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Winners of the Middlesex and Essex Invitation League 2009 - 2012

August 21, 2008

Chigwell Cough & Splutter to a Draw Against Hainault & Clayhall

Blessed by weather which was far better than the forecasts had suggested Chigwell revved up for their final league game with a friendly fixture which we have often won in the past and optimism was high enough for the skipper to consider batting first. The toss was lost however and I could rest easy that batting first, as we were required to do, was not my fault.

A top three of Rob A, Adam & Charlie is unlikely to get the pulses racing and we settled in for a bit of a grind. Adam, fresh from the David Lloyd Jacuzzi smacked his second ball for four, then called a sharp single and looked as if he was in uncharacteristically aggressive form. This proved to be short lived when he was run out when Rob called a very tight run which resulted in a surprising run out, the perpetrator in baggy grey tracksuit bottoms hitting one stump from 20 yards despite looking like someone who had been recruited from the gym half an hour before the game.

Charlie joined Rob and the expected slow pace was now realised. After an hour and a quarter's play the score was on about 60 for 1 and as I left my umpiring position for a well earned rest on the boundary I mentioned to Charlie that it was time to kick on. Chas flicked a mental switch and went ballistic. In one over he smacked four fours, his best shot a sublime off drive along the ground for four. Unfortunately he fell one short of a deserved half-century, leaving the field cursing the decision, his dignity and sportsmanship not yet the equal of his batting.

James had been promoted to number four, and hit some good (and some not so good) shots in his 35. He eventually top-edged one to point and had to go. Rob A was dismissed for 39, caught by Master Trackie Bottoms off a full-blooded pull to the square-leg boundary. The ball initially bounced out of his hands, but was coolly pouched on the rebound. Tahir and Nigel went cheaply, as did I, bowled through an enormous gate. Angela, not sure if I was bowled or stumped, said "What was that?" as I neared the boundary, a question echoed by Rob A for different reasons.

We were well short of a competitive total with 3 wickets remaining. It was looking as if we would have to bat for at least 3 hours, but one amazing over brought us back towards a reasonable rate. Nick had already begun to look in the mood when suddenly he launched a straight ball over the head of the man at mid-off for a maximum! It was the first six I can remember him hitting since his golden period in the early 90's and the Chigwell faithful roared their approval. He ran a single and then it was Brad's turn to wallop the ball, his rather more agricultural shot clearing the fielder at "cow" and registering his second ever six! The first was at Low Hall Farm in 1989. This feat was greeted by a strange mixture of cheers and stunned silence. Brad perished trying to repeat the feat - caught by the lad in trackie bottoms - and after a few more added by Nick and Owen the time was right to declare, the score a barely passable 193.

After the interval Chigwell did not perform well in the field. Frank and I opened the bowling but although we were not being taken for many runs by the cautious batsmen we never looked particularly threatening and after 5 overs apiece we turned to Nick and Charlie. After six more overs nothing much had changed, so I turned to the relationship breaker. Brad is cursed this year as the bowler who has had most catches dropped off his bowling; this day was no exception as Chigwell contrived to drop at least four chances. By now things were beginning to look grim, so I tried the pace option of Adam and Rob. Adam had an immediate effect, but not the one we really wanted, the H&C skipper top edging one into his cheek. Dr. T led him from the field, recommending ice and a dressing as Mr. Shinn took his place. A wicket finally fell in the27th over, Adam hitting the pad of the surviving opener in front. It took another 7 overs for the next wicket to come, that to a run out well executed by Tahir. By now the pace of Rob and Adam had pushed the asking rate up, and wickets began to fall – Adam bowled Mr. Hoskins and Rob ran out Mr. Sharif. Glory be, we even took a catch when Mr. Shinn, forced to up the scoring rate, flayed one to extra-cover where I was patrolling.

We arrived at the last over with a draw seemingly secured. Adam bowled the last over knowing that they needed 20 to win, while we needed 4 wickets. It was not Adam’s best over. First ball was a wide no ball which scooted to the boundary. After a dot the third ball was a wide. Then he accidentally let slip a horrible beamer (called no ball) which Mr. Trackie Bottoms pulled off his face for 6. With one ball to go 3 were required. The ball was hit to Frank at deep mid off who to his credit returned the ball well enough to prevent a third run and the game ended as a scores level draw – phew!

It was quite dark by the end and in retrospect it would have been sensible and sportsman-like for me not to have fast bowlers on, especially from the end with no sight screen. A black mark to the skipper there – I hope the opposition won’t hold it against me.

Man of the match: Unusually it goes to one of the opposition, M. Bullman. 2 superb catches, a dazzling run out and a spirited last over that nearly won his team the game – all done in tracksuit bottoms.

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.

August 04, 2008

Jerry’s Jurassic Coast Home

Jerry Hayes’s Jurassic Coasters recorded an exciting victory against a strong Chigwell side in the opening match of this year’s Lyme Regis tour.

There had been a number of mishaps in the arrangements for the day already and defeat at the hands of the Coasters completed the set (writes match skipper, Nick). Well, it was Friday 13th. First the eagerly anticipated gig featuring The Wilsons and Airport Contention at Jerry’s local hostelry, the Talbot Arms, was double booked with a teenage disco and then the original venue for the match, which is adjacent to the pub, became unavailable due to a strop by Bayleaf the Gardener - or whatever the Uplyme groundsman’s name is.  However, Axminster Cricket Club came to the rescue with an offer to host the match at their splendid ground, which nestles amongst gentle hills on the outskirts of the Devon town.

