Knights Valley vs Paultons III – Match Report

Finally waking up to a sunny Saturday morning and reading our Captain’s ‘inspirational’ pre-match text; some of the more keener Knights (ie. Sam, Myself and Jason) wanted the honor of arriving at the meeting spot first and thus were 15 minutes early. Using this quiet time, Sam had the idea of trying to size up our opposition by finding where they placed in the league last year. Well deciphering this from the handbook certainly proved a challenge as all three of us rifled through each page of the book twice in desperation to find this information. Upon realizing that we had been reading the averages for 10 minutes we then managed to discover that Paultons finished fifth last year and thus on paper were most likely a similar strength to ourselves.

With the rest of the Knights now beginning to arrive, Barber began having his lunch when disaster struck, as we had to make our way to the ground without time to head into the pub so he could add gravy to his chicken and stuffing sandwiches; hopefully this distinct lack of a gravy dinner wouldn’t manifest itself in a bye fest later on. Arriving at the ground, our Captain in the lead car decided to park in the public car park in order to provide the Knights a warm up in the form of a long walk to the pitch across a long field. However with this field being full of burrows, cow pats and horse manure it was more a test of agility and orienteering a safe route to the pavilion.

Now safely arrived, all the Knights now marched to the sloped middle for the pitch inspection; watching as the wicket undulated under everyone’s weight it was very much apparent that we were standing on a lot of moisture and a ground which was going to completely tear to mud later on. Instantly realizing that we were at a major disadvantage and with memories of Calmore re-appearing across many of the seasoned club members; it was decided that bowling first would be best to determine exactly what the “bad score” from the opposition would be.

As Lee won the toss and decided to listen to the team majority this week, the Knights were to bowl first and to this effect everyone was very sure to tell Pete not to bowl short on such a damp Wicket. With Darren and Gusher ahem Graham arriving, the Knights were at full strength and marched into the field. Opening the bowling, it was great to see Pete had listened to everyone’s advice as one of the openers was bowled for a duck. As the pitch resembled that of a sponge, Denis was to partner Pete and it wasn’t long before the sticky wicket claimed another batsmen through a solid (one-handed) catch from Dan. Following up next over with another slowly bowled wicket of batsmen 3, Paultons were 13-3 and the Knights certainly felt that this could be a very short innings indeed. With Denis and Pete continuing to pressure the batsmen and Darren actually being silenced for a few minutes from being mesmerised by the pitch-side horses; another ‘slower’ ball from Denis bowled batsmen 4 creating yet more pressure on the opposition.

As Pete was still bowling and offering chances, unfortunately the Knights showed the same fielding finesse from previous years with Lee skilfully diving into the ball and Kev attempting a catch with his stomach. Pete then decided just to try and break the batsmen’s foot with a savage Yorker for LBW. As Paultons now found themselves 24-6 with the Knights now discussing what drinks they were each going to have at the pub and maybe the possibility of even stopping somewhere for food. With Pete finishing his 6th over, it was determined that due to his tight hamstring and the fact some rare minerals were now being unearthed from the crease due to how deep the landing area was becoming; Jason and Kev now entered into the attack. As the Innings progressed, Paultons 7th wicket partnership seemed to be showing a display of temperament as they managed to almost double the score by drinks to 53-6.

As the Scoreboard slowly ticked along, the Knights already recognized that a score of 80+ could be a challenge to catch in these conditions (although it usually is a challenge for us anyway). Having a vision of our plight similar to that of the Shining; Kevin knew we needed his support and arrived at the ground to watch us finish skittling the opposition (if only). With Jason and Kev both bowling tights lines, the batsmen now began running tactical singles and making the most of our misfields with Danni even showing how you can skillfully let the ball through for 4 even with a perfect looking technique.

In an effort to stop the singles, the Knights certainly began being more driven in the field to the point where Kev almost wiped out the square leg umpire in his hurry to the ball. However with the score surpassing 80 a great deal of concern could be felt across the field; to this effect Sam and Darren now entered the bowling. With the batsmen feeling comfortable at the crease and Darren finding it difficult to bowl towards the stumps, the score still moved along with Paultons now surpassing three figures.

After enough punishment from this crucial partnership; it was decided that Pete was to re-enter the fray and after only 4 balls batsmen 8 was finally dismissed from an excellent one handed diving catch from Graham. Feeling that the Innings was all but over, the better batsmen 6 now also holed out to a solid catch from Darren and Paultons were now reduced to the tail-enders. With Pete making the best of a slower ball to take the 9th wicket; the 10th then fell in the most controversial way as an excellent delivery from Sam clipped the edge of the stumps. However was Barber too eager (for once) with his glovework and dislodged the bails himself…… the square leg Umpire fortunately didn’t think so and Paultons finished on 132.

Reflecting at teas over an array of sandwiches and ginger cake for which Lee feels is just as special to him as Barber’s gravy (oh how wrong he is); the Knights were now refreshed for the run chase. With Barber assuming his position on the book, Darren felt that with our batting strength this was to be a simple run chase for which I fully supported with my silent response. Clearly given the conditions a slow steady innings was going to be the best way forward. As per last season’s batting displays, the Knights certainly showed the same talent with Steve and Dan both mistiming the ball and the score reading 11-2 off 5 Overs.

With Danni trudging off to spend more time with his girlfriend (now we know why he ‘missed’ the ball), it was steady headed Graham and Lee who were to try and build the much needed 98 run partnership which Paultons achieved. The issue faced by the batsmen however was that due to the Knights ability to destroy the wicket in the first Innings; the amount of divots, lumps of turf and other random undulations made the track a minefield to bat on. At least this ‘minefield’ is what our esteemed captain blamed for his demise after a simple chip to the bowler dismissing him for 5. With Kevin now realizing the truth of our plight and making a swift exit from the ‘action’, Darren was next in to bat to support the remainder of the ‘strong batting lineup’. With Graham looking to show a controlled temperament whilst Darren just tried hitting every ball, the score slowly creeped to 30 off 12 Overs.

As Denis recognized Graham’s ability and complementing that he would be the last man standing, through using his gloves instead of the bat Gusher then was caught for 7 and the Knights were now expecting yet another sub-100 score to be added to the club records. Sammy now at the crease….Sammy now back at the Pavilion and Pete was the next man marching to the middle with the score only on 40 and over 90 runs still required.

With Barber padding up only to be joined by Darren in the changing rooms, would Denis be able to at least make some runs to pull the Knights back into contention? Deciding to take the attacking approach, Pete began targeting Ponies with a couple of excellent sixes before then tightening his hamstring even further. Reeling from injury and still listening to Darren’s continuous chat from the sidelines, Pete had no option but to try and whack everything for maximums which led to him being promptly caught. With Denis still ticking the board over, it was now crucial for the tail to remain positive and solid and show why the Knights have such a deep batting core……… 5 balls later and the score not advancing, the Knights were all out for 67 showing such an achievement with our second lowest score in the club’s history.

Darren mentioned that maybe these match reports could potentially be placed into the local press; however with the combination of embarrassing performances, untoward sledging and shockingly explicit banter which no doubt will be heard throughout the season… it’s probably best we all remain anonymous to the world for now. At least we achieved a full game of cricket albeit on a sloped sponge, and with the weather forecast unfortunately looking ominous we may well have the fun of similar conditions next week.


Knights Valley vs Silchester Match Report

So the Knights now reached the climax to the season, our last league match against Silchester. Those long standing Knights will know that we have had a somewhat poor end of season record, losing both to Ampfield in 2011 and RAM last year. However following the emphatic win against Hawkley last week, everyone certainly felt positive about winning this match and ending the season with a very respectable league position.

With the ground nicely isolated in the countryside, Sam as always managed to arrive first, with the rest of the Knights arriving in drips and drabs depending on how lost people were. Looking out across the pitch, it appeared as if Silchester was experiencing a water shortage given the brown (burnt) look of the grass; certainly was going to be a quick outfield. Upon an inspection of the wicket, it appeared to be flat with little sign of break-up; coupled with the fast outfield Steve immediately concluded that this was a time to bat first and to put Silchester under pressure chasing a big score.

Following the pitch inspection, the Knights realised that they were still quite early with still 40 minutes before the start of play. Realising this also, the Silchester youngsters began using the time for pre-match warm ups and training drills; the Knights also decided to do this in their way through energy conservation and meditation of the upcoming match by lounging in chairs, eating plenty of food and lighting up some tobacco. With Lee now conducting the toss, the Silchester captain decided to give his youngsters some exercise and let us bat first (players from the Aldershot  fixture will realise this situation sounded  familiar).

So beginning the Innings Steve and Matt were to open, and all were in good spirits for the day ahead, including Barber whom had been provided with a scoring buddy to pointlessly natter to all afternoon. As always the key to a good Innings is usually a solid start, would this be the case? Oh of course not, a typical Knights Valley start as Matt decided to test Kev’s umpiring resolve by leaving a straight delivery for LBW. 4-1 and Sam in his newly promoted 3 position was already under pressure to steady the Innings.  Fortunately Sam took a steady approach to his batting to get accustomed to the bowling. This cautious approach by both Sam and Steve allowed the Knights to reach a modest 29 off 10 Overs.

As Steve and Sam began establishing a good partnership, their run rate began to increase with both hitting crucial boundaries to place the Knights on track for the 200+ target. Steve certainly looked solid at the crease as the Innings progressed, even tactically getting himself caught on a no-ball so he couldn’t be out. However as he reached 37 his expectation of batting first for big scores finished as unfortunately another no-ball wasn’t bowled, and instead he was caught out. 55-2 and now Dan was at the crease…. 7 balls later, 58-3 and Danni was out LBW for 1 with the Knights now beginning to feel concerned. This was for many reasons, including fearing a collapse like last week, the pressure of Lee having to now hit a good score and the fact Nick was still umpiring.

However mock Lee as we will, he did at least take the situation in his stride and hit a couple of quick boundaries to relieve some of the Knight’s sideline tension. With Sam still batting very steadily and concentrating hard to keep his wicket in the face of the opposition’s fiendish young spinner, the Knights reached only 62 off the first 20 Overs. This now put another problem into the fray, in that this low run rate was going to make it very difficult for the Knights to reach the competitive 200+ target.

With the need to accelerate and Sam still bogged down by spin, it was for Lee to go for boundaries. However with the bowlers still placing the ball into good areas, Lee and Sam’s acceleration still wasn’t quick enough as some maidens prevented the Knights gaining momentum. At 30 Overs, the Knights still hadn’t surpassed 100, meaning they needed almost 10 an over to reach the 200 target. However, fortunately Silchester sympathised with the pressure we were under and instead of choosing their opening bowlers, they instead chose a bowler who mostly bowled pies. This certainly worked to the Knights advantage allowing for more boundaries and even a couple of 6’s. At 35 Overs a very interesting situation arose in that both Sam and Lee were now getting dangerously close to 50. With Sam edging his way to 49, the Knights all felt poised to congratulate his maiden 50. However little did we know that out in the middle Sam was under immense pressure with the bowling being difficult, the fielders poised for a catch, shouts for him to accelerate and the constant worry of our umpiring decisions. As everything appeared to be against him, unfortunately he was caught for another unlucky 49, although much credit must be given for his ability to steady and rebuild the Innings.

With Franklin now at the crease and already skying the ball around for 1’s and 2’s, it was now down to Lee to see if he could achieve 50. Well didn’t he do this with style, smashing the 50 with a well struck boundary. With his last 50 being the Totton and Eling match in our first season, certainly this was a momentous occasion given the importance of the knock to rebuild our Innings. However the team were certainly pleased in that this might finally shut up his winging on how he continually fails the team; however in typical Payne style his batting prowess soon ended as he forgot where the crease was ending in him being stumped for 56.

161-5 and it was crucial new batsmen Pete continued this last minute momentum. With Franklin now getting himself caught for 9, Pops approached the crease with Pete still on strike. Well you have to feel sorry for our chairman, as Pete decided not to offer the strike, and instead caused Denis to do plenty of running without even facing a ball. With Pete ending the Innings with a very skilful and surprising paddle scoop, the Knights finished on 175-6 with a good 56 from Lee, 49 from Sam and a tiring 0 off 0 balls by Denis.

After just about securing our 6th batting point, and Lee finally looking like he enjoys playing cricket; the Knights prepared to enjoy a well earned tea. However this tea caused a major stir due to one of the delicacies on offer……. individual mini trifles. Well these little pots of delight caused much excitement including Denis taking photographs and Matt making phone calls about them… will we see them at our next teas? Only time will tell.

Ready for the next Innings, the Knights knew that tight bowling and fielding would be essential if we were to win. As per usual Pete was to open the bowling, amply supported by Sam. However it was at this point the Knights began to feel some of the lethargic consequences from the mini trifles; non more so than world class keeper Barber who through being surprised by an edge first ball, only managed to watch it go by without any movement. So a standard start to the Innings, and Pete decided to now add to this error by delivering full tosses to the Batsmen. However through frustration at not being able to smack runs, the Batsmen instead decided to throw his bat down in frustration, rage at the umpire and Pete for dangerous bowling, and just generally looking angry as Kev fuelled the situation by telling him to shut up and get on with the game. This palaver however did work to Silchester’s advantage as Pete was now given a rest to avoid being forcibly taken off.

This now meant the Knights needed to rely on Chris to take Pete’s place at attacking the opposition’s best batsmen. Fortunately both him and Sam managed to successfully do this with Chris bowling the opener Barber dropped (certainly makes my life easier when the Batsmen doesn’t have to edge it), and Sam producing a solid catch opportunity to Dan, for the opener who this time didn’t decide to throw his bat around. This now placed Silchester on 44-2 with the match very much still in the balance.

Unfortunately for the Knights, the number 3 batsmen certainly seemed quite capable and runs began to flow at a prolific rate. Although Franklin managed to pin batsmen 4 LBW for 6, Silchester at this stage were 78-3 off 9 Overs and certainly looked in full control of the Innings. With the batsmen appearing to take a liking to Sam’s bowling, it was Chris again who formed the next chance as another edge went behind….however as Barber had now burned off some calories, he managed to use every ounce of his skill and agility to simply sidestep and collect the ball. Following this catch however, the captains entered a discussion of whether to bring Pete back on, and it was decided in the interest of controlling the run rate that he was worth the risk. Fortunately with Pete deciding to hit the pitch this time, and Franklin showing a feat of consistency, the Knights made a crucial breakthrough with 2 wickets in 2 Overs. This now put Silchester on 117-6 and although over 20 Overs remained, a win certainly seemed plausible.

However it appeared even Silchester’s lower order could also score at a high run rate, and following our loss at Aldershot when they were 50-8… all manner of f*** ups were still possible. With Franklin digging deep into his trifle and pre-match milkshake energy to keep bowling in the heat, Pete was finding good areas and managed to take another wicket reducing Silchester to 135-7 and causing yet more elation from the Knights. With the Captain in to bat, he made his intention very clear as yet more boundaries continued to flow. With the Knights desperate for a win, this produced committed fielding from the team as Nick began diving around in slips, Kev managed to pull/tear a leg muscle (can’t remember quite what he did but it hurt… a lot) and Franklin even attempted to stop a boundary by diving over the line into a nearby bush.

Although excellent to see, it didn’t change the scoreboard as runs still continued to flow, only Pete managed to keep hopes alive with another crucial wicket, bowling batsmen 9 for 6 and Silchester now needing 30 runs to win. With Franklin finishing an excellent and difficult spell, Kev now entered the attack and instantly found form of the previous season, bowling difficult tight lines to the batsmen. With the Captain still scoring at a high strike rate, it was clear his wicket was to be critical if the Knights were to win. An excellent delivery however then saw the ball skying into the air towards Lee… through an excellent show of skill, knowing that this was the chance to be the hero of the team, to secure the win and save the game…… Lee managed to lose the ball in his hat and amateurishly only managed to palm the ball away to prevent it hitting his face.

This drop certainly caused the Knights to lose momentum as all now felt that was the moment for the game to be won or lost. Lee was so dishevelled even, some say even tears could be seen. 164-8 and it looked as if the game was lost, until Kev produced an excellently pitched delivery to wipe out batsmen 10 for only 9 runs. With Pete’s spell finished, just over 10 runs for Silchester to win, and the Knights looking very edgy knowing that this was now the closest game in the club history and quite possibly for a significant duration of the clubs future…. Nick Franklin came on to bowl. With Nick struggling for form of late, there was certainly some anxiety across the pitch. At 170-9 and the Captain back on strike, a couple more boundaries and all this hard work would be for nothing. With the Captain only managing to hit a single, Nick then produced the delivery of his life as the ball pitched into an awkward area with the number 11 only managing to hit the ball with his pad. Well as you can imagine the Knights appeal probably could have been heard back at the Cleveland, and as the Umpire raised his finger the image could only be compared to that of the England team at the conclusion of the Trent Bridge Ashes match. The Knights went wild, and Nick almost got bundled into the pitch from the team’s elation. A win by only 4 runs and certainly both Nick and Lee emerged as heroes. However much credit must also go to Chris and Pete for an excellent spell of bowling as well as Sam for providing a much needed support role in difficult hot conditions to produce what would be a very critical 49 runs. A truly inspiring team performance and a fantastic way to end the season, looking forward to a long winter of little cricket, hopefully this match will serve as a memory of the real achievements and team spirit the Knights possess.

Knights Valley vs Hawkley Match Report

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.

Knights Valley vs Overton III Match Report

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…**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:

Ian mom

Knights Valley vs Liphook & Ripsley III Match Report

So albeit a yellow rain warning for the south; the Knights were to travel to West Sussex for their next “Hampshire” Cricket League fixture against Liphook & Ripsley 3rds. Arriving at the Cleveland, readying ourselves for what was most likely to be a long drive for another thrashing or abandoned match; the Knights were insulted at the usual car park being invaded by wedding guests at the nearby church. This irritated Dave so much that he even shouted “don’t do it” in earshot of the Groom…. so on that awkward note the Knights decided it best to leave for the ground. After a long drive and Dan most likely losing some of his hearing from the deafening music from in-car DJ Pete, most of the Knights arrived on time.

Following a pitch inspection resulting in an assessment of short boundaries and a rock-hard surface, it was good to see Lee lose the toss meaning the Knights had to field first. With the Knights preparing themselves, a situation was beginning to unfold…. Ian (as usual) had yet to arrive with what he had described to be a cross between a sexual athlete and David Gower’s cousin. A short call found him to be down in Cocking (only Ian would find himself lost in such an aptly named village), and after Chris almost rerouting him to Kent… the Knights faced the real possibility of starting the match with only 9 men. However through coaxing his built-in Sat-Nav, (which knowing Ian I’m sure was installed with a provocative voice), he arrived at the ground just in time to sledge the team and slightly assault Franklin before the start.

Now thanks to Barber intelligently leaving the Scorebook in the back of his car, and forgetting to photograph the opposition’s book, this part of the report can only be done from the realms of my memory. Starting up, Pete opened with Chris for the usual pace attack; unlike last week the Knights quickly struck with Chris’s second over taking a fine glove through to Barber. With the scorers realising that this could be an active innings, they decided to make notes on the bowlers in order to easily differentiate them; thus for the purpose of the match report I find it only fair to continue this. So with Pot Belly continuing with his pace attack including lofting the ball over the batsmen and Barber’s head, as well as some more quick edges; the scoreboard began to quickly increase. With Ian’s sexual athlete (ie. ex Swan Green player Mike), playing a vital role in slips, Chubby Barrel Chest continued the pressure up the hill (even assisted with a powerful and painful piece of knee fielding from Matt).

Unfortunately at this point the weather hit and a rain delay ensued. However contrary to what was thought in the changing rooms, the Innings quickly resumed after only 10 minutes. With Barrel Chest being saved for a few Overs later on, Nick ie. Slightly Chubby (we’ll shorten it to Chubs for now) entered into the attack.  Donning a West Indies shirt, the opposition were unsure of how fiendish the bowling would be, and this was reflected by the slight reduction in run rate. However it was Pot Belly whom was next to strike, with a well-planned over foxing the batsmen, the sixth ball saw the number 3 bowled for only 8 runs. With Pete now finishing his bowling spell, it was Sam who entered the attack next and through using some extra pace to take advantage of the bounce, the Knights maintained pressure on Liphook’s batsmen. With Nick bowling the dangerous remaining opener through the usual unplayable straight delivery, it was agreed a bowling change was needed for the new batsmen. To this effect Ian (the butler) entered into the attack which certainly stirred up a batsmen/bowler dual. With the batsmen trying the straight drive leading to Ian taking one to the shoulder and another to the foot causing him to fall; it was clear a response was to come from the big man. Well the Butler certainly gave this a good try through awkwardly hitting the batsmen and then almost achieving a stumping… if only DRS was available in Regional 3, maybe a suggestion for the next HCL AGM?

With Sammy using an excellent (as always) delivery to dismiss batsmen 4 for 38, the Knights then realised that amidst the banter, the bowling Overs had slightly been miscalculated. Thus our esteemed Captain decided that this would be the time to bring himself on to bowl. Taking on a challenging opposition in poor conditions, our Captain decided that his pace would be the best pick of the bowlers, well with the fielders moving out it was clear I was not the only nervous Knight behind the stumps. However, simple as his bowling was, it was not a complete disgrace with a savage short ball hitting Barber, and a couple of edges leading to some dramatic flying dives from Pete and Dan in slips.

With Lee deciding to continue his spell, a proper bowler in the form of Chubs (Nick) entered back into the attack and was immediately effective with a stumping shortly followed by another batsmen out LBW. However with Lee still allowing the batsmen to help themselves to more runs, as the Innings was drawing to a close, both Sammy and Barrel Chest returned to try and gain quick wickets before the end. Mr. Cansfield at number 7 certainly realised the need for more runs onto the score, and looked for big shots against Sammy. Going for a maximum Mike ran in for the catch; well fortunately (although not gracefully) Mike was an athlete of sorts and after tripping over, he recovered himself well to take the catch one handed.

With Sammy bowling the next batsmen for a golden and Chris also bowling batsmen 8 on the next over, the final wicket partnership managed to survive to the end of Innings and Liphook finished on 206-9. Following an excellent Tea consisting of an array of homemade cakes, sandwiches and Jam doughnuts; with steam coming from the changing rooms having everyone worried what Ian was up to (although it was actually Matt in the shower), the Knights prepared for the next Innings.

With Barber assuming position in the Scorehut to find a fellow scoring buddy from the opposition. This week it was Dan and Matt to open the batting, and the Knights were slightly nervous of another sub 100 sham of a batting display. A steady start and the Knights reached 22 off the first 5 Overs. Typically however the Knights needed to create anxiety for their batting display and Matt was soon after caught for 9 runs. Still steadily ticking and Barber having all sorts of philosophical debates with the scorers such as why byes are triangles and how best to mark and record runs from wides/no balls, the Knights reached 33 off 10 Overs. With Liphook now looking for a new tactic, a short pace delivery walloped Dave straight in the ribs. However little did they know of Dave’s Scottish army background, so this was little than a wee graze for him.  Soon after however Dan seemed slightly too keen for runs before thinking better of it, although this left Dave stranded halfway down the wicket for a simple run out (it seems running out batsmen is becoming a unique skill for our openers).

