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!!!!!