Si Thorpe and I caught a train from Waterloo at O’Christ.00 and were disembarking in Axminster by 11.00am.  Despite the gig being cancelled, Si had decided to come along for the ‘craic’. I swiftly recruited him to the team, as we were one short, which gave him an excuse to give his very smart golf shoes a run-out.   Others of us began to gather at the ground by about 12.30 and the Jurassic Coasters too gradually turned up. They were a couple short so some local lads, practicing in the nets, were quickly recruited.

Jerry had deputised the captaincy to his work colleague Mark and I went out to the wicket with him to toss up. We had pre-arranged that the touring side would bat, but went ahead with the toss to please the photographer.



I had been led to expect that the Jurassics would be a little uneven in batting and bowling talent, so the swaggering Londoners were to dictate the pace of the game. This is indeed how it turned out – to begin with.

Rob Allum and Owen Evans opened the Chigwell innings. The idea was for us to very slowly build a prehistoric  sediment of our own, on which numbers three and four, dashing blade James Laycock and, err, me, would build at a quickfire pace later in the afternoon.  The first over was bowled by our old mucker Mark Jefferys. Owen was bizarrely off the mark in this first over.  That alone was bizarre enough, but the fact the he opened his account with a 5 was probably a first.  When Owen duly closed his account after being bowled by the useful skipper Mark, James was next in, being watched from the grandstand by his proud WAG, Cindy.  No doubt wanting to impress, the Wandering Fox nervously scratched around the Jurassic chicken-shed while Rob started to poach boundaries.  As both James and Rob upped the pace, Jon Hunn was brought on. It was good to see his action in action again, and the batsmen thought so too.  A wide was followed by a bouncer that Rob flat-batted to the long-off fence.  Three overs later the spell was finished, having produced 30 runs.

When Rob reached 50 he dutifully ran himself out as I had given orders that it was to be a ‘50 and out’ tour game. When James reached his 50, he too made every attempt to get himself out, banishing all defensive shots from his repertoire. In doing this, he suddenly began to time the ball brilliantly and didn’t manage to fall on his sword until he had amassed 39 more runs. Meanwhile, I was caught out by someone who appeared to be no more than 8 years old. However, Rob Orange, Dominick and Richard all gaily biffed away, and I was able to declare the innings closed at 4.20pm on 220-5, foolishly before the very excellent tea was quite ready. From snatches of overheard conversation, the Jurassics didn’t seem to be hopeful of victory, and I must admit to being quite confident that we were well and truly in control of the match.

When a director wants to disown the cut of his movie that the film studio releases, the pseudonym ‘Alan Smithee’ is always found in the credits. I can only assume that Nigel too was happy for history to attribute his spell of bowling to someone else.  The scorebook records a ‘Mr Bathwood’ opening the bowling for Chigwell when play resumed. 

Mr Davis was his partner and, with fields set in attacking style, the Jurassics were allowed to score freely for the first hour.  With more than 50 on the board and no wicket, I turned to Tom Wiskin and Rob Orange who both bowled tidily but without success. Now seriously worried, I turned to the big guns.  Regular opening pair Dominick and Rob Allum could do little to stem the flow of runs although wickets began to fall. Even Jerry managed a boundary from Rob’s bowling. I fared no better and quickly reinstated Dominick to the attack.  With three overs left in the match, the Jurassics needed 13 to win, with 5 wickets still in hand.  We weren’t going to win, but a draw looked vaguely possible.  When Rob had Jurassic’s opener caught, by now with a fine century to his credit, things began to get interesting. Or so we hoped. In the penultimate over, though, we gifted the Coasters a boundary at fine leg. That 8-year old again (who turned out actually to be 14). So with the final over to be bowled by Rob, 2 runs were all that was required. They were collected without fuss with four balls to spare.

So, one could say that we stage-managed a close match for the opening of a great tour, and that cricket was the winner... but I suppose Jerry might see it differently...!

July 13, 2008

Familiar Old Faces in the Newman XI Make It A Special Day (Newman International 29/6/08)

Speculation had reached fever pitch on the Chigwell mail group, with ever more wild and even metaphysical suggestions as to who would be the “Very Special Guest” in Paul’s team for the Newman International. Two years earlier Nasser Hussain had been coaxed out of retirement, but even he couldn’t prevent a Chigwell win, and with last year’s fixture cancelled I wondered how 2 years of networking might help Paul in getting a strong outfit together. So who could the VSG be? Another ex-international? Someone from Chigwell CC’s past? Only time would tell…

Paul and I both arrived at the ground at least twice, me having to return home to get my bat – doh!- and Paul disappearing to ferry people to the ground from the station. When I returned Brad told me “It’s Gus - Angus Fraser.” Thinking the mystery of the VSG solved. I can understand why; ex-international bowler, TMS commentator and ICC Cricket Committee panel member seemed like a very special guest indeed… until Paul arrived with Mr. Graham “Patto” Patterson, Chigwell legend, all the way from New Zealand, looking pretty much the same as ten or so years ago, when he was striking fear into the hearts of Garden CC’s opponents. I can remember one batsman at WG Gracefully’s home ground pleading for mercy, citing his children as the reason why Patto should avoid doing him serious injury… happy days. Once at Ray Park I set a field with not one person in front of the bat, and Patto still bowled a maiden. What makes him such a VSG however is that he’s simply a fantastic bloke. It was a great surprise to us all, but Tim Hall’s double-take reaction and joyous cry of “Patto!” summed up the pleasure we all took from seeing him again.

