Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grays & Chadwell V's Sawbridge

So a game at short notice. They got this team off the cricket conference system whereby teams of similar calibre are matched up with each other on the basis of a vague description. But one mans good is another mans awful so there's room for a mismatch and this is by no means an exact science.

Met up with everyone at Blackshots at 12.30 sussed out where it was on the map and hung around whilst Neil confirmed that there was enough of and while I was doing that I shot a few pic's of our home ground. There's been a few people on one of the websites I comment on all the time asking what our pitch is like. They post pic's of their pitches and depending on where they are in the world they're mostly as you'd expect. The English pitches generally conform to the usual look of an English pitch - Oak Trees, Picket fences, black and white pavillions, warm beer and the crack of willow on leather - you know the scene. Well ours doesn't quite fit the cliche as you'll see below.

View Larger Map

Hopefully I've managed to embed the map into the blog and you'll see an ariel view of the location here. This is where it was at the village of Sawbridge and we were on the teams back up pitch which was on a school field but considering it was a school field it was pretty impressive. The only downside was that it was a long walk back and forth to the bogs and the changing rooms. As predicted the weather was very nice - sunny with blue skies and virtually no cloud and very warm - 25 - 26 degrees.

I managed to get there on the little diesel that I had and then back again via Grays. Had to stop once to check the map, but saw Super Dave go past with Neil so I followed them. After a bit of a palaver with finding the exact location we eventually found the field.

The other team was in the other changing room out of sight so we didn't get to see them, there were a few young blokes hanging around so it did look as though a fair few of them were quite youthful. There was an Old un hanging around so I think people were hoping for more Old uns and then out they came. We won the toss and Neil followed form and put us in to field first which I always think is a good idea. But to the opposition. As we stood around waiting for their first batsmen to get their gear on and out into the square the rest of them joined us. Our team is made up of a few old uns including me, but we had Chris and John Buckley, Fozzy, a bloke who I had played with before "Tony" who looked older than all of us and me of course at 47. Neil made the point that our average age must have been around 40 years old whereas these young blokes they must have had an average age of 17! They went from 15 to 22 and there was only one 22 year old, most of them were about 16 - 17. They all looked the part with their Warsop Stebbing bats a la Ravi Bopara.

Here they are - the young men of Sawbridge.
So in lovely weather the battle commenced with Dave Gaylor bowling first off alongside one of their players "Gilbert" who was a bit nervous and cagey with his bowling Neil encouraged him and his mate that was standing next to me while I was fielding at Square Leg slated him calling him a "Chucker".

Initially it looked pretty par for the course as we were bowling against a bunch of fit lads of 17 and they initially set out with an average of about 5 an over sometime threatening to be 6 and then Neil stepped in and started to weave his magic with his left arm leg spin and that brought the run rate down when it was threatening to run away from us. By the first drink break at 20 overs we were around 117 or something, so it wasn't looking that good and one of their players had already got himself a 50. I think at this point Ross Fulbrook had joined in the attack along with Tony "Zippy" Gilbert, Ross being a very handy Leg Spinner and Tony a fairly tight and accurate seam bowler (Medium pace) but the oldest bloke on the team and seemingly not having played for years?

Super Dave stopped a ball that came straight at him off the bat with his foot/ankle/shin somewhere in that region - he didn't say but you could tell from his grimmace and his limp that it had hurt and he hadn't been that happy in the first place and now he wasn't at all pleased.

Ross bowled well and tacticly, at one point where I was bowling with him from the other end there was a bloke that was coming down the wicket to have a go and Neil had mentioned it to me, but Ross was already on the kids case and in the next over he drew the kid out of his crease and got the ball past him and Nick had his bails away. It was good to watch as he'd been feeding this kid balls and I think the kid fancied his chances against Ross.

Towards the end of their innings I'd been taken off as I wasn't getting anywhere and Super Dave was back on to try and finish as many of them off in the last three overs. By which time they were way past 200 moving towards the final total of 242 or something with 6 wickets lost. Dave was hit for two sixes off his last over probably completely pissing him off. Neils evaluation of our performance was W**k, but as someone later pointed out we're a bunch of old blokes with a few young kids that are actually younger than this team, whereas the opposition was a bunch of 17 year old human gazelles diving around and sprinting 0 t0 25 mph in a micro-second. None of our youngsters are what you'd describe as human gazelles. There was a bit of a heated discussion later as we started off the batting it was pretty obvious that some people were a bit agrieved at the mis-match of the teams and there was a discussion on the merits of whether it was useful that our younger players played in these kinds of matches as there was the potential for them to be stretched in their abilities? But I think a part of the counter argument was that it's also demoralising to be continually pitched against teams that are always going to beat you? From what I heard that isn't the case anyway, it just sounded to me like different members of the team had the hump with each other anyway. Someone said (name witheld) "Put on the blog that Super Dave was moaning more than Love Joy"!

I'm going to have to carry on with this tomorrow night in the meantime for all you people that have been waiting to see our home ground - here it is......

This one view looking to the North East I'll upload more once I've got some other shots.

Their pitch was quite nice and this was their 2nd option. Apparently their main picth was smaller and their first team was playing at the same time as us and they were on 350 for 6 or something when were having our teas. The teas were quite nice with Neil going up for 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths with the Prawn sandwhiched and it was quite a healthy option with fruit and various options for sandwhiches - tuna, ham, cheese and prawns. They had strawberries but let themsleves down with the omittance of the fresh Double cream. So after teas we made our way back across the field to face almost certain humiliation. One of their blokes they were saying was a future goalie for Arsenal - already with a contract and the works. Super Dave pointed out that back in the day he was on the books at Essex County Cricket but look where it got him..... So back out into the blazing sun to face whatever these fit, lean and mean bowling machines could throw at us.
I haven't got the stats and they were too depressing to carry on recording but we went down with a whimper scoring half as many runs as they did exactly 121 and all out. The batting order being -

Nick Buckley went for 5 caught at deep mid off.

