Charlie Rudkin: UK Garage Sensation (Gidea Park & Romford 3/9/2006)
The day started with the familiar late-season, early-start, lateness of arrival. Not good for the captain's nerves. Chris the GPR captain won the toss and put us in to bat, which at least meant we had enough bodies to start the game, albeit eighteen minutes or so late.
An all Allum opening stand was dramatically ended by the first ball of the second over, Rob adjudged LBW, his large stride down the wicket insufficient to save him. Olly replaced him and immediately began to swish the borrowed skipper's bat with gusto. A mixture of meaty blows and wild air-shots accelerated the scoring and soon he was on 32, all in boundary fours. With the total on 59 Olly was unfortunate enough to step on his wicket, and good enough to take the wicketkeepers word for it, with no umpire noticing the indiscretion. Personally I would have blamed the wind, which had already blown the bails off several times, but Olly has more class than that. The Chigwell middle order did not cover itself in glory. After Nick's dismissal to a stunning slip catch the wickets fell with both depressing regularity and inappropriate recklessness. Numbers 4,5 and 6 (James, Nigel and Imran) contributed a solitary run between them, all perishing to over-ambitious shots. Owen looked to be taking the sensible cautious route until on 9 he tried to play a big shot to a good ball and was caught. At this point we were on 92 for 7 and looking distinctly "village".
Charlie joined me in the middle and after a few runs had been added he beckoned me halfway down the pitch and explained to me the importance of batting in partnerships, setting an initial target of 50 runs for ours. My usual limited range of scoring shots (pull, pull, pull) was supplemented by some pedigree batting from the prodigy. It was when the pace bowlers were reintroduced that Charlie really caught fire, turning many a full ball on leg stump to the backward square boundary, and gracefully guiding his cut shots into space. Soon our target was revised and we looked towards a century stand. An increasingly restless GPR were seemingly powerless to re-impose their earlier dominance as we passed this second milestone and advanced past 200. As we approached declaration territory word was passed to me that Charlie's score had moved into the forties, so the emphasis of my innings changed to making sure Charlie saw as much of the strike as possible. Charlie did not disappoint and with a perfectly executed square cut for 4 his maiden half-century for Chigwell was achieved and the innings closed on 230 for 7. Charlie has already had a five wicket haul for us this season, and run someone out with a throw from the boundary. He surely has a big future; let's not forget he is only 11! For the record I finished on 80, and had even hit one or two balls in front of the wicket towards the end - in the air of course!
The GPR innings followed a similar course to our own. Zarghum, now dubbed Zig-zag in tribute to his ability to move the ball either way with late swing, was expensive, but kept taking wickets. Chigwell in general fielded better than GPR, no better examples than James' superb one handed catch to a ball that was deflected off the back of the bat in bizarre fashion, and Imran's unbelievable one handed stop at point to a ball that changed direction wickedly at the last second, following a rogue bounce. Zarghum took 4 for 55 in 8 overs and with a crazy run out of the skipper the GPR innings stood at 72 for 5 at one point, a Chigwell victory looking likely. Olly had opened the bowling and bowled well, but together with Rob A, Brad, Nick and myself, proved unable to break the 6th wicket stand and gradually the momentum swung back towards Gidea Park and Romford. They needed 6 runs an over during the course of the last hour and were pretty much at this rate when I turned to Rob Allum to have a second spell, now with the aim of saving the game. I also chose to push Zarghum back into the attack, in the hunt for a 5th wicket for him, and because he had looked more likely than anyone to induce false shots from the batsmen. Rob bowled three extremely canny overs, the ball continually thudding into the pads of the frustrated batters. These 3 overs (for only 6 runs) did as much to save the game as anything and it meant that GPR needed 12 to win from Zarghum's final over. The nerves were jangling on both sides. A couple of twos were hit, including a chance to point that Nigel ran in a little too far for, then a wide a single and a boundary 4, conceded by me whilst trying to execute a catch that really would have been irrelevant, when run prevention was the only requirement. I suppose there must have been another single after that and the score with 2 balls to go was 229 - 2 more runs to win. The field now up, the left-handed Mr. Patient hit one towards me at mid-on and set off for a single. Luckily my gather and throw were clean and accurate and he was run out well short of his ground. So the century making Mr. Evans was left with the task of scoring 2 from the last ball to win. The field spread to about one-and-a-half run distance and Zarghum bowled. It was a good length delivery that was propelled via a bit of a mis-hit to Olly at extra-cover. He ran in with the ball and removed the bails at the non-striker's end, running out the GPR number 8 by a yard or so as he struggled in vain to complete the second run which would have given GPR victory. Phew!
So the result was a draw with the scores level, definitely a good game of cricket.
Man of the Match: Charlie Rudkin