Paul had pulled together a very strong side, whereas Chigwell were looking a little below their optimal strength. With visions of Gus and Patto blowing our innings apart, not to mention Ricky Elcock as first change plus god knew who as second, I won the toss and practically screamed “We’ll field!” at Paul, who, having a degree of cricketing nous about him, was grateful to achieve his own desired outcome from the toss without having to go to the trouble of calling correctly.

Mr. A. Akram (a first XI player from Wanstead) batted at number 1, his partner M. Gymer a familiar face from the previous running of this fixture, it being he who had scored a patient 50, including a spell (albeit brief) of batting with Nasser during which he managed to avoid being run out, a rare honour. Dom was given the cherry, with which he was reasonably economical and occasionally threatening. It was however soon obvious that the Old Chigs pitch was playing to type – a feather bed, a shirt front, a batsman’s paradise. Frank was the first to suffer, his 4 overs going for 34. Rob replaced him and saw his first ball disappear for 6, young Mr. Gymer showing that, 2 years on, he had added strength to his excellent technique. 3 balls later Rob had his revenge when Dom took an excellent low slip catch that was in his hands before I had even realised there had been a snick. In strolled Patto who set about reminding his erstwhile team mates that he wasn’t just a great bowler, he was also more than useful with the bat. The Wanstead opener was meanwhile moving through the gears and between them the second wicket pair added 68 before Patto holed out to Dom in the deep; another great catch fully appreciated by me as captain and bowler. An even better catch in my next over saw the demise of A. Akram for 91 (out of a total of 139), and once again it was Dom in the deep who pouched the ball which seemed to stall in the wind, having at first looked like another maximum.

If 139 for three wasn’t a great position for Chigwell, things progressively got worse as the strong Newman middle order took command. D. Wilson scored 56, G. Marcus, hopefully a future Chigwell player, finishing on 58 not out. Only Nick was able to cause any problems, taking 3 wickets (one bowled, one LBW and one excellently stumped by Adam) for 63 in 11 overs. Brad never quite got line and length together and went for 42 in 5 overs and Zarghum was spanked for 21 in 2.2 overs before the declaration came, with the score on 302 for 6 from 42.2 overs. As we neared the end I ventured that this could be the most one sided match since Australia played the under 12 paraplegic XI, which wasn’t in the best of taste, but reflected my rather pessimistic prospects of Chigwell getting anything out of the game.

During tea I cheered up a little as Rob, far from being cowed, relished the chance to see what he could do against the potentially fearsome Newman attack. He was paired with Adam to start our batting effort and immediately they were confronted by a Fraser/Patterson opening attack. Both may have lost a yard or two of pace over the years, but it was still awe inspiring to see Rob spank them both around the park.
It seemed too good to last, and eventually Rob fell to Rick Elcock, Patto making the extra-cover catch look easy. By this time Rob had reach 54 and had every reason to be jolly chuffed with his knock. Inevitably the run rate declined from this point and the very faint possibility of a win become a rock solid impossibility. Nick scored 11 before playing over a straight one. Dom joined Adam at the crease and I assumed umpiring duties. It was an interesting umpiring spell to say the least. The first shout was for a run out, which I gave not out, Adam just making his ground. Paul later agreed with me, but it seemed to inspire Gus Fraser to assume the role of comedic sledger, with me rather than the batsmen as the primary target. Next up a massive appeal for a ball that clearly hit Dom’s pad. More rye comments from slip. Then an LBW going down the leg side, whereupon it was suggested that a fully sighted umpire might improve Newman XI’s chances of winning. I wasn’t the only one to suffer: following 4 byes off his bowling a ball was hit gently to Hannah at square leg whereupon Gus applauded her and said “Well done Hannah – at least there’s one Newman here who can get behind the ball!”

I was relieved when the drinks break arrived and I was able to prematurely pass the white coat on to Owen. Almost immediately wickets began to tumble. Adam was caught behind for 23 off the left arm spin of Mr. Marcuis; Richard played across a straight one and departed for 4, a score matched by Nigel who was caught, both off the bowling of A.Akram. I was now at the crease and as I was about to face my first ball Gus chirped up “Shouldn’t take long to get this one lads – he can’t see!”

In the end Brad and I managed to stonewall for 8 or 9 overs. Angus declared that there was more life in W.G. Grace than in Brad’s bat. It was a nice retort when Brad called a single saying “There’s one there – there’s always one to Gus”. The game petered out to a draw and as we left the field I told Gus that it had been a pleasure to be sledged by him – which indeed it was.

Angus Fraser finished with none for 24 off 8, Patto with none for 26 off 5. Chigwell managed 181 off the same number of overs that the Newman XI had scored their 302, but we had earned an honourable draw nonetheless.

While most of Paul’s team slipped away we enjoyed a few beers and reminiscences with Patto; what a delight it was to see him again. Good on Paul for raising with him the possibility of a surprise visit to Old Chigs when he was on tour with England in New Zealand.

Paul mentioned that in the whole history of the Newman International fixture he had never won, and that he had considered retiring from playing the game if he had emerged victorious from this one. That made me doubly glad we had avoided defeat. The day wasn’t really about the result though it was about sharing the field with some great ex-pros and spending some time with our great friend Graham “Patto” Patterson.

