We were at home against Bransgore I on Saturday. They had thoroughly thumped us in the game we played against them 2 years ago. The ground looked a picture after all the hard work that had been done in getting the ground fit for play on after March’s deluge where we had 1.5 times the previous record rainfall for March. Thank you to the many people who worked like trojans to get the ground fit for play. You know who you are, I would forget at least 1 of you & I don’t want to do that! We also should be grateful that the weather changed from the monsoons of March to the warm dry weather of April onward.
They won the toss and chose to bat first. We had 3 changes from the game the week before. This probably weakened our bowling slightly more than the batting. It was another sunny & warm day. They started slowly, but safely. Our young opening bowlers bowled accurately, Dylan Hatton’s first 3 overs were maidens and no runs were struck off the bat off him until his 5th over. Ethan Terris was slightly more expensive at the other end, but he somehow looked more likely to take a wicket. If anybody remembers the England Fast/Medium bowler Mike Hendrick, I always thought that he should have taken more Test wickets than he actually did, but he did so much with the ball off the pitch that the opposition batsmen played and missed so much. Well I lost count of the number of times that Ethan got their openers to play at, but they missed at on Saturday. The first change of bowling came after 13 overs when they were 53-0. Not yet a dangerous score, but it was a good platform for them. The openers were replaced by Alex McCreath who bowled really accurately and Rob Noble whose radar seemed to be rather awry in his first 3 overs! I have seen that from Rob before, maybe he just takes some time to warm up. Then towards the end of his 2nd over a moment of instinctive behaviour. Their opening batsman hit the ball straight towards Rob, he instinctively put his hands down and caught it in his follow through. They had lost their first wicket at 72 in the 17th over. This brought about the first change in which team was ahead in the game from 72-0, they declined to 134-7. This started with Alex McCreath taking the wicket that his accurate bowling deserved. Their other opening batsman Jack Cox was dismissed for a well made 54, via a well taken catch by Pete Pistol Jerram. Then Rob Noble having “recalibrated” his radar (as he put it) went from 1-22 after his 3rd over, to 5-29 in his last over (5-30 final figures), that was 4-7 in a devastating spell. He bowled 2 & then there were good catches from Todd Garner & Ethan Terris. Alex McCreath had 1-8 after his first 6 overs. Then he seemed to tire (indeed he later told me that he volunteered to bowl his 9 overs straight through, but wished he hadn’t because was feeling very tired) and he finished with 1-44 from his 9 overs. Then when the returning Dylan Hatton got the wicket his bowling deserved they were reduced to 134-7 They were in danger of being bowled out for a below par score for the pitch. That they weren’t was due to the next change in the match. Their captain, Chay Fox, was joined by Richard Thomas & no further wickets were lost. So far all the bowling had been done by our seam bowlers who got help in the conditions. The remaining 9 overs were split between our slower bowlers Kevin Cresswell and Jamie Terris. They clearly got no help from the pitch and their batsmen got plenty of runs (although whisper it quietly, but there is rumour of a dropped catch by the usually reliable wicket keeper James Purnell off Jamie Terris’ bowling! That was a rare event!). Most of the runs went to their captain. He finished off the innings with a 6 to finish on 54 not out. Their final total was 216-7 off their 45 overs. This was a good total, but not an unbeatable one.
What we could do with was a solid start. This we didn’t get! First of all Luke Jerram, who had effectively put last weeks game against Suttoners out of reach with a quickfire 24, does the club have a better batsmen on poor pitches?, had a swing and was caught behind for 0. Then Kevin Cresswell, who just seemed to be getting going, was bowled by one that seemed to dip at the last moment & yorked him for 14, we were then 24-2. At this point James Purnell joined the young batsman Todd Garner and this brought about the next change in momentum for the game. Over the next 12 overs they put on 96 runs, by batting sensibly, good collecting of runs, including some quick running between the wickets. Then in successive balls they were both gone. First Todd was caught and bowled in a way that was not dissimilar to the first wicket of Rob Noble’s for 43. Then off the first ball of the next over James Purnell went LBW for 48, but he was clearly less than happy with this because he looked at his bat & then reluctantly left the crease. 3 more wickets then went quickly as we went from 120-2 to 135-7. This another big change in momentum in the game. Their captain Chay Fox finished with figures of 3-32, to go with his 54*. Did we have any hope of winning now? This brought about the final and decisive change in momentum. 4 of their bowlers had bowled all the overs they could. Their other bowler had lost his radar altogether when Todd & James had been batting and went for 32 runs in 2 overs! Their Captain then gambled and bowled the other 4 bowlers full allocation in the hope of bowling us out to win the game. This meant that the remaining overs would have to be cobbled together between the bowler who was having a bad day & others who were not regular bowlers. We had Rob Noble in bat and Dylan Hatton had joined him. The momentum began to switch when their Captain bowled a beamer as the first ball of his final over and had to be taken off. This proved decisive because the replacement bowler then bowled the over instead and went for 19! Thereafter their remaining bowler and another fill in bowler went for the remaining runs we needed. Rob Noble hit the last ball of the 43rd over for 4 to finish on 55* as we reached 220-7. Rob Noble’s innings was superb, but I can’t underestimate the batting of Dylan Hatton. He played a very mature innings of 21*, he never looked in trouble and played to his strengths in scoring his runs. I don’t think I have ever seen him bat better. He has proved himself to be an excellent opening bowler for the 2nd team, I think that in years to come he could easily become a top all-rounder. I for one will enjoy watching him.
Could we have lost the game if their Captain had been able to complete his final over? Probably not because they were having to cobble together the remaining and we did have good batting to come. