HARVEY'S HAUL ALL FOR NAUGHT AS MIDDLE ORDER MIS-FIRES
Chigwell finally got their season underway at Chingford on Sunday, writes skipper Dominick Addison. As I walked out to the middle for the toss, Mike, the Chingford Captain ominously told me that they had already played 2 and won 2. Not wanting to show any sign of dejection or weakness at this news I confidently called heads and was rewarded with the luck of the spin. Remembering how difficult we found it to accumulate runs batting first on this pitch last season I decided to reverse the order and bowl first.
Opening the bowling with Rob Allum and myself, we got off to an encouraging start. The opening Chingford batters found it difficult to score and as my radar finally began to behave I beat both openers in consecutive overs helped by conditions which offered a little bit of swing and movement off the pitch. Rob followed up with 2 quick wickets of his own, just reward for consistent line and length, and after the first 20 overs Chingford were struggling on 32-4. Not wanting to open up to Chingford too early I decided to stick with the first ball pairing for a few more overs and Rob in particular provided a great spell of 18 overs 2 for 50. By the time the first bowling changes were effected, Nick replacing me and Phil replacing Rob, Chingford were establishing a pretty solid 5th wicket partnership between Rashid and Shawler which eventually accumulated 84 runs; however Nick Allum finally broke through the defences to bowl Rashid. The remaining Chingford batters didn't provide as much support for Shawler although he did go on to make a creditable 79 not out. Nick took the last 3 wickets with the help of easy catches from both Robs; Orange and Allum, and Chingford were surprisingly called in by their Captain to declare on 176-8. All in all a very good first fielding and bowling performance from Chigwell, with honorary mentions for Nigel who marshalled the long boundary with ease and for James who kept extremely well, especially to Rob Allum, standing up to the stumps from his second over.
After a hearty feed, Chigwell's openers, Hall and Brown eventually took the field to start our chase. As they walked to the crease talk amongst the rest of the team was that a target of 177 was always achievable but Chingford have always proved to be difficult opponents especially with the now notorious bowling of Macgregor. As it turned out we got off to a steady start although we were unfortunate to lose Tim early on and James followed soon afterwards. This brought together Rob Orange and Harvey. Bearing in mind Harvey hasn't played competitively since this time last season he was playing freely and exploring his full repertoire of shots, including two garden bound sixes. He was ably supported by Rob who was happy to play out overs and rotate the strike in Harvey's favour which in turn enabled us to move closer and closer towards the target.
Mutterings on the boundary were now growing more confident and as we approached the last hour we found ourselves 102-2 leaving us a more than manageable run rate under 4 an over to win. Even when Harvey's innings came to an end, finishing with 67 and handing Macgregor his second wicket, it did nothing to dent the confidence of the rest of the Chigwell batsmen, and why should it? Thanks to Harvey's great knock we had the game under control with plenty of batting still to come.
What a rude awakening we were in for! Nige was next to the crease and soon became the next victim departing for 1. This brought the two Robs together and a flowing cover drive for 4 off Rallums 3rd ball was enough to restore some of the frayed nerves on the boundary. These were soon unravelled again as he attempted to take the attack to Chingford and was bowled. I joined Rob Orange in the middle and after adding no more than a couple of runs watched him fall to Macgregor caught behind from a decent, full length ball that reared up at him. Our collapse was now in free fall and from our strong position of 102-2 we now found ourselves 134-7 with less than 10 overs remaining. Nick was the next and last recognisable batsmen to the crease and he and I continued in vain to keep the run rate under control whilst trying to protect our wickets. This approach failed as I tried to attack Macgregor (never advisable) and found myself pirouetting out of my crease and ended up stumped. With Brad next man in and the overs running out, the opportunity for victory seemed to be slipping away so the approach changed from attack to one of consolidation in an attempt to bat out and save the game. Chingford obviously sensed the same change in fortune and brought their field in to unsettle our lower order batsmen, this made absolutely no impression on Brad as he resolutely set about his task. Unfortunately he was dismissed after 9 balls LBW although he swears the ball never touched his pad. Nick battled on with Phil for a few more overs raising our hopes that the draw was achievable, however he was soon stumped which brought together Charlie and Phil…..the last line of Chigwell defence. The field now completely surrounded Charlie but his sound technique never let him down and he stuck to his task admirably and kept the Chingford attack out for 8 balls. Hopefully later in the season Charlie will be afforded the opportunity to bat a little higher so we can see more than just his forward defensive, I'm sure given that opportunity he has the ability to push fields back and contribute runs, lets face it he can't do much worse than some of the rest of us!
And so it fell to Phil to see out the last over of the game from Macgregor. Phil obviously thought the best line of defence was attack and slashed at the first two wideish deliveries taking 2 from each one. The next ball brought loud appeals from the Chingford side as the ball carried to slip for what looked a like a catch, however Owen was now installed as umpire and the appeals fell on deaf, slightly hairy ears allowing Phil to survive……but not for much longer; the penultimate ball of the game striking him on the pad and this time the appeals resulted in the slow finger of death from Owen.
Although it was disappointing to slip from a strong chasing position, it was good to get back on the field and get the season underway. The obvious highlights of the day were firstly Harvey's return to the fold and displaying such fine form with the bat and secondly Rob Allum defying the years and turning in a fine spell of 18 overs. Well done Chigs. Good luck for Hadley Wood Green!