June 27, 2008

Axminster Carpeted by Chigwell (Tour 15/6/2008)

Captain Addison Reports:

Having set off early from Lyme Regis with the intention of having a walk around "quaint and charming Axminster" before the game Mitz and I arrived at the ground well in advance of the 2pm start, and well in advance of the remainder of the Chigs bleary eyed mob. Our 5 minute wander around the town seemed to take in all the delights of Axminster that our hung over brains could handle so we despatched ourselves early to the picturesque ground. On arrival we collapsed on a grassy bank overlooking the first team pitch to watch Axminster under 13's finish off their game against some local rivals. Tim and I agreed that the standard of cricket for these youngsters was high enough and shuddered to think what their senior club mates might have in store for us. We were soon to find out as three likely looking members of our oppo came into view on their walk around the boundary. They certainly looked fresher than the majority of the Chigwell line up, which wasn't difficult considering 2 games in 2 days in addition to a months alcohol consumption in 2 nights, but other than that I was confident we could raise ourselves for a competitive game.

As the junior game came to a victorious end for the home side, we rolled down the grassy bank into the club house and I introduced myself to the opposition skipper. We decided to get the formalities out of the way and after winning the toss I decided that we would have a bowl, for no other reason than I thought it might allow us to blow away some of the booze induced cob webs and get us into a match mentality as soon as possible. Their skipper informed me that "they were a mixture of 1's and 2's regulars supplemented with 4 or 5 youngsters" I duly passed this information onto the now assembled Chigwell ranks and the lethargy etched across their faces was enough to tell me this could be a difficult task. Nevertheless we took the field and I opened the bowling with Rob Allum coming from the pavilion end. Before the game had started I had discussed the right hand cover boundary with their skipper, he ensured me that the rope would be moved back to allow a more accommodating out field to an already cosy ground, nevertheless this hadn't happened and the ease with which Rob's and my first overs were despatched to said boundary indicated that this could be a high scoring game. The Axminster openers were pretty relentless in their aggressive start helped along with some ordinary and tired bowling from myself and Rob, and afore mentioned short boundary. A couple of forced fielding changes helped shore things up a bit but Axminster had notched up 58 off 10 overs before the first wicket fell to me; a ball which held its line to sneak between the openers bat and pad to rattle middle and off.

"Basher" the remaining opener, was joined at the crease by "Burly" and the run fest seemed destined to continue, but Rob had other ideas and had the number 3 caught behind after he nibbled at one outside off, James completing the catch behind the stumps. Wary of more first and second team regulars to come I decided to bowl Rob and myself through our 8 over allotted spells in an attempt to try and keep things as tight as possible. As it materialised their number 4 batsman was one of the youngsters and after some brave, swash buckling stuff he was bowled by Rob to finish off his spell with a deserved 2 wickets. Mitz replaced me and Nick, with a tentative glance at the short boundaries as well as at the free flowing "Basher" still at the crease, reluctantly took over from his younger sibling. The reassurance I tried to offer Nick about potentially being carted wasn't necessary as he and Mitz both bowled very tight spells to keep the run rate well within check. Nick gathered 4 wickets in his 8 overs, the best of which was "Basher" caught behind to a neat low catch by James. After Mitz's spell of 4 overs I replaced him with Wiskin Jr, who in the previous 2 tour matches had bowled well exhibiting prodigious swing reminiscent of Wiskin Sr in the good old days. Despite bowling well in the Friday and Saturday games, Tom hadn't had much return but I thought if he could keep the same shape in this game on a small ground he might get his reward. Sure enough his reward came in historic fashion as his victim, confused and frustrated by the swing he was creating, lashed at a full length ball only to sky it towards mid on. Wiskin senior was on guard and the usual wobbles under the high ball were banished as Graeme took an extra wide and sturdy stance to steady himself, being sure not to ruin the possibility of a proud family moment. One can only be grateful that Linda hadn't arrived at the ground yet, or if she had, at least wasn't watching this magical moment unfold on the field as her unbridled excitement would surely have resulted in Graeme shelling the opportunity. Graeme pouched the red nugget without hesitation and an enthusiastic celebration was enjoyed by all; Bowled Wiskin Caught Wiskin, Bowled Veal Caught Beef, Bowled Go-Cat Caught Whiskas however you want to put it, the moment is part of Chigwell history. The Axminster innings was mopped up with another wicket for Tom and the final wicket going to Brad who had replaced Nick. From a fast and furious start Axminster had been bowled out for 147 within their allotted 40 overs.

