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August 14, 2008

Essex Sunday League - 3 Caps at Old Chigs

Sunday 3 August

With the clouds gathering over Old Chigs, I arrived for my first outing as captain in a league fixture in apprehensive mood, writes James Laycock.  On the one hand, I took heart from the fact that we were putting out a very strong Chigs side with plenty of batting and bowling and some solid fielders to back us up.  On the other hand, 3 Caps were challenging for the top spot in the league and we were, by contrast, challenging for the wooden spoon after a difficult first season. 

Winning the toss, and with the drizzle turning to heavier rain, I felt bowling would be the solid option.  Having learned from previous games where we have had a tendency to give away early runs, I decided to start with Russell and Nick in an effort to keep things as tight as possible.  Russell bowled well and was unlucky not to get any reward after finding the edges of the 3 Caps’ openers on a number of occasions.

With conditions continuing to favour slower bowling, I was keen for Nick to see out his overs. This was one of the easier decisions of the day, given the doctor had kept the 3 Caps batsmen in his pocket, ending his master class on guile and containment by conceding only 15 runs and picking up the wicket of the opener for good measure.

Joe was keeping on the pressure from the other end and was doing well in his opening spell, bagging the number three along the way.  As we approached the 20 over mark, 3 Caps were still scratching around the 100 run mark and it was felt that the game was very much ‘on’.  The fielding was sharp, and the policy of youth on the boundary and experience in the ring was paying off.  Having Imran back in the fold truly felt as if we had 12 men on the field and at times he mustered a passable impression of Walthamstow’s finest as he tore round the off-side boundary on numerous occasions to turn 4’s into 2’s.

As spin was clearly working, I brought on young Platt to do a job at one end with the king of the contacts at the other, on instructions to ‘give it a tweak’.  Dan extracted both turn and bounce out of the damp track, the batsmen poking and prodding their way to 33 runs off the allotted 8 and neither they, nor I, can tell you how Dan failed to put any bunnies back in the hutch.  With the Highbury panther back on the prowl, nobody felt safe and Tim duly sent back three of the middle order to complement the scalp of the other opener that was taken earlier in his first spell.

Things were going very well indeed but having intimate knowledge of what we are capable of doing to ourselves, I was becoming increasingly anxious as we approached the final 15 overs where I felt the game could either be won or lost.  3 Caps also seemed to sense this was a crucial period of play and steadily moved through the gears.  I turned to the Dominator to see how the 3 caps bats would fare against a bit of pace.  As with Russell’s opening spell of the day, the pitch still offered bounce and the ball continued to come through despite the inclement conditions. 34 runs came off Dom’s 6 overs and he was unlucky not to be more wholesomely rewarded.

The 40 over mark arrived with 3 Caps finishing on 234.  We had let them get away from us in the close but all told, it could have been a lot worse.

Tea was as expected, and the Chigs batsmen looked forward to making an impression on what was a difficult but attainable target.  However, to cut a long story short, the 3 Caps bowling was more than decent, with each change of bowling bringing in another accomplished young player.  With an air of inevitability, we unfortunately collapsed and it was again a matter of setting our sights on the batting points where we also fell short, finishing on 109. 

The standout performances of the day were those of Dan Platt, who complemented his impressive bowling with a well constructed 56 and Nick’s bowling, which was accurate and miserly.


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