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September 2004

September 28, 2004

Rallum the Five Wicket Hero at Fives and Heronians (25/9/2004)

I arrived at the Paddock at about 12.10 for the final game of the season to find only one other car in the car park. It was Tilly's; she had brought Dom and he had insisted on getting there early after noting Brad's stinging e-rebuke for the late arrivals last week. "I just wanted to make sure I didn't incur the wrath of Brad" he explained. A wise principle to live by. It transpired that Fives and Heronians had the game down for a 1.00 start, so Dom and I and progressively more of the protagonists had plenty of time to soak up the cold drizzly atmosphere, before Chris Rotsey led me to the middle to toss up. Our dressing room was divided in opinion between batting first or second, so it came as a relief to lose the toss. F&H had a pretty good team out, especially in the batting department, so it was no surprise when Chris decided to "have a bat". Chigwell had won its last three games batting first, so it made a change for the opening bowlers to have a new ball with which to weave their magic. Dom, as always, looked threatening, and none of the F&H batsmen took too many chances against him. Rob Allum opened at the other end and summoned up all his guile and experience to bowl really effectively on the ground he knows so well. He removed a number of quality batsmen, and Sooty, finishing with an impressive haul of 5 for 61 in 12 overs. Unfortunately the rest of the bowlers found wicket taking altogether more elusive, Joe Rudkin having the only other success, although the fact that his victim was the F&H skipper had a certain delicious irony about it. Ian Rotsey batted well for his hundred, surviving the odd chance, and when he tucked a single away to bring up three figures Chris declared the innings with the total on 227. Given the batting potential at our disposal, and the prospect of facing an over or two more than F&H, I felt we had every chance of winning the game. Tim Hall was dismissed early on, somehow managing to deflect the ball onto his wicket with the back of his bat, having played too early, or late, or something. Joe and Harvey then joined forces to take the score, at a reasonable pace, on to 95. Harvey was then brilliantly run out with a direct hit from square of the wicket, and when Joe was bowled next over, the score unchanged on 95, Chigwell's apparent advantage began to ebb away. Nigel, James and Rob Allum all departed cheaply, the wiles of Steve Poulter proving too much for them. Dom struck a spirited 22 before being bowled by Sooty, leaving me at the crease to welcome Owen, and later (but not much later) Brad, to the fray. I hit as many balls as I could behind square on the leg side, but couldn't score at the required 8-10 per over, and the season finished with me and the vice-captain batting out the last two overs to secure a draw. Chigwell's innings closed on about 210, which was good, but not good enough. We stayed chatting at the Paddock for a couple of hours, although the evening was dented somewhat by the F&H bar running out of firstly all keg beers, and then all bottled and canned beers. When Rob's jug appeared as a jug of Pimms we knew it was time to move on - I never stay out after Pimms o'clock. Great season everyone, lots of exciting new talent coming through, and a bit of raging against the dying of the light from the more mature members. Some seasons finish with an audible sigh of relief from the skipper, but I was really sorry to see this one go. Still, nets in January, and only seven months to go until the new season! May strength & honour prevail!!!!!

September 21, 2004

Chigwell Five Hold the Fort as Stragglers Straggle (St. John's Billericay Away 18/9/2004)

