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July 2007

July 31, 2007

Hey-Ho Me Cricket! Woodford Green is the Place....29/7/2007

After all our years of local cricketing endeavour we finally got to play on the oldest cricket ground still being used when Woodford Green CC welcomed us to their historic home. A cricket field since 1735 the venue will have seen few more comprehensive victories than our 9 wicket win, and not many more frustrated batsmen than Richard, the Chigwell number 4 who never got to build on his swashbuckling effort of the previous week.

The suggested early arrival for fielding practice never quite materialised, leaving Frank and I to make the most of the opportunity to fling the practice ball about, and bruise each other's hands.

Unsure of the standard of the opposition and the reliability of the pitch, I won the toss and chose to field. We were rather short of batting, and were down to ten men as Imran had called at one o'clock to report a hamstring injury, suffered that morning playing football (vile game!). I planned to give Rob a fairly short spell as opener, supported by Frank at the other end, but Rob bowled well and justified his 10 overs. Frank was unlucky in that he continually bowled to the more aggressive batsman, who swiped a couple of sixes over the short offside boundary. He might have holed out had I placed myself right on the boundary rather than 10 yards in, or if I were a few inches taller.

Alan the Woodford Green skipper perished to a catch at slip by me, a real rarity, and the result of canny planning by Rob. With the ball and the conditions right for swing bowling, Ritchie replaced Frank, and caused problems straight away. It took a while for the second wicket to fall however, and the score had progressed fairly rapidly into the eighties before the BGC finally got to bowl to the aggressor, who almost immediately fell to a well taken return catch. This wicket seemed to break open the floodgates and Chigwell began to claim regular victims. Rob finished his 10 over spell with 3 wickets for 27 runs. Ritchie claimed two victims, the second a superb piece of work by James to stump an overbalancing batsman. Brad bowled an economic 5 overs for 16 runs, his one wicket (a smart slip catch by Rob) prompting Monty Panesar like celebrations. He was unfortunate to be taken out of the attack, but I figured the pitch looked good for spin, and the slope meant that Nick had to have that end. Nick probably didn't bowl at his best, a few short ones being dispatched to the square leg boundary, but he did claim the important wicket of the Woodford Green number three, who through the carnage, had racked up a respectable 77. He was bowled, beaten in the fight by a floated delivery. Having seen each of my previous two overs - one bowled to Joe Rudkin and one to Graham Hancock - dispatched for 20 runs each, I was delighted to find a responsive pitch and less talented batsmen when I started my spell. The innings ended with me taking successive wickets, one with a long-hop (LBW) and one with a ball that was so wide the umpire still signalled it despite the batsman somehow managing to hit it back to me for a caught and bowled. The umpire changed his signal and the innings closed on 161 - a good recovery by the Chigs, and a distinctly gettable total.

In the end it was a very comfortable Chigwell innings, Rob and Adam putting on a stand of 133 for the first wicket. Adam true to form was the more cautious of the pair, but eventually was out for 46. Rob progressed to 87 not out at the close, with James, the only other Chigwellian given the chance to bat, making a comfortable 14, including the winning hit for four.

Woodford Green were amiable hosts, and a few beers were sunk in very good company. A good performance from the ten man Chigwell team; most catches were held and the bowlers exploited the conditions well.

Man of the match: Rob Allum - 87 not out, 3 wickets for 27 and 2 catches...

July 24, 2007

Adam the Rock as Chigwell Stodge a Draw (Coopersale Away 22/7/2007)

A nice day, but the game was rather poor due mainly to the "village rules" that removed 30 minutes from the game and discouraged a sensible declaration from Coopersale. Village rules mean that the first side bats for 2 hours 30 mins, the second side gets an hour and then "the last hour" - almost invariably 20 overs - to bat. I suppose it is possible for the first side to declare, but that doesn't usually happen, so whereas a side getting to 250 by, say, 4.30 in a normal timed game would declare early and have longer to get the wickets, Coopersale had only 36 overs to get us out, and were unable to open up the game sufficiently to keep us interested…

We were set 246 to win, and once we had made a slow start we clearly had no chance of winning, and stodged it out. Graham Hancock wasn’t best pleased with our game plan, but what can you do when it's impossible to win? It was a bit like the good old days of Coopersale, when the team seemed to be totally dependant on GH - just as well he isn't quite fit to bowl or he might have added a few wickets to his 91 off not many balls, including 20 off the only over I bowled. He did have support from Coopersale's number three, who had set the ball rolling earlier with a meaty slogging session, surviving at least two presentable chances which were shelled by Richard and myself. Indeed our fielding was generally poor, and we really are capable of much better. Perhaps we should arrive early for the Woodford Green game and practice.

Notable Chigwell performances came from Richard, who was given free rein, and used it to smash 36 runs, and Adam, who despite cat-calls from the boundary urging a more aggressive approach, followed the captain's preferred route and left the wide ones, of which there were many. Adam was finally out seeking 9 runs from the last over to get to 50. Nick and I consolidated our averages and we finished on 179 for 7.

We enjoyed the warm hospitality of Coopersale, and the cold lager of their fridge, whilst mulling over the rather inadequate nature of the day's cricket. Still, after all the games we have lost to the weather this summer it was a pleasure simply to take to the field.

Man of the match: Adam Peters, our new member!

July 12, 2007

Hadley Wood Grin - Then Groan (10/7/2007)

T'was a happy band of Chigsters who arrived in sunshine at the Hadley Wood Cricketing Arena. Everyone was on time and all were eager to make up for the loss of our previous two fixtures to the June Monsoons.

I won the toss and reverted to type - bowl first. HWG are notoriously difficult to bowl out, so I considered our best chance of winning was to chase a score, not wickets. Considering the weather of the previous 3 weeks the pitch looked pretty good too.

Mike Davey and Jim Wallace opened the batting with Zarghum and Adam Peters having first go with the ball. Both bowled well, with Adam in particular finding a degree of swing and the edge of the bat several times. Jim seemed to be living a charmed life as the ball whistled through the slip/gulley area on several occasions, but never to a fielder. The HWG openers scored at a reasonable rate, a run a minute for the first hour, until eventually Mike's wicket fell, bowled by a corker from Richard "scar face" Hannan in the middle of a decent spell.

Jim, having ridden his luck, made the most of his opportunity and took his score beyond 50. Mike De Villiers, aka (to us) Cruella, batted steadily but never quite got going. Pete claimed his wicket in the end, Nigel pouching the first of two catches which helped to make up for his earlier drop. There followed a productive spell for Chigwell as wickets fell and runs were scored slowly. Brad had Jim caught at gully for 70, while Dan, HWG skipper went for a duck, unable to cope with the drift and turn of his Chigwell counterpart. I finished with 3 for 19 from 9 overs, which was flattering, but I'll take it! The tonk was on for the last few overs; HWG clearly had a target of 200 in mind and declared on that score. Some Chigwellians thought the innings had gone on an over or two too long, but subsequent events made Dan's decision seem justified.

The usual fine tea was scoffed, and we contemplated scoring 201 in about 40 overs.
"Five an over, we can do that..." was the vibe of the eager Chigwell leather-beaters. Before long however victory seemed extremely unlikely; John departed to the first ball of the innings, Mr. Turner doing his stuff as usual. Rob A followed, out to an ugly swipe across the line. A short innings for the BCG, and I'd not asked him to bowl either, so an unusually quiet game for him. Nigel followed for a duck and the score was 14 for 3. We'd been here before! The fourth wicket pair was Adam and James, a lot rested on their shoulders. They bore the weight superbly and gradually but unmistakably the balance of power began to shift. Both posted half centuries in a stand of 108, it taking a marvellous piece of fielding by MDV to end the partnership, Adam run out for 60. 122 for 4 became 122 for 5 when Pete joined John and Nigel in the duck pond.

The run rate was still at 5 an over thanks to Adam and James, and as I joined James we felt positive about our chances. To my relief I found that the ball seemed to be finding the middle of the bat, and that the bowling offered sufficient opportunity to score at the required rate. Dave Turner returned and I did find that he was reasonably quick, and could indeed move the ball, one or two jaffas seaming away from my groping edge. James mixed prudence with bludgeonry, while we both survived the odd chance that, if taken, might have exposed our tail, although I think we had enough talent in that tail to finish the job.

So it came to pass that we needed 3 more runs to win from 3 overs and one ball. I saw that one ball out with a strange nothingy shot, but as the field changed the thought occurred to me for the first time that James might be within reach of his century. He struck the first ball of the antepenultimate over through wide mid-off; we ran hard, wanting to finish the game on that delivery. We thought the excited shouts from the boundary were solely in anticipation of our excellent victory, but no! They were also in celebration of James registering his 3rd Century for the club - 101 not out; a really fine innings, and a matching winning effort. I scored 33 in our unbroken stand of 79 for the sixth wicket, captain and vice-captain bringing home the bacon.

So the mood was jolly as we exposed our pants to the Hadley Wood air, changing back into our civvies on the outfield. Nobody could quite be bothered to shower at the tennis club where we go for drinks after the match, so we were home, but not hosed on this occasion. Hadley Wood were gracious hosts as always. A pleasant bottle of beer or two were quaffed, many as part of James "jug", which must have been expensive. I only hope being awarded man of the match for his dazzling ton helps compensate him.