up by a Captain’s performance next Saturday, no pressure skipper.
The end of season party will be on September 7th (Saturday) at Matts house. I am guessing it will be bring your own drink and BBQ items. We will have the awards and speeches also, plus if it can be organised, a guess who picture quiz. It’ll kick off around 6.30/7. The finer points will be texted out nearer the time.
ps…….do I remember Messenger Senior saying down the pub he could get a barrel of Stowfords?……….
This week the Knights were back home at Knightwood to challenge Overton again; with a very close match against Overton II, the Knights were hoping that revenge could be sought with a convincing win today over Overton III’s. Arriving at the ground early, Pete and I were very happy to see the opposition hadn’t arrived yet, and thus unlike Odiham whom were already practicing at this point a few weeks ago, it looked unlikely we were going to be battered. Beginning to set the ground up with Vice-captain Steve, the dreaded fiendish ordeal of recent weeks presented itself again…. correctly setting up the Scoreboard. With Chris and Nick now arriving to help, 5 Knights worked on figuring out where the bolts go, which side the legs screw in, where the broken bolt goes and Pete being a … ahem using a spanner for about 10 minutes tightening one nut (next time we’re bringing power tools). With master Carpenter Matt now arriving dressed in a “Rocky” T-shirt (obviously having the eye of the Tiger of Mr. Balboa for his performance today), the audit of the scoreboard showed that the legs yet again were bolted the wrong way round, and with that the board was finally ready (sort of) for another match.
With the Knights now milling round the wicket for a pitch inspection, there was a clear indecision of whether to bat or bowl first and thus the conversation quickly turned to football. Ian now arriving with his usual team greeting “Hello my dears”, and Matt (Rocky) standing on his own to psych himself up for the game ahead; the opposition began to arrive and the Knights readied themselves for the match. Although with some of the opposition still yet to arrive, the Knights had to contain their excitement for another 15 minutes. However this was too much for Chris who instead wetted himself down his shorts for Ian to complement him on his knee reaching girth (of course this was the real reason why Dave seemed happy at the possibility of showering with Chris in the dark at Tichborne).
So with Lee winning the toss and electing to bowl, Pete and Chris yet again were to open the bowling in an effort of using their pace attack for quick wickets. With Pete attacking the batsmen and Chris varying his pace and length, the Knights made a steady start with Overton only reaching 15 off the first 5 Overs. With some lofted shots, misfields and a drop from Barber (clearly going to be one of those days), the openers began forming a solid partnership. Chris however recognised the importance of breaking this partnership and an excellent delivery presented a catching opportunity for Lee. Well with Lee failing to follow Nasser’s catching lesson and instead leaving a gap between his hands, the Batsmen used up a life and the Knight’s frustrations heightened. To this extent Chris realised a new tactic was needed and through a close caught and bowled chance, instead this ended on him using his full 16 stone to step on the ball and collapse into the wicket. Although injuring himself slightly, this tactic probably did change the shape of the ball and caused undulations in the pitch for the upcoming spinners.
With the Knights still hunting for the first wicket, it was time for a bowling change, and dual spinners Sammy and Nick now entered into the attack. An excellent start by the new bowlers and Overton had only amassed 34 runs by the first drinks break at 14 Overs. 17 off the 15th Over (nicely bowled Nick), Overton amassing a 50 partnership for the 1st wicket and the match certainly now looked ominous. With Kev eagerly watching from the sidelines as 12th man (whilst training his muscles continuously moving the sightscreen), it was Nick who finally found the breakthrough with a quick edge missing Barber (standard) and instead going straight into the hands of Denis. With the remaining opener and batsmen 3 showing resilience, Overton continued amassing runs (helped along by some growling misfields by Chris). As Sammy’s spin kept the batsmen tied down, instead Nick was targeted for runs; thus at this point Nick’s youth was replaced for the experience of Pops (Denis).
24 Overs in and Overton only on 90, the Knights still felt in control of the run rate, however with 9 wickets remaining it was crucial to begin making inroads into their batting line up. Sammy certainly recognised this and by creating pressure all through his spell, finally caused batsmen 3 to slice the ball in Lee’s direction. Well there was certainly an air of nerves and anxiety watching Lee get into position and fortunately this time he held the catch dismissing the batsmen for 29 (Nasser can finally sleep easy). 92-2 and a new batsmen at the crease, to get off the mark it was clear Overton’s number 4 was not afraid of the big shots and launched the ball of Denis’s bowling. However big Ian was waiting for the catch, well looking at his face of shock as the ball hurtled towards him, the Knights all fell silent. With what can be described as the felling of an Oak tree, Ian (somehow) managed to grasp one hand onto the ball and remain hold of it even after hitting the ground…. the Knights were so surprised that the ground erupted as everyone basically piled onto Ian in celebration.
As 30 Overs approached, Sammy appeared to bowl expensively as the Scoreboard total raced along; however at 30 Overs in an unprecedented feat, Sam bowled so well that he even managed to reverse the score as Overton’s total reduced from 127 to 110. This reverse in score caused pressure for the remaining opener whom after making an excellent 55, now succumbed to the pressure and lofted a shot to Sammy for a well watched catch. 122-4 and it was now down to Franklin and Pete again to close out the innings. With Batsmen 5 showing why defensive shots are not required, focus was on the youngling at the crease for the next wicket. As Ian had ran out of conversation topics through chatting up the young Umpires all day (and we all thought club policeman Kev was focused on the match), Chris was next to strike in the wicket tally. As the young batsmen skyed the ball, being only a few paces in front of Barber surely this was to finally be his moment of glory to actually move for a catch. However Pete was not confident in Barber’s glove-work and instead called it for himself…..pr**k.
