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Winners of the Middlesex and Essex Invitation League 2009 - 2012

June 14, 2007

CX n.o. for FCC (Woodford Green 10/6/07)

Woodford Green at home (of course) on 10th June 2007. A fixture that will live long in the memory of the most excellent Mr John Clifford, for it was this game where he scored his first ever century; a magnificent innings of timing and subtle touches on his favourite old Chigwellians pitch.

Alan of Woodford Green surprised me when, on winning the toss on a warm summer's afternoon, he chose to field first. I was relieved not to have to face the irritation of the Chigwell troops, but aware that this reflected a lack of confidence on the part of Alan. Next step was to decide on a batting order, the side replete with talented willow-wielders. After much consideration I gave the openers' slots to Rob A and John. Rob had performed well on difficult pitches and deserved a crack at an innings on the Old Chigs shirt-front; John had had no luck so far this season, but has been batting well and similarly deserved his opportunity. Of course I could have made a case for Alex, Harvey, James, Oli or Nick too, but that's captaincy for you.

I was not disappointed with my choice. Rob and John settled in, then tucked in to the bowling. The odd ball bounced a bit early on, but with this storm weathered, and a very difficult chance off John to backward square survived, progress become smooth. A century stand was achieved by the 24th over, and half-centuries were soon posted by each partner, Rob winning the race by an over or so. On 57 Rob fell to a juggled catch at square-leg having picked out the fielder with a well hit pull. 129 for the first wicket was an encouraging start!

Harvey entered the dance-floor and looked pretty good, especially his straight six, a beauty into the car park. While he was whistling his way to 37 in 27 balls, John was retaining his composure and continuing to accumulate quality runs. The 55 run stand for the second wicket ended with Harvey sending another attempted heave high into the air, to be taken by the keeper. Alex took the bull by the horns and continued the assault, scoring 10 off 5 balls before hitting one in the air to mid-off, the third wicket falling on 200.

As Oli joined John in the combat zone, all thoughts on the boundary turned to the possibility of a ton for John. It seemed likely as the now mud-streaked opener (he had dived to avoid a run out a little earlier) was showing no signs of fatigue, and seeing the ball like an over-inflated fluorescent football.

As the moment neared the comrades around the scorebook prepared to acclaim their hero, but John, apparently, was unaware of how close he was. When he pushed the single that took him to three figures he had to ask Rob, the bowler's end umpire why we were all cheering.
"That's it mate - that's your ton!" exclaimed Rob.

John sank to the ground at first. We thought he might kiss the Old Chigs turf, but after holding his arms and bat aloft he rose and leapt on Rob clinging koala-like to the BGC for what seemed like minutes. What I didn't realise at the time was that this was not just his first century for Chigwell, but his first century for anybody! Hard to believe, given his talent, but there you are: a life ambition achieved, and in such style.

The innings closed on 253 for 3, Oli hitting 24 in no time, including 5 boundaries. A powerful batting display from the team, with plenty in the tank, lets keep it up for the rest of the season! It was certainly a long way from the nadir of our batting performance at Broxbourne!

The quality of the tea at Old Chigs seems to have improved a little too, thankfully. The teams took their time over eating it and the benefit of a slightly early declaration was squandered.
Ultimately the second innings was an anti-climax, with Chigwell unable to extract 10 wickets from the Old Chigs feather-bed. Tim Hall opened the bowling, with me at the other end. We tried to keep Woodford Green interested, but they never really got near the rate. Brad and Nick bowled well, Brad taking a wicket thanks to another stupendous catch at slip by Rob, Nick taking 3 after an early struggle to find his length. In all 5 wickets fell and the game petered out.

But what did that matter as we sat supping from the jugs of John and Rob, watching the sun set over the Buckhurst Hill horizon? John had achieved his ambition, and now he revealed his next; for Chigwell to appear in the village cup final at Lords! Might need a bit of work that one...

Man of the Match.... Rob Allum for his unstinting support of John during his celebrations. Oh, all right then - John, obviously, 110 not out!

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.

May 10, 2007

Chigwell Home and Hosed by 6.30 (Hadley Wood Green 6/5/07)

There's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home... Chigwell CC clicked its heels together three times last Sunday, and the team was transported back to the land of victory. After three defeats, the last two sound spankings, Hadley Wood Green were beaten by six wickets with the whole of the last hour to spare; even the christening party which occasionally spilled onto the field of play couldn't dampen the reignited spirits of the Chigwell XI.

Ironically things started badly, with the toss being won by HWG. Their skipper chose to bat, much to the irritation of many Chigs, whose "bat first" lobby had been in keeping with my own opinion. We appeared to have a strong batting line up, and HWG seemed to be a little short in the bowling department; certainly no sign of A. Randall, a thorn in our sides all too often in the recent history of the fixture.

Rob Allum and Tim Mitzman were entrusted with the new ball and claimed an opener apiece. To Tim fell the prize wicket of Mike Davey, a quicker ball rifled through the gate, the extra velocity perhaps generated by the disappointment of seeing him survive a difficult chance (to Oli at second slip) the previous ball. Jim Wallace departed after Charlie took a good low catch at point off the BGC.

Around this juncture we witnessed the start of the Rob Allum catching master class. His first catch was probably his best, at slip to Brad. Great positioning and reflexes, a steady hand and eye combined with a seemingly telescopic arm to dismiss Blake. Rob went on to take three more excellent catches; the rest of the team took a further three - at last a good catching day for Chigwell! Not too much resistance was realised by Hadley Wood, Chaddha alone shone with a quick-fire 36 before Brad induced a drag back onto his stumps; two important wickets for Brad in an eight over spell for 34 runs. Just one somewhat less important wicket for me, Oli making good ground to a ball scooped to mid-on. Nick did what he is so good at doing - tied the batsmen down, then got them out. He finished with 4 wickets for 16 runs in 6.5 overs. Charlie was brought into the attack two overs too late, and showed my mistake up for what it was by bowling a wicket maiden first over. Nick's last wicket and Rob's last catch brought enforced closure to the HWG innings and Chigwell "enjoyed" their poor value, unimaginative tea, contemplating a target of 141.

John was surprised first ball by a delivery that lifted alarmingly at him, but relieved sighs went up as the ball looped short of any fielders. Harvey began to show signs of talented stroke-play, before he failed to get on top of a cut and rather chipped it to gulley. Enter Oliver who was in no mood for a marathon innings. He had crunched 30 runs from 16 balls when he fell trying to repeat the mighty six he had smitten the previous delivery. He was well caught by Coburn off his own bowling from a shot that went straight up into the air and took a long time to come down. John continued his love affair with the Old Chigs pitch until he perished in an action replay of Harvey's dismissal.

Seventy-seven for three might have caused the jitters, but Mitzy, extremely ably assisted by Nigel who seems to be improving with each innings, steered us to within sight of the promised land of victory. Tim's lapse on 38 caused no problems for Chigwell, indeed it gave Paul the chance to cream a couple of fours through the covers to end the game an hour or so before the scheduled close. Nigel scored 17 not out, a mixture of sensible defence and clinical clouting.

An easy win then in a game where everyone played their part, victory achieved without the need for compromise on our preferred cricketing methodology.

Chigwell man of the match: Rob Allum - I can't remember anyone taking 4 catches in a match as an outfield player before!

May 09, 2007

Chingford Snaps

Robbie O took some pictures of the Chingford game.

May 03, 2007

The Wandering Fox Stumbles into Chingford (29/04/07)

A good start to the day and my skippering career was had by winning the toss. With a strong batting line up, a short boundary, and the recent warm spell I was tempted into having a bat. My decision was, in honesty, swayed by the fact that we had made a pig’s ear of chasing in our previous 2 games, so why not have a bat. What’s the worst that could happen…

The opening pair of Harvey and the cheating wotsit looked comfortable enough and whilst runs may not have come freely, neither seemed to be in too much discomfort out in the middle. The terror of WG then begin to open his arms to carve a few away nicely before getting trapped by one that seemed to keep low.

With kidneys now seemingly in full working order but with an ageing body creaking under the exerts of Saturday cricket, Allum, R. strode to the crease and it was soon business as usual, solid defence with scoring opportunities pounced upon. Harvey looked good until he picked out the fielder whilst attempting to pull one to the boundary.

Next came the welcome return of Mitz for his first game of the season together with the familiar sound of leather on garden fences. In typical style, Snooty progressed briskly and with a blossoming partnership beginning to develop, Chigs were still in with a good chance of setting a competitive total. However, after holing out for a jug avoiding 45, today’s debutant skipper stepped out knowing that a captain’s innings was needed to settle the listing ship.