46-2 and Liphook employing a slow bowler, it was crucial for Chris to assess the bowling and play himself in. Naturally this instantly led to a couple of top edged shots expertly placed between the fielders. With Dan still batting sensibly and Chris now fully using his chubby barrel-chest, the Knights began to rocket along, quickly surpassing the 53 of last week. Through many powerful 4’s from Chris (including a 4 he had to run), it was Dan next to fall after a truly sterling performance scoring 45. Pete now at the crease would he now use his head to play himself in and steadily support Franklin…… oh of course not and 4 balls later, he was dismissed for 3 going for a big heave for 4.

As Lee “the looker” approached the crease, Franklin at this point had quickly surpassed 50 as he single handily played the bowling with distain whilst outscoring our entire team total from the previous week. However with the weather darkening, the storm approaching (and Ian doing a rain-dance of sorts), Chris was dismissed through struggling to see the ball brining debutant Mike to the crease. With Barber now trying to calculate the rain affected target whilst padding up at the same time, Lee and Mike held their wickets surpassing 160 after 28 Overs.

Unfortunately after Lee tactically hit the ball into the hedge, the storm ensued and the Innings was curtailed; however due to Franklin’s smash and bash performance, the Knights won on run rate securing much needed points to guarantee safety from relegation for the following season. With the Knights impressed at Barber’s ability to calculate a win (so much so that Matt even felt the need for a playful swat), everyone began the long journey back to the Cleveland. Due to not reaching the pub till gone 9, entertainment was limited; however the Knights did take the time to find out more of Ian’s past whilst enjoying 3 jugs of beer from Chris and the salted nuts provided to Barber. A sterling performance and a much needed win, and following Chris’s 3 jugs of beer we certainly hope he does this well more often. Next week we host Overton III at Knightwood so hopefully we will take this confidence forward into the next fixture.

Knights Valley vs Odiham & Greywell II Match Report

This week the Knights were at home challenging top of the league Odiham & Greywell II. Arriving early at the ground we were surprised to see the opposition had already arrived and began starting pre-match warm-ups; clearly this combination of professionalism, determination and youthfulness already had the Knights deeply concerned about the match ahead. The Knights however did perform their own preparations including making a team hash of constructing the scoreboard, being in complete awe of Barber’s new shorts, and throwing a ball for Dave’s dog Frank. With the Wicket looking in good condition, Lee winning the toss decided to bowl first (although it’s questionable whether this was done for tactical reasons or just to make a game of it).

So with Odiham ‘steamrolling’ previous opposition, the Knights would certainly be looking for quick wickets to remain competitive whilst also restricting the Batsmen to fewer than 200 runs. With Pete and Chris forming the usual pace attack… 17-0 off 2 Overs and Lee was already saying “it’s going to be a long day.” As Overs ticked by and both opening Batsmen showing a level of class higher than Regional 3, there was a concern the Knights were to join the ranks of Odiham’s previous opposition chasing 260+. 10 Overs in, 50-0 and the fielding sporadically changing, Denis entered into the attack. Although slower bowling produced some less convincing shots from the Batsmen, the momentum of the game certainly remained with Odiham whom although almost lofted a shot into Keyworth territory, had amassed 86 off 15 Overs.

Although Pete was certainly bowling quickly, the Batsmen were equal to it and thus it was decided to change to a dual slow bowling attack as Sammy entered to support Denis. With the first opener reaching 50 and the Knights less than halfway through the Innings, thoughts of a Tichborne Park situation certainly began entering the player’s minds…. however Nick Franklin was not present at Tichborne and an LBW shout in his second over led to the Knights first wicket. With the Batsmen frustrated and Chris deciding that aggravating the opposition was a better tactic through waving him goodbye, the Knights now had the much needed breakthrough as Number 3 approached the crease.

With the run rate slowing down the Knights certainly capitalised with the new batsmen only lasting 4 Overs before subtly edging a great ball from Sammy through to Barber. Yes, Barber did take a catch off spin (and Chris was so surprised he waited till the Batsmen has pretty much walked off to ensure it was caught), however all I will say is that it was fortunate the ball didn’t deviate. Number 4 at the crease and the Knights were now successfully reducing the run rate whilst finally creating pressure on Odiham’s batting line up. With Dan firing the ball over the bowlers end on previous throws, the pressure got the better of the batsmen whom after seeing Dan about to do another throw decided to take a second run. However this time the throw came Barber’s way and through being on target, an easy run out was achieved.

With the Knights now back in the game and the Odiham youngling approaching the crease, Pete warmed up to bring his pace back into the attack. Although the youngling showed stubborn resistance, Pete’s pace did encourage the remaining opener to go for a Knightwood maximum; however lofting the shot too high, Matt ran in for a catch and the ground went silent (in quiet confidence I’m sure). With Matt finding serious fielding form, he held a critical catch and Odiham were now 159-4 with only 10 Overs remaining.

With the batsmen now constantly changing, Denis continued this pressure through intelligently encouraging the youngling to play (obviously his favourite) the sweep shot. Through a mistimed judgement this led to a comfortable catch to Dan followed by another edged catch to Barber 2 balls later. This now placed the opposition at 164-6 and the momentum was certainly back with the Knights..

This quick burst of wickets now placed Barber needing only 1 more catch for a jug. With Matt now on the opposite end of the field and Kev still on holiday, it looked unlikely whether Barber would be able to escape with another jug avoidance. With batsmen 6 still steadily hitting runs, it was batsmen 8 who was next to go through edging a catch through to super slip Denis whom demonstrated (yet again) his quick reflexes. 38 Overs and 187-7 on the board, Sammy now added to the momentum by encouraging the Batsmen to look for big shots to advance the score. This caused a chipped shot to Lee with silence yet again falling across the ground. Fortunately Lee through watching a fielding lesson from Nasser Hussain actually caught the ball and Odiham were now 190-9 with Chris saying “what would the odds be of all Payne’s taking a catch”. With the number 11 deciding on an agricultural approach Odiham managed to reach 209 on the last over. However this was until another catching opportunity was presented to Lee… well the odds for all 3 Payne’s catching was low, but 4 maybe was a bit farfetched. Certainly on this opportunity Nasser’s lesson was long forgotten as Lee instead did what could only be described as a one-handed palm similar to that of a volleyball manoeuvre. So even at 209-9, the Knights were still pleased to restrict Odiham to a chaseable total as both teams went in for teas.

Following another excellent tea from Denis, the Knights now prepared to chase down Odiham’s respectable total. Fortunately this week, Steve was back in the side so the Knights were hopeful of a significant partnership from the openers. Beginning the Innings the Knights steadily accumulated 6 runs off the first couple of Overs. However at the sidelines, Dave was bemused at Franklin doing the Scorebook and Barber padded up to go number 3… surely a cunning plan was in action here? (although more likely Lee just wanted to reinvigorate the team’s ability to watch a spectacle similar to drying paint). Well in the third Over of the Innings the fun really did begin with Dan lofting a catch to be dismissed for a duck.

With Barber approaching the crease, Steve gave me a run-down of the bowling so far.. “this first bowler doesn’t do anything, but the other guy turns it in, turns it away, varies his flight and has an arm ball, good luck.”…. Well I had no idea what an arm ball was but I could surmise it was probably tricky to play. However on my second ball from the first bowler, a very rare and unspeakable event happened, so rare in fact that Umpire Pete held his face in disgrace and Franklin was made to look a fool on the sidelines for showing confidence in my abilities. As match report writer I can’t bring myself to discuss this dismissal any more, but for those interested on why this was such a rare feat, please feel free to check the Play-Cricket Scorecard.

So, Lee at the crease now and the team were in desperate need of a Captain innings to remain competitive. Myself on the other hand was having an awkward confrontation, whereby Franklin was willing to place his life on the line by refusing to leave the scorer’s table. With Odiham’s scorer thinking she was with a right team here and even commenting how keen everyone was to relieve Pete and Nick as Umpires; I went to de-pad and also look for an implement of some sort to physically remove Chris from the book. With only a few more balls, Steve was given LBW from the spinner (must have been this arm ball thing), and then Matt was Bowled on the next over from what I guess was another straight delivery.

17-4 and an all too familiar situation for the Knights, Pete approached the middle for what we were hoping would be a similar batting display of last week to bring some momentum to the Innings. Well this was attempted first ball but was pre-empted by the fielders whom were ready for the catch adding Pete to the line of ducks for the day. 21-5 and Dave was now at the crease; with a win now pretty much out of the question and the Knights looked at the potential of padding Frank up in desperation for more runs. With Chris now surrendering the book to Barber at the look of tears from his scoring withdrawal symptoms, Dave was showing a welcome sign of solidity at the crease. This ended however when Lee was Bowled soon after, and our esteemed Captain trudged back with only the accolade of a top scoring 14. 33-6 and what was looking to be yet another new lowest score for the Knights, talk was already happening of getting out for the pub.

With Sam at the crease and Chris already summarising the innings as a complete write off (good positive thinking considering he was still yet to bat), Sammy was only able to last 2 Overs from the opening bowlers onslaught before being Bowled for 3. Franklin now in to bat and I doubt sticking around for runs or points was on the agenda, an excellent tactical leave on his second ball was soon followed up by a skyed top edge from a leg glace dismissing him for 1 run. At 38-8 Denis was now in to bat, however showing distain from past higher level experience, he played this (challenging?) bowling with ease. A much needed contribution which allowed the Knights to surpass 50 and at least achieve a batting point, however Dave was unable to push on at this point and edged a ball behind to pretty much wrap up the innings. Only Nick left to bat and Sammy showing encouragement saying “For F*** sake Nick just get out so we can go for a beer”… a golden duck and the Innings was finished with the Knights finishing on a sterling total of 53 runs.

So going to the pub to drown our sorrows, conversations began sensibly with a review of the match and discussions of a Knights Valley golf day. However as most of the team left, the topics soon changed to University tales and even Chris divulging the real reason he likes Melons as well as micro-waved Grapefruit. All I will say is that if you see him using a large cork borer on a melon at teas next time… make sure Ollie is nowhere nearby. So, again not our best performance and hopefully we will not repeat this against the similar strength of Liphook & Ripsley next week. To finish I have noticed talk about a team photo, although I realise this was not the best time, I was able to photo a few of the team to add to the gallery… until next time:

ducks in a row --spring

Knights Valley vs Compton & Chandlers Ford III Match Report

This week the Knights had to return to the old, dreaded Winchester haunt to challenge Compton & Chandlers Ford. Given the difficulty of upcoming fixtures, a win today was crucial if the Knights wanted to comfortably hold the mid-table position. With half the team arriving at the Cleveland, the Knights moseyed over to the ground at their own paces. Being keen Sammy had arrived early at the ground and was just relaxing in his car before hearing the sound of booming music, engine revving and an unfamiliar car blasting up the short road. Well it seemed clear what Sammy was thinking at this point “who on earth is this wa*****”, before realising it was his friendly teammate Barber accompanied by Pete as in-car DJ (although many modern tunes were boomed out the stereo surely Barber was hoping ABBA would have been in the mix).

With the rest of the Knights following behind, the team approached the middle to join Dan for the pitch inspection. Well it was clear Winchester hadn’t improved following our departure as it appeared to have been attacked by something similar to that of “the Birds” due to the amount of holes present. So stifling heat, another sh** pitch, a colourful changing room and Ian Messenger still to arrive…. certainly this was to be another standard day of cricket ahead for the Knights.

With Lee winning the toss and electing to bowl first, the Knights began pre-match warm-ups for a long hot day in the field. This included underarm throws to Barber, tossing the ball at Dave’s sore shoulder and Lee going to the nearby bushes to do what seemed to be some tossing of his own. Starting the day, the Knights were to use their usual opening pace attack with Pete taking first over down the hill. From speaking to previous opposition, these match reports do appear to have a small following, (God knows why as Pete even thinks they’re unreadable in parts) and it was clear the opening batsmen had been doing so due to trying to achieve his first runs through edging behind. However Barber had certainly had his Bisto before this match and finally caught a Batsman out for the first time in 6 matches with a good one-handed dive.