As the 50p coin spun from the St. John's skipper's thumb I called tails, and prayed to the gods of cricket. Win and we bat; lose and we might be asked to take the field with only 5 players! A tangle of circumstances had led to 3 separate cars, each with two Chigwellians inside, speeding across the Essex countryside, hopelessly late for the one o'clock start. Tails. We'll bat. Then came the logistics of batting first: Two batting, two umpiring, one padded up, and scoring. Should an early wicket fall, the outgoing batsman would be required to strip off his pads, and immediately assume umpiring duties, while the out-going umpire would have to attempt to pad up and score at the same time! It can be appreciated that as Tim and I went out to bat the initial priority was to avoid losing wickets at all cost. Tim had seen the arrival of Paul and Hannah before he cut at a wide one, and was caught at point. Nick joined me in the middle and we negotiated a nervous opening to share a partnership of 80 runs. The outfield was awfully slow, the grass length more suited to rugby than cricket, but after my departure for 47 things began to pick up. Nick remained solid, mixing patience with the odd flashing drive, while at the other end first Nigel, then Olly, and finally Tim Mitzman, biffed the runs at a rather faster lick. Nick finished unbeaten on 62, and the Chigwell innings closed with the score on 203, worth at least 250 given the slow pitch and outfield. During a jolly nice tea, the highlight of which was a superb chocolate cake, ("Oh Aggers, stop it"), I laid my fiendish plans for the St. John's innings. I decided to attack with Dom (now recovered from chasing Tim's car up the A10) at one end, with Brad providing temptation towards indiscretion at the other. Before long Dom had bowled the useful looking opener, and then Brad took over. Firstly the batsman skied one to Nigel at mid-wicket, who took a great catch at the end of ten yards of furious back-pedalling. Next ball was driven at Owen fielding at extra cover. It must have been chest high, because it hit him in the chest, making a hollow thump, before he clutched it gratefully back to his bosom. Brad was on a hat-trick, but failed to make the new man play at the hat-trick ball, it being three feet outside the off stump. There followed a quiet period, Dom having been replaced by Owen, Brad fearing being taken out of the attack with each successive wicketless over. I was just clearing my throat to ensure correct enunciation of the phrase "Take a blow there Brad", when the batsman lost patience and hit a straight-forward catch to me at mid on. As the rain clouds gathered, and a steady drizzle began to fall, a battle royale took place between a sturdy and capable batsman, and Brad, on three wickets and sensing his chance for his first ever "5 for". After smashing a good few boundaries in quick time the batsman gained confidence. Brad began his 9th over. First ball 6 over mid-wicket. Second ball 6 over mid-wicket. Third ball 6 over mid-wicket. Paul shrewdly passed comment from behind the stumps: "I reckon you could do the six sixes in an over here mate". He went for it. He failed. Olly on the mid-wicket boundary made the crucial catch look easy, not even put off by the helpful shout of "It's yours Olly" from the skipper. Four wickets to Brad. As he punched the air he informed us that "nobody hits me for 4 consecutive sixes!" Hannah bowled a good couple of overs from the other end, especially given the soaking wet ball, the game now taking place in the annoyingly persistent rain. We left the field for a while, but in the end continued the match when perhaps good sense might have dictated an abandonment. Good on St. John's, who could have chosen to claim a rain induced draw, but instead insisted the game continued. Sadly Brad, although bowled for 15 overs unchanged in total never got his fifth wicket. Tim Mitzman combined twice with Paul to effect run outs, and then without Paul's help bowled two more tailenders to finish the innings. St. John's finished on a creditable 150 odd, Chigwell winning by 50 runs or so. A fine couple of hours at the local tavern followed. Apart from the regrettable late arrival of over half the team, everything had worked out perfectly, with everyone contributing to Chigwell's third consecutive victory.

September 14, 2004

James Hits Maiden Ton in 49 Balls as Chigwell Overwhelm Ingatestone

Remember the home game against Ingatestone earlier this season? We lost on the last ball of the game, having mounted a spirited fightback from a pretty hopeless position. This time it was all to be a little different. The Ingatestone skipper very kindly granted our request not to play a limited overs game, and having won the toss decided to put us in to bat first. At first it appeared that he had made a very astute choice as Myers struck, dismissing first Tim Hall, then, next over, Harvey who top edged to a shortish fine leg. Having arrived in the middle at the fall of the first wicket, I chatted with Dom (who was umpiring) while we awaited the arrival of our number 4 and we agreed that what was required was for Rob A and myself to steady the ship. The ship however began to list alarmingly as Rob perished to an off cutter through the gate to register a golden duck. Tim Mitzman arrived at the crease, the bowling was changed, and Tim and I began to score a little more freely. We had taken the score to 103 when I gently guided an innocuous full toss into the hands of the man "on 45", and departed for 37. James, £70 Lilywhites bargain bat in hand, strode confidently to the middle, glad of the chance to bat for a little longer than the four balls he was allowed last week at Gidea Park. James has been showing increasingly aggressive intent recently, but today something clicked into place and the various bowlers available to Ingatestone were systematically bludgeoned into surrender. Tim Mitzman does not exactly have a reputation for slow play, indeed he eventually fell to a catch whilst on 71, scored off only 61 balls; James however made Mitz look positively pedestrian. After only 29 balls we were applauding James's first half-century for the club. It took him only 20 more balls to turn that into 102 not out. 49 balls for a ton! If that isn't the quickest ton in the club's history, I'd be very surprised. Since joining us James has become a vital member of the side for his wicket keeping alone, but now we have a classy wicket keeping all rounder - we are truly blessed! Ingatestone seemed rather dispirited after tea, and the loss of early wickets made a nonsense of the possibility of them chasing 284 to win the game. Dom and Nick bagged three wickets apiece and I was able to spread the bowling around, bringing Dom back for one over to rid ourselves of the troublesome top scorer, who at least had a go. The win was too comfortable, nay, overwhelming, for the game to be remembered as a great one, but none present will ever forget the awesome power of James's shot making.

