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June 28, 2005

Cobbler Swings Chigwell into Contention (North Park 26/6/2005)

It was a race against time: would I work out how to fasten the seatbelt in Nick's "classic" style Rover 3500 before we arrived at Woodford Wells? No. In the end I just held the infuriatingly counter intuitive pieces of steel together and hoped that my grip would prove sufficient to prevent me flying through the windscreen in the event of a head on collision. Nick and I arrived at a half-filled Wells car park and soon discovered that, with North Park vs. Chigwell the only game scheduled at the Wells that day, we had been promoted from the "Postage Stamp" to the recently re-laid main pitch. This made the subsequent winning of the toss less important, but made the decision of whether to bat or field more difficult. I had, and still have, no idea how many runs represent a good declaration on the batsmen's blank cheque that is the postage stamp. Their skipper told me that in Wells cricket week Woodford Wells had scored 378 runs their allotted 45 overs, and North Park in response had ended 3 runs short of victory! The new square in the main arena was a different kettle of fish, and I took the safe option of bowling first to get a look at how it would perform. Word was that it was keeping low, and word was correct! Dom and Rob bowled their customary tidy spells, highlighted by Dom dismissing their opener. There was a chance early on to run out the North Park No.3, but the skipper missed the stumps from 5 yards. This was to prove expensive, as was the earlier dropped catch at backward square by Brad, although to give him his due he did well to get under it. Both batsmen went on to record scores in the 70s, the remaining opener taking a particular liking to the Orange pies served up by the skipper. Eventually Ritchie and Nick restored order, taking 9 wickets between them. Ritchie in particular bowled magnificently, probably as well as I have ever seen him, and finished with 5 wickets - including both half-centurions - in addition to only going for around 3 runs per over. The last 8 wickets fell for about 50 runs and North Park posted a total of 209. Special mention should, and indeed does, go to Tim Mitzman for his excellent keeping on a very difficult pitch. Tim Mitzman's batting however does not warrant special mention on this occasion, as our classiest wielder of the willow found himself taking an early shower after playing round a straight one for 4 runs. Rob and I dug in for a while, trying to remember our mantra for the innings; "Get forward to anything straight, it's keeping low". Still, after playing with an almost unprecedentedly straight bat for 10 overs or so, my other mantra of; "swish across the line; paddle it behind square on the leg side" won the internal battle and I was bowled by one that kept horribly low. Dom replaced me and all too soon holed out to mid-wicket from a top edged pull. Phil accumulated 5 runs before departing (I missed how he was out, being in the shower at the time), and the last hour arrived with Olly and Rob A needing 7 or more an over for a Chigwell win. Some lusty blows were struck, mostly by Olly, but once he had gone it became increasingly unlikely we would pull it off. Rob perished going for glory after a grafting 77, Brad tried to keep the dream alive, but perished for not very many, and in the end Nick and Owen steered the good ship Chigwell safely into draw harbour. Not one of the more glorious finishes, but the day will be remembered for the superb recovery in our fielding innings, led by Cobbler and Plant, and for a fine knock by Rallum, bettered only by his post match performance, following buying his jug of Stella with buying a massive round in the Nightingale. Marvellous.

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