Saturday, June 22, 2013

Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Southend on Sea & EMT 6th XI

To be continued....

Another typical English mid summer cricket match. Last night at about 7pm it poured down with rain for the best part of an hour, so to ensure that the wicket was damp and sticky. Got up this morning and it was cloudy bright with more cloud than bright and a very stiff breeze. By the time we arrived at the match it was 95% cloud and it rained a little, but with the wind it wasn’t ever going to hang about.

 As usual we were low on numbers, we were missing 3 including the 'Captain' Lee Dutton 20 minutes before the match, but local lad Tim Brown had walked over with his kit having seen that a couple of players hadn't declared on the website that they were available looking to play. In addition Kieran 'The Barbarian' Barbero was on standby for such an event as well. The Captain turned up oblivious of the fact that he was the captain, he didn't have a score book or any balls, so 20 mins before the game we were in disarray. Lee (Joking) said to me, are you the captain today Dave? Someone then piped up, you're the captain Lee you was at the top of the list, that make you the captain. Lee said that a phone call might have been useful.

Pat (Anthony's Uncle) went back to the club to get some match balls and the call went to Kieran to make his way to the match and Tim was given the nod to play as well. A full team was in place, the opposition had won the toss and decided to field, seemingly to allow more time for the wicket to dry out.

The opposition looked (as usual) as though they'd probably be better than us, the boys in the team looked older and there seemed to more blokes in their team than ours and when they went into the field it looked as though there was too many of them for some reason?

Sonny Downes and Harrison Birch opened the batting for us. Right from the outset, they had a bloke ‘Wood’ bowling from the west end of the pitch and he bowled 17-5-34-6. Initially because of how slow he was and his run-up, which wavered from the left and then to the right and included a little skip, I thought he was a spinner, but the ball wasn’t turning. But it soon became apparent that he was bowling it on a nagging length with very good accuracy and varying the length slightly along with the speed. No-one could get him away particularly easily and throughout his spell which is the longest I’ve seen in this format here at Basildon. He took six wickets including Sonny Downes our opener, Sonny went cheaply for only 3 runs. Looking at Woods bowling figures, he took all 6 wickets from the first seven batsmen except for Anthony Ayres who came in at No.5 and ended up with a superb 49 not out. Anthony was denied his maiden 50 in any format, by a couple of things... Brads rash shot through cover that was caught by a sharp catch and possibly by a ropey decision on my part when umpiring. One of the byes I called when Anthony was batting, he claimed at the time came off the bat, but it was too late it had been signalled. That mistake cost him his 50, but to his credit he was amazingly philosophical about it, saying that he was okay about it and not that bothered, just happy to have made such a valuable contribution.

Harrison Birch also did well, scoring 24 before being bowled by ‘Wood’ and next in line for commendable batting was Lee Dutton the captain with 15. I scored 5 runs which is good for me, one of which was a four, but the bowler put the ball right where I needed it to be to hit it back past him on the onside, with too much speed on it for the mid-on fielder to get to it. Kieran ‘The Barbarian’ Barbero did well too with his ‘Cow corner’ slogs, if it wasn’t for some pretty nifty fielding he may have scored 15, two of his potential fours were stopped almost on the  boundary line and he only managed to get one through for the four. Our innings finished all out for 150.
150 didn’t look like a lot. The Southend bowling had been shabby a lot of the time with the exception of that one bloke ‘Wood’.  With 20 of our runs gained from wides, it seemed as though, this was not a bowling side and therefore the aspect of their game that sees them in the top three in the league along with us, must be their batting. It looked as though we was going to have a battle on our hands, but we did have a couple of good seam bowlers in Ben and Bradley Staff.

Two big strapping lads strode out wielding Warsop bats. By my reckoning (as a bowler) if you’ve forked out for a Warsop bat, which is an expensive piece of willow, you've got to have the batting skills, technique and all the shots to justify such a gesture. The word went round amongst the bowlers... "Uh-oh, look out lads, they've got Warsops... now we're in trouble". Were we about to see a display of batting superiority... Bradley stood on his mark, ball in hand, the bloke on strike, facing him, ready to unleash the wrath of Warsop...
But then... 3 balls in and only one run on the board L. Bunce is caught at point by Kieran 'The Barbarian' Barbero off of Brads bowling. We're all looking at each other incredulously, thinking... but he's got a Warsop... Ben was the next bowler, bowling from the eastern end, his over only accrued one run, despite the use of the Warsops! The bowling continued in this manner and eventually someone hit a four in the twelfth over lifting the run rate above 1 an over. Both Brad and Ben bowled really well. Ben recently has bowled poorly and has been disappointed, so this sudden return to form was good to see, he put it down to the fact that he wasn't marking out his run up and was just getting on with it and bowling with freedom.  In the 7th over the other bloke with the Warsop was dismissed in exactly the same way... Brad bowling, Kieran taking another very sharp catch at point, so Warsop bloke 'Elmer' had to make his way back to the sheds having scored 5 singles. Personally, if I was being dismissed in this manner, I'd consider buying a second-hand bat or a new Kashmir one, allowing me to walk off without that sense of expectation from the opposition based on the fact that I'm wielding a Warsop, but that's just me. There does seem to be a pattern developing here, it's as though the use of the Warsop bat puts the batsmen in some kind of deluded superior state of mind, as though the bat makes a difference. The evidence does seem to suggest otherwise.