Unfortunately, facing the wily McGreggor, I had the usual problem of how exactly to deal with proper line and length bowling. Solution, pad up and go after the other guy. Fool proof. After departing following the unusual experience of a mid-innings explanation to the boundary of the benefits of sitting in a wooden box to write down numbers, my worst fears of choosing to bat first were beginning to be realised.

Nick fortunately provided some much needed ballast to the innings but perhaps lacked the security of knowing there were many more to follow and was a little hamstringed on what was already a wicket that had so far proved difficult to score off. Thankfully Chigwell rallied and whilst our total may have been a lowly 156 on a day when somewhere around 240 was required, we had at least salvaged some pride by batting our time and we even enjoyed a touch of bun smearing by our prodigal son.

After a typically splendid Chingford tea, the skipper now realised that after having completed the task of picking a batting order, he now had to choose his bowlers carefully and work out how to set a field. Without wanting a volley of sweet northern dialect, I threw the ball to Miss Milly to open the bowling and hoped and prayed for a devastating opening spell. Not far off! The opener’s middle stump was soon disturbed and the fox hoped that the bugles that he had heard earlier in the afternoon had been a false alarm and the hounds would be avoided for another day. No such luck unfortunately. Dom continued to bowl well with accuracy and pace and Paul cleared up nicely behind the sticks. However, on a day where luck and slip-catching avoided him, Dom was left with his solitary scalp.

Frank bowled well, and whilst not claiming any wickets, went for a relatively economical 28 off his 5 overs and showed a great deal of promise for the rest of the season. However, with such a small total, bowling changes had to be made for fear of letting the game drift away. Mitz and Rob found no assistance on what I should have realised wasn’t a seam-up wicket. Whoops, oh well.

Remembering at least that spin works, Nick halted the run rate and turned the match once again into a semi-competitive occasion. Brad, in turn, immediately repaid faith by claiming his wicket and was unlucky not to take a second. However, once the young lad Peek had decided that he had seen enough he polished off the game, and Nick’s figures, to ensure that Chigs were finally put out of their misery.

How do I remember the first time? Was it the worst time? No, I hope not. Simply, we did not set a high enough total against a strong team and were stuffed from there on in. Lessons have been learnt but hopefully, with time to lick its wounds, the fox will be able to venture out of its den once again some time this season to lead us, next time, to victory.

Man of the match: Rob Allum

April 26, 2007

All aboard for Chigwell Village! (Broxbourne 22/4/2007)

It all started so well with the Broxbourne skipper generously agreeing to a timed game, after the now ubiquitous debate. They normally enjoy a 45 overs a side game and it soon became apparent that they were well suited to that, or frankly any other form of cricket.

Rob and Frank opened the bowling, but the openers for Broxbourne weremerciless and Frank in particular suffered a mauling - 4 overs for 50 runs -ouch! To add insult to injury he had had to watch a presentable chance go down at point early on in proceedings. Richard was brought on as first change and was also put to the sword, as the opening stand raced to 134 in the 16th over. At this point Richard claimed his first wicket for the club - a catch in the covers for James - which marked a watershed in the innings. As captain I turned to spin in the form of Allum (N) and myself to hopefully stem the ludicrous flow of runs. I had replaced Allum (R) who under the circumstances had bowled economically (6 overs for 32). Taking the pace off the ball worked well, and several of the supposed better batsmen of Broxbourne perished carelessly, safe in the knowledge that a big score was virtually inevitable. Brad took a routine catch at backward point, and then swooped in a manner reminiscent of Collingwood at his best to execute a direct hit to run out Broxbourne's number 3.

All in all Chigwell performed very well in this period of the game; Imran saved a boundary and ran into a thorn bush, suffering several nasty cuts and scratches for his devotion to the cause. He then took a fantastic catch at mid-on, sprinting from mid-wicket to dismiss the Broxbourne opener who clearly had his eye on a ton. Nick proved the class bowling act, taking 5 wickets including 2 in 2 balls at the end, leaving him on a hat-trick for next week. The penultimate wicket featured a remarkable catch at "cow corner" by James; as the ball was arcing towards him a stray tennis ball from a game of boundary cricket rolled in front of him, followed by an oblivious fielder from beyond the rope. James stood firm and pouched an excellent catch, despite the distractions. One ball and one wicket laterBroxbourne made a very fair declaration on 236 for 9 in the 40th over.

