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June 01, 2010

Nil Desperandum

Chigwell vs South Loughton, 30th May 2010

Frank Gough writes:
Following the cancellation of the season's first league fixture against HGW due to the poor weather, we approached the encounter with South Loughton in determined fashion, appreciating the importance of claiming an early win against our ubiquitously tough opponents. At the final analysis however, having restricted the visitors to 167, Chigwell subsided to a hugely disappointing defeat, ultimately being dismissed for 141 to finish 26 runs adrift.

It was an exciting cricket match, one in which the initiative ebbed and flowed throughout. Having won the toss, Rob chose to bowl on a green and mossy pitch, the kind of conditions that have frequently produced springy surfaces at Old Chigs with a fair degree of lateral movement.

With Ramesh in the ranks, Rob was keen to see how his additional pace would fare and he opened the bowling from the car park end, with Dave nominated to share the new cherry. It has to be said that neither were at their best; a strong wind blowing across the ground not assisting either and the pitch being a great deal more placid than we had anticipated. Both Ramesh and Dave were perhaps guilty of bowling too short, with the lack of pace in the wicket meaning that they ended up delivering too many boundary balls. After four overs I took over from Dave, with Rob A taking over from Ramesh four overs later, but only succeeded in marginally reducing the run rate as the SL openers raced to 93 without loss from something like 13 overs.

At this point Rob A, recognising that the wind, pitch and indifferent form were rendering our seamers ineffective, brought on the spinners at both ends, Nick replacing me and Rob O coming on at the car park end. Not for the first time, the effect was both immediate and dramatic; Rob claiming the scalps of both openers with his first two deliveries (the first, Farthing, to a good high catch by Ramesh at long off, the second, Baker, to an LBW). I must confess, as one of the four seamers whose bowling had left something to be desired earlier on the piece, I was ever so slightly grateful that Rob did not completely put our inadequacies into perspective by completing a hat trick. As it transpired, this was the start of a supreme spell by Rob, bowling at his best with changes in pace and the ball gripping and turning; predominantly accurate throughout. His final analysis was 12-2-25-6 and he was not flattered by those figures. At the other end, Nick was not quite up to his usual high standards, even sending down two double bounce deliveries in his spell (one of which was nearly hit straight back to the bowler, leaving me chuckling at mid on at what would surely have been one of the most diabolical wickets in recent memory had the catch stuck). Nick was never collared however, his 12 overs going for 32, and he did claim the important wicket of Tredgold for 3, who had the look of a man that would have made us pay had we allowed him to stay in for long . After Rob had run through the majority of the batting order, I came back on in with Brad at the other end and managed to clear up the last three wickets relatively quickly to close the innings at 167.

After another soul destroying tea, Dave and Richard set out to begin what we hoped would be a comfortable march towards a target that we felt was probably below par. South Loughton responded with a strong fielding and bowling performance, hitting the correct length straight away and proving tenacious in the field to prevent easy singles (arguably a sour note at the start of our fielding performance which had also been pretty good on the whole). Dave was struggling a little to get the ball away and watched as Rich, Rob A, Aqeel and Jawed were all dismissed for single figure scores leaving us in all sorts of trouble at 34 for 4 from around 15 overs. It was around this time that the visitor's opening bowler, Oliver, was unfortunately taken out of the game with a dislocated shoulder suffered in the field and, with the bowling perhaps a touch subdued after that event, Dave and Ramesh managed to get us back into the contest with an increasingly determined stand of 53 until Dave was stumped for a fighting 43(87 for 5). Ramesh followed soon after for a strong 35 and our chances were rapidly receding. Dan got a start but was soon on his way for 14 (112 for 8) and Nick was quickly sent back for 3 leaving us at the brink. A defiant partnership between Rob O and Brad got things moving again, but a bad run out claimed Brad for 11 with us still over 30 in arrears and the overs dwindling. There then followed some contentious moments as close appeals were turned down for LBW against me and a caught behind from Rob, accompanied by some posturing by the opposition.

Anyway, after receiving instructions from Rob to remain a positive I did what I do best and allowed my stumps to be sent somewhere in the direction of Abridge, so that was that. After the game, it was good to drink Rob O's jugged beer and proceed on for more beer and a decent curry at the Bipasha. A painful defeat given how winnable it was, but in the fielding, bowling of Rob and batting of Dave and Ramesh there were positives to be had.We still have the return match against South Loughton; there will be both points to gain and to prove in that one.



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