Batsmen 7 now at the middle decided to take an interesting tactic against Pete taking basically a 4 foot guard outside the crease. With the first ball sailing for 4 and Denis looking at me to stand up for the stumping (f*** that), Pete certainly delivered a reply through a savage quick bouncer cracking the batsmen in the side of the helmet. With the next delivery bowling the batsmen out and another youngling at the crease, Overton were now 142-6 off 37 Overs. With number 5 at the crease teeing off, Chris realised another moment of brilliance was needed to take the remaining wickets. To this extent a slower short ball had the batsmen diving the cover out of fear, followed up by an excellently pitched delivery creating a bottom edge missed by Barber (standard again). This missed edge now placed the youngest youngling of the opposition on strike and through a lofted shot, pressure was on Matt to run in for the catch. Although all eyes were on Matt eagerly trying to get to the ball, in a flash Dan simply plucked it out of the air whilst in full sprint. With Pete’s last over finding another wicket through just sheer pace, it was down to Chris to bowl the final over. With the number 5 finally getting caught from a well watched catch by Steve (after making a quick fire 50), a strange situation unfolded whereby the number 11 was still umpiring. Thus donning West Ham attire, no pads and no gloves, it was down to Chris to bowl the last ball at the other batsmen…. if only a single was scored from a no ball.
Finishing the innings Overton made a very respectable 189/9, which was certainly a chaseable score for the Knights. Teas as always from Denis and Mrs. Denis were excellent with a full array of sandwiches dressed in shaved carrot, delicious cake and of course plenty of melon (which had been eagerly watched to ensure Chris did not get to use his cork borer on it……..).
With the Knights having their usual opening pair of Steve and Dan, this week they made a steady start and amassed 27 runs off the first 5 Overs. Everything felt very relaxed, with Barber doing the book, Ian completing a crossword (such an educated fellow), and Steve deciding to take inspiration from test cricket; Dan however was very busy hitting most of the runs. However at 8 Overs the opposition decided that the youngsters were not going to get the breakthrough and instead opted for experience. Matt’s synopsis of the first couple of balls was shared by all Knights “Barber, these bowlers are dangerous, they bowl pies”. With that Dan was caught on 32 and the Knights were 44-1.
Matt at the crease and through taking no messing off the slow bowler instantly dispatched it for 4, followed by a well timed 2. However this bowler was to get his revenge and on his next over Matt chipped the ball for a caught and bowled (evidently the eye of the Tiger was not quite with him today). Lee at the crease and given the situation of 2 quick wickets and Stevo batting test style, runs from the Captain would certainly be needed today. Well aside a nice hit for 4, Lee unfortunately was unable to repeat his recent form of late and instead chipped up the slower bowler for a well watched one-handed catch in the field. 59-3 and the batting turning into a typical Knights Valley innings, Franklin now trudged to the crease to return some momentum to the team. Taking the attack to the bowler, this certainly worked to great effect and even caused Steve to begin hitting boundaries. With Dave arriving to watch us struggle, the Knights battled on hoping that this pair would develop a strong partnership (and umpiring Ian would be more decisive with LBW decisions).
Reaching 69 off 15 Overs, Chris and Steve began forming what was appearing to be a strong partnership, however another issue was beginning to emerge (no it wasn’t Barber having to wrestle Dave’s dog Frank off the Scorebook) in that the Knights were beginning to slowly slip behind Overton’s run rate. As the slow bowlers continued to restrict runs effectively it was Stevo next to fall through skying a shot to the fielders for yet another successful catch (obviously we were yet to find the Lee equivalent to aim at on the Overton team). 87-4, Sam in to bat and Lee saying how him and his brother had failed the team to a supportive silence; the run rate again began to slow down. I can only surmise that the plan was to see off the slow bowlers in the hope of the young openers coming back to finish their spells. Well with the slow bowlers bowling through their 10 Overs and instead replacing themselves with more dobblers…. clearly to reach the now 6.6+ per over, Sam and Chris were going to have to take some risks. Prepping Pete up to try and accelerate the run rate, Sam was the next wicket to fall through missing a big shot and being bowled for 9. Pete taking guard and an interesting debate was running through his head from whether to spend time to play himself in or just to attack the bowling from ball one; unfortunately the decision was made for him very quickly as he was caught behind off 2 balls for a duck.
With Chris getting caught for 32 off the next over, the batsmen had rotated very quickly with the score now 122-7 and only Pops and Barber at the crease. Given the run rate was now 7 an over it was unlikely the remaining batsmen were going to be able to catch the total. What the team were more concerned about was the nature of Barber’s innings as it can sometimes be amusing, more often than not however it is boring as s***. Although Barber started with standard defensives, something interesting happened… he actually attacked the ball and through a well-timed sweep achieved a 4. Well celebrations erupted and Barber himself acknowledged it to the sidelines as if it were a 50 (being realistic it’s probably the closest I’ll get to a 50 in the next decade), and Dan almost was in shock at having to signal the boundary. With Denis ticking along and making good use of un-appealed plum LBW’s (clearly our noble Chairman can never be out if he decides not to be), the Knights surpassed 125 and were now looking to 150 for another batting point.
Barber now hitting the other slow bowler for 4, the sidelines were bemused with Nick commenting that I was Viv Richards in the making (may have been slightly sarcastic). What the sidelines didn’t know is that Barber instead had his Bisto for lunch which had rekindled his northern cricketing spirit. Although reaching 150, ultimately the run rate was always an issue and the Knights in a rare instance were unable to win even with wickets in hand. However a major highlight of today was the excellent catch performed by Ian, earning him the man of the match award which I will leave you all with below: