Draw Draw, Not War War (Hadley Wood Green 4/5/2008)
In the time it took for me to hop into my kangas the sheet had been fixed wrongly to the frame of the sight screen, it requiring my attendance and superb management skills to detach it and rotate it through 90 degrees. Thereafter in a trice the grey-screen was fit for service.
Next task, duly accomplished was to win the toss. Tradition has it that in this fixture it is always wise to field first, but despite the risk of being unable to bowl the opposition out later on I chose to bat, thinking us the stronger team. Dan, the HWG skipper, was pleased to get his preferred option without having to win the toss.
Harvey was not keen to open, so in the absence of Rob, I promoted Nick to join John as opening pair. The innings started as I sped to Mace in Chigwell to buy a battery for the match clock. It soon became apparent that Hadley Wood were a little under-strength, and their bowling was a bit limited. Nick and John settled in, but the slow pitch and mostly slow bowling didn't make it easy for them to score quickly. After 20 overs we had 71 for 0 on the board and really needed to kick on. John grew unhappy with his bat and called for a replacement. I risked him using my blade, but after finding the middle with his first two shots it betrayed him and he spooned one to Jim Wallace at cover and was out for 42.
Nigel had been promoted to number three and he didn't disappoint, soon overtaking a frustrated Nick. It was during this partnership that a delighted crowd witnessed an all run 6, which must have had the batsmen puffing! Eventually Nigel perished for 42, with the score on 139. Charlie took his place, but with so little pace on the ball he too struggled to score quickly. The opening bowler returned, which seemed to suit Nick for a short time, two boundaries lifting his score to 43 before one sneaked through his defence and toppled the timber. Harvey joined Charlie and kept things ticking along, but after 40 overs we had only 173 on the board, which I felt was way below what we might have expected given the gentle attack. On 22 Charlie holed out to square leg and departed with his usual good grace.
James and Harv had taken it to 217 from 47 overs when James was bowled for 19, at which point I declared the innings closed. Harv finished unbeaten on 25, having shrewdly picked out the same fielder with successive pulls for successive drops.
Tea was supplemented by gratefully received contributions from Richard (scones with cream and jam), Linda (fruit cake) and Nigel (spicy noodles) and for the first time in Old Chig's history drew compliments from the opposition. Perhaps it was the excellence of the scoff that led to a 30 minute tea break which deprived us of ten minutes in the field, which may in the end have made a difference to the result.
Mike Davey never seems to fail against us, but he and his partner Mr. Bolt showed little urgency to attack the total set, although that wasn't easy with Dom firing on all cylinders, and Frank keeping it tight at the other end. The lack of ambition, driven apparently by poor totals in their previous fixtures, soon made the game unwinable for HWG and by the time Brad took the first wicket we were in the 22nd over with a paltry 34 on the board. The Chigwell bowlers couldn't get past the stonewalling, and instead merely improved their economy rates. Mike fell in the 32nd over for 39 runs, my arm ball hitting the stumps. Towards the end of the innings the prodigious spin I was finding started to make inroads, but it was too little too late. Dan was sent on his way thanks to a superb catch at slip by Dom, and James completed two more stumpings to add to his earlier one off Brad. The HWG innings closed on 103 for 6 from 45 overs. I finished with 5 for 21, which was a source of slightly muted pleasure for me, given the game overall had been rather dull.
But never mind! Alex, back to Old Chig's for the first time since the disturbing events of last summer supplied a couple of jugs courtesy of his mother, which was a great gesture, greedily consumed. James bought another following his 3 stumpings, and mine for 5 wickets was held over until next week - honest!
Man of the match? Nigel for a good pacy knock when it was badly needed.