Number 3 at the crease and it was clear that taking time and playing defensively was out of the question as he continued to swing at every delivery put down by Pete. Thus to maintain the pressure it was crucial to restrict the remaining opener or to even take another quick wicket. Well through foxing the Batsmen with a slower delivery, Franklin did just that with an excellent LBW decision. 24-2, a new Batsmen at one end and what resembled the mental strength of a headless chicken at the other. With another aggressive flurry of shots against Pete, the new Batsmen decided to try and emulate this against Chris; however this only resulted in an edge and a fairly routine but well-taken second catch from Barber.

Feeling the need for wickets, it took only 4 deliveries on the next over from Pete to halt the remaining opener’s flurry of runs; through an intimidating short ball hitting the Batsmen, this led to a debate of whether he was out Bowled or Hit Wicket. 29-4, opposition Captain at the crease and the Knights now looking in a strong position, this signalled a bowling change with Ian Goozee and Sammy entering the attack. With the opposition beginning to settle and reaching 52-4 off 12, the Knights were still in danger of a large partnership forming. However Sammy realised this and produced an excellently pitched delivery to bowl batsmen 6 for 14. 63-5 and another small partnership began forming with Compton reaching 77 off 21 Overs. Although a good performance so far, it was crucial that the Knights continued to take wickets to restrict the opposition as much as possible. With Ian struggling with his length and the opposition Captain looking comfortable, it was Sammy who created the chance through causing a poorly timed lofted shot. Things looked positive until the team realised Ian Messenger was under the ball and a look of anxiety befell the team, so much so that Dave even turned away (although I’m sure it was to escape the glare of the sun). Through great technique the catch was taken comfortably and we were all relieved at least one Messenger was able to take the ball.

With Compton now deciding to use a Twyford tactic of sending a youngling into bat, Pete let go a tactical run (tactical my arse) to let him keep the strike for new bowler Nick. Well the youngling’s eyes certainly lit up against Nick’s bowling and through blasting it at Franklin, a reflex catch saw him dismissed. The youngster certainly seemed miffed at this dismissal, through a combination of the possibility of no ball and the fact Chris had finally caught something. With the youngling getting gobby and Chris looking for his Dad, the Innings continued with Compton only reaching 86 after 25 Overs and the Knights looking to restrict yet another team to a low score.

With Sammy finishing another excellent bowling spell, it was finally time, what the whole team has been waiting for; Ian Messenger entered the attack. With Ian’s leisurely bowling style, he was instantly beating the bat for pace and causing trouble for the Batsmen; however this was until they learnt the art of patience which then spelt the end to his spell. So after another much needed drinks break and a short session of cloud cover which was so well received Lee said he was twitching….. Pete returned into the attack. Unfortunately for Pete, the Batsmen instantly abused his Achilles heel through edging 4’s as opposed to trying proper shots (including Lee helping one along with his foot). With Compton now on 105, it was down to Nick again to find the breakthrough and like many of the chances today the Batsmen lofted a shot high into the air. Well this chance was challenging as it caused panic for Barber; distressed at no Kev to call, horrified at the thought of having to run in the heat, and the possibility of having to open his wallet for a jug at the pub. Fortunately for the Knights, Matt had quickly recognised Barber’s look of distress and charged in himself to take the catch; through expertly watching the ball and solidly taking the catch on the slide. A great catch but this in itself was bemusing given the woes of Twyford and Crown Taverners, so much so that Chris even decided to make this verbally known to the outgoing Batsmen by saying “you don’t know how unlucky you are mate.” (Always makes me proud to see what a supportive and inclusive team we have.)

So only 2 wickets left, Pete still bowling to the Batsmen’s edge, Chris now returned into the attack. At 126 the Batsmen saw an edge to Lee and instantly decided to run, well this required a good throw from Lee and competent keeping from Barber; although the Run Out was managed it was oh so nearly a shambles and it was a good job the Batsmen were not too quick on their feet. So Pete (still) watching edges go for 4 and finishing his spell, it was now down to Chris to hunt for the last wicket. Following his brother diving over the ball on a previous chance, Barber feeling too tired and hot to move and Lee being… well Lee, catching opportunities were looking unlikely. To this extent Pete moved himself into slips and through some excellent reflexes took a great one-handed catch behind Barber (whilst almost using his spare hand to push Barber out of the way to give himself more space). So 133 all out, the teams left the field to find some much needed shade and enjoy the teas.

Teas possibly could have been better, clearly being baked in the sun the Knights tried to enjoy some dried sandwiches, cake and melon (which even Chris didn’t like!!!). With the Knights still enjoying the shade, so much so that Ian even went to sleep in it; thoughts now turned to chasing down a very catchable 134 target. Waking Ian, the Knights prepared themselves for the next Innings with Dan and Dave opening the batting. With the opening bowlers not looking overly special, as usual the pitch instantly played a part against us with Dave being bowled for 1 and the Knights already 1 down at the second over. Lee at the crease and the Knights making a slow start, it was crucial at this stage to keep wickets to form a good partnership. Well 7 Overs in and the Knights were making their usual collapsing start with Lee being victim to the pitch kicking one up and causing him to be bowled for 5. Matt at the crease and Dan lofting short a few shots, the Knights were beginning to look nervy at the sidelines. Well after what felt like another age, the Knight’s nerves were heightened as Matt was bowled for 2 and the Batsmen seriously falling behind the run rate after amassing only 29 in 13 Overs.

Sammy at the crease… 1 over and 1 run later, a quick trigger finger from Nick and the Knights were on 29-4. Pete approaching the crease and the Knights looked as if this game was to join the list of our usual 74-82 run collapses. Well Pete certainly felt a run rate increase was necessary and didn’t mess around with his first over on strike being dispatched for 12 runs. Further to this it appeared Pete’s aggression invigorated Dan who now also began scoring at quite a prolific rate. With what appeared to be some much needed life injected into the Innings, the Knights quickly surpassed the dreaded 74 runs, so quickly in fact that Lee and Barber were even squabbling over whose Scorebook was correct (and of course mine was correct every time 🙂 ).

Unfortunately getting lost in a flurry of attacking shots, Pete’s cameo came to an end on 21 with the Knights now 89-5. With Goozee now in to bat and Ian Messenger looking horrified at the thought of padding up, the Innings resumed. With Dan getting very hot and tired in the heat, Goozee needed to keep the board ticking, however 20 balls in and it appeared clear Dan was to do the bulk of the work for this next partnership. After reaching an excellent half century Dan was now in the predicament that there were not enough Batsmen to warrant retiring as well as no Steve to run him out like at Tichborne. Thus forgoing a lie down, Dan had to dig deep to stay in whilst keeping the scoreboard ticking to edge the Knights ever closer to victory. With Dan gasping, Goozee blocking and both Barber and Lee still squabbling, the Knights reached 100 at 25 Overs and the momentum of the match had now certainly turned again into our favour. With the bowlers continually changing to little effect and Dan now realising that Barber is not always the slowest batsmen to partner with, Goozee finally got off the mark nicely enough to give Dan strike for the next over. 126 on the board, Goozee fell LBW for only 3, bringing Chris to the crease for the last few runs. As he walked to the middle, pools were going on whether he would steadily keep his wicket to slowly knock the runs off or instead risk a batting point by wildly swing at everything…. well with his brother’s laughter at this question needless to say what happened next…. Strike 1.

Aside from a massive swing and miss first ball, Chris’s other wild swings did connect and the Knights won with 4 wickets to spare. However given the F*** up from most of the Batsmen, much credit must go to Dan for a hero’s innings scoring 69 not out in sweltering hot conditions. At the pub, the evening festivities included Sam’s jug from last week, discussing the possibility of partying round Matt’s empty house and Ian enlightening us on his view of Japenese women as well as offering his salted nuts to all interested (…… says nothing). A great effort for the Knights and a much needed win after the sham of last week; however next week’s fixture may prove a stiff challenge as we host top of the league Odiham & Greywell at Knightwood.

Knights Valley vs Overton II Match Report

From my (limited) knowledge of cricket theory, a team consists usually of 5 batsmen, a wicket-keeper batsmen, a few all-rounder and 3 or so bowlers. However today the Knights were going against this theory with the team instead consisting of 2 batsmen, 3 or so all rounders, 4 bowlers, a specialist?….ok just a glove man and Ian Messenger (for comic value and sledging). Thus competitively this match against Overton II’s could prove a challenging fixture for the Knights. Setting up at the ground the Knights warm up routine consisted of enjoying Caramel  ice creams from Nick (excellent way to enter the team), generally abusing Barber and discussing how Frank may be useful as an 11th man (dog) if were short.

With the ground safely prepared and Dan keeping a watchful eye on the chairs, as our usual Captain was getting lashed at a wedding, Dennis assumed the captaincy role. Aware that we now had someone with extensive cricket experience at the toss, the Knights seemed happy at the prospect of bowling first in the hope of restricting Overton to a low total.

So in the stifling heat and Barber already sweating it out under his helmet, Pete and Chris were to open the bowling looking to cause pressure from their pace attack. With a quick single from the opener, the second batsmen felt he needed to make a stand against Pete and attack him from the off. This strategy seemed ok until Pete’s 6th ball whereby a mistimed loft sent Dave into action; well.. I’m sure the avid readers of these reports are already aware of our top drawer quality, but this catch would have given Scotland’s new captain Kyle Coetzer something  to think about… an excellent catch on the dive followed by a shout of “get in there” from Dave taking the first wicket and leaving Barber wondering if he’ll be able to retain the magic moment award for the third year.

With continued intensity from Pete and Chris, and the number 3 batting more sensibly, Overton managed to reach 31 off the first 10 Overs. With the temperature continuing to rise, and Ian Goozee’s tea towel cravat still damp from its pre-match soaking, he entered the attack to replace Chris before getting too hot. With Pete still pressuring the batsmen through an excellent display of pace (whilst also shaving the bail through a near miss), the batsmen looked to accelerate the run rate through Goozee which led to another lofted shot this time taken by Dan in a much more simple fashion (and without the need for benches or chairs).

Pete keeping the pressure with another excellently bowled wicket; at drinks off 15 Overs, Overton were now 53-3 with the Knights looking to really put the squeeze on the runs. Following drinks a short lull began forming with Batsmen starting to accumulate runs and Chris skilfully timing his slide over the ball allowing it to go for 4. At this point Pete readied himself for his last over and through a top demonstration of fitness coupled with a quick short delivery, this led to a solid catch from Dennis and the big wicket of the opposition’s number 3 whom had amassed 39 runs against us. A good effort by Pete whom yet again has saved himself from excessive banter and sledging from the match report…….but only time will tell for how long.

Pete now finishing his spell and probably needing a lie down, Sam entered the attack alongside new bowler Nick Franklin to keep the wickets tumbling. With Overton reaching 83-4 off 21 Overs, the concern was they were still in an excellent position to accelerate and possibly exceed the 200 run mark. Straight after drinks, Sam immediately got the measure of the batsmen and instantly a catching chance was offered to Chris, however unlike Dave, Chris made a somewhat ungracious dive landing in what looked like a painful fashion to the laughter of his caring brother Nick. However what this has solved through our multi-national team is the ongoing debate of whether Scotland or Wales produces the best cricketing talent.

Realising catches were not on the agenda (especially with Kev and Ian playfully squabbling in slips an Barber palming the ball down as opposed to taking catches), Sam now decided attacking the stumps was a better solution, and this came to great effect with 2 quick bowled wickets placing Overton at 87-6 and the Knights looking in control with the ball. 30 Overs in, excellent tight bowling from Nick and Sam, Overton only managed to reach 106-6. Overton needing to accelerate, it was key for the Knights to take another critical wicket to maintain the pressure. Again Sammy  in excellent form delivered with another 2 quick bowled wickets. End of the over, Sammy hoping (begging) Nick to take the two wickets in an effort of jug avoidance, Nick through causing the ball to grip and turn into unplayable areas bowled batsmen 7 putting Overton at 108-9. The Knights filled with confidence and Sam promptly wiping out the number 11 and claiming his well deserved 5 wicket haul (and jug for the team), Overton finished on 113 and the teams escaped the sun into the leisure centre for Teas.

