Saturday 8th July 2023 11:11 Message from Jeff Triner:
‘3s game is still on but I will confirm after a pitch inspection at midday. As the forecast for this afternoon is good, I’m thinking about a later start with reduced overs’.
With the rain pouring down at the time, the majority of those selected for the third team received this message and carried on with their day, starting to give some thought as to how they might spend their Saturday afternoon, once Jeff had confirmed the game to be off.
Saturday 8th July 2023 12:05 Message from Jeff Triner: ‘
Game on for the 3s. 1 pm start’.
Time for some panicked packing of kit bags, making of sandwiches (and for some, salads), and then a rush to get to the ground, ready to start, somewhat surprisingly on time. It might lack the covers or other facilities that our pampered First & Second team stars are accustomed to, but with the downpour now passing, Newfound had come good. Game on, and with no delay. Or so we thought.
Middleton Late, Caught in a Spin
Players from both sides started to arrive, and with the toss won by the Ashford Hill skipper, it was no surprise that Oakley were invited to bat. With 5 minutes to go until the planned start time, and with warm-ups almost complete, the opposition were still two fielders light (however anticipating a delayed start that was to be expected).
The Oaks meanwhile were missing one, James Middleton. Why? Was he ok? Had he seen Jeff’s messages? Before panic had a chance to set in, Jeff received a text message ‘I will be 15 minutes late as I’m tumble drying my whites’. No rush James, take your time. Village cricket at its finest….
With the opposition now at full strength, the game commenced with only a 15-minute delay (although still no sign off James), in conditions that were muggy, but dry. Out to the wicket strode openers Jeff and Kris, looking to put together a decent partnership. Interesting fact…..Jeff and Kris form the tallest opening partnership from any cricket side, at any level, anywhere in the world, ever* (*possibly).
Rotating the Strike
Putting aside any poor shots both openers looked to rotate the strike and take advantage of any loose deliveries. With a short boundary to the B3400 side of Newfound, the opposition quickly moved fielders into the outfield, allowing space for plenty of singles.
Jeff continued to show what a class act he is (he’s the in-form allrounder at the club don’t you know, Fantasy League points say so), strong on the drive and striking anything short through the covers. Kris, growing in confidence started to look like his mid-season (is it mid-season already?) slump in form was behind him. After a well-earned drink at 20 overs, Oakley were looking well set (71-0) and started to increase the run rate.
And for those left wondering, James did arrive, 20ish minutes after the scheduled start time but wearing a fresh set of whites. Although he admitted they could have done with an extra 5 mins in the tumble dryer. It was perhaps a little ironic and did allow for some childish giggling when James was caught by a passing shower later in the afternoon, whilst umpiring.
Fifties for Kris & Jeff
Kris reached his 50 with consecutive boundaries. The first, as the bowler pointed out, somewhat miss-timed, off a leading edge. The second, over mid-on, this time not off a leading edge, which Kris pointed out to the bowler. Great banter. With 101 on the board, Kris was caught in two minds between a cut and reverse sweep (really!) and was bowled for 58.
This brought Matt Neal to the crease. Matt has looked decent in the nets but any hopes of a high score on debut for the 3s was ended after a bit of ‘yes, no’ calling, and being run out cheaply. This brought Steve Savage to the crease who was, and I can’t imagine that this sentence has been used too many times in his illustrious career, out first ball.
Adam joined Jeff, who by this time had scored his second, well-deserved, fifty of the season. Now in the last 10 overs of the innings, Adam was run out attempting a quick single, with Ryan Parry and Will McCarthy also both out cheaply, attempting aggressive shots. The right thing to do given the match situation. The Oaks innings ended on 161-6, with Jeff carrying his bat for a score of 68.
Quick wicket tumbles thanks to Middleton’s Spin
Alright, poor title, but I felt the need to reference that cause for James’ lateness again. The Ashford Hill openers couldn’t resist playing shots against James’ spin, who was tasked with opening the bowling from the pavilion end. One big shot too many and James claimed a wicket, caught in the deep thanks to a comfortable catch from Ryan.
At the other end, Avi was again proving to be impressively economical, 9 runs scored from his 8 overs. He also claimed 2 wickets. One was a leg-high full toss that was hitting the middle stump. The other, a catch at mid-wicket, was taken by 3s star fielder so far this season, Deano. Deano claimed the catch on the second attempt after the ball bounced off his left nipple.
It should be noted however that Deano looked resplendent in a stunning set of recently purchased whites. His previous ‘whites’ were anything but, and depending on the light were somewhere between peach, light brown, and beige in colour. Deano, if we can offer any advice, it’s to wash whites with whites. Or perhaps drop them round to James on a Saturday morning…..he’ll tumble dry them as well for you.
Youngsters Give Oaks Hope
With Avi and James both bowled out, it fell to young seamers Ryan and Will, and spinner Olly Thakur to take up the bowling responsibilities. When he gets it right Ryan bowls accurately and at a decent pace, and was rewarded with 2 wickets, both bowled. Whilst Olly claimed his first league wicket, also bowled, bamboozling the batter in the flight.
Despite Jeff also claiming a wicket, Ashford Hill won the game with 9 balls to spare. Congratulations to them. On reflection, it’s a simple game. Another 20 runs with the bat or being a bit tighter on any extras whilst bowling (the Oaks gave away 32 compared to the opposition’s 18) and the 3s would have maintained their recent winning streak. However, as great as that would have been, it’s important to remind ourselves of the positives to take away from the match.
Having four current / very recent Colts in the 3s side is a massive positive, and being involved in a tight, sometimes niggly game will only serve to benefit their cricket in the future. It’s also a benefit and a great advert for the club, with youngsters getting a regular chance to play league cricket. With a little bit more consistency Ryan will become a genuine bowling all-rounder, and he’s also proving to be a safe pair of hands in the field.
Will looks more comfortable every time he plays adult cricket. Olly bowls with good flight and spin, and has batted well for the Colts side this season. And Adam will learn what’s required and how he needs to adapt when batting in the closing stages of an innings.
The future’s very bright for this club.