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May 11, 2006

Lord Snooty and his pals PLANT seeds of doubt into Hadley Wood Green as Chigwell NICK thriller in final over

Hadley Wood Green 215-8 dec. Chigwell 216-6

at Old Chigwellians on 7/05/06

Following a dreadful run of luck regarding the weather, along with a 12-hour downpour the day before, the stand-in captain arrived early to check the possibility of play, writes stand-in captain Owen Evans. Finding himself amidst glorious sunshine and a nearly dry outfield, there was no doubt that the game was on. The despair of missing the Hollyoaks omnibus was no more. Having rung around to confirm play and get everyone to help erect the screens, we were ready to go.

My reputation as a supreme tosser was justified and I decided to insert. Five minutes before start, however, it had become evident that I had, in my eagerness, forgot to confirm with Charlie, who was by now out shopping in Enfield. We were down to 10 men before kick off, which didn't bode well for either the game itself or my future captaincy aspirations. Taking to the field, in the absence of the Dominator, who was on char duty, we opened up with Rob Allum and Mitzy, who both found their rhythm quickly and bowled well. Rob was very unlucky with a number of false strokes landing safe and one leading edge fell tantalisingly between Olly and Nige around the cover point area.

From the far end, the young fop bowled over after over of accurate swing, removing both Jim and the number 3 lbw to end with figures of 13-6-24-2. After an hour or so, we saw the first sight of spin, with Rorange coming on for the BGC (as he doesn't like being called Rallum), then a few overs later, Nick replacing Tim to turn in down the slope towards the exceedingly short boundary. I was wary of this, but the good doctor insisted that was his end and who am I to disagree, to quote a Scottish tranny.

The spin twins bowled good lines from the off, with a number of balls turning or bouncing prodigiously, but for a while no wicket was forthcoming, as Messrs Blake and De Villiers took the attack to the Chigs. Having put on nearly 100 in around 15 overs, Nick got one through the gate to bowl Blakey (I hate you, Plant). Shortly after this moment, receiving a call due to the mix up over Charlie, Graham entered the fray, cutting short his golf © to help out in the field. Looking rather red and with a few pints already inside him, Boiled Beef set about his task admirably, arguing with himself whether a ball he could have caught on the boundary went for 6 or 4.

By this time, Mr De Villiers had declared "you can have another two fielders if you like", then immediately chipped a half volley to Mitz at point, from the bowling of Rob O. Upon this dismissal, Hadley Wood decided to attack the remainder of their innings, to some degree of success, although Rob and especially Nick kept things tight enough and the wickets tumbled with enough regularity to persuade me to keep things as they were. Taylor went to Nick, caught behind by James, then, after a quick 60 partnership, the same combination removed Turner, this time via a stumping.

Groves was sent on his Byker shortly afterwards to another James stumping, this time from the bowling of Rob, whom I then decided to remove from the attack after a sterling 15 over spell. Brad replaced Rob and helped support Nick who took the eighth wicket, again a Laycock stumping (for which no jug was purchased), bringing about the declaration at 215-8, from 49.4 overs.

After the standard fare of an Old Chigs tea, which would have gone done a treat at White Hart Lane, we set about chasing the target. Looking around, there were not too many options for higher up the order, so I turned to the Tims, despite Mitzy's gargantuan efforts with the ball not two hours previously. Bad luck and a good ball saw Tim Hall back early, so Tim M was joined by Nige, pushed up the order to play a few shots and get the scoreboard ticking, knowing the big hitters were still in the locker. After eyeing a few and working the strike to Mitz, Nige hit a ferocious straight drive to the only place that stopped it being a boundary - the bowler's hands. A great catch from Turner, who ended up with figures of 19/3 off 10 without being quick or able to move it.

Mitz was then joined by the ginger forearms at No. 4, with Olly landing a couple of lusty blows before getting underneath one to a fine running catch at backward square leg. Rob A was next in and combined sensible shot selection with good running to play himself in and let Mitzy get the strike wherever possible. After a very good lbw shout, given not out by the very neutral umpire, Tim played over the top of one and Chigs were struggling at 41-4, of which Tim had scored 32.

In came James who attacked from the off, but seemed to have the unfortunate knack of picking out the fielders. After being dropped by De Villiers, James was unlucky when a meaty drive was held well at mid off by the same fielder. Now, Chigwell were 51-5. In came Rob O to partner his namesake. Despite the level of "experience" at the middle, the target was still a long way off, but it was decided that we should still go for it rather than get a draw in a style not ill-befitting the opposition.

The two Robs went at their work with relish and gusto, slowly going through the gears and running together smoothly. Even so, at the turn of the last hour, we were 62-5, requiring a sizeable 7.7 runs per over. As these two progressed, however, aided by some sloppy fielding and bowling changes at both ends, we dared to dream. With the run rate fluctuating around the 8-an-over mark, the target was still on as long as the wickets were in hand. With Nick and Graham padded up to come in later, this allowed the batsmen the security to play their shots, which they duly did.

Keeping the scoreboard ticking over at nearly the required rate, Rob A reached his 50 from his 47th ball, which was then followed by two thunderous strokes for four. After a partnership of 117, at over a run a ball, Rob A finally holed out for a vital, season-leading innings of 68. Rob O was then joined by Nick, who carried on in the style of his little brother. Sensing trouble, the captain turned to our friend Mr De Villiers. We then took great pleasure in seeing his bowling being dispatched by both left- and right-hander, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend on the bench next to ours!

As the target grew nearer, with 36 required from 30 balls, the captain brought himself back, but to no avail, as our valiant heroes kept on chipping away at the total, culminating in 14 from the penultimate over, including an extremely popular delivery that went for five wides past fine leg. This brought us to within one run of the target and on the final ball of the over, Rob O chipped the ball delightfully to silly mid-off for a single while three fielders seemed to leave the dolly catch to each other. This brought up a solid, invaluable and well-deserved 50 for last season's skipper and tied the scores. The game was won on the next ball with Rob beautifully guiding a leg bye behind square for a win that was cheered vociferously and joyously from the sidelines.

Nick finished 33 not out from only 24 balls, which, allied to his bowling figures of 11.4/0/40/4, just give him the edge over Tim M for the man of the match award.

Thanks to Kate, Harv, Ritchie and Kerri for your support, along with Dom, who'd ab'scone'ded his duties in Norfolk to watch our innings. Also thanks to Graham for turning up at short notice and making up the numbers. A fantastic start to the home season and a game played in a great spirit. An honour to fill in as captain for a game like this, and I'm glad my tactics of not letting myself do anything meaningful seemed to pay off. Let's hope the momentum can roll on to next week against Coopersale.


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