COOPER SALE SET 'MINI' TARGET FOR CHIGS
After a superb victory against Hadley Wood Green the previous week, Chigwell's spirits and confidence were riding high. The weather was somewhat gloomy and grey as the team assembled in good time and began their fielding practice in the outfield; a fine discipline to assume before any game. Ollie was the man with bat in hand, crashing balls high into the sky and careering along the deck for his assembled team mates to snaffle up like hungry seals catching pilchards at feeding time at the zoo. As feeding for the seals continued I went to prise the Coopersale captain from his dressing room to get the match underway. After a successful 3rd toss of the season I opted to bowl first and see if we could once again chase down a score with only two changes to the successful batting line up from the previous week; myself in for Tim Hall and Ross coming in to replace Mitz.
Rob Allum and I took the new ball and with conditions overcast and muggy I was sure we'd be able to make the ball talk. Rob indeed stepped up to the plate and had the red orb weaving, dipping, seaming and swinging all over the place, however conditions did little to aid me and I had to be content with beating the outside edge on the odd occasion. Robs canny ball charming soon resulted in the first wicket as he induced Dipple into a hurried defensive block which looped straight back to him for an easy catch. Rob and I kept exerting the pressure and I eventually chipped in with my only wicket of the day which saw the left handed Armstrong chopping a straight delivery onto his own stumps. After Rob had taken his second wicket I removed him and myself from the attack having shared the first 20 overs between us.
With Coopersale trying to consolidate on around 30-3 I opted for the spin twins; Rob O replacing Rob A and Nick replacing me. The tale of fortune couldn't have been more polarised for the two turn meisters; Nick seemed a bit out of sorts struggling to find the right length, and when he did, the batsmen seemed to play and miss with no reward, or connect only for the ball to be dropped or fall tantalisingly close to one of our fielders. Our pre-match catching practice had yielded the usual results of giving the whole team a case of The Dropsies. Nick's disenchantment with the fine art couldn't have been in starker contrast to Rob's mirth at the opposite end, as he seemed to be taking wickets for fun! His first victim, Charlton (not Ritchie), had wriggled off Nick's hook on a few occasions but Rob pounced with a well taken chance driven back to him. The flood gates opened from here with Rob taking 2 wickets in succession, including the prized scalp of Hancock, caught by Ross at backward point. Hancock was anchoring the Coopersale innings well, so to see the back of him with a score of 35 was a real breakthrough. With the Coopersale tail now exposed and their run rate still stuttering I thought we might see their remaining batsmen batten down the hatches in an attempt to frustrate us, but nothing of the sort; every new batter that strode to the crease seemed to continue the attack. This attacking spirit combined with Robs unusual left arm round the wicket action and good variation in pace delivered him another 3 wickets meaning he finished with the first 5 for of the season; 9 overs 5 for 39. Nick eventually gained some reward from his frustrating spell as a chance was gathered in by Owen who also chipped in with a run out; hitting the stumps directly from mid wicket. Brad was brought on for Nick for the penultimate over and Coopersale were eventually all out for 129.
Our reply to the modest total began with Harvey and Ross, who established a good early platform. My main concern in chasing the low total was complacency, resulting in the loss of quick and careless wickets. However Ross and Harveys cautious approach steered us through the early overs until Ross was bowled with the score on 25. Ollie was next to perish after only adding another 13 runs to the score in his brief partnership with Harv. Then Harv himself fell, caught and bowled to Hancock leaving us 46 for 3. Coopersale were obviously buoyed by their regular strike rate and felt as though they were back in with a shout. The fall of Harvey brought James and myself together at the crease and before long James nudged at a straight one from the wily spinner Hodgson and was caught behind. Nige was next up and looked in confident mood after smashing a four from his sixth ball; however this was to be his last as Hancock, now bowling leg spin, pushed one through quickly which whistled through Nige's defence and bowled him.
67-5 ALARM BELLS! Surely we can't lose chasing 129 at Old Chigs?
The sight of Rallum readying himself to join me in the middle eased my concern a little bit and with two of last weeks heros; Rob O and Nick still to come, I was confident we could still win through. Rallum proved to be just the clotting agent we needed and he and I put on 40 for the next wicket. Rob seemed to revel in his role of Boycott to my Gilchrist, by defending and prodding away whilst I was swinging the willow at the other end. He accrued a total of 10 runs from 43 balls illustrating zen like self control in shot selection, before falling lbw with the score on 107. A different kind of innings from 'The Wise One' showing the rest of us mere mortals what true greatness really is. With Nick next in I felt secure enough to continue in cavalier fashion, however one extra heave ho proved one too many and I skied one to mid off and was out caught for 49. A 50 in my last home game would have been sweet, but getting the win was more important. This arrived in due course as Rob Orange scythed away a pull shot to the boundary for four leaving him and Nick both on 5 not out and happy with the early season polish applied to their averages.
Lets hope we can provide Owen with the perfect birthday present next week ... another win at Willingale