John Buckley - Caught at mid wicket for 7

Phil Downes - was bowled after making a slight impact he hit one or two nice shots for 4 going straight down the pitch but was then bowled.

Lee Downes replaced John and was dropped early in his innings at Mid wicket - went for only a handful of runs bowled off of a short delivery, he usually bats well.

Fozzy (Allan Fulbrook) was bowled after hitting a few fours and he hung in there for a while. At the point Fozzy made his stand we were 52 off of 22 overs. Fozzy was bowled clean.

Chris Buckely - he was out there for a while playing a cautious innings I think he survived through some of Fozzy's and then was joined by Super Dave Gaylor.

Dave Gaylor made a sprightly start and hit a six and followed it up with another soon after and he pushed us over the 100 mark only to be caught off a full toss down at Long Mid Off.

Tony "Zippy" Gilbert went out and played really cautiously initially and we were all sitting there making the point that this wasn't a test match and the bloke needed to take a kind of Matthew Hayden 20/20 approach to his game especially as he was out there with Chris who also likes to get his monies worth when he's batting. It looked like we were going to be treated to some serious Geoffrey Boycott action for the rest of the game and all was lost. But then Tony suddenly got his Matt Hayden batting head on and started to hit some fours off of a bloke that couldn't bowl. When Chris was batting at the field end he had 4 slips fielders accompanying him and it was looking as though I wasn't going to get a chance to bat once again, not that I'd ever make any impact on the score. Then just as Matty Hayden was getting his eye in he was caught at Mid on. Ross Fulbrook then joined the line up for certain death as we were getting well and truly into the tail. I think at this point I was getting padded up and trying to keep notes so I didn't see how Ross was dismissed and then I think it was me.

A bit earlier I'd gone down to the nets and Nick Buckley had thrown some balls down at me and I'd managed to get the bat on the ball a couple of times so I had this false sense of confidence as I initially strode out onto the pitch despite the fact that all our blokes had been dismissed so cheaply. But from here on in it all becomes a bit of a blur, I don't even recall who was at the other end, I was so pre-occupied with the fact that I didn't want to walk out there doing something stupid like forgetting my trousers/bat/box or putting my helmet on the wrong way round (I have done one of these before) that I didn't notice. Whoever it was knew my fate obviously because they didn't do the customary meet in the middle and discuss tactics thing because they knew there was nothing to discuss, my fate was already etched in granite on my tombstone.
I took my position raised my bat in readiness and noted that it was one of the seam bowlers but now he was bowling spin style. Earlier in the game it had reached that point where it was obvious that no matter what happened they were going to win (Around 30 overs) and they started to bring on all their wannabe bowlers - the sort of blokes that would never get a look in if we were more evenly matched. It looked as though everyone on their team did bowl except for one of the slips catchers who looked as though he had a disability anyway. By the time I strode out with my little bit of confidence that I did have they'd gone through all the wannabe's and now "Johnny seam bowler" was back on mucking around throwing slower balls and trying to get some spin. This bloke threw a slower ball and I stepped out of my crease swung at it heard the thud as it went into the keepers hands and then in slow motion it went through my head "Crap! I'm right out of my crease". I looked round to see what was happening and the keeper seemed to have been standing there waiting for me to look round at which point he had the bails off, but it was all so agonisingly slow motion. I wasn't surprised, but at the same time I was sort of disappointed that my bouyant and positive state of mind was quashed so easily. Something to remember next time. I'm sort of glad that I watch the cricket on the television and have seen the likes of Monty Panesar dismissed for nothing off the first ball.
So the conclusion is I can't bat and I need loads of practice. Which is fine if I could do something else half decent. Neil (the captain) wasn't happy with our fielding in this game, but I think generally I did okay. I think I missed two that I should have been able to stop. But my bowling...... Hmmm?

At the moment I'm fairly disillusioned with it, although I probably bowled giving away the least amount of runs and I only bowled 2 wides off of 5 overs. I think I went for about 7 runs per over and some of the other may have been more expensive than me? But I didn't seem to threaten anyone and I certainly didn't get any wickets.
But the wicket to me seemed pretty good, I could even get it to turn a bit (Offspin) but it didn't bounce that much. This was also the first game of the season I'd played alongside Ross. Last year I was impressed with his bowling and this game again I was impressed - he took three wickets and obviously knows what he's doing and he makes me look like the total novice that I am. (This kid is about 14 or 15 years old). So that's pretty depressing in itself watching someone do what you want to do and make it look so easy that you drive home thinking I'll just drive into the central reservation now at 70mph and just end all of this Leg Spin Hell.

So that was me gone for a Golden Duck and on came Neil Samwell. Needless to say he didn't last that long and that was it - we'd been stuffed.
Bowling stats -

Super Dave - Overs 8; Mdns 0; runs 70; wkts 0

Reynolds* - Overs 2; Mdns 0; runs 17; wkts 0 retired headache

Sanwell - Overs 10; Mdns 1; runs 42; wkts 0

Zippy - Overs 7; Mdns 0; runs 38; wkts 0

R Fullbrook - Overs 8; Mdns 3; runs 31; wkts 3

Thompson - Overs 5; Mdns 0; runs 36; wkts 0

Here's some of the team not previously showcased - left to right.
"Super Dave" in shades. The star bowler of the day Ross Fulbrook next to Super Dave. Directly behind Ross is team captain Neil Samwell. In the stripey t -shirt Phil Downes and leaning over the back of the chair is our wicket keeper Nick Buckley.