Following a delicious tea consisting of a gorgeous iced cake and a mean Swiss Roll, the Knights emerged with Dan and Dave ready to open the batting. With the bowlers using a typical regional 3 tactic of a long run up, pause at the crease and a medium paceish delivery, the Knights immediately surpassed the run rate, achieving 20 runs off the first 5 Overs. However in typical Knights Valley fashion this start was not to last with Dave unfortunately falling first for 3, although I’m sure the ball moved across the wicket, Stato does not take any responsibility for delivery inaccuracies due to only a sideline view  as Dave reminded me following  the apparent movement of the bowling last week.

Looking to continue building the runs, the Knights kept above the run rate reaching 35 by 10 Overs. Feeling a need for shots and getting lost in a flurry runs Dan unfortunately forgot which sport he was playing; obviously his golfing in the morning had an affect on his shot selection and what would have been an excellent pitch shot to the green instead led to an easy caught and bowled dismissing him for 21. Nick now at the crease and the Knights in a delicate position, the new batsmen now needed to hold their wickets and build a partnership… well Nick feeling full of energy instead decided that every shot was a worth a single. However although this certainly worked for him, this unfortunately led to Sammy being easily ran out with the Knights on 39-3. With Chris approaching the crease looking to rebuild the innings, the Knights were still confident a win was in our grasp…… well this was until 3 balls later whereby a mistimed shot dismissed Chris for a duck and now the Knights were seriously worried.

Pete at the crease, the Knights reliving Denmead and Lee frantically calling myself and Dan, obviously using the force (excessive alcohol) to sense our current plight.  With Nick still looking for every single and Pete settling our worries with some well struck 4’s, the Knights reached 50 off 17 Overs. However with the fielding looking sharper and the heat possibly tiring the batsmen, Nick wasn’t able to keep his frantic running any longer, and was run out for 5. Dennis at the crease, and wickets certainly becoming an issue, Overton decided to tighten their bowling as well as the fielding. With Pete looking confident, the new bowler upped his game producing an excellent yorker which was deflected and kept our by Pete. However the bowler was not aware of this leading to a half hearted LBW shout with the Knights looking to Ian for a professionally assessed decision. Well Ian realising the gravity of this decision made his thought process verbal to both bowler and batsmen which was as follows “no no no no……. oh actually I think that was out off you go”, and with such professionalism Pete was dismissed. Miffed as Pete was he should realise by now that following being bowled by the wind against United Services, and given LBW by Marcus Fielder off the bat handle at Baddesley… at this standard anything that beats the bat or hits the pad is more than likely out.

Well with Pete out, this desperate situation now led to Barber approaching the crease for what was unfortunately probably going to be a long innings. 10 deliveries in, Overton shouting how the pressure was building and Dan grinning obviously knowing this was not the case; the scoreboard still ticked over albeit slowly. This was until Dennis lofted a catch bringing Ian to the crease with the Knights at 65-7. With runs still ticking slowly, the sidelines absolutely bored sh**less, Barber hit 3 scoring shots in a row stunning the scorers and showing he was hungry for runs. However this only lasted for another attacking shot before edging it to a nearby fielder. At this point feeling dishevelled I did not see the remainder of the match as I was inconsolable in the changing rooms… although I hear Kev edged (or did he?) the first ball to the keeper and Ian whom was probably ready for action never managed to get off the mark. Thus the Knights finished up on 73 all out, (well what a shower that was and we all thought Denmead was to be our worst score with the bat) and alcohol was definitely needed among the team.

At the pub the Knights reflected on the loss at hand until Chris found out the Cleveland was offering stress balls after purchasing 6 pints of Stowford Press Cider. Well this certainly turned the pub session into a more lengthy affair with Chris using his new stress ball to relax himself from his batting blip and Ian like Kev assuming position as pub storyteller through telling us about his adventures in Japan…. well all I can say is we were glad we didn’t ask about Thailand…. So an unfortunate day for the Knights but at least there were some positives to the match, and next week we look to challenge Compton & Chandlers Ford at our accursed old Winchester pitch.

Knights Valley vs Ramsdell II Match Report

This week the Knights were to play their first game at what is considered to be our true home of Knightwood. With Lee wetting himself in excitement following a pitch inspection a few days ago, this also seemed to brush off on the team who all arrived on time (yes ALL arrived on time for once) to aid in setting up the ground. With set up completed without any dramatics the Knights then began rigorous pre-match warm ups including casual underarm throwing and catching, chasing the club mascot (Dave’s dog Frank) to retrieve the ball as well as a healthy intake of tobacco and Frijj milkshake. Looking to get changed for the match and the warm ups winding down,  Dan decided to prove his fielding ability through attempting a high catch whilst backward clattering through chairs, ungracefully falling over whilst defending his face from the ball… an excellent fielding display and one we were more eager to see in the match.

Assessing the pitch (3 times in Barbers case) there was great indecision whether to Bat or Bowl first, and Lee winning the toss decided through his extensive cricketing experience that bowling was the best way forward. Needing to bowl tightly, the Knights began by utilising the double pace attack of Pete and Chris in the hunt for the first wicket. Through starting with 2 Maidens coupled with tight bowling and fielding pressuring the batsmen, the first 8 Overs only went for 10 runs! Looking for a breakthrough, Chris’s continual pressure paid off, with the batsmen taking the high route producing an excellent catch on the run from Sam. With Pete now finishing his casual warm up and now bowling with some extra pace the batsmen now began struggling leading to an excellent double wicket maiden placing Ramsdell at 14-3 off 11 Overs. Changing the bowling it was agreed Chris’s economy of 1.8 an over was too expensive and Kev now entered the attack. Bowling an excellent Maiden first over, the opposition number 5 decided to take the attack to Pete instead and did so by hitting an excellent 6 which almost cleared the boundaries of the Leisure Centre. However through lashing at every ball, Pete certainly enacted his revenge bowling the batsmen out on his next over.

To keep the Batsmen (and our fielders) appeased, Kev now decided to test the batsmen’s hitting ability which led to a missed catch  (and missed hospital trip) from Dan and Alex using his knee to help the ball over the boundary for 4 (obviously he had discussed fielding with Chris too long during the warm up). With Steve now eagerly watching the match and distracting Lee with his shirtless pecs?, Pete continued his good bowling spell finishing with 2 Maidens, only conceding 11 runs and saving himself from grief in this report… (for now).  With Ramsdell building a steady 5th wicket partnership, drinks were reached at 52-4 with Steve looking to hoard the 8 litres of fluid for the remainder of the match. Changing the bowling attack, Dennis and Sam looked to bowl slower tighter lines to take the 5th wicket and create pressure on the lower order batsmen. With Dan now assuming a close fielding position and the team considering whether fetching a bench to put behind him would improve his performance, the Knights kept on top of the runs with Ramsdell only able to muster 64 off 26 Overs.

Looking to take the attack to the Knights, the opposition began looking more aggressive in their shot selection until advancing down the wicket to Dennis. With a quick change to the delivery, the batsmen missed it and Barber caught the ball… this then followed with a brief pause, taking in the scenery and bemused by the situation Barber held the ball until all that was heard  to break the silence was Sammy bellowing “BARBER!!! STUMPS”. A quick bit of glove-work and the batsmen was stumped, however little did I know that Sammy was about shoulder me over the stumps to provide further encouragement and literally force the stumping. With the new batsmen showing a lack of technique and Chris feeling sexually aroused by my wicket keeping….. the Knights using their new found sense of man love saw Sammy take a quick spell of excellently bowled wickets placing Ramsdell at 76-7.

With Ramsdell reeling and Kev being lightning in the field, showing impeccable timing and judgement through stepping on the ball as opposed to performing the long barrier; the opposition feeling dishevelled lost another two quick wickets and at 84-9 the remaining number 7 hit a lofted shot at Pete and walked off before the catch was even taken.

At the interval all players enjoyed an excellent tea prepared by Chris in the usual notice period of just 6 hours. With an excellent array of sandwiches and even discovering my love for Battenberg cake, the Knights certainly felt good about their performance in the match so far, evidently the co** ups of Denmead and Twyford remained forgotten for now.

With Dan and Dave opening the batting, the Knights needed to hit 85-0 if they were to achieve maximum batting points; listening to stato Dan agreed with this tactic and decided to bat slowly feeling that creating an 85 partnership off 42 Overs seemed a reasonable suggestion (and he wonders why no-one listens to Stato). The opposition possessing a bowler whom thought he was quick decided to instantly look for an injury, pitching the ball directly at Dan’s ribs calling a rightly deserved no-ball from Umpire Kev. With the opposition already riled and calling us a cheat the innings progressed steadily with both batsmen making a steady 33 runs off 10 Overs. Needing a change in bowling, Ramsdell shocked to see the ineffectiveness of the pace attack instead elected their dobbler to bowl and with 1 delivery Dave was dismissed Bowled for 17.

At this point in the innings, Pete had now exceeded his 8 Overs worth of umpiring and was looking to rotate (and certainly would be looking for a while), whilst Barber and Franklin were focusing on the scorebook. According to Tom Smith’s official cricket umpiring and scoring handbook, Cricket scorers must possess a level of concentration, detail and focus to ensure accuracy when recording the match events. However what the handbook does not account for is that of a hyper distracting young child in the form of Lee’s son Ollie. Through a combination of invading the table, stealing Chris’s glasses, clambering over the Scoreboard and squirting Lucozade at Barber, the Scorers job certainly was becoming a challenge.

Back to the cricket, Cameron whom was beginning his last foreseeable innings for the club instantly got off the mark and looked confident to chase down the remaining runs. Dan on the other hand continued to bat steadily, possibly not realising that keeping all the points was not possible anymore. In an attempt to create another breakthrough the opposition brought on another spin bowler G. Prickett. Almost at 50 runs, Dan looked to hit a 4 ball but the bowler had already pre-empted this leading to Dan being caught….. what a pr***. Next was Lee to bat, walking to the middle, the crowd (of sorts) went wild with so much encouragement, Dave saying “see you in a few” and even his wife wishing him a good duck. Lee and Cameron fortunately batted steadily, however at the sidelines Ollie was up to mischief again offending the club mascot Frank leading to much barking (mostly from the dog and a little from Dave).

With Ollie now deciding to trouble the scorers again instead, Lee after blocking 10 balls knew he needed to accumulate runs and through astutely observing the field, decided the best way to do this was to edge the ball over the keeper and slips. With the bowlers changing but the bowling still remaining the same, Lee and Cam continued a steady flow of runs reaching 66-2 at 20 Overs. With Dave now restraining Ollie through use of tying his shorts to a metal pole (more effective than Sam forcibly removing him earlier), at 81 runs Lee looked confident to carry us over the line….. until he missed the ball (must’ve been an “absolute jaffa” like all the balls of previous weeks) and got himself bowled! In all fairness however as pointed out by Sammy if we were to analyse Lee’s Wagon Wheel, the lines would only be in one direction and it wouldn’t be that of the bowler…. well batted skip.

With Alex walking to the middle and the opposition accusing Kev of cheating again, Franklin certainly was looking to get out there (not necessarily to bat), whilst Kev diffused the situation by saying “Oi, your annoying me now”. Alex at the crease, 4 runs to go, the Knights looked to easily win the match without losing another wicket…. well there was speculation maybe Cameron had psyched his brother into hitting the winning runs, but it certainly didn’t manifest itself well in practise with Alex being bowled for 1 and Sam entering to bat with a mere 2 runs remaining. With Barber ready to go in next and Lee saying how he would really look forward to a close finish in the 42nd over (I suspect he may have been slightly sarcastic), Sammy saw off the 26th over with the Knights still painfully on 83 runs. Fortunately Cam had enough of this nonsense and gave himself a great send off hitting the winning 4 in style and achieving the Knights a confident thrashing.

