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July 05, 2006

Mitz Blitz Hits North Park (2/7/2006)

Anyone familiar with my previous ramblings will know that I vowed never again to bat first on the "postage stamp". Woodford Wells' second pitch, loaned to North Park on occasions, has yet to reveal a defendable first innings score, and I have formed the opinion that, given the opportunity, I would leave the decision on when to declare to the opposition skipper. A blasting hot July day wilted my resolve however, together with the collective will of the rest of the Chigwell XI, and I reached tossing point with the intention of giving batting first on the postage stamp one last go. Fortunately the North Park skipper had reached the same heat based decision and further proved capable of spinning the coin to his supposed advantage (heads). North Park chose to bat first. Chigwell set about their task in the knowledge that a score of 300 or more was by no means unlikely, and collectively we knew not to be down heartened by the concession of a good many boundaries. We weren't expecting to drop catching chances however and we had to re-stiffen our resolve as the opening partnership began to bloom amidst a rash of near misses. Zarghum, opening the bowling for the first time , bowled excellently, although ultimately for no reward in the form of wickets. Rob suffered most from chances dropped, but oak-hearted as ever persisted ultimately bowling both openers, each departing with their score in the mid-twenties. I replaced Zarghum, liking the look of the slope on the pitch, which should in theory help me to turn the ball away from the right-handers. I think I bowled well, certainly to begin with, but was guilty of over-indulging myself with a 15 over spell (3 wickets, 80 runs). Phil enjoyed a good spell, but unfortunately no wickets. Nick took over from Phil and started with a wicket maiden, Harvey taking a fine running catch on the final ball of the over. By now the standard of fielding had improved, Nigel catching the North Park top-scorer for 60 to give me my third wicket, and Imran giving a lesson in ground fielding in the covers. As we neared a quarter to five North Park began to swing the willow to greater effect to the detriment of Nick's and my bowling figures. I belatedly took myself out of the attack and Brad immediately struck, Russ stumped as Tim half dived, half collapsed onto the wicket. Next over Rob A took an outstanding catch on the cow boundary, having to step a foot in from the line and catch the ball at full stretch behind his head. The North Parkonians, who had been cheering the ball on its assumed flight over the line were stunned and impressed at this superhuman feat. It was at this point, 4.45pm, with their score on 226, that North Park declared. Chigwell had performed really well to restrict them to a well below par score, although I was surprised that they didn't make use of their two remaining wickets and, say, another 10 minutes to give them a more realistic chance. Tea was heartily enjoyed by all and the opening partnership for Chigwell was negotiated and bartered, ending up with Tim M at number one, and Rob A at number 2, having swapped his allotted number 4 spot with Harvey, who was happy to extend his tea-break. Tim and Rob faced a naggingly accurate opening attack, but the pitch was so docile progress seemed just a matter of waiting for the odd loose ball, and dispatching it. Just as I was thinking of passing on my umpiring duties the square leg fielder noticed an increase in Tim's aggressive intent and asked me if he was about to unleash. I replied "I hope so". Imran replaced me as umpire, to be greeted with a vociferous appeal in his first over - not out - and so it was from the boundary edge that I saw Mitz hit top gear. First there were some lusty pulls over mid-wicket, Mr. Brown's slow loopy spinners not given the chance to bounce before being dispatched. Then the awe-inspiring straight hitting started. Ball after ball was launched over what I presume to be the squash courts, sixes big enough to clear the straight boundary on any ground, definitely big enough to have carried twice the distance required for a six on the postage stamp. Search parties were sent into the car-park on the other side of the squash courts, while those who had earlier parked their cars assuming them to be perfectly safe frantically sought their keys and pondered the advantages of parking in Monkhams Lane. In the blink of an eye the game was ours. Tim eventually departed for 120, with the score on 174. Olly kept the momentum going with a brisk 22 before being caught by Mr. Brown, off his own bowling. Harvey, whose tea break had been extended rather further than he had expected, was on a hiding to nothing and was duly stumped for two - another wicket for the loopy spinner. Nigel arrived armed with his railway sleeper and finished the match by clouting a straight ball to square leg for four. All this time Rob had been gathering runs and finished one of his less fluent, but none the less vital, innings on 74 not out. A grand all-round display by Rob who has become the backbone of our batting. Man of the match however has to go to Tim Mitzman for his exhibition of clean hitting. He hit 9 sixes and 10 fours - 94 out of 120 in boundaries - and to my surprise revealed post-knock that this was his first ton for the club! Tim's such a classy batsman I could hardly believe it. He told me it was his first century since he was 19. My admiration turned to jealousy somewhat when he further revealed that this was only 7 years ago...

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