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September 2006

September 25, 2006

Nightmare on Stock Road (St. John's Billericay 24/9/2006)

What a terrible nightmare! First I dreamt I was mad enough to choose to bat first on a pitch cut only 2 minutes before the game started. Then I watched in despair as a procession of Chigwell's finest departed for next to nothing. When I finally went in to bat I found the attack moderate and the pitch so slow there was time for a fag break between the ball pitching and reaching the batsman - my perfect pitch! 13 untroubled runs later I was left stranded with the score on 61 all out! I can imagine I must have been crying out in my sleep at the pain of watching all our batsmen loop the ball carelessly into the air, and squealed in a kind of envious agony to see a team which was capable of pouching every catch offered.

It all seemed so real when we took to the field and managed one wicket and 3 dropped catches before St. John's Billericay completed the rout with a six over square leg.

Thankfully I woke up this morning and realised it was only the disturbed nocturnal workings of a frazzled mind, and I still had the joy of taking on St. John's to come. Better ring Nigel, make sure he's ready to be picked up... Hang on... the paper - it's the Guardian... that's not published on Sunday. Oh my god!! It's Monday! Which means... AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!

September 15, 2006

Catches Go West, But Chigwell Give it a Damn Good Go (West Essex 10/9/06)

Working on the principal that if the match report isn't done before the next game, it probably wont get done at all I hereby give somewhat truncated details of the match last Sunday. Won the toss, inserted the opposition. I decided to try out Owen as opening bowling partner for Rob A. Owen took a wicket, rather fortuitously with a pie, but the second wicket pair added over 200 runs, benefiting from Chigwell's total inability to hold any chance that was offered. John Clifford suffered most as his admirable first bowling spell for the club went unrewarded. Charlie and Imran suffered at the hands of the increasingly confident batsmen, and the scoring raced out of control. Willing to take my own share of the punishment I brought myself on and was delighted to trap the West Essex number one LBW, 4 runs short of his century. The poor number four had been waiting for 90 minutes for his chance, but perished first ball, playing on. The skipper thus arrived and gave a spirited swish at the hat-trick ball, but failed to make contact. In my next over the other tormentor departed, well stumped by Paul for 94. First ball of my fourth over produced a looping edge from the skipper, which found the secure hands of Rob A at deepish slip/gully for the first (and last) successful catch of the innings. West Essex declared on 244 for 5 after only 32 overs, one over from Brad enough to convince them to get the hell out of there, while the going was good. John's luck did not improve in the Chigwell innings; he received the ball of the day, cutting in a foot or so to bowl him. Olly suffered a rare distinction - triggered out (caught behind) by the skipper, when the noise was, apparently, that of bat on pad. Sorry Olly! There followed a spirited 3rd wicket partnership between Rob A and Paul, Rob in particular lashing some wayward bowling to all parts. Paul departed to a leading edge, and first Brad and then Imran tried to keep the momentum going, but perished in the attempt. I had only been out there a few balls when Rob was bowled for an impressive 74, the score now 126 for 6. Owen, armed with Nigel's railway sleeper, batted with intent, the high point of his innings his first boundary 6 for the club. He departed for 19 fun-filled runs, while I remained struggling for touch at the other end. Charlie joined me and we took comfort from our unbeaten 138 run partnership of the previous week. We managed 66 this time and it was beginning to look as if we might steer the team to an unlikely victory when we reached the last 3 overs needing 23 runs to win. Sadly this was not to be as first Charlie (25) was bowled and then, despite encouragement towards heroic deeds from the boundary, my own wicket was shattered (33), both with no further addition to the score. Hannah and Nigel comfortably saw off the last 11 balls between them and an enjoyable match ended in a draw. West Essex were a good side to play against, and were extremely well skippered: a good declaration and sensible bowling changes - I look forward to playing them again. Chigwell put up a good display with a not-so-strong team, and who knows where we might have got to if a few of the catches had stuck. Better not drop that many at the Paddock next Saturday...

September 07, 2006

Charlie Rudkin: UK Garage Sensation (Gidea Park & Romford 3/9/2006)

What a switchback of a game this proved to be - more twists than Chubby Checker's back catalogue.

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