Our first away game of the season is a trip to Grafham (south of Bramley, not East Sussex). Nice looking ground, just off the main road down a dirt track.
Naturally, I am first to arrive (the rest of the team do not have a pre-match routine of more than a minute), pleased to have driven my wife’s golf convertible because the only other car in the car park is a Porsche. I confidently park next to it knowing I belong. Nice chat with the groundsman (who is Ally’s brother-in-law, yes really). Lovely array of mowers and kit on display in the clubhouse. Overall, I like the feel of the place.
Others start to arrive. We have gone for experience for this tricky away fixture (you need this to handle the crowds). We welcome Gav, Mike, Kev, Jamie and Harry into the team.
Rain is in the air and the doomsayers are out. Lots of discussion about the BBC weather forecasting. It seems to be a question of when it will rain.
The toss is made, we are fielding. We are ready at 12.55pm (start at 1pm), then the start is delayed by 15 minutes as too many of their players are stuck in Guildford. Many of the team are lost – what to do with this time – should we practice, moan or just comment on the weather.
Out we go. Will and Ally to open. Short square boundaries suggest lots of runs. Their opening bat is good and hits it
hard. However, we have finally found an outfield that suits us – long grass and soft ground suits our skills (slow and steady). Nothing runs to the boundary, although we help the opener with this and offer balls to hit for 6. More rain.
Chances come and go, then Will gets a wicket, yes Will gets a wicket, caught on the boundary by Gav at deep cover. Then Ally bowls a straight one and another wicket. We go off and back on a couple of times, it doesn’t look good. Craig and Darren take over. The pace is too much, and they are struggling with their run-ups. The end must be nigh. Finally, the rain is too heavy and off we run.
An early tea is taken (I refuse to go near the urn or carry a cup of tea) but the mood across both teams is despondent. The captains agree that the game is abandoned, and Will’s wicket doesn’t count.
Grafham were good hosts and we look forward to their visit although their opening bat on fast outfields will be a strong proposition. The talk turns to practicing and training runs. We are determined to maintain our skills. (This is a lie – most of us are thinking of pub, pool, darts, curry, beer, match of the day, bus home).
Have a great week and enjoy Eurovision. Save your energy for next week’s double header (home match and boot fair)! We are aiming for a net session on Thursday at 7pm (with bowling machine).
Week 2 saw the sun come out to welcome Peper Harow to the Heath (a home match coupled with a boot fair tomorrow makes this a win / win).
Team selection was challenging as befits a team top of the league. Our continued commitment to youth sees Ally, Paul and Gordon return to the team (Gordon fresh from a recruitment drive in Japan – we will go anywhere for talent).
[Will’s kit was very clean – he had used the washing machine without help (allegedly). The true measure of a sport is how it develops us as people.]
[Our new net has arrived, in pieces and without the actual netting, (it will take 4 people three hours to put up). How we will manage without the actual net worries me.]
[I say hi to everyone except Ally (yet his car is here). I find him in a cupboard fixing a plug on his new purchase. He spotted a bargain electronic scoreboard on eBay and bought it for the club (a lovely gesture). It needs 4 people to move and is twice the size of our current scoreboard.]
As befits a league leading side, we are ready for this match – 15 minutes to go and I am the only one changed. This lethargy needs to be eradicated.
It is very hot, so as usual given our high levels of fitness and energy, we decide to field. Factor 50 applied and out we go. Their batsmen get to the middle before us – really.
Will and James to open (past and current boot fair leaders, which is appropriate). At one point, we have me, Ally, Craig and Gordon on the offside – possibly the oldest line-up ever and they daren’t take a run. Steady start and then a catch goes to Darren (dropped), a few balls later the batsman makes amends and hits an easier catch which is taken. Steady stuff, then Ross and Craig are on. Drinks and then their number 3 starts to play. Score moves on. Jacob enters the arena. A stumping chance, our WK needs to be told what to do by Ally, but out. Another stumping chance is taken.
Darren comes onto bowl, slowly. We have the slowest attack in the league ever (am I really worse than this). Somehow, he takes 4 wickets including the number 3 who has made a good 50. They end up with 154 – we can get this.
TEA – excellent. Cake to fruit ratio rising.
The chase – Will and Darren to open. Good start, but too much of the old Will (we preferred the new Will of last week). Drinks at 14 with no wickets down, we dare to dream. Then Darren falls to a shooter. Will and I struggle to keep the runs coming then a few good overs see us back in the hunt. Will is stumped, Ross hits wicket, Gordon misses one, Joshua is caught and bowled. Another middle order something or other. Ally and I put on nearly 40, we are getting closer, including some speedy 2s. Then Ally falls, Jacob is bowled, and Craig enters the fray. We need 12 off the last. A 2, then another, then a 4, 4 off 3. Down the leg side (wide really), then a single, 3 to win, 2 to draw, but we could only manage a single to fall one short.
A great game played in a good spirit by both sides.
Supporters: Mr and Mrs F, Wendy, Jason + 2, Rachel, Mike plus 4, Mike from around the corner, Kevin, Tash, Sarah (but only after the game had finished), 2 blokes who we didn’t know but were watching the game), Ann. We thank you all.
Our disappointment is muted by the knowledge that we have the boot fair to come!!!
A new league season sees us back in division 4 (yeah!), welcoming Frimley to the Heath.
I dash to the ground expecting enthusiasm and energy for the first game. The weather is overcast and so are my team mates. Bump into James and Will heading out to the middle – run to join them eager to see the pitch. Am met with a tsunami of negativity – too wet, pitch not ok, we shouldn’t be playing, etc. Challenge Will to say something positive – he is unsuccessful. We remove the rope in a mini-depression. Can this get better?
Spot our new man Harry (Batt – yes really) putting the boundary markers out – too close together they are – he will run out. This amuses me.
Frimley arrive in dribs and drabs – they seem less enthusiastic than us.
The toss is made, and we are batting. A new order – Darren and Will to open, with me at 3. Lucky to find myself changing next to Will. However, his kit is a disgrace – not washed from last week (last season if you ask me). He promises to get Mrs C on the case (a blatant example of stereotyping).
A new skipper and a new scoring option using the iPad. Looks good and the potential for spread betting on our games via the internet is closer to reality. Frimley are up for it, but takes time to get all the players entered. [It also used 50% of the battery within 2 hours requiring a new battery pack!] – back to pen and paper by the end.
The game starts, Darren goes early, Will settles in, I make a good start then ruin it. Ross does not interest the scorers too much – in comes the chairman. Will continues to make serene progress – up at 4 an over. Will and Mike dig in – Will makes 50 and the partnership grows to 90. On the boundary, we are getting excited. The skipper sees 200 plus coming, there is a long discussion about who should go in next. Score climbs to 150 for 3, with at least 10 overs to go – is this really Milford CC? Mike falls for 30 odd, Will goes for a magnificent 81 – a study in concentration, application and skill.
Time for the lower middle order to fire – not. Harry B goes quickly on debut leaving Tristan (on day release) and Callum to steer us home. Tristan runs Callum out (here we go), then falls next ball. Suddenly 170 looks good. Not much else to report. We end up on 165! 7 wickets go for less than 20. Still feels like it should be too much.
TEA – excellent. Ate too much. Checked the cake to fruit ratio again and found it to be strong. Am sure I requested a reduction in cake. We tea well.
Fielding is the true test of a team and we are primed. Ross is last out onto the field (his hair took longer than normal) and the skipper delivers a Churchillian / Duncan Smith (delete as appropriate) speech. We are ready for the off.
Will to open. Usual variety including a good supply of short sit-up balls for the opener to crash for 4. Before long Will has the leg side boundary covered (unsure why he just doesn’t bowl it better). At the other end James settles in nicely. Callum looking OK behind the stumps after 8 months off.
They start strongly, before Ross and Callum combine for a run-out. I take a catch. We are on top.
Time for a change – Ross and Craig come into the attach. Craig settles immediately, whilst Ross goes for the variety approach, although the pace is good. More wickets fall, catches for Mike, Callum and me. We are on top and belief runs through the side.
We love Tristan. He brings an energy and positivity to everything. Called into the attack, he opens up with a ball that bounces twice, then a high no-ball (instant warning under the new rules), bowls another high no-ball – four of us run to the umpire to explain the new rules – this means he is out of the attack – mission accomplished.
Alas, the skipper decides to finish the over. 7 overs of donkey drops follow including a couple of wickets – can this really be happening (is my bowling really worse than this)? Another catch for me (3 now). Frimley are struggling, and we are sensing a win. Craig finishes his superb spell and Jacob comes on from the pav end.
More fun to come – I drop a catch off my son (really why does this happen), then Tristan decides to get back into the game. A big hit to leg, Tristan chases and collect the ball, he prepares for the big throw, arm hits leg and the ball goes backwards over the boundary for 4, leaving Tristan on the ground. Really!
437pm – the burger man arrives with van. Usual turnaround in the car park before he settles into position. Lovely to see him back and the old routines established.
We are winning and the last few wickets see a stunning direct hit from Jacob in the field and a catch from Harry to give us victory. A great start to the season.
Supporters – Paul, Kevin, Mr and Mrs Fergusson, Rachel +4, Mrs Turner +1, Joshua, Liam, Ann, Mike’s mum, Harry W, Jamie W, Doug, Mike from around the corner for his glass of wine. We thank you all!
We are top of the league for a weekend at least.
Post-match chat is full of the usual optimism. How we need to make we don’t win the league and get promoted. Do we ever learn.
Overall a great result with lots of positives to take forward to next week!