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July 31, 2007

Hey-Ho Me Cricket! Woodford Green is the Place....29/7/2007

After all our years of local cricketing endeavour we finally got to play on the oldest cricket ground still being used when Woodford Green CC welcomed us to their historic home. A cricket field since 1735 the venue will have seen few more comprehensive victories than our 9 wicket win, and not many more frustrated batsmen than Richard, the Chigwell number 4 who never got to build on his swashbuckling effort of the previous week.

The suggested early arrival for fielding practice never quite materialised, leaving Frank and I to make the most of the opportunity to fling the practice ball about, and bruise each other's hands.

Unsure of the standard of the opposition and the reliability of the pitch, I won the toss and chose to field. We were rather short of batting, and were down to ten men as Imran had called at one o'clock to report a hamstring injury, suffered that morning playing football (vile game!). I planned to give Rob a fairly short spell as opener, supported by Frank at the other end, but Rob bowled well and justified his 10 overs. Frank was unlucky in that he continually bowled to the more aggressive batsman, who swiped a couple of sixes over the short offside boundary. He might have holed out had I placed myself right on the boundary rather than 10 yards in, or if I were a few inches taller.

Alan the Woodford Green skipper perished to a catch at slip by me, a real rarity, and the result of canny planning by Rob. With the ball and the conditions right for swing bowling, Ritchie replaced Frank, and caused problems straight away. It took a while for the second wicket to fall however, and the score had progressed fairly rapidly into the eighties before the BGC finally got to bowl to the aggressor, who almost immediately fell to a well taken return catch. This wicket seemed to break open the floodgates and Chigwell began to claim regular victims. Rob finished his 10 over spell with 3 wickets for 27 runs. Ritchie claimed two victims, the second a superb piece of work by James to stump an overbalancing batsman. Brad bowled an economic 5 overs for 16 runs, his one wicket (a smart slip catch by Rob) prompting Monty Panesar like celebrations. He was unfortunate to be taken out of the attack, but I figured the pitch looked good for spin, and the slope meant that Nick had to have that end. Nick probably didn't bowl at his best, a few short ones being dispatched to the square leg boundary, but he did claim the important wicket of the Woodford Green number three, who through the carnage, had racked up a respectable 77. He was bowled, beaten in the fight by a floated delivery. Having seen each of my previous two overs - one bowled to Joe Rudkin and one to Graham Hancock - dispatched for 20 runs each, I was delighted to find a responsive pitch and less talented batsmen when I started my spell. The innings ended with me taking successive wickets, one with a long-hop (LBW) and one with a ball that was so wide the umpire still signalled it despite the batsman somehow managing to hit it back to me for a caught and bowled. The umpire changed his signal and the innings closed on 161 - a good recovery by the Chigs, and a distinctly gettable total.

In the end it was a very comfortable Chigwell innings, Rob and Adam putting on a stand of 133 for the first wicket. Adam true to form was the more cautious of the pair, but eventually was out for 46. Rob progressed to 87 not out at the close, with James, the only other Chigwellian given the chance to bat, making a comfortable 14, including the winning hit for four.

Woodford Green were amiable hosts, and a few beers were sunk in very good company. A good performance from the ten man Chigwell team; most catches were held and the bowlers exploited the conditions well.

Man of the match: Rob Allum - 87 not out, 3 wickets for 27 and 2 catches...

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