With a surprisingly small target to chase and after a hearty tea was gratefully consumed, I tore up my original batting order and considered the opportunity to bat those who wouldn't normally spend too much time in the middle; accordingly Tim was joined by Brad for the opening partnership. Unfortunately Tim was soon trotting back into the clubhouse after delaying over a debatable second run in the first over, despite his nimble sprint to make up the ground he couldn't quite do it and without even breaking stride to check for the umpires decision, he knew his fate and accelerated straight over the boundary and in for an early shower. Nige strode out to the middle to replace him and doggedly hung around with Brad for another six overs, unfortunately for him without accruing a score before being skittled. Graham was next to the crease and Brad warmly accepted his next victim, er I mean partner. Despite some tutelage on clear and concise calling from Graham, Brad was guilty of ball watching on the few occasions that the ball left the square, late and confused calling ensued and a few near misses from scrambled singles were agonisingly witnessed at the boundary. Inevitably, as Graham was trying to push the run rate on, another tight single was attempted and he met his end. James was in next and I was sure that he would provide the boost to the run rate that was needed, this didn't materialise and James fell cheaply. Rob A joined Brad in the middle at a time when the score wasn't so much of a concern, however the dwindling number of wickets and overs was. Rob and Brad continued to scratch around with the odd single coming here and there but no real inroads were being made. Eventually Brad's valiant resolve came to an end as he was bowled for 30. Contributing to his score were some proper cricket shots and he did a great job; I think if one of our recognised batsmen had stuck around with him for a bit longer he could have indeed gone on and surpassed his personal best of 38. Nevertheless, well done Brad! Rob O joined Rob A with some 60-70 runs still required off around 12 overs, we were making heavy work of chasing the low total! Rob Allum admittedly batting out of position was experiencing whatever the opposite of vertigo is batting so low down the order, the dizzying effect obviously contributing to his downfall as another connoisseur of the willow fell without reaching double figures. I joined Rob O in the middle hoping to provide the steroid injection that our innings needed. Up until now we had batted poorly but in doing so hadn't really threatened our chances of a win so I was still upbeat that the victory could be secured especially with 3 wickets still in the hutch. Rob and I started steadily building towards the required 5/6 per over required to get us over the line, Rob constantly assuring me that if we stuck it out we'd be ok. Things were on target and I was trying to apply myself as per Rob's advice. With about 6 overs to go "Basher", the Axminster half centurion hero, was tossed the ball by their skipper to try and wrestle the initiative back into their favour. If his bowling was as explosive as his batting then we could have been in trouble, fortunately "Basher" became the "Bashed" as he bowled right in the preferred slot of Rob O; short and wide down leg side. Rob duly obliged and turned the first 2 balls of the over down to fine leg for four. "Basher", slightly peeved at Rob's treatment of his leg spin, decided to try a new approach for the third ball of the over; no run up. This brought immediate results as Robs off stump was pinged from the ground, fortunately for us Rob was still staring at the crease so the ball was adjudged void. Basher continued with the no run up approach, but this time Rob was on duty and normal service was resumed; the 3rd, 4th & 5th balls of the over were guided down to the fine leg boundary for 4, the only the respite to save Bashers Blushes was a dot ball on the last of his over. Consequently Rob had scythed our required total in 5 balls leaving me to edge one for 4 and VICTORY!

Always good to have a win to finish off the tour and what a great tour it was. I thought the opposition teams were really friendly and hospitable and I hope the talk of re-visiting next year comes to fruition.

June 09, 2008

Well done Chaps! A Damn Good Try. (Asian away 8/6/08)

An untypically glorious Sunday afternoon found us taking the scenic drive through the lower end of Walthamstow, leading to Low Hall Farm, scene many years ago of the earliest games in our earliest incarnation as Aural Sculpture. While we have moved on from the 20 over cricket we played then, the rest of the cricketing world has begun to focus more and more on the shortest (unless you count our game with South Woodford last week) form of the game.

Asian were our hosts, this being the team that plays on the ground to the other side of the pavilion to the stark multi-pitched field where I cut my cricketing teeth. The ground is much more pleasant, although the pitch was not topographically flat, which was a bit worrying. The trials of getting an eleventh man were only resolved with fifteen minutes remaining until the scheduled start, Imran Ali the late volunteer. Notwithstanding this the team looked a little fragile, and with last week's debacle in mind I was dismayed to lose the toss, certain we would be inserted. Fortunately the Asian captain, Iqy, eased my pain by deciding they would bat first.

Rob had arrived uncharactaristically late, falling victim to a dizzy spell just before he was due to set off, and he was clearly nowhere near the best of health. It was certainly out of the question for him to open the bowling, so Frank took the new ball at one end, with Tim supporting him at the other.

Frank was a little wayward to start and was smashed for 6 when he dropped his second ball short, but after this he increasingly found his line & length and was very unfortunate to finish his (7 overs for 33) opening spell wicketless, a couple of very tough chances not quite being taken. Meanwhile Tim slotted straight into a Jimmy Anderson style swing bowling groove and claimed the wicket of Iqi, the sole league umpire raising a positive finger in response to our claim for an LBW which was dead in front, if a fair distance down the wicket. Tim bowled his eight overs straight through, he and I mindful of making sure he got some sort of rest between bowling and opening the batting later on.

Rob felt well enough to bowl and replaced Frank, Zarghum replacing Tim who finished with the excellent figures of 8-2-26-3 - and the 3 were the top 3 in the batting order. Wickets began to tumble with Richard pouching 3 catches, including a stunner at mid-wicket from a long-hop from Zarghum. At best we had Asian at 120 for 7 and 131 for 8, but the crucial moment was to prove the not out decision to Jamil, who, we are certain, under-edged one to James behind the stumps. Alex heard the nick from the boundary, but the umpire was unmoved. Rob's figures then suffered a bit (final analysis 8-0-49-3) as some powerful batting saw Jamil accumulate a quick 56 before I dismissed him rather fortuitously with one that kept low, hit bat and pad and rolled onto the stumps. An annoying last wicket stand ended with a stumping to leave me with figures of 8-1-30-2 and the Asian innings closed on 180 from 38 overs.

Tea was a delightful mixture of sandwiches and biryani, enjoyed picnic style by Chigs as we contemplated chasing a good total given the cloying mixture of long grass and grass clippings of which the outfield was composed. Tim and Rob were unsurprisingly asked to open, James accepting the responsibility of batting at 3. We were undeniably short of batting depth, but hopefully a good start would carry us to victory.