So, excellent bowling from Pete and Sam, and a good steady batting performance from Cam led to the Knights achieving a well deserved 22 points at our new Knightwood home ground. At the pub the win was warmly celebrated with Dan making friends elsewhere, Ollie still continuing his attack on Chris and Barber, Ian coming along just to mock and embarrass his sons and Pete’s younger brother Josh naively placing a bag of chips amongst the squad. A convincing performance and another excellent confidence boost for the Knights, next week we host Overton II at Knightwood again in an effort to emulate our efforts today….. Come on the Knights!!!!!

Knights Valley vs Aldershot V Match Report 23/06

Meeting promptly 5 minutes late at the Cleveland, our next fixture was to enjoy an hour’s drive to play Aldershot V’s at their sports ground. Whilst the whole team were present there was a good conversation including getting the new postcode from Stato, discussing tactics for the game and the current Lions rugby performance; however when the topic moved to football and more specifically Celtic, this signalled time to leave as Kev was about to present us with a full history lesson of the club.

So travelling to the ground, the Finlay vehicle included a professional driving lesson from Kev, Sam and Chris had the rugby playing on the radio and passengers in Lee’s (stolen from Dennis) car probably experienced a ball by ball run through of his previous innings and his thorough game plan for batting today….. so after such a variety of in-car entertainment, the team (after originally arriving on the wrong pitch) finally made it to the ground on time. With Dave off to relieve himself in typical highland fashion, the rest of the team approached the middle for the pitch inspection. With Chris reaching the square first, following his pitch verdict last week of “F*** me”… well I was out of earshot at this point but I think it was a good job the youngsters were too. Looking at the pitch, it was clear it was created through hacking up strips of turf and then placing them like a jigsaw; the holes were so deep that when tested by Pete we would not have been surprised if his finger had been taken off at the knuckle by some aggressive rabbit, rabid mole or something resembling that out of the film Tremors.

With Chris also testing the ground through using his entire hand and widening the cracks by stepping on them, the Knights made sure the pitch was a death-trap before either team could play on it. With the opposition now returning to practice with a traffic (hazard) cone which was probably removed off the pitch before we arrived, we looked to collect the bags from the car before realising Dave had yet to return from his relief in the woods. With the team going to search for him, as we were next to Aldershot army base we were unsure whether he had been ghosted by a Sniper, had seen a guard dog and decided to rein act Dog Soldiers with a bitter dual to the death or had just gone to say hi. However it was clear that Dave was underused not just in cricket by his covert SAS worthy ability to elude the whole team by just remaining in Dennis’s car.

After queuing outside the changing rooms for the opposition to find a key, the Knights then awaited for the result of the toss. Although Lee lost, the opposition captain realising he had a weakened team due to the amount of kids decided to make a game of it by letting us bat first (oh how naive was he). With Lee looking to continue his good performance by opening with Danni the Knights began a steady start with 3 runs off the first over. However the opposition had a secret weapon through using a female bowler; with Lee taking strike we were sure he was thinking about his shot selection, the pace of the ball and his strategy for the day…….well  what actually happened is Lee was thinking closer to leather, lace, types of knickers and other things lost on me and what certainly won’t be included in this report; however this took him so long to consider that he was promptly bowled putting the Knights at 3-1.

Next to the crease was Cameron, whom after a hard night of partying seemed a little sleepy for cricket and after hitting 2 runs against the girl it was clear he couldn’t resist the need for sleep any longer. One can only speculate what Cameron briefly dreamed about at this time but it was most likely something I daren’t put in this report for younger readers. After being bowled out for 2, the Knights on 6-2 and Cameron now worryingly going to sleep in the car to continue his dream…… Matt now approached the crease. However being the more mature brother he showed resilience against the feminine charms.

So at 19-2 off 7 overs, the Knights now needed to build a steady partnership, however this was until the weather turned. With the opposition using the cracks on the pitch to great effect, even hitting Danny (changed letters due to batting well against the female temptation) in the head, this coupled with the rain left him slightly shaken leading to a singular appealed LBW decision from Kev. With the rain worsening, Dave entering to bat, Lee looked to Kev for a rain delay, however Kev obviously still in his youthful football frame of mind and Dave feeling the heavy rain was just a drizzle in comparison to bonnie Scotland… the match resumed.

At 26-3 the team now looked for Dave to show resilience against the talented girl bowler… well he also fell to the charms, so much so we couldn’t even speculate why but it certainly appeared to put a smile on Lee’s face to the point he promptly decided to go umpire at the end of the over. With the bowling now changing, Lee suspiciously wanting to come off and Sammy now steadily supporting Matt, the Knights built the foundations for recovery reaching 46-4 off 15 overs. Hoping we would reach drinks without the loss of another wicket, this was short lived when the opposition bowler Kiscoe, Biskoe?? (I’ll call him Bisto for now) produced a delivery to get Matt caught on 16 putting the pressure on the next Batsmen Pete.  With Pete striding to the crease confident to save the innings, and appearing to be in good touch from recent practice he looked to play himself in by playing a defence on the first ball. Stato being preoccupied at the moment did not see what happened however Matt felt the innings could be summarised diagrammatically and through my report writing skills I have also replicated this even with the look of annoyance Pete had:

DuckyWith the scoreboard reading 50-6 new batsmen Chris decided he’d had enough of this rubbish and began hitting the run trail at the only speed he knows. With Sammy still building a valuable innings and Chris’s high shots now not making it to the boundary, Barber began padding up in foresight of the next wicket. Unfortunately for the team Barber was not wrong and at 86 runs Chris was caught leading to the eventuality dreaded by all Knights (and all cricket players for that matter) alike…. Barber was walking to the crease with 15 overs left of the innings. After seeing Barber immediately defend his first ball, Sammy felt that he couldn’t handle facing such a boring prospect for the remainder of the innings and instead was bowled trying to take the attack to the opposition. At 88-8 and what was looking to be our first away f*** up on the cards (just as we finished playing at Winchester), Kevlar now approached the crease looking hungry for runs.

With Kev envisioning hitting a 6 and being bowled through the opposition making use of Chris’s hand widened canyon before the match… Ian Messenger on his league debut approached the crease “ready for action”.  With Barber using the strategy of carrying the Knights to 100 runs through as Dan described “threatening attacking shots” the opposition decided to use their female influence again to wrap up the match. However they were stunned at the distinct lack of effect this had and the Knights continued ticking along. 90-9, Barber still batting, the Knights so bored that I’m sure Cameron was asleep again as were some of the audience whom Ian said found my innings boring as sh**. Finally at 38 overs with Chris running out of Amber Leaf from such boredom, Ian (whom horrified Pete by his lack of technique even though he was our 6th best batsmen today) was bowled for 4, the Knights making 103 and Barber making 4 not out off 12 overs (ye, Boycott had nothing on this).

With teas being enjoyed by all, the weather improving for the opposition’s innings (as is always the way), the Knight’s took to the pitch looking to bowl and field tightly to salvage a win. With 2 youngsters opening the batting, an inexperienced call for a run, a (deliberate?) misfield by Dave and a surprising quick bit of glove-work from Barber led to the opposition already beginning their innings with a lost wicket. With Pete and Chris bowling quick tight lines the opposition immediately struggled for runs and an excellent in-swinging delivery on Pete’s second over led to placing Aldershot at 9-2.

With the youngsters still struggling and both Chris and Pete bowling in excellent form, the Knights only needed to wait till the 7th over before Pete finding more speed bowled another youngling to keep the match in the balance at 16-3. To repair the damage Aldershot decided to send the (cheery) old boys in to save the game, thus at 19-3 off 10, the Knights decided to let Pete continue bowling but to replace Chris with Kev at the opposite end.  It’s worth noting it was an excellent bowling stint from Chris whom was unlucky not to add to the wicket tally, but he certainly seemed keen to show more contribution through his fielding. With Kev starting steady amidst a few flighty deliveries which were mystically taken higher by the wind…. the opposition still remained behind the run rate until the remaining opening youngster was then dispatched by another Finlay in-swinger now putting Aldershot on 20-4.

Two (the only) older players at the crease,  Ian now feeling relaxed at being able to run the same speed as the batsmen, the game seemed to slow as both Pete and Kev kept the pressure. With the only highlights being Barber stopping the ball with his nuts better than his gloves and Chris deciding to keep the team on their toes by firing the ball not at the stumps but instead the middle of the field for a potential run out, Aldershot reached 32-4 off 16 overs. At 20 overs the Knights still hungry for another wicket, Dave decided that another deliberate lure to the opposition would create the breakthrough, and he wasn’t wrong with an identical run out to the 1st wicket reducing Aldershot to 40-5 putting the Knights in a strong position for the win.

Following a much needed drinks break, Dave and Sammy now entered the bowling attack. With the opposition reluctant to give LBW decisions it was evident the Knights needed to either bowl out or catch the remaining batsmen. Thus fireman Dan now embarked on what was surely to be one of the toughest and most courageous challenges of his life, close fielding with the batsmen starting to have a swing. With Dan stopping the ball through an excellent use of shin and face and Franklin keeping the fielding team alive through diving over the ball, Dave began producing similar Finlay-esque in-swingers and after another turned down LBW, he produced another bowled wicket putting Aldershot on 46-6.

With Sammy now producing deliveries which were hitting Barber in the face as well, the youngster now batting felt intimidated by the potential threats of injury around him and finally chipped up a ball to Danny producing an excellent reflex catch. With the team celebrating the wicket, Ian still talking to the young umpire and seeming to be getting slightly closer to him at the end of each over…. the new batsmen approached the crease before club Policeman Kev had to deal with the situation. Again Sammy’s combination of speed, turn, and fielding pressure produced yet another wicket now reducing Aldershot to 50-8 lifting the Knights confidence for a well salvaged win.

Well… the slightly older number 10 had obviously observed Chris’s batting approach in times of desperation and just simply began whacking the ball. With the scoreboard now racing round, Cameron dropping a high catch (still in dreamworld we suspect), Ian still conversing with the young umpires, the Knights were becoming desperate for a the 9th wicket. Then it happened (no Kev didn’t arrest Ian on pitch), the 10th batsmen skyed a shot to Danny boy and in a moment of horror he dropped it. At the end of the over however it was clear Danielle was disappointed with this effort from his accurate synopsis (Knights Valley word of the day) of the situation…”F***”.

A little more whacking later and Aldershot finally overtook our score which was a disappointment considering they were 50-8 at one stage. With Dave looking to turn out the lights for his shower with Chris, the Knights promptly retreated to the Cleveland from a performance which was described as “bugger” by Lee, a “F*** up” by most or an absolute shower of s***.  So apart from discovering the womanisers of the team, it wasn’t exactly our defining performance. Anyhow next week we host Ramsdell II at Knightwood so hopefully we will christen our new ground with a hard fought win.

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.

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.

Knights Valley vs Twyford Match Report 25/05

Following the emphatic victory of last week, the Knights now looked to continue the momentum against Twyford at home. Looking at the weather Friday there was a concern that Dave’s doggy blanket may be in need again, however with warm sun on the Saturday morning, Lee confirmed we were on pitch 2 and the team converged on our Winchester ground for 1 o’clock. Excited by the prospect of using the top pitch for the first time, the initial arrivals of Pete, Chris, Sam and myself marched to the middle to inspect the wicket and deduced it as being slightly damp and deciding that bowling first would be advantageous. However upon noticing a mystery arrival turning up, the Compton & Chandlers Ford captain stepped out of his Audi and in as many words told us to get off and go down the hill to the lower pitch. With Lee feeling that getting the better parking space was more important than defending our cause, he immediately shot off down the hill and the Knights raced to the second pitch. Upon inspection the second pitch appeared similar except for the myriad of bird pecks, a suspected rabbit digging and other mysterious holes.

