It's doubtful whether I'm going to be able to write up the blog tonight. I'm putting the score book up, but I'm not sure whether the file is big enough to enable it being read properly, but here it is anyway.....
Anyway - so this was the game that almost wasn't. Boffa and I (MCCC's captain) were still making phone call at 11.30 as to whether it was going ahead. The situation was that at 11.30 I could only muster 6 players of unknown origin for our Sunday 3rd XI and at this stage in the game it looked as though I would be the captain. Michelle at this point was walking around the house with an aire of joy and then she went to Tesco's by the time she'd come back from Tesco's the bags were in the hall along with all my other parafenalia and her demeanor quickly changed to one of displeasure. I knocked up some lunch and then quickly made my exit.
Arrived to Blue skies and white puffy clouds and a slight breeze blowing from the west across the track. I could see loads of big geezers and the Tilbury blokes and a few small boys. Then I spotted Wayne the off-spin bowler, so it looked as though I might have one adult along with the very small boys. Wayne put out the stumps along with a taller lad and I put out the boundary marker and asked him what was happening? Thankfully Wayne had the intention of being the captain, so I lost that responsibility and he also said he'd be the wicket keeper, so that was that sorted, but we were still in a situation where we only had six players. Boffa's lot had 9 or 10 with the word that there were more on their way. There was some discussion that we might be lent some players, but as 2pm drew nearer there was no obvious influx of people so it was decided that we'd bat and if necessary some of us would bat twice in order to play through 11 men and that might allow more time for more players to turn up.
Openers it was decided would be Reece Downes and Callum Sellars (I'd never met Callum before). Callum it turns out is 12 "But I'm nearly 13" and stands about 4'. Reece is 13 and is a bit bigger, but I know Reece has he's a 2nd team regular and a good player. But then for some inexplicable reason Wayne decides that instead of Callum opening I will and that I'd be on strike first. So I get promoted from batting at No.10 right up to number 1!
Pads on and Reece and I make our way to the wicket. In the meantime another bloke has turned up and is on our side - Glen Scott and he's umpiring along with the bigger lad. Wayne and Callum are scoring. Their opening bowler is a behemoth of a man (Ryan Penn), who I overheard was 30 years old. With a big beard and piercing through his chin standing about 6'9' and weighing somewhere in the region of 16 stone. I was scared - so God knows how the small boys felt. I saw the ball in his hand momentarily, it looked like a table tennis ball in red and then it came down the wicket scuffing up grass and earth as it skidded backwards. I let it go (as I always do) and there was the custumary ooohs and aaahs as if it had just missed the stumps or something. Reece came down the wicket saying that if it was that high again hit it because it was clear of the stumps. The 2nd ball came and again I left it, more oohs and aahs, but this time I knew it had been close. Again Reece came down the wicket "You're going to have to hit 'em Dave". I played a few swipes and didn't connect and neither did he. The next bowler came on and Reece hit the ball and got a run, I was on strike now and I hit the ball and got going. Reece hit the next one for 2 and there was a few dot balls and then I was facing the big bloke again. First ball and I was out of there - gone for 1.
Already this is becoming a distant memory and it's only Tuesday!
Wayne was next out shouting instructions to us all about who was doing what, I didn't catch any of what he was saying but I found Callum scoring and he seemed to know what was going on. Wayne did okay hitting a few fours while Callum was getting his pads on in readiness for his innings. At this stage we were still with only 7 players but Callum had said something about someone was going to collect some more players - I was hoping for some big Geezers that could bowl a bit of spin and maybe intimidate their batsmen as I knew one of them was going to be a handful and the Behemoth looked like he was a proper cricket player and there was obviously the potential for him to bat.Wayne did okay, but alas this was my first time scoring and it seems that somewhere along the way I missed one or two of his fours that he hit. Wayne met his match from the big bloke Penn's (Behemoth) bowling and was caught by Xan (Paul Millbank) in the field at mid wicket I think off a top edge. Wayne had scored 17 by my tally but by his reckoning it was more like 25. I don't think at this stage I can have conversations with people and keep score!
