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May 17, 2005

"The Cobbler" Nails Coopersale

Chigwell stormed to a first ever win against Coopersale on Sunday, with three Chigwellians putting in performances of strength honour and a high degree of skill. Boosted by the late inclusion of Stan, a guest from Fives & Heronians, and Joe Rudkin, taking a little time away from his revision schedule, Chigwell showed plenty of application when, having lost the toss they took to the field on a glorious late spring afternoon. Dom and Rob Allum opened the bowling and were unlucky to take only one wicket between them, Rob holding a skied catch off his own bowling, made doubly difficult by his fear of tripping over the stumps as he manoeuvred into position. Dom's luck again deserted him, but he maintained pressure on the batsmen, and ensured they were unable to score freely.

Joe and Ritchie replaced the opening bowling duo, and soon the wickets began to fall. Ritchie - the Cobbler - eager for a long spell after being used sparingly so far this season, volunteered to change ends to facilitate Joe bowling with the slope to assist his leg-spin. His decision was to lead to him producing his best ever return, snaffling 7 for 54 off 15 overs, his magnificent bowling ably assisted by willing fielders taking good catches, none better than Joe's fingertip clutching of a ball that no one else could have got remotely close to. Joe himself extracted turn and bounce from a tired pitch (this was the sixth consecutive game played on it in three weeks!) and claimed two wickets, including the much prized scalp of Graham Hancock, so often the executioner of Chigwell aspirations.

Ritchie led the team off for tea happily knackered, with Coopersale amassing 179 all out. I thought that the pitch's vagaries made that a par score, and with Graham Hancock and Tony Fraser opening the Coopersale attack that opinion looked justified as Chigwell ground and slumped their way to 30 for 3. Down to bat at six I was full of pessimism, and hoped that Joe and Rob Allum might hold them off for a while. The partnership for the fourth wicket was however quite simply magnificent. Joe played as stylish an innings as we are likely to
see from a Chigwellian this season, with Rob continuing his scintillating batting form, highlighted by his superb six off Mr. Hancock, the ball homing in on the same pavilion window he broke two weeks ago. Perhaps it was that physical and psychological blow that established Chigwell as likely winners of the contest. Runs began to flow and cheers from the boundary greeted first Rob and then Joe passing 50.

Joe eventually fell on 78 having, with Rob, added 137 for the fourth wicket. It was nice as skipper to be able to perform the last rites to bring Chigwell home with 8 or 9 overs to spare, with Rob finishing on 52 not out. Great team performance, great individual performances - and Chigwell still unbeaten at fortress Old Chigs.

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