The game progressed with Southend not being able to get the runs on the board, wickets fell relatively easily. Lee threw the ball to me and I wasn't sure how it would go, given my recent poor form, but these bloke were in a difficult situation and we were cruising. Still undecided whether I bowl off of a run-in, or whether I include the bound if I come in off of a short run up, I opted to go for a Jenner-esque two step walk-in.

The first over included the obligatory wide ball off the cut strip and the batsman smacking me for a couple of 4's, so I came away with 9 off the first over, but Lee could see it was coming together and said "Yeah, have another one", thinking by this time (I reckon) the opposition were moving towards playing for a draw as opposed to a win. The next over was a lot better, the field was changed and I only conceded 1 run. I may have chucked in an Wrong Un as Sonny was right behind me at Mid-Off saying 'Bowl him the Wrong Un Dave'. I tried going round the wicket to one bloke who looked susceptible and then went back again, then with S.Ridgewell on strike a loose ball went legside (As did several) and he tried to flick it away down past Ben at Fine Leg. The ball was in the air and Ben came forward and took a very low but obvious catch and I got a wicket at last! Nice to have a father and son combo wicket as well! There was a chance during my bowling where a run out was on, but as the ball came in low and flat off of Brads fielding I couldn't hold on to it to take the bails off and missed the chance.

A bloke came in shortly after my spell and Lee had a few overs as this bloke who seemed to make what appeared to be a concerted effort to get the run rate going and move towards the chance of a win? Lees bowling was erratic, which made me feel a lot better about some of the overs I've bowled in recent matches and I reckon I'd have Lee as captain any day of the week as he's probably a lot more empathetic to the plight of the spin bowler on a bad day, as he's a spinner himself and has been through the same crap as I have! Lee got a few wickets from what he described as poor bowling except for one really nice one. In his overs he bowled a fair few wides outside of the off-stump and for the most part the ball wasn't turning, but then he threw one up well outside of the off-stump and the bloke just raised his bat to get the wide and the ball, which was spinning, hit a bit of rough and came back in at 45 degrees and hit the stumps!
"That's what you call and off-break mate" he said as the batsman walked off looking back at his broken stumps.

Around about this point in the game they shut up shop and seemed to make the decision that the win wasn't on and that they'd play for the draw. A kid with a mullet (Bottrill)?Then came out (No.3) and started to bat at the east end (Park end). He then blocked and blocked and blocked like I've never seen before. Lee tried all sorts of tactics, fielding in close looking for a catching chance, but the kids bat was firmly angled forwards and everything was being hit into the ground. Anything slightly wide of the off-stump was just left. Lee moved us all out to see if he'd try and hit it and run a single, but he wasn't going to go anywhere unless he hit a four or a two. I don't know how long he was out there, but it seemed as though 90% of the time he was at the park end blocking away making Geoffrey Boycott look like a T20 player!

Teas came and went and the 6 o'clock rule came into play and this kid was still there blocking for England. In the meantime the blokes at the other end seemed to have another agenda altogether. They were hitting the balls and running - again, seemingly in 2's and 4's meaning that Dr Block (Bottrill) always remained at the same end. Watching the overs tick by the game changed and went from a position where it looked like they were playing for a draw, to a situation where we were creeping towards a win by virtue of taking wickets. But then the last man came on with several overs to go - the bowler who'd taken all the wickets (Wood). Lee said "I know this bloke, I've played against him before, he can block like the kid here, this is going to be a draw. Wood took his position at the crease and then swung that bat like a psycho dealing mostly in 4's and throwing in a 6 or two! The game changed again, we needed a wicket, if the ball was on the stumps Wood blocked just as well as Mullet boy. Anything slightly loose and the ball was sailing over or between the fielders going for 4's and very quickly!

Their total on the 13th over was 135 chasing 150 with Wood still smacking the ball around with gusto and confidence. I'd been back on, Sonny had a go, Lee had been on again and so had Brad and Ben who'd bowled really well. Kieran wasn't an option because his shoulder was knackered, but he'd have been my choice because he swings the ball and bowls on difficult lengths. With only 15 needed off of another 6 or 7 overs, the draw was looking like a highly likely win with Woods batting. But these were the last two blokes and we only needed that one wicket! But with the win now an option, their tactics changed and they started to take singles looking for the win and worked slowly towards a victory. Because Wood looked solid despite the fact that he had been going after the ball and Bottrill had played so well for so long blocking it was beginning to look like a lost cause. It was quiet in the field, so I took it upon myself to start getting a bit of noise going "C'mon Basildon"! Clapping and commending the bowling when the dot balls came or the fielding was good. With Bottrill now looking for singles and Wood doing the same, the pressure was on them now to bring home the win. We just needed to bowl tight and field well. Wood hit a couple of fours in quick succession, leaving Bottrill on strike. Lee made another bowling change bringing Anthony back on, the first ball bowled did the trick, Bottrill bowled and the game won with only a handful of runs needed on their part. Bottrill was gutted, Wood was more philosophical saying it had been a good battle.

A couple of days later the league tables were updated (See below) and this win now put us up into 2nd position in the league with our next game against Orsett. Thankfully Orsett are languishing down at the bottom of the league table, suggesting that we have a chance of winning.

Lee Dutton Member profile - no photo available
Jamie  Britton Member profile - no photo available
Anthony Ayres Member profile
Paul Card Member profile - no photo available
Ben Thompson Member profile
Dave Thompson Member profile
Abdullah Al Roky Member profile - no photo available
Harrison Birch Member profile
Bradley Staff Member profile
Sonny Downes Member profile
Lewis Brown Member profileLewis Brown