Callum was out next to Join Reece, Callum did okay batted efficiently and with confidence facing their bowlers. John Claricoates was the bowler that got him caught by Penn. Reece was still there and was now joined by a youth - Joe? I'd been talking to Joe and he was saying that he could bat and bowl a little bit. Joe got off to a good start and notched up the scores a bit by hitting 3 consecutive 4's and went bowled by Penn again. Then calvary turned up. "Pomph" had turned up earlier and had taken over the scoring and the umpiring but then decided that he'd bat, so he had his bat while I was umpiring. Initially he wasn't going to bat as he's got a really bad arm, so bad he's actually given up playing, but as he said he'd had 3 pints before he'd got there and he had his Beer Goggles on and as far as he could see there was no reason he could pick up the bat and have a go and what with having a few beers the pain wasn't going to be that bad was it? Unfortunately the other calvary members were not quite so old - James (Another new one on me) - 12 years old, 4 stone and about 3'6" and Bill - slightly older same kind of stature. But if previous matches and Reece Downes (Who was still out there) was anything to go by then it didn't matter that much about their size.
So Pomph and Reece were at the crease and doing okay. The big behemoth of a bloke was flagging and had requested to be taken off of bowling duties as he started to go a bit wayward. Another one of their blokes who hadn't done any stretching or anything pulled a thigh muscle bowling and had to be taken off bowling duty as well, so suddenly their top order bowlers were looking a bit worse for wear. But then so was Pomph. He hit a few balls for 4's but everytime he did so he screwed up in pain and was so obviously not in a state of physical well being, but he soldiered on. Reece run himself out unecessarily - I think he hit the ball to a close in fielder who then got it back to the wicket keeper with loads of time to spare and he threw the ball at the stumps from about 20' and it was an easy run out. He went for 41, not a bad knock and the one that meant that we still might have been in with a shout. Glenn was out next followed in quick succession by Bill and big Tony from last week, who'd suddenly turned up and they all went cheaply (Not as cheap as me though) and we finished on 144 all out for 34 overs. By which time the Tilbury boys looked as though they'd had enough. At 20 overs during the drinks break most of them had a bit of a lay down and an oily rag - it was the longest drinks break I've ever seen in cricket - must have been about 10 minutes instead of the usual 3 minutes or what have you? They did look at 20 overs like a bit of a spent force, their concentration looked like it was flagging a bit and some of them took to sitting down as well!
But here they were - they'd bowled us all out and we were chasing 144 off 34 overs. Not surprisingly their openers were Penn (Behemoth) and John Claricoats who was by far their best bat the last time we played. The good news was that we had a few adults now in amongst the very small boys. Both of the bats made very good use of the fact that we had big spaces because of the limited numbers in the field. Caricoats right from the start made his intention known and was hitting the ball with confidence and a degree of skill putting it in places where there were no blokes or smaller boys. Penn on the other hand was a bit of a hit it and see how it goes player and during his innings he skied it 3 times. One went straight up and should have been caught by Wayne but he was a bit slow off the mark and couldn't get to it. Then next went to the youth Joe and he fluffed it in some way - but again was a definite chance, but mine was the worst. The ball went straight up in the air in my general direction and I just had to step forward 3 or 4 paces once I could judge it trajectory and it was coming straight down my throat - an easy catch as I said to myself - yep I'll catch this. But the ball missed my hands and went between my hands and chest - gutted! What I didn't do was lift my hands to the ball, so I could see where they were in relation to the ball!
Then the game went through a really settled phase for them, both of them especially Claricoates just kept the runs ticking over and Claricoates reached his 50 making that his 2nd in 2 games I think? I noticed that the boys in this kind of situation start to lose interest - they start to sit down in bewteen deliveries and stop walking in when the bowlers running up. Wayne in the meantime was going through each of his bowling options, giving each bowler 2 overs it seemed and then if they didn't perform he made it clear that they were out of there which I felt was fair enough. He didn't bring Reece on till quite some time into the game and the same with me. The game was slipping away from us and nearing the 100 mark after less than 20 overs. John Claricoates was still there and we needed a break-through, all the bowling options were drying up all that was left were the very small bowlers - James, Callum and Billy the Kid (As they marked him down on the scorebook). It was Billy the kid that made the break- through bowling out the giant Penn for 15 thus ending his supporting role with Claricoates. Claricoates was now exposed to the less experienced bats and possibility that they fancied being on strike as much as he should have been. Billy the kid was ruthlessly removed by Wayne for bowling a non wicket taking over and out came the small guns - Callum the Kid and Jimmy the Kid the spin bowling double act. James with his tiny stature came up to the crease through a loopy top spinner looking ball that was more than likely slower than mine at Claricoates and totally did him for speed, Claricoates swung at it and it wasn't there (yet), his bat was somewhere up level with his head when the ball arrived at his bat's position and being straight with no speed hit the stumps bang in the middle. Claricoates was gone for 57.