To keep professional the Knights immediately began training including myself recently returned into the keeping duties; with the team (and spectator Kev) showing “encouragement” the keeping and general warm ups went well and Lee also typically lost the toss but did come the best out of it with the opposition wanting to bat first. With the opposition openers approaching the crease, the Knights knew that taking early wickets would be key. With Pete looking to capitalise on the performance of last week, a “tactical” bye from me allowed our first wicket to come on the 4th ball with the 2nd opener being bowled for a golden. With Pete looking quick coming down the hill, we knew given the conditions going up the hill would be difficult and Adam entered the attack. Although a few runs were conceded the scoreboard stayed pretty steady before the remaining opener decided kicking a plum ball for runs was the only way to score off Pete leaving the Knights a little nonplussed. With Dave donning a new baggy hat fashion, the number 3 could not help but to target the light blue headwear slicing the slower ball straight to Dave’s domain for a good diving catch. At 12-2, confidence began to build among the Knights and Adam looked to enter the game through proving 3 balls later that the wall is not an easy thing to replicate and a chipped up defensive led to a caught & bowled placing Twyford at 14 for 3 off 6 overs. With the Knights feeling a similar performance of last week, Twyford looked to stem the damage until the number 5 batsmen decided to go for the big shot against Adam which led to a well watched catch from Franklin. With a line of kids padded up on the sideline and Twyford only 30-4, I astutely pointed out to Lee that this game was surely ours and this was now a matter of just bowling out the youngsters. To mix up the bowling Chris and Sam now entered into the attack, however a sort of lull ensued whereby the overs kept ticking and the wickets stopped falling leaving the Knights slightly deflated.

At drinks Twyford has amassed only 63 runs and there was little concern for the remaining 21 overs, however for a youngster he showed inspiring technique to the point where Matt said he was a better batsmen than him and me awkwardly not passing comment. After 24 overs, a new bowling attack was needed to keep the pressure on for breaking this lengthy partnership and thus Pete and “underused” Dave entered the attack. With the youngster showing resilience Pete felt his pride was at stake and that with Kev watching the later banter may be too much to handle and thus felt that beamering and short bowling to the youngster’s head would put him in his place…….4 overs later no wickets taken and Pete asking what’s happened to his economy with Stato not replying with numbers and figures resembling the Enigma code but instead with one word.. “shite”.

With Dave deciding simple bowling would be more effective, the field was brought in and the Knights looked to stem the runs, Dan using an excellent combination of hands/shins and Sam almost turning a nuts defence into an excellent catch. With still no wicket and 119/4 off 32 there was a worry the scoreboard could take off and slower bowler Matt entered into the attack, unfortunately the youngster seemed well versed against it and the runs were restricted with excellent foot usage from close fielder Pete. At 141/4 and the Knights hurting for a wicket, Chris feeling we no longer needed to make a game of it bowled out the remaining opener whom scored an admirable 50. With another youngster approaching the crease the Knights felt fairly anxious at the anticipation of a similar performance and this time my match perceptions were never to be heard again. To keep the pressure on Chris needed to look to take another quick wicket but through saying “oh dear” after releasing the ball little will be said for the result of the next 2 overs. To support Chris, Sam also looked to get onto the wicket tally but with poor keeping encouraging the batsmen to attack and an unlucky boundary drop by Adam, Sams bowling at the end was unfairly represented. To close the match however, Chris was able to exact revenge on the youngster finally bowling him out and followed this up on his final over bowling the number 8 for 6. So last ball of the over, 1 more wicket needed for the 4th bowling point, the batsmen chipped the ball up to close fielder Matt whom waited for the catch………………

Anyway at teas the Knights had been punished by the youngsters with Twyford hitting 192/7, however this was a makeable total and the team now needed to focus for the next innings. With Dennis providing a very nice tea the Knights certainly helped themselves to the plethora of food, however a frustrated Lee was nowhere to be seen and unbeknownst scheming with his little boy was at hand. At a similar time Chris also decided that to prevent the opposition going for seconds, hoarding the fruit would be a prudent idea, however then Ollie emerged from the pavilion and immediately targeted the bowlers and demonstrated Lee’s frustrations by running to kick all of Chris’s recently hoarded food over before then kicking Sam in the face.

To chase this total a solid start would be crucial and Dan and Steve looked to copy the success of last week. With the opposition beginning with simple straight bowling the Knights immediately made a typical start with at 9/2 off 5 overs. With fresh batsmen Cameron and Lee at the crease the team were worried Lee’s bad form would continue, with both getting off the mark in style the Knights felt relatively steady. Unfortunately though after 7 runs Lee’s seemed to reach the limit of his confidence and was bowled sending Dave out to the middle at number 5. If there’s one thing the Knights suffer from it is the dreaded LBW appeals and this culture shockingly seemed already imbued into Dan whom gave Dave out for a duck.  30/4 and Franklin now looked to try and remedy which was quickly becoming a desperate situation. With the run rate slowing and wickets falling, Cameron took the attack to the bowlers attracting a shouted “shot Cam” from Steve… however this conversation took an interesting turn:

Steve: “Shot Cam.”

Chris: “Steve there’s a kid running towards the ball.”

Steve: “Oh ye, Oh dear, Oh jeez Cams out, in you go Sammy.”

 With a new youngster on to bowl, the Knights looking seriously shaky and the fielding side pumped only two words appeared to enter Chris’s mind at the time.. “f*** it” and a serious of whacking (and attempted whacking) ensued including impressive back to back 6’s over a long boundary. Sam however could not replicate this success and was caught and bowled leaving us at 45/6 and the result turning into an embarrassing situation. With Matt entering the crease an 18 run partnership was amassed for the 7th wicket, however all 18 were amassed by Franklin and Matt was bowled for a duck. With Kev now retiring from umpire duties for Lee whom did not feel like a perverse doctor in a white coat among the children, Chris whom was padded up at the sidelines received more encouragement from the team (Sam) including a choice of either blocking out 15 overs or to get out quickly for pubbing. Well 5 balls later Sam’s choice was vindicated and I missed the straight one and got out so shockingly it wasn’t even worth a proper celebration from the other team. With Adam having a good swing at the crease, I sloped into the changing rooms and had a winge to Chris supported by his trademark “ye, ye, ye mate.” So in the 25th over the last wicket fell with Knights Valley’s heaviest defeat through only amassing 82 runs and cringe-worthily the youngsters commenting “well-played” at the handshake.

A strange game with Pete having the most controversial summary saying how we had been dicked by kids… but indeed one cannot ignore their talent and for next week against Tichborne Park it may be worth looking to recruit players from the local schools.. where is Matt’s old camper van when you need it? Anyway best not to dwell on this week’s performance and instead look positively to our next fixture.

Knights vs Basingstoke Match Report

K.V.C.C vs B&N.H.C.C

So the first league match of the year was upon us and waking up to Saturday morning, we found a beautifully sunny day, without a cloud in the sky. Now, with this being England, by 1 o’clock, the heavens opened and the match was in jeopardy. Arriving at the ground, we found a large puddle in the middle of the wicket and thanks to Dave and Frank (the dog) we managed to mop up the puddle with Franks blanket and allow the wicket to dry to an acceptable standard (it never did) and hope the rain would not hamper us again.

With the opposition arriving safely, the 2 skippers plodded out to the middle and decided that a game would go ahead and we would make the best of what we had. Skipper Payne won the toss and decided to bowl, only time would tell if this was a good call or not. It was decided that play would start at 3 on the button and a reduced amount of overs. 36.

A few showers later and at 3 o’clock, Pete took the new ball in hand and rifled down his first delivery of the day. The first few overs of the day proved that the knights could not afford to bowl anything short and when they did, it would be punished by J. Ahuji. The Basingstoke opener smashed away anything slightly short or on his legs and quickly brought up his 50. With messieurs Finlay, Fielder and Franklin all struggling with slippage and length in the wet, sloppy conditions and the batsman hitting runs far too fluently, it was decided that some slower bowling was in order. Pops Payne and Solider Boy McAdam were brought on to try and slow the run rate and maybe pick up a few wickets. The new bowlers did just that, both picking up their first 2 league wickets a piece for the club and showing a great level of control and stemming the flow of runs.

Now the weather was to play a massive part in the days play and play was interrupted 3 times during this first innings and tea was taken during one of these rain breaks.

With the openers removed the wickets would fall pretty regularly now, Sam taking a wicket and a truly epic run out throw from Chris Franklin. Chris’s brother Nick would then join the party in a big fashion. Coming on for the final 2 overs with 4 wickets still to take for maximum bowling points, Nick dazzled us with his pinpoint accuracy and monstrous turn………the first wicket he was to take was remarkable (and if it was me, I would be too embarrassed to claim it) a double bouncing, pea roller type thing and the laugh that accompanied it was equally as remarkable. In just 11 balls Nick took the final 4 wickets to ensure maximum bowling points for the Knights but Basingstoke had hit a good total of 171.

With yet another rain delay, the Basingstoke players were making noises about not wanting to play on as they felt the pitch and wicket had become to unsafe for their 4 younger team members and 2 of their team had refused to take to the field altogether. With Chris and Dave umpiring (not the two umpires you’d want to be up against in an argument) the away skipper tried to press home his reluctance for more play but it was to fall on deaf ears and after a meeting between Umpires and the 2 skippers and Payne reminding the away Skipper that his teams failure to reappear from the changing rooms would result in a forfeit and loss of points and with that they decided to play on and the old Duckworth/Lewis came out to playand a revised total of 163 in 34 overs was needed. Out marched openers Reese and Keyworth, ready to bite a big chunk out of the total made my Basingstoke. a good start was made and at 25 for 0 off of 7 overs another rain delay happened and things started to get tricky.

For a full game to count, the knights needed to bat for a minimum of 20 overs and this was looking a long way off with light not getting any better. A frantic phone call to Stato (Barber, in the library, in Sheffield) he informed us that the new total was 144 from 32 overs and the 20 over total was 97. So after a quick chat between the captains, a 20 over innings was half heartedly agreed upon and the players returned to the field. Just before the bowling resumed there were cries of ‘you can’t decide how many overs you play, it has to be 32 or nothing’. Now, no one really knew what was going on and the senior knights decided to go all out attack and try to get to 97 before the 20 over mark.

So play resumed and the first knights wicket to fall was Keyworth falling victim to a slower ball and finding himself in no mans land and stumped. 37-1 was a good start but it was to go wrong for a few moments with Skipper Paynes woes continuing and not troubling the scores, Dan Keller falling for 1 and Pete out for 2. A truly awful 3, 4 and 5 and then the loss of Reese falling for 19, let the knights deflated but this brought franklin and fielder to crease and the pair did a cracking job of chasing the runs. Fielder continuing his growing batting reputation and Franklin showing his batting power the 97 mark was reached by over 19. During the decisive 20th over it started to rain and the Basingstoke players were overly keen to come off. Persuaded to carry on and the thought of 97 off 20 seemingly forgotten about, the 144 target was now in sight. There was a blow to the knights in over 21 as Franklin shouldered arms to a wide that somehow turned back a mile, going for 23 and McAdam falling for just 6, the responsibility was to fall to Fielder to steer us home. Fielder ploughed on sterlingly but lost a bail by the finest of margins for 30. Matt trudged out looking for some runs and the father son pairing of Matt and Pops were at the crease. They had the scoreboard ticking over perfectly, frustrating the fielding team with singles galore and with 7 overs to go of the allotted 32 and only 25 runs needed, the knights with 1 wicket in hand were sitting pretty and could afford to be picky with scoring…….or could they, as during all this Pete had had his head buried in the league handbook and was beginning to question Statos mathematics (yes,I was surprised too) and after a call between the two, it was discovered the total that the Knights needed was in fact 153 and not 144. Not knowing what to do, keep quiet or make it known, word was given to Umpire Reese to inform the two Paynes about Statos mistake (he will never live this down, what are you studying chris?!) and to tell them to get a move on with the run rate that had now gone up to a run a ball from the final 6 overs……..this was to prove to be a bridge too far as the two Paynes had no choice but to hit out and pops fell for 14. Nick Franklin joined Matt at the crease and was in for all of 3 balls when Matt got caught on the boundary trying to go for the runs and the game was over.