Tim again looked the class act, but sadly the vaguaries of the pitch were to see his demise on 20, when Iqi bowled him with one that kept very low indeed. James departed shortly afterwards LBW and from that point on only Imran, apart from Rob, could manage double figures. Rob kept things ticking over, but the required rate was climbing fast and my presence at the wicket only made it worse. I frittered time away, unable to connect with virtually any shot with aggressive intent. I was finally put out of my misery by one that kept low, whereupon Richard arrived to blast 8 quick runs before he was excellently caught on the run by mid on. The game could not be won by this time, so the revised target was to add a batting point or two to our 5 bowling points. Sadly we were unable to achieve the 125 required, Rob the last man out for 58 in the 39th over, with the score on 121, or 120 as it was to become after a post-match scoring adjustment.

Man of the Match: Rob for battling on despite feeling so rough.

June 03, 2008

Chigwell go West Against South Woodford 1/6/2008

South Woodford once again proved too good for Chigwell in a mismatch at Old Chigs. Their "Sunday drinking weak-medium" side proved that when it comes to a description of team strength their evaluation differs significantly from our own. Having won the toss and put us in to bat they were merciless in dismissing us for 44, only easing back once we were 16 for 7. At least Brad was given the chance to build an innings and he and Frank provided the only Chigwell fun in a stand of 20 for the 9th wicket. Brad was last man out for 15.

Frank took the only wicket in their reply, South Woodford passing our execrable total within 10 overs. A couple of chances went down, but it was difficult to be too cross, as it clearly didn't affect the result! Tea was consumed after the game, after which South Woodford slipped away, leaving us to debate how we go about finding an enjoyable conference fixture next time. Perhaps we will have to admit that, shorn of our best batsmen, we are weaker than weak-medium - just plain weak.

Flickering away however is a small but steady flame of strength and honour, which will be nurtured over the coming week, ready to fire our hearts for the next game; Asian, and a return to our first ever venue - Low Hall Farm.

Man of the match: Alex (scorer) Or Brad if he really wants it - he was certainly our best player.

vice Captain Rob Allum gives a more considered and optimistic view...
It was a poor result of course, but in defence of our little gang I think it was just one of those days...
I walked out to the toss with Rob and the oppo skipper and having then seen the pitch close up, had we won the toss Rob would have inserted SW and things would've looked pretty different.
The track was actully wet at that point, and the new ball seaming and swinging would've brought us wickets too.. and with the undeniably slow outfield I think we would have done ok by tea.

It gradually dried and calmed a little so conditions would have been easier after tea, and although
it's true we had a fairly weak batting line-up this week, we would have made significantly more than 44 in reply....

All in all, we didn't get the breaks - and shit happens.

Silver lining is Brad and Frank had a good chance to get some time in the middle and practice for when they'll need to score the winning runs for us sometime soon - Harv got a first chance outing for his new bowling style (shame He won't be on tour to get some more overs in!) - Graham got to bowl! ...and was swinging the ball on a full length comfortingly remiscent of early days Garden CC and bodes well for a spell or two on tour.

Forget ahbbadd it.

May 14, 2008

Chigwell Fall Short, Despite Glorious 123 from Tim (Stallion 11/5/2008)

Our league adventures continued on 11th May with us playing hosts to Stallion. Once again I managed to arrive later than most of the team, but was able to palm a little of the blame onto Nigel, whose homemade pizza was just about to finish its spell in the oven when I called to pick him up. I won the toss and made the usual league call of fielding first. Our team had a strongish look to it and I was confident we could compete. During the week I had made the schoolboy error of failing to confirm the availability of a schoolboy - Charlie - and we were fortunate indeed that Roger was able to fill in at short notice. Adam was back in the team too, so happy days! Stallion's openers were of the normal league variety; impressively powerful hitters. This type of batsman seems to enjoy the pace that Dom generates, and once again Dom was unceremoniously carted. After 5 overs the score was on 49, 43 of them from Dom’s 3 overs. Roger meanwhile was proving more difficult to get away. He saw both batsmen dropped off chances that would normally be taken (except the one I dropped, which was virtually impossible!). In Roger's third over A. Rahman was pinned in front and, to Chigwell's immense relief, his gun-slinging partner, B. Mehmood, was bowled by the same bowler in his fourth over. By now Nick had taken over from Dom and was no doubt delighted to have more restrained batsmen at whom to bowl. Roger bowled through his eight overs, his final analysis 2 for 25 even better than it looks. I bowled in tandem with Nick for a while and things were relatively quiet. In my first over Adam executed a superb run out, hitting the stumps from the boundary to leave K. Shazad stranded. Nick trapped W. Ahmed plumb in front in the next over and the score was 101 for 4 in the 19th over. The next two wickets to fall were both good catches by Nick on the boundary, both from my bowling - thanks Nick! Brad and Frank were tried, but neither seemed to give the batsmen much trouble and the run rate picked up as Stallion approached the last quarter of their innings. F. Shazad batted well and made sure their good start didn't go to waste, surviving one difficult chance to Nick off Brad's bowling. Dom returned to bowl his remaining five overs and finally dispatched him for 65 crucial runs. Rob A only got to bowl 3 overs (1 for 16), and as the innings finished on 250 for 9 I had to confess that perhaps I should have given him a full 8 overs. Nigel's reheated pizza was the star of another improved tea, after which Rob A and Tim M girded their loins and strode out to the pitch knowing we needed 6.25 per over to force a win. Whilst not achieving the pyrotechnics of the opening of the Stallion innings the Chigwell openers made an encouraging start, Rob scoring a good 18 before trying to force the pace and edging one behind. Tim, joined by Adam, began to ease through the gears and the second wicket pair added 87 before an untimely run out saw Adam return to the hutch, 30 to his name. Roger was rather unfortunately given out LBW first ball, and the innings was in danger of petering out... but not with Tim at the crease! He had now reached top gear, and was going into overdrive. We needed more than ten per over from the last seven, but when one over went for 20 it looked possible… Sadly it was not to be. Tim departed for 123, a second successive league century, another innings full of grace and power. He'd added a little Pietersen to his Gower of the previous knock, and one and all applauded him loud and long as he joined the throng outside the pavilion to see if the lower order could bring the win home. No. I was out first ball and those behind me crumbled, our last five wickets going for ten runs. The crowd were still in good humour as the game ended with Chigwell 37 runs short, players and spectators alike agreeing that it was a fine game of cricket. What our total might have been without Tim I shudder to think, but at least we are proving that we can compete in this league, and that we can have fun in it too. Mitz of the match: Man!

