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August 14, 2006

Rudkin heroics fail to stop Chigwell clinching an ignominious defeat from the jaws of victory

(Sunday 06/08/06 at Old Chigs)

INGATESTONE 207
CHIGWELL 184

Having spent considerable time over the previous few days attempting to get eleven fit bodies onto the field, it was, once this was achieved, with trepidation that I walked out to toss up with the opposition skipper. It was a warm day and it was tempting to bat first on a typical dry, flat Chigs wicket, but, looking at the players at my disposal, I made, on winning the toss (tails never fails), what I felt to be the sensible option: to put them in and then chase whatever they set us.

Looking around, my new ball options were none the less limited. Due to an evening engagement, Rob A had to leave sharpish so was going to be opening the batting later on, but he was also our best bet with the new ball, and he opened up at the Pavilion End, with Zarghum his partner from the other end. Neither managed to get the breakthrough and after six inconsistent overs, Zarghum was replaced by Pete, a new recruit reined in by the Wandering Fox. By this time, Ingatestone were already past 50 but neither batsman looked totally secure. Pete ran in at a fair lick, swinging the ball up the Old Chigs slope at will. The change seemed to work and the next over, Rob induced a top edge from their opener Kirby, well watched and safely gathered by John just behind point. After another couple of tight overs, their number three Myers followed suit, chipping a dolly to Brad in close on the leg side. Upon competion of this over I replaced Rob with Ross, who'd stipulated his desire to have a bowl in his e-mail earlier in the week. Ross bowled with a nice shape but couldn't seem to find his line regularly, but at the other end, Pete got a deserved wicket with a plum lbw decision removing Brailey, their other opener.

After a couple of fruitless overs against the new batsmen, a change was needed. Charlie came on to spin the ball down the slope and immediately struck, with Rob A snaffling another dolly after the batsman was drawn into a false shot. Brad came on at the other end and kept things tight for the prodigy to weave his magic at the other end. Charlie's third over producing two wickets, firstly bowling their key stroke maker Batchelor with a beauty then removing the new batsman two balls later, again knocking over the off bail. A double-wicket maiden for our youngest member, the first for the club since the author opening up against F&H last season.

After a couple of non-eventful overs, Charlie tossed one up a bit more, tempting the batsman to come forward to him, who never got to the pitch. A clear stumping for Laycock despite the umpire's apparent reticence in making the obvious decision.

Brad got the eighth wicket with one that moved late and at 164-8 we were on top. After a brief tail-end slog, the ninth wicket fell as had the seventh, Charlie beating the batsman in the air and James finishing things off. A first 'Michelle' for the young whippersnapper and thoroughly deserved. Brad was removed from the attack for no reason other than to bring Flacky Panesar on, and the wily old pro was soon bamboozling us all with such incredible variances in flight all seemingly landing on or near a length. After a few lucky swings took the Ingatestone total over the 200 mark, their number 11 hit a shortish one from Paul straight to long on, which was taken with Jagger-esque nonchalance by Rob to finish things off.

All things considered, considering the perceived weakness of our bowling attack, I would definitely have settled for chasing 208 at Old Chigs.

After the usual limp, poor value tea, we set about our target. Rob A, as stated earlier, had to leave early-ish so he opened up with Harvey. We scored steadily from their opening pair but then Harv skied one down the fielder's throat and were 24-1 after six overs. John, fresh from his debut half-centrury joined the BGC at the middle and both looked comfortable until Rob lauched a kamikaze effort straight to mid-off to hole out for 22. Next up for the legal eagle was the wandering fox, who played himself in patiently by smashing the first three balls he faced to the long off boundary. At 76-2 things were looking promising, then John very uncharacteristically played around a straight one and was bowled, bringing his average back down to a meagre 52.5. At 5 came the Legend, batting in the middle order to facilitate Rallum's early departure. A partnership was developing until James seemed to take his eye off it and was out bowled for 31, unbelievably our top score of the day, to be followed in by our new recruit Pete. After a few nice shots and a couple of lovely fours, the Boss Man holed out to what he himself described as 'the worst shot I've ever played', and Pete, getting his eye in and obeying my instructions to 'Swing, Lowe', was joined by Brad. We were five down and still 76 runs short, but, with some 12 overs to go, our minds were focused on chasing down that total.

Shortly after Brad's waddle to the middle, Rob A returned from a fruitless visit to his other engagement and unable to do anything to change our predicament, apart from maybe retiring hurt instead of getting out in the first place.

Pete holed out for 17 trying to hit the ball too hard and Brad was joined by the mannish boy of the moment, Chas. After getting off the mark with a boundary, Charlie succumbed for six, bringing Zarghum to the wicket. A few festival shots here and there hadn't prevented the target creeping up towards the 10-an-over mark. With only four overs left, however, and three wickets in hand, I felt it was still worth a punt. Brad holed out chasing the impossible dream and the skipper walked to the crease purposefully in his intent to score freely, as an attacking batsman of some renown. Having got off to the mark with a mis-hit slog that landed over the infield, I perished wafting Chris(tal) Gayle-style at a wide one, offering a thick outside edge to the keeper.

This brought in our talisman, Mr Paul Flack, who, under instruction to in no way attack the ball, carried out his duties manfully, despite a couple of idiosyncratic run out attempts between Zarghum and himself, out-sledging the fielders (now all nine around the bat), and even dancing down the wicket as the bowler was running in. Unfortunately, having survived until the last ball, Flacky fell unluckily to a ball that was bottom edged onto his foot then ricocheted onto the off stump. A horrible way to lose a game, but in all fairness our batting did not justify victory.

All of the top six got starts, but only two scored over 20, and no one close to a fifty. On a flat Old Chigs wicket, if you can't chase 200 then you don't deserve to win. I was happy with my bowling changes, and although I was a bit quieter than usual in the field, we fielded much better than we have been in past weeks.

Thanks to John especially for his vocality in the field whilst I was silently plotting, thanks to Paul for turning up at short notice and likewise thanks to Pete for playing and I hope we'll see more of you on the pitch in the future.

Man of the match: Charles Rudkin (5-47)

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