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April 23, 2007

Cruising; Then a Bruising (South Loughton 15/4/2007)

Summer arrived early, the cricket season arrived bang on time; suddenly we weren't talking about cricket related issues anymore, Chigwell CC was playing the first game of the season. The team assembled on time, the captain arriving twice, the second time with his shirt and match ball. Thus having proved myself a tosser, I proceeded to apply my skills further. A difficult discussion followed with the South Loughton coin spinning executive, his side wanting a 40 overs a side game, me having to explain that with Chigwell fielding a weak team, a timed game would suit better. Reluctantly, but magnanimously Andy agreed and bore the brunt of South Loughton disgruntlement. At least they were happy with batting first on a scorching April afternoon, inserted by me in time honoured tradition.

Rob A was entrusted with the first over, and Frank, on debut, with the second. After the first 8 overs the South Loughtonians were 35 for no wicket and I chugged through a few bowling alternatives in my mind. A further 8 balls later the score read 36 for 3. Rob started the party with an LBW, Frank then announced his Chigwell arrival with a wicket, Brad taking a very good catch at mid-off. In case we hadn't heard the first announcement Frank then castled the S.L. number four. It was very soon after this that I denied him a third wicket by failing to even go for a very simple catch at mid-wicket - sorry Frank! Rob claimed a second wicket courtesy of a near wide being somehow deflected onto off-stump by the hapless batter, a deserved reward for some effective bowling.

I changed the bowling at both ends after eight overs a piece, Nick at Rob's end and Alex, also on debut, replacing Frank. Nick repaid me by immediately dismissing the guy I had neglected to catch out earlier, and went on to produce the kind of quality display that sees him atop the "wickets taken" table year after year. He finished with 4 for 35. This included the final wicket to fall, that of the estimable T. Henman out for 58 in a total of 142, top scorer by 45 runs. Alex struggled a little to find the right length, but showed promise. Brad, honed by his single net session 2 months ago, bowled an economical and effective spell; 8 overs for 22 runs and 2 wickets. Assisting in this was the excellent Charles Rudkin, adding wicket-keeping to his impressive cricketing CV. He took two catches, the second, off Brad, a particularly smart piece of work down the leg-side.

The Chigwellians stepped up to the paper plates at tea confident of victory, but wary of the early season nature of the pitch - slow and a little variable in bounce. Rob A and John opened the batting, starting with due caution, eking a run an over for the first eight overs. John played the shot of the day, an exquisite extra-cover drive, but was bowled by a good ball on 15. Alex dug in for a while, but unfortunately was caught going after a full toss. Owen scored a couple before being bowled and things were looking decidedly dodgy. Nigel, showing purpose and maturity, added 60 with Rob to seemingly right the ship, but once Rob had perished for 47, to Mr. Baker, things fell apart dismally. From 102 for 3 Chigwell capsized and sank without trace, ultimately dismissed for a total of 130, losing the game by 12 runs, the aforementioned Mr. Baker claiming 5 wickets for 4 runs in 6 overs.

Thus ended an enthralling game with which to start the season. A great shame for us to lose of course, but there are plenty of positives to focus on: The bowling of Frank, Nick, Rob and Brad; the batting of Rob and Nigel; the keeping of Charlie.

Chigwell man of the match - Rob Allum


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