Reece Phillips come on following Penn and had started out looking sprightly against Bill (Seamer) especially with the balls that had gone down the legside. But facing James and Callum he was slowed right down having to play defensive shots and it wasn't long before Callum undid Phillips in pretty much the same manner but with a bit of leg spin added. Kelvin Pender came out to face the dynamic duo and was dismissed by mini Shane Warne (Blonde hair as well) for 7. It suddenly looked like there was a chance that we were back in the game, if these two kids could maintain the momentum and now get into the tail we might just have a chance....
Replacing the next one out in the sequence was Boffa (Capt) and he came out looking to win the game. He played well hitting singles and running on them taking every chance to keep the score ticking over moving ever closer to our total, we needed more wickets. Meanwhile Callum dismissed Larne LBW for 1 and we were still in with a shout. They were were about 10 runs short of victory when Xan came out. I was then fielding at somewhere between mid wicket and deep mid wicket and Callum pitched up a ball that Boffa whacked out towards me at 150mph off the middle of the bat, it was still rising as it came past me, I leapt up committed to stopping it and only managed to get a couple of spinning fingers to it that were almost ripped off as the ball fizzed past to go for 4, much to Boffa's relief. Xan faced some sledging from me as he came out to help finish us off and between him and his younger brother the Millbanks hit the last few balls and we lost.
Meanwhile over on the 2nd XI pitch the match against the Loxford Falcons who beat us back in May/June where on their way to do the same. But then someone came in and said something about Lee Downes on his way to scoring his 1st century, so I made my way over to the crowd that were there watching in anticipation of Lee batting his way to his 100. He was on 89 or something and batting well with about 5 overs to come. Helping him out was Chirpy. The light im the meantme since coming off the field from our match had decreased significantly and it was looking as though any pictures I was taking would be crap (And they were). Both of them batted sensibly especially chirpy who worked with Lee to make sure that he was on strike as much as possible. The two blokes that were bowling were very different - one a spinner and the other was one of their seam bowlers and they along with the fielders looked as though they were doing their damndest to make sure that he didn't make the 100. The whole thing was then made far more urgent for the Falcons in that every 4 Lee or Chirpy hit was moving them ever closer to possibly losing the game as well. To be truthful as the match went on and Lee got ever closer to the 100 he was batting in a far more cautious manner with loads of people on the boundary shouting to "take it easy". Whether he knew how close he was to the 100 I don't really know. At one point John Buckley who was umpiring seemed to have a word with him - so whether he was listening to the crowd on the boundary and had some idea of how close Lee was again I don't know and it was a point of contention as to whether someone should shout out to Lee what his score was? His Dad Phil was saying not to as it would add to the pressure. The 100 eventually came at the end of the 38th over and Lee rightly celebrated raising his bat and everyone without exception clapped and cheered even the opposition. He went on to score a few more and then was bowled and caught (I think) on the last ball of the match leaving G&CCC about 25 short of a draw. draw.
Good News for the Tilbury Blokes....
The Tilbury boys because of the interest around the team have been offered sponsorship by the Tilbury Community centre where they all drink and plan their games. All they need is the commitment from one of the players (Boffa) to designate themselves as the team captain and organiser and it seems that the community centre are prepared to kit them out in whites at the very least? Could this be the resurgence of Tilbury CC and the ressurection of the Daisy Field as their ground. They don't seem to think so as they reckon if a green was reinstated it would be dug up over night for turf for someones garden! Which is a shame.
One upshot of this game is that Waynes going to put together a team for a T-20 match mid week (27th Aug was mentioned I think) to be played in the evening against the MCCC (Tilbury boys). Boffa said that I may get a shout to play on their side (They need my gear)!!! So I'm looking forward to that although he said that they may not require my bowling!
I thought that the bowling of the 2 kids James and Callum was very interesting. It was very affective and I heard Pomph and Wayne both comment on the fact that they were both pretty much on target with the stumps on a consistent basis. This then combined with their unusually slow bowling was the downfall of 4 wickets in Boffa's team in very quick succession including Claricoates. Furthering the argument for unusual pace but accuracy was a performance by Pomph himself earlier in the year during a match in Kent where I think he took 2 or 3 wickets himself bowling what looked like ridiculously slow balls above the eyeline (as James and Callum did). Further evidence is my own son Joe who is only 7 who bowls leg spin and straight balls but again loopy and straight, I've seen him take 9 wickets in an evening playing against much older boys who bat really well and during the same holiday have scored 50's and 100's. So there seems to be some merit in the variation of pace, a good line and ensuring the ball rises above the eye-line?