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June 08, 2005

Strength And Honour Sends Strollers Into Submission

(Ditchling Strollers 28/05/05)

The opening game of our annual tour to Brighton literally had everything, writes Brad Davis. I won the toss and chose to bat. We were playing on a different ground to last year and I anticipated a much harder battle than our stroll to a convincing victory a year earlier, especially without Newers my secret weapon of a strike bowler! I expected the opposition to be stronger and fight a lot harder and the batting conditions were extremely difficult as we were playing in a gale force wind. However, we were going for our 1st ever 100% tour and that was the target.

The plan was for quick runs and a generous declaration allowing everyone to get into the game and still come out victorious, with this in mind I elected to open with Ross and Rallum. They started well enough putting on around 40 until Rob was dismissed. Thereafter apart from a gallant 39 from Ross only Ollie was able to hit the dizzy heights of the 20's and as wickets steadily began to fall I found the team in the dubious position of 125 for 8 as I came out to bat at number 10 with about 45 minutes still to go. I said to Nick that 170 would be a challenging score and that's what I was after. Nick suggested that we take it in small targets at 10 runs a piece and make sure we use the time - wise words indeed. Nick and I somehow managed to conjure up a partnership of 43, although I was dropped very early on, all the more remarkable as we scored 12 and 11 respectively! I eventually swung across the line of a straight one and was bowled in the last over and Ritchie perished the same way 1st ball for a tour golden grill - surely worth a jug! So 170 it was and I hoped that our partnership would prove valuable.

After the usual scrumptious tea of cranberry and brie we set out to defend our total. Dom bowled his usual aggressive spell but once again went unrewarded. I paired Dom with Nigel who was managing to swing the ball miles from outside the leg stump and bagged the opener in his 3rd over. I replaced Nigel with Ritchie who although bowling very well was taken a particular liking to by one of their batsmen. At 85 for 1 in swift time I reluctantly had to take him off and called upon the wizard of experience in the form of Rallum to replace him, having opened the batting Rob was only to be used in an emergency but the Chigwell Samaritan phones were ringing off the wall! Rob bowled a quite magnificent spell of guile and control especially considering the extremely windy conditions and only conceded 16 runs in his 10 overs taking 3 wickets.

When I removed my wicket less genuine strike bowler from the attack he remarked to me that we had been ambushed, but I never lost faith and suspected that if we could remove these two then they may not have that much more to offer and that we had every chance if I could stem the run rate and keep us in the game.

Dom was replaced by Nick who obliged by removing both batsmen as Rob piled on the pressure at the other end. There was now some hope but a Chiggers victory still looked no more than a speck of light at the back of the skipper's mind. The strollers needed 38 runs to win with 7 wickets in hand at less than 3 an over.

Suddenly wickets began to tumble as Nick wheeled away working his magic. The fielding was tight and fast and the batsmen suddenly seemed under pressure. We held all our catches taken by Mitzy behind the sticks, Ollie, a caught and bowled for Nick and of course Rob superglue Orange.

With just 3 balls remaining and Rob bowling the last over all results were still possible with 12 runs required and 8 wickets down a Chigwell victory still looked as likely as a sane person with more than 2 brain cells entering the big brother house. With a boundary needed to keep the strollers in the hunt the ball went straight to a fielder but both batsmen set off like two straight guys realizing they had entered Madam Jo Jo's on the wrong night and the lightning run out was executed by Tim chicken Kebab Hall. The penultimate ball was bang on its target by Rob but the batsman just kept it out.

As Rob ran in to deliver the final ball of the match I allowed myself to wonder whether history could repeat itself and Chigwell could repeat our most famous victory when Ritchie took a magnificent caught and bowled at WG to win the final game a few years ago. As the Chigwell fielders gathered around the batsman like vultures I thought maybe he will dolly it up to me, nooooooo, I will probably drop it and ruin the tour. I need not have worried as the ball honed in on its target catching the edge and shattering the stumps!!!!!! Chigwell went into a huddle around Rob after a famous victory that will live in the memories forever.

Ironically it was their GC who was the villain whilst our very own BGC was rightly the hero of the hour!

So for this skipper strength and honour and spirit had prevailed as we headed to East Brighton Park on an absolute high to deliver to Beamers their ultimate humility!


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