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August 15, 2005

Rob Allum Hits Maiden Ton in the Grand Manner!  (Hainault & Clayhall 14/8/05)

Chigwell, much like England a day later at Old Trafford, were unable to complete victory in a game they dominated. I lost the toss with consummate skill, saving me from making the decision, which is always tough, when our team has strong batting: bat first for fun or insert the opposition for the best chance of winning. After all you don’t need to take 10 wickets to win batting second. Anyway, as I said previously we lost the toss and batted for fun. Not all that much fun for Tim Hall who departed early for a duck, the venerable gentleman at slip showing surprising athleticism to hold the catch. This brought together our Fives and Heronian guests Nick Rotsey and Matt Sutton, and for a while it looked as if Nick would threaten the Chigwell quickest century record, adding numerous boundary fours to the six hit from the first ball he faced. His fun was short-lived on this occasion however and he perished mis-hitting one to mid off come extra cover for 22. Nigel was a little unlucky that the bowling had become much tighter by the time he arrived and he joined Tim in the duck house before too long. This brought to the crease Rob Allum, who hit a series of frightfully short deliveries to the boundary to get underway, and was looking good on 25 when the rain intensified and the covers were called for. While the more astute but less noble players shot into the pavilion to watch the gripping test match, four brave souls struggled with the sail-like covers in driving rain. The fact that they were the next four in the batting order was surely not their motivation. Eventually the boundary marker flags secured the cover and the drenched quartet joined their less committed friends in the bar. Tea was taken early and for a while it seemed that no further play would be possible. Eventually however the rain did pass, and all were summoned to help remove the cover in a way that would minimise spillage onto the wicket. The flags were taken out and the wind took charge, removing the cover with no problem at all! Luckily the pitch, though suffering patchy wetness, played OK for the rest of the game. So Rob and Matt resumed their excellent partnership and added well in excess of 100 runs before Matt departed the scene with a score of 44. During his partnership with Rob he had played mainly a supporting role, and a mighty fine job he made of it too. Meanwhile Rob had accumulated runs at a frenetic pace, the declaration always looming on the horizon. Shouts from the skipper on the boundary alerted him to the fact that he was on 91, and approaching the century that has eluded him since he first wielded the willow many years ago. No nervous nineties for Rob – he knew he had no time to get there in singles. He baffed another four and, on the 59th delivery he faced, smashed the ball straight back over the bowler to bring up his glorious maiden ton. Brad, who was the bowler’s end umpire, shot his arms aloft, the momentum lifting him several feet off the ground. Rob conversely sank to his knees and then lay on the pitch, scarcely able to believe that his 20 years or more of waiting were over. Personally I’ve got enormous respect for his achievement because it rewards him for the sheer hard work and determination he has put into improving his batting over the last five to ten years, and he now stands as one of the teams most talented batsmen. This will not be his last century. Rob’s exciting achievement meant a slight delay in the declaration leaving Hainault and Clayhall a target of 198 in an hour plus 20 overs to win, which proved a few too many to really give them much chance, although I was aiming at 190 notwithstanding Rob’s landmark score. They lost an early wicket (from Ritchie’s bowling) to a good catch from Chigwell’s newest centurion, and with Owen bowling well and snaffling another victim the signs looked good. Nick Allum replaced Ritchie and bowled for the rest of the innings, taking 3 good wickets. Brad replaced Owen and in a rather truncated four over spell weaved his magic to claim two victims. The only batsman who looked as if he was capable of scoring quickly enough to challenge the target set by Chigwell rather carelessly ran himself out, with Ritchie, now keeping wicket, hitting the stumps direct having retrieved a fumbled take. From this point on H&C dug in for the draw and despite the skipper claiming a somewhat unpleasant wicket with a beamer that dipped enough to drift over the ducking batsman and strike the stumps, and despite the hero of the day having one over at the last pair, we were unable to take the last wicket, and the match was drawn.

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