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.

September 02, 2004

Chigwell Almost Get the Runs at Bank Holiday Barbecue (WG Gracefully 30/8/2004)

Chigwell's last home game of the season was the visit of WG Gracefully, and was followed by the now traditional club barbecue. WG gracefully conceded the right to field first at my behest, on the grounds that we needed to bat second in order to prepare the barbecue. Dom thundered in and snaffled an early wicket, courtesy of a sharp catch at short leg by Joe Rudkin, making a very welcome return to the side. A good start, but the next two wickets put on about 140 runs, with the highest scoring batsmen both surviving catching chances that we would normally hope to take. Joe took another catch close in, but when bowling struggled to find the right line and length. Matt Sutton, guesting from Fives and Heronians, found it hard to keep his balance running in to bowl, and asked to be taken off. Brad and I were thus thrust into the attack, and were immediately rewarded, Brad striking first ball. From this point on the momentum swung back in Chigwell's favour. The standard of fielding improved greatly and fine catches were held by James, Harvey, and Dom. Nick replaced Brad in the attack to great effect, his truncated spell returning four wickets. Charlie delivered the coup de grâce, claiming the last wicket via my regulation catch, and WG Gracefully had subsided somewhat to a total of 209 all out. Chigwell looked, on paper, to have a strong batting line up, but were a little short of openers; Rob Allum gamely agreed to start things off with Harvey. He may well have wished he'd declined, when his off stump was knocked back before he had scored. Joe joined Harvey, but after a few lusty blows Harvey edged to the keeper and was out for 19. Matt Sutton joined Joe and assumed the role of anchor man. Joe smashed a straight six into Matt's dad's car, but soon afterwards perished for an impressive 49 whilst attempting to hit the ball over the M11 and into the solarium at what used to be Buckhurst Hill School. James added some tidy runs, then Dom smashed a quick fire 38 to reduce the asking rate to under six per over. Once Dom had departed Ritch joined Matt, and this pair had taken us to the point of victory (10 required from 2 overs) when disaster - only 3 off the penultimate over, and then further disaster - Matt skied an attempted heave and was caught, having notched a patient 50. Ritch was left on strike, having crossed, and we needed 7 from 5 balls. Ritch couldn't get a bat on either of the next two deliveries, then smashed a four though wide mid off to leave us needing 3 from two balls. A fine piece of bowling, a yorker on middle stump, proved too good for Ritch, and Nick had to come to the wicket to face one ball, needing 3 to win. He managed to keep out another good ball, but couldn't get it away for any runs, and the game ended in a draw.

Of course when a game is so nearly won there are always a thousand little things that could have made a difference, but on balance I prefer to think that everyone played their part in an exciting game; any match that has so much hanging on the last over must be a good one.

The barbecue was a resounding success, thanks to the food contributions made by everyone, but mostly due to the massive amount of effort put in by Linda, Kate and Angela to ensure the meat etc. actually got cooked. I personally can't thank them enough. It was great to see a few faces that don't get along to the cricket so much these days, like Doug & Diane, Si Thorpe, Rita Wiskin, Flacky etc. and I reckon we should make sure that we maintain the barbecue tradition - although the committee, of which I am of course a member, need to organise the event a little better in future!