Tea was taken, it consisting of some delightful hot pizza, bread, cheese and cake - and eventually, when the milk arrived, tea. It is probably best to gloss over the Chigwell innings, but the details were; all out for 74, Rob A scoring 30, next best Charlie on 8. There were many soft dismissals, none softer than my own, batting at number 11, a full-toss gently guided back to the bowler, via a leading edge. A shame we batted so poorly after such a spirited fight-back in the field. I hope that next year we might take a slightly stronger batting line up to this fixture, and show the good people of Broxbourne that we can do a lot better.

Chigwell man of the match: Nick Allum 11.2 overs 2 maidens 36 runs 5wickets (and not out batting) - just enough to make up for the dropped catch!

April 23, 2007

Cruising; Then a Bruising (South Loughton 15/4/2007)

Summer arrived early, the cricket season arrived bang on time; suddenly we weren't talking about cricket related issues anymore, Chigwell CC was playing the first game of the season. The team assembled on time, the captain arriving twice, the second time with his shirt and match ball. Thus having proved myself a tosser, I proceeded to apply my skills further. A difficult discussion followed with the South Loughton coin spinning executive, his side wanting a 40 overs a side game, me having to explain that with Chigwell fielding a weak team, a timed game would suit better. Reluctantly, but magnanimously Andy agreed and bore the brunt of South Loughton disgruntlement. At least they were happy with batting first on a scorching April afternoon, inserted by me in time honoured tradition.

Rob A was entrusted with the first over, and Frank, on debut, with the second. After the first 8 overs the South Loughtonians were 35 for no wicket and I chugged through a few bowling alternatives in my mind. A further 8 balls later the score read 36 for 3. Rob started the party with an LBW, Frank then announced his Chigwell arrival with a wicket, Brad taking a very good catch at mid-off. In case we hadn't heard the first announcement Frank then castled the S.L. number four. It was very soon after this that I denied him a third wicket by failing to even go for a very simple catch at mid-wicket - sorry Frank! Rob claimed a second wicket courtesy of a near wide being somehow deflected onto off-stump by the hapless batter, a deserved reward for some effective bowling.

I changed the bowling at both ends after eight overs a piece, Nick at Rob's end and Alex, also on debut, replacing Frank. Nick repaid me by immediately dismissing the guy I had neglected to catch out earlier, and went on to produce the kind of quality display that sees him atop the "wickets taken" table year after year. He finished with 4 for 35. This included the final wicket to fall, that of the estimable T. Henman out for 58 in a total of 142, top scorer by 45 runs. Alex struggled a little to find the right length, but showed promise. Brad, honed by his single net session 2 months ago, bowled an economical and effective spell; 8 overs for 22 runs and 2 wickets. Assisting in this was the excellent Charles Rudkin, adding wicket-keeping to his impressive cricketing CV. He took two catches, the second, off Brad, a particularly smart piece of work down the leg-side.

The Chigwellians stepped up to the paper plates at tea confident of victory, but wary of the early season nature of the pitch - slow and a little variable in bounce. Rob A and John opened the batting, starting with due caution, eking a run an over for the first eight overs. John played the shot of the day, an exquisite extra-cover drive, but was bowled by a good ball on 15. Alex dug in for a while, but unfortunately was caught going after a full toss. Owen scored a couple before being bowled and things were looking decidedly dodgy. Nigel, showing purpose and maturity, added 60 with Rob to seemingly right the ship, but once Rob had perished for 47, to Mr. Baker, things fell apart dismally. From 102 for 3 Chigwell capsized and sank without trace, ultimately dismissed for a total of 130, losing the game by 12 runs, the aforementioned Mr. Baker claiming 5 wickets for 4 runs in 6 overs.

Thus ended an enthralling game with which to start the season. A great shame for us to lose of course, but there are plenty of positives to focus on: The bowling of Frank, Nick, Rob and Brad; the batting of Rob and Nigel; the keeping of Charlie.

Chigwell man of the match - Rob Allum

April 03, 2007

Winter Ends

The closed season has all but passed. Easter weekend is the perfect time for snorting linseed oil and scraping off the remains of September's St John's Billericay pitch from your boots.

