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June 07, 2007

Not a Winning Draw, not a Losing Draw, but a Drawing Draw. (Ingatestone 3/6/2007)

A glorious summer's day provided the canvas on which was painted the most sporting of drawn games, neither side showing quite enough control at some times, and not enough adventure at others.

With the toss conveniently lost, Ingatestone got stuck into the opening attack. Frank displayed signs of an indulgent Saturday night as his first two balls pitched somewhere near his feet and drifted gently wide. After an expensive first over Frank steadied himself and bowled well, but alas no wickets. Rob A was harder to get away at first, but steadily the runs scored from each over increased and things began to look ominous. There was a massive contrast in style between the Ingatestone openers, the right hander spanking all and sundry to all compass points, the left hander prodding a defensive bat at most offerings. Ritchie - great to have him back - replaced Frank and bowled 2 maidens at the prodder, then went for 14 in his next over to the tonker.

So the opening stand was at 73 or so, with tonker looking imperious. Who you gonna call? The partnership-breaker. Brad bowled one ball to the lefty, which went for a bye, then struck first ball to the right-hander! It did require the help of an amazing athletic one-handed catch by Imran at deep square-leg, but Brad produced once again when it mattered. Imran set a
fantastic standard in the field, one particular dash around the boundary to prevent a four equalling the catch in its excellence.

With tonker gone the run-rate fell dramatically, the prodder in particular finding it hard to score. Wickets fell too, and the game was suddenly transformed, with Chiggers holding the upper hand. Brad completed a fine spell, a catch from Richard securing a second wicket for (in Nigel's words) the "Relationship-breaker". I took 3 wickets, which was enjoyable in itself, but included the left handed opener and opened the way for more aggressive batsmen to smash my bowling, and that of Richard (who had one caught and one dropped by the skipper at deep mid-off), to the boundary and beyond. This also coincided with panicky fielding which yielded a few over-throws and mis-fields. Eventually the innings was declared on 212, probably about par. We bowled 43 overs in 2 hours and 50 mins, which isn't an impressive rate notwithstanding the heat and the frequent ball-hunting in the nettles or bushes beyond the boundary. The young ladies in what Rob described as "the peanut gallery" did nothing to help.

A slightly prolonged tea was followed by a brief opening partnership between Rob A and John, the latter departing to the ball of the day, jagging back to wriggle between bat and pad. Never mind John, Old Chigs next week! Alex was once again stylish and graceful, and looked set for a big score before misjudging a second run and departing run out. The decent opening bowler
continued to weave his spell, which finished with four consecutive maidens. Nigel and Rob formed a doughty pair, and when the ball was hit it always seemed to go to a fielder, or in one instance was smashed (by Nigel) into the arm of his batting comrade at the non-striker's end. Thus the first 22 overs produced something like 50 runs and it was a daunting rate of about 8
an over that was required in the last hour.

With the opening bowler out of the attack the runs began to flow, but progressively virtually the whole fielding side was pushed out to patrol the rope, and boundary scoring became difficult. Nigel eventually perished for 23, victim of one of the few catches that stuck - at least 8 were dropped - and James joined Rob in a spirited chase for the line. Rob finally fell for 83 hard-earned runs, and Imran came and went, perishing in the sort of run out that desperate run chases engender. I joined James, but by then the game was up, with 24 required from the last over, all fielders still on boundary patrol. The innings closed on 200, scored from 42 overs, James on 42 not out.

In all 412 runs were scored for the loss of 10 wickets during the course of the game and it was by no means a boring draw.

Man of the match - Imran for his superb fielding display, especially the catch that put some fire into our bellies.


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