May 08, 2008

Draw Draw, Not War War (Hadley Wood Green 4/5/2008)

Having told the team to assemble at 1.00pm for sight screen duty, I arrived at 1.30pm to genial and well deserved abuse. I trotted into the changing room after handing over the cable ties to a band of trusty men, who headed across the pitch to the rusty sight screen, thankfully already roughly in place at the plum end.

In the time it took for me to hop into my kangas the sheet had been fixed wrongly to the frame of the sight screen, it requiring my attendance and superb management skills to detach it and rotate it through 90 degrees. Thereafter in a trice the grey-screen was fit for service.

Next task, duly accomplished was to win the toss. Tradition has it that in this fixture it is always wise to field first, but despite the risk of being unable to bowl the opposition out later on I chose to bat, thinking us the stronger team. Dan, the HWG skipper, was pleased to get his preferred option without having to win the toss.

Harvey was not keen to open, so in the absence of Rob, I promoted Nick to join John as opening pair. The innings started as I sped to Mace in Chigwell to buy a battery for the match clock. It soon became apparent that Hadley Wood were a little under-strength, and their bowling was a bit limited. Nick and John settled in, but the slow pitch and mostly slow bowling didn't make it easy for them to score quickly. After 20 overs we had 71 for 0 on the board and really needed to kick on. John grew unhappy with his bat and called for a replacement. I risked him using my blade, but after finding the middle with his first two shots it betrayed him and he spooned one to Jim Wallace at cover and was out for 42.

Nigel had been promoted to number three and he didn't disappoint, soon overtaking a frustrated Nick. It was during this partnership that a delighted crowd witnessed an all run 6, which must have had the batsmen puffing! Eventually Nigel perished for 42, with the score on 139. Charlie took his place, but with so little pace on the ball he too struggled to score quickly. The opening bowler returned, which seemed to suit Nick for a short time, two boundaries lifting his score to 43 before one sneaked through his defence and toppled the timber. Harvey joined Charlie and kept things ticking along, but after 40 overs we had only 173 on the board, which I felt was way below what we might have expected given the gentle attack. On 22 Charlie holed out to square leg and departed with his usual good grace.

James and Harv had taken it to 217 from 47 overs when James was bowled for 19, at which point I declared the innings closed. Harv finished unbeaten on 25, having shrewdly picked out the same fielder with successive pulls for successive drops.

Tea was supplemented by gratefully received contributions from Richard (scones with cream and jam), Linda (fruit cake) and Nigel (spicy noodles) and for the first time in Old Chig's history drew compliments from the opposition. Perhaps it was the excellence of the scoff that led to a 30 minute tea break which deprived us of ten minutes in the field, which may in the end have made a difference to the result.

Mike Davey never seems to fail against us, but he and his partner Mr. Bolt showed little urgency to attack the total set, although that wasn't easy with Dom firing on all cylinders, and Frank keeping it tight at the other end. The lack of ambition, driven apparently by poor totals in their previous fixtures, soon made the game unwinable for HWG and by the time Brad took the first wicket we were in the 22nd over with a paltry 34 on the board. The Chigwell bowlers couldn't get past the stonewalling, and instead merely improved their economy rates. Mike fell in the 32nd over for 39 runs, my arm ball hitting the stumps. Towards the end of the innings the prodigious spin I was finding started to make inroads, but it was too little too late. Dan was sent on his way thanks to a superb catch at slip by Dom, and James completed two more stumpings to add to his earlier one off Brad. The HWG innings closed on 103 for 6 from 45 overs. I finished with 5 for 21, which was a source of slightly muted pleasure for me, given the game overall had been rather dull.

But never mind! Alex, back to Old Chig's for the first time since the disturbing events of last summer supplied a couple of jugs courtesy of his mother, which was a great gesture, greedily consumed. James bought another following his 3 stumpings, and mine for 5 wickets was held over until next week - honest!

Man of the match? Nigel for a good pacy knock when it was badly needed.

April 29, 2008

An Epping good win for Chigwell 27/4/2008

27th April 2008 marked an historic day in the history of Chigwell Cricket Club as we chalked up our first league win. (The previous week was no less historic for being our first league fixture, but as we were soundly spanked on that occasion, a lot less enjoyable).

We had a strong looking team, which made looking at the weather forecasts through the week more painful than normal, as they were unremittingly awful. It was only on Sunday morning that they began to change, and suggest there was a chance that at least some play was possible. Various members faced with long journeys contacted me to try to avoid a potentially pointless trip, but the rain held off until we all arrived, at which point it decided to get going. The weather radar at the Met. Office had predicted that the rain would be short-lived, and by golly, for once, they were right! No heavy shower was going to prevent our planned fielding practise and we went through our paces, mindful of how poor catching had stymied a good start last week.