No doubt Sir Tim Rice will be ironing his flannels, but we shall proudly iron that sticky stuff around the hem of those nylon slacks that kept falling down last season and prepare for our 2007 curtain-raiser: South Loughton, away, 2.00pm, Sunday 15th April. Book Early!

September 25, 2006

Nightmare on Stock Road (St. John's Billericay 24/9/2006)

What a terrible nightmare! First I dreamt I was mad enough to choose to bat first on a pitch cut only 2 minutes before the game started. Then I watched in despair as a procession of Chigwell's finest departed for next to nothing. When I finally went in to bat I found the attack moderate and the pitch so slow there was time for a fag break between the ball pitching and reaching the batsman - my perfect pitch! 13 untroubled runs later I was left stranded with the score on 61 all out! I can imagine I must have been crying out in my sleep at the pain of watching all our batsmen loop the ball carelessly into the air, and squealed in a kind of envious agony to see a team which was capable of pouching every catch offered.

It all seemed so real when we took to the field and managed one wicket and 3 dropped catches before St. John's Billericay completed the rout with a six over square leg.

Thankfully I woke up this morning and realised it was only the disturbed nocturnal workings of a frazzled mind, and I still had the joy of taking on St. John's to come. Better ring Nigel, make sure he's ready to be picked up... Hang on... the paper - it's the Guardian... that's not published on Sunday. Oh my god!! It's Monday! Which means... AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!

September 15, 2006

Catches Go West, But Chigwell Give it a Damn Good Go (West Essex 10/9/06)

Working on the principal that if the match report isn't done before the next game, it probably wont get done at all I hereby give somewhat truncated details of the match last Sunday. Won the toss, inserted the opposition. I decided to try out Owen as opening bowling partner for Rob A. Owen took a wicket, rather fortuitously with a pie, but the second wicket pair added over 200 runs, benefiting from Chigwell's total inability to hold any chance that was offered. John Clifford suffered most as his admirable first bowling spell for the club went unrewarded. Charlie and Imran suffered at the hands of the increasingly confident batsmen, and the scoring raced out of control. Willing to take my own share of the punishment I brought myself on and was delighted to trap the West Essex number one LBW, 4 runs short of his century. The poor number four had been waiting for 90 minutes for his chance, but perished first ball, playing on. The skipper thus arrived and gave a spirited swish at the hat-trick ball, but failed to make contact. In my next over the other tormentor departed, well stumped by Paul for 94. First ball of my fourth over produced a looping edge from the skipper, which found the secure hands of Rob A at deepish slip/gully for the first (and last) successful catch of the innings. West Essex declared on 244 for 5 after only 32 overs, one over from Brad enough to convince them to get the hell out of there, while the going was good. John's luck did not improve in the Chigwell innings; he received the ball of the day, cutting in a foot or so to bowl him. Olly suffered a rare distinction - triggered out (caught behind) by the skipper, when the noise was, apparently, that of bat on pad. Sorry Olly! There followed a spirited 3rd wicket partnership between Rob A and Paul, Rob in particular lashing some wayward bowling to all parts. Paul departed to a leading edge, and first Brad and then Imran tried to keep the momentum going, but perished in the attempt. I had only been out there a few balls when Rob was bowled for an impressive 74, the score now 126 for 6. Owen, armed with Nigel's railway sleeper, batted with intent, the high point of his innings his first boundary 6 for the club. He departed for 19 fun-filled runs, while I remained struggling for touch at the other end. Charlie joined me and we took comfort from our unbeaten 138 run partnership of the previous week. We managed 66 this time and it was beginning to look as if we might steer the team to an unlikely victory when we reached the last 3 overs needing 23 runs to win. Sadly this was not to be as first Charlie (25) was bowled and then, despite encouragement towards heroic deeds from the boundary, my own wicket was shattered (33), both with no further addition to the score. Hannah and Nigel comfortably saw off the last 11 balls between them and an enjoyable match ended in a draw. West Essex were a good side to play against, and were extremely well skippered: a good declaration and sensible bowling changes - I look forward to playing them again. Chigwell put up a good display with a not-so-strong team, and who knows where we might have got to if a few of the catches had stuck. Better not drop that many at the Paddock next Saturday...