A disappointing loss for the knights and a tough day. Never having been involved in a rain delayed match, this will be good experience for the knights moving forward. The dreaded soft, green and slow pitch came back to haunt us but there were some positives, namely the bowling performances of Pops, Dave and Nick and the batting of Chris, Sam and Matt. We look forward improving our rusty fielding and making up for this loss in the next few weeks!

Newport Gentleman Match Report

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.

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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Denmead II Match Report

Approaching the 8th match of the Season, we were now to host Denmead II at home. Ahead of the final 2 challenging fixtures against United Services and RAM; if we were to get promoted then winning this match would be crucial. However, watching the weather on the morning of the match we were pleasantly surprised to hear that the game was on (well, until we found out that we were playing because the Council needed money). Knowing how to reach the ground this week, we arrived in good time for a pitch inspection and general warm ups. Fortunately the pitch was in good condition and the Denmead captain agreed with this and decided to bat first.

Considering our good record of bowling first, we were also satisfied with this decision and prepared ourselves for the crucial match ahead. Pete (finally) decided it might be a good idea to open from the top end and Sam was more than happy to take 2nd over coming up the hill. With both Pete and Sam seeming to be on good form, we made a steady start with the opening batsmen only able to score at a rate of 2 an over. This however only lasted until the 2nd batsmen took the strike against Pete; it was clear he had not faced the many painful net sessions like ourselves and was completely beaten for pace and Bowled for 7.

With Batsmen 3 at the crease, obviously an experienced player, he saw an easy 4 opportunity through frustratingly edging the ball through slips. With Sam still starving the runs and Pete bowling in good form (and even pushing Kev back to avoid another Hamble incident), the next wicket fell in the 11th over with bails yet again flying through the air. At 27-2, Demead were now in a delicate position as batsmen 4 came to the crease. After the first ball beat him for pace and their Umpire saying “welcome to the game” it appeared the next wicket was not far away. Again Pete capitalised on this again with a bodyline delivery creating a quick edge and good catch from Chris (although the catch was more to avoid that of a hospital trip from either the ball or Pete attacking in an uncontrollable rage).

With Batsmen 5 walking in and the bowling now changing to Chris and Kev, it was critical that we kept starving Denmead of runs whilst taking their wickets. This was until the 18th over where Chris Franklin managed to get the batsmen to top edge a well watched catch to Jason. With Denmead on 49-4 and Batsmen 6 deciding that a helmet may be a good idea, Kev looked to keep the pressure on with his 2nd over. Fortunately he was successful at this and demonstrated his athleticism with a first class diving Caught and Bowled. This top wicket now reduced the batting side to 51-5 and the Knights looked in good shape to restrict the opposition to a low score.

Looking forward to drinks on the next over, Chris kept the pressure on batting side and like Pete fired through a speedier delivery to bowl Batsmen 7 for only 4 runs and at drinks, the opposition were 67-6. With the new Batsmen deciding a no fear approach to batting would be best, he adopted a quicker scoring rate and even managed a reverse sweep against Kev (which almost went for 4 due to Lee being taken by complete surprise).  Fortunately however the other batsmen was now quite so skilled and instead flicked what seemed to be a slow and nervous (to watch) catch from Lee.

With the tail now in to bat and Denmead looking unlikely to make 100 runs. Chris knew that a fiendish delivery could outfox the batsmen; and didn’t he do just that. Through running in too quick, bowling a straight slower ball and then diving onto the ground with sound effects, the batsmen was beaten all ends up and the 8th wicket fell. An excellent delivery showing an element of skill unmatched by the other bowlers of the team.  At 81-8, Pete returned to look for some serious wickets and the first delivery saw the batsmen absolutely cream one to Jason. Although a drop (though would have been difficult at that speed) Jason did perform an excellent nuts defence and at least saved the 4 runs and demonstrating reactions I wish I had in the earlier net sessions. However the next delivery saw the batsmen charge down the wicket to Pete and getting himself bowled in the process, and this was then shortly followed up by the stumps of the number 11 flying out also rewarding Pete with a 6 wicket haul.

At 81 all out, there was an air of confidence at teas that we could claim the win we were looking for. As Cameron was mortally wounded from his top fielding stop on the first over and only 81 to score; it was decided to rearrange the batting order to allow others a chance ahead of the tougher remaining fixtures. With Dennis and Dave opening the batting, it was important to put on a steady 82 partnership to claim the maximum points for the day. However this tactic only lasted till the 5th over whereby we were on 14-2 with both Dennis and promoted Alex returning back to the pavilion.

Following this tentative start, Lee now approached the crease looking to perform a Captains innings. However the partnership soon finished when Dave was caught with the score on 22-3. Faith was now in Chris Barber for the slow steady innings he usually plays; unfortunately, batting like an absolute tool  he was out in 3 balls for 0 and the score was now 24-4 (although at least I looked solid according to Cam). With Jason now in at 6 and Dennis now assuming the position as the Club Medic (always wondered who it was), we were trying to reduce the pain in Cam’s thumb so that he would be able to bat.

With the run rate slowing and the wickets still falling; the next victim was Lee only for 7 runs and now the Knights felt nervous about reaching the challenging total of 81. Pete now approached the crease and looked to carry on his good bowling form with a solid battings innings. This looked good with his solidly hit 4 but also like the others he did not last long and was out 2 balls later. At 28-6 and Steve and Matt now offering their full support of the situation on the phone, Cameron now came in at 8 to try and facilitate a solid partnership. This was looking good until Jason fell with the score on 42. With Sam Fielder now at the crease the immense pain then overcame Cameron who lost his wicket on 43-8. Looking as if a shocking loss was now on the cards, it now all rested on Chris and Sam to try and take us home. Fortunately they both agreed with this and upped their game for the occasion and began to build a solid partnership.

With 8 runs to go and Lee pooping it, the rest of us nervously watched hoping that we were going to scrape through. However the ended when Chris was caught on 17 and now Kev with nerves of steel as if he was about to storm a crack den, he marched out to the crease looking to save the team.  The pitch unfortunately decided not to be favourable to us and a low delivery took his wicket with us being all out on 74 (however well done for Sam for his solid 13 not out). With promotion all but gone and the matches post mortem being discussed over 2 jugs of beer, we now look to put up a good fight against United Services and Ram in order to hold our mid-table position.

Portsmouth Post Office Match Report

With a rare spell of dry weather this Summer, we were all happy to hear that our fifth match of the season would be on.  Upon arrival at our home ground, Lee and Pete decided that today we should mimic a professional side by doing a professional warm-up. Some of us at the sound of this initially had the fear at laps of the pitch; however fortunately this was not the case and instead it was focused on fielding and bowling. This certainly gave a hint to the opposition what our intentions were from the toss (and also on who couldn’t catch!!!);  however instead of doing a warm-up themselves, our opponent’s preparations included discussing their next strike, stamp prices or something more ridiculous than Consignia to call themselves.

As the Captains approached the middle for the toss and Lee again revealed his magic to win it; we elected a bowl (quelle-surprise) and continued our pre-match preparations whilst the opposition batsmen readied themselves. Same as last week, Pete and Sam were to open the bowling, with Pete (feeling he needed the challenge) deciding to take the first over going up the hill. The opening batsmen made a very steady start with only 31 runs being taken off the first 10 Overs (helped along by Adams weak bladder causing us to have only 10 men for 1 of the Overs). Following almost losing a pavilion window from a 6 off Sam; Lee decided that a change in bowling tact was needed to get the breakthrough. To this extent Kev and Cameron now entered the attack. The effectiveness of this decision was soon realised when the first opening batsmen gave a thick edge to Chris (ahem.. Barber) off Cameron’s bowling now putting the score at 38-1 off 13 Overs.

With the Number 3 approaching the crease and the realisation that the 2 best batsmen in their team may be both in the middle, it was key to keep up the pressure.  As both batsmen started to settle, the team’s Number 2 decided another 6 was necessary, however this was slightly mistimed and Alex capitalised on this by taking a very solid catch near the boundary to now place the score at 50-2 with a second wicket for Cameron. As the Number 4 began his innings against Kev, it was clear he closely observed our pre-match warm-up and aimed edges past Lee to get off the mark. As these frustrations continued, we reached the drinks break with the opposition poised at 73-2 off 21 Overs.

With the worry that the opposition were in a very good position to push to 150-200 runs (similar to Ampfield last year), yet another change in bowling attack saw Pete return for his second spell with Adam starting his first at the other end. This proved to be immediately effective with Pete finding a new level of pace and wiping the Number 3’s stumps out to take a crucial wicket at 77-3. With Pete and Adam both bowling solid lines and restricting runs, this caused increasing pressure on the batsmen who only managed to advance their score to 88 at 30 Overs. These frustrations (and Adams swing) then got the better of Batsmen 4 who got bowled for 18 reducing the Pompey Posties to 87-4.  With a sudden burst of initiative from both Captains, Kev now returned into the attack and tore through Batsmen 6 and 7 in 1 Over!!! With the score on 95-6 after 32 Overs, the Knights now began to feel that we had a good hold on the first innings.

With Kev continuing his spell and Sam now entering the attack, the aim was very much to bowl out the tail and claim the maximum for bowling points. However the Number 8 demonstrated that the only cricket shot you need is the sweep, and through many mistimed shots, the opposition’s run rate began to accelerate.  Batsmen 5 liking the look of this tactic also tried to accelerate, however this was to his downfall as he chipped up an easy catch to Chris (which almost got called as Lee’s or Kev’s when the hesitation hit) earning Sam another wicket. At 40 Overs the score was 132-7 and there was pressure to keep the opposition to below 150. With a good run out on the 41st Over and Stevo bowling a delivery to make his fellow spinner Vettori proud (followed up by a rare and surprising stumping from Chris) in the 42nd, the opposition finished their innings at 144-9.

Following a well made tea from Kev (including some very nice homemade muffins and marble cake), we prepared ourselves to chase the exact same total as Vospers earlier in the season. For the second match running, Cameron and Dave opened the batting and looked to put on a solid partnership with Matt, Lee and Pete padded up ready to support. With the opposition realising that they would most likely need to win the match on wickets as opposed to runs, they decided to open the attack by bowling pies. These were easily despatched by Cameron and Dave, who made an explosive start to the innings and took the score to 46 off 10 Overs. With all the opposition just bowling wicket to wicket medium pace, this allowed Cam and Dave’s strong partnership to continue and by drinks break we were now at 91-0.

As whispers spread of a possible 146-0 whitewash, the atmosphere was soon changed by the comedy from Pete’s near vandalism of the sightscreen and also a strange atmospheric phenomenon which instead turned out to be just Jason’s sun blocking fuzzy hair as he arrived to watch the conclusion of the match. Still approaching the win, the mini-dramas continued with Cam suffering from a cramp causing a short injury break.  With Matt looking eager to go in (following his 20 Over practice with Charlie) and Dave proving why National Service should be made compulsory again, Cameron decided to delicately continue.  With the bowling never really improving, Cameron and Dave managed to accomplish the feat of a 146-0 whopping and hitting 68 and 75 respectively. With the Knights elated by this win (and the promise of a double jug later) it was agreed the Man of the Match out of fairness was to be given to Kev for his very tidy and effective bowling performance. Retaining our promotion spot (and avoiding the after match riot from the sounds in the other changing room), we now look ahead to our next match against Denmead where we look to support Pete in his first match as the main Captain.