The umpires set a start time of 2:15 and I planned our strategy, based mainly around fielding first. When the coin landed the wrong way up I feared the worst as Epping decided to let us bat. Now I know I have always preferred bowling first, even in friendlies, but the league rules really do seem to favour that strategy, especially if the game loses any time to the weather, which was a distinct possibility. On the other hand, in our previous two games we bowled first, conceded a large total, and failed with the bat, so perhaps losing the toss wouldn't be too bad….

A lot depended on us getting off to a reasonable start, and that task fell to Rob and Tim. It wasn't long before hope started to rise, both openers looking comfortable at the crease. They did a great job of keeping the scoreboard moving, mixing the odd boundary with smart running. It's not always possible to achieve, but it gives the whole innings momentum when we don't stall at the start - particularly in a 40 over game. Rob fell LBW, a tight looking decision, but one more likely to be given by a neutral umpire than the batsman's team-mate we would normally have standing in a friendly. The score at this stage was 39, Tim doing the majority of the scoring. John joined him at the crease and was happy to play a supporting role to the star turn that Tim's innings was becoming. Tim batted beautifully. I remember his big ton against North Park on the postage stamp at Woodford Wells, but this innings eclipsed even that as he combined touch, timing and power, batting like a latter-day right-handed David Gower, to bring up a majestic century to the delight of his team-mates. Eventually he was to fall - to a mistimed pull shot – in the 30th over for 113, with the score on 154. Many of the opposition made a point of shaking his hand as he left the field, and of course the congratulations from his team mates knew no bounds - or not many anyway.

The batting order was re-jigged and the more powerful stroke players were sent in. John had to retire from the fray with a pulled calf muscle and James, Oli, Dom, me and Nick did our best to keep the runs flowing. We finished on 210 for 5, a very respectable total, but with only 56 coming in the last 10 overs perhaps fewer than it might have been.

A proper quality league tea was scoffed by all as I considered my bowling options. John was unable to take the field but fortunately Charlie had been brought along to watch, and was willing to take the role of substitute fielder. The plan was for Dom's searing pace and Rob's nagging accuracy to leave Epping well behind the run rate, taking a couple of wickets or so along the way, leaving it clear for the rest of the bowlers to finish things off. I had been reckoning without the clean hitting of an outstanding opening partnership for Epping. Mr. Whiting showed particularly aggressive intent, while Mr. Singh was not too shabby either. Four overs into the innings and the score was 31 for 0. Dom had gone for 23 in 2 overs and I had no choice but to try plan B – take the pace off the ball… Nick had expressed a preference for the other end, so I replaced Dom, while Rob persevered at the other. The partnership continued apace, and now what seemed like crucial chances were being dropped. At 100 for 0 from 13 overs the game was disappearing fast, and all Tim's great work with the bat seemed wasted. The team was sick and needed a doctor.

Enter Nick. His first over saw the first wicket, as J. Whiting missed with his swipe and was well stumped by Paul. "OK, let’s turn this juggernaut around" said Dom. "OK, this is where it starts" said I. We’ve both seen the "Chigwell Burn" before and memories of miraculous comebacks against W.G. Gracefully, Brighton Beamers and Gidea Park & Romford dared to creep into my mind. Next over from Nick and suddenly Mr. Singh was gone, falling to a great catch, held millimetres from the turf by James diving forward at mid on. The juggernaut was slowing. While I toiled through the rest of my spell and gave way to Brad, Nick claimed wicket number three, Tony Clarke raising the finger to a confident LBW shout. Nick’s fourth over was merely a maiden, but he made up for it with two wickets in his next over, another LBW and a dollied catch to James off a full toss, J. Newman departing first ball. In the excitement I didn't even think to bring the field up for the hat-trick ball, although my mind wasn't too confused to realise that Nick now had 5 wickets in as many overs, and would be buying beer for us. By the end of his allotted 8 overs he had claimed another victim and his figures read 8-2-21-6. An outstanding, astonishing performance. The juggernaut was now partway down the exit slip-road, approaching junction 27.

Young Mr. Tatlow and Mr. Butt now began to dig in, and from 144 for 6 the score inched forwards, there still being plenty of time for the Epps to win the game. Brad, Frank and Rob were unable to break through, but thanks to the earlier (forced) decision to take Dom out of the attack we still had 6 overs of something fiery to offer and before long Tatlow's patient vigil was brought to an end as leather missed willow, and hit ash. 182 for 7, with 7 overs to go. The satellite navigation system in the juggernaut was giving unclear directions: "Rejoin Northbound for Epping… take the Southbound exit for Chigwell…" And then, in Dom's next over, came the moment. 199 for 7 became 199 for 8 following a concerted and upheld appeal for LBW… and we had won! Bit of a surprise to hear that Epping had not found an eleventh man, and that one of the original 10 had had to leave early due to illness in the family; I hope it was nothing serious.

So victory to Chigwell, joyously celebrated by all twelve Chigwell players, together with Owen and Nigel, who had nobly arrived to support us. Team pictures were organised, once Tim had been dragged from the toilet, and after showers, jugs and laughter filled the Epping air, while the older members thought of how far we'd come from the days of Low Hall Farm. And the juggernaut? I can't be bothered to pursue that tortured metaphor anymore. Come to think of it Dom might have said "OK, let’s turn this tanker around"…

Men of the match: Tim Mitzman and Nick Allum. Never was finer service given in the pursuit of strength and honour.