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September 07, 2004

Giddy Heights at Gidea Park (Gidea Park and Romford Away 5/9/2004)

As summer finally put in an appearance Chigwell produced a season's best performance to snatch an unlikely victory in a match full of surprises and delights. Having won the toss I had little option but to elect to bat first in 30 degree heat; although, with the team looking quite strong in comparison with some of the recent line-ups, it was a pleasure to feel that we had every chance of setting a challenging target for Gidea Park & Romford. Short of a customary opening bat once again, Tim Mitzman boldly took up the potentially poisoned chalice of joining Harvey in the middle for the start of play. It does seem recently that, through no fault of his own, Harvey has witnessed opening partners depart early. Sadly for Tim the jinx continued; as he swivelled to pull a short ball away in the opening over the ball cannoned off several parts of his body and finished resting gently against the leg stump, having just enough strength to dislodge a bail. Somewhat ahead of schedule, clutching a bat borrowed from Nick, I joined Harvey in the middle. The pitch was lowish, and, if not exactly slow, certainly not fast. "What's the bowler doing mate?" I asked Harvey. "Well he's swinging it away" "So in to me then" "No, away from you" "Oh, swinging in to you then?" "No, he's swinging it away from me outside off stump" "So in to me then?" "No he's swinging it away from your leg stump!" Our understanding grew however, and in addition to the free scoring extras we began to construct a partnership largely based around making sure that every possible run was called for and taken with the minimum of fuss. I can't really explain how, but after a season or two in the batting doldrums I finally recaptured some form. Phil was probably correct in noting that the bowling attack favoured a left hander, there was certainly plenty of scope for my favoured shot, behind square on the leg side. Harvey was eventually tempted down the pitch, beaten by the useful left arm spinner and stumped for 36, having helped put on 114 for the second wicket. Rob Allum strolled at no great pace to the wicket, but batted pragmatically and comfortably, scoring 44 off only 40 balls in a stand for the third wicket of another 114 runs. During this partnership I clocked up a century, my first in at least 7 years, a special moment for me after so much navel gazing about my batting. James came to the wicket and bashed the four balls he faced for eight runs, with four byes thrown in for good measure. We declared at 242 for 3, made in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I finished on 113 not out.

We took to the field around twenty minutes later, unburdened by full stomachs - the tea seemed to amount to half a sandwich and a chocolate biscuit - pondering how to bowl at Olly, who having turned up to watch, had been drafted into the GP&R side. He had smashed a rapid 23 before the Dominator produced a killer ball to bowl him. By this time the ball had become rather scarred, and despite fine efforts and reasonable line and length, Phil and Brad could not do much with it. Nick had replaced Dom, spin seeming the best option with little prospect of seam movement or swing. Nick bowled a superb 16 over spell, conceding only 51 runs and claiming 2 crucial wickets. I persisted with the spin theory; 4 overs for Ritchie - resurrecting his leg-spin - then 5 overs of left arm spin from me, all to no avail, at least in terms of wickets. During this period the GP&R number 3, Montgoner, steadily improved and began to look very likely to win the game. I played my last cards, bringing Dom and Mitzy into the attack. The opposition suddenly broke free, Montgoner blasting three sixes in one Mitzy over, and all at once they were favourites to win. They had 5 overs to go, seven wickets in hand, and needed only about 25 runs. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Dom tempted the bludgeoner, now on 97, into playing at a wide one, the ball took the edge and Dom was celebrating before the catch had even been taken. He had every right to his pre-mature ejaculation as the ball stayed securely in the gloves of James, as we have come to expect. James's catch was soon to be bettered by his next, exquisitely pouching the ball as it rose from a left-handers top edge, again from the aggressive bowling of Dom. Three catches behind for James, who just keeps getting better!
Tim showed great strength of character to readjust his line and length and join the party with 2 wickets, both bowled. Dom remained however the undoubted star of the day. Harvey shrewdly moved himself to backward point and could hardly believe it as the ball was guided straight to him, again from the Dominator's bowling. In the blink of an eye and with an over and a half remaining, Dom's searing pace beat the opposition's skipper's wild flay, and unbelievably the last wicket had fallen, with Dom finishing with a match winning analysis of 6 wickets for 23 runs. Cue wild celebrations and a prolonged session in the bar. It was great to win after such a long time, but the extraordinary manner of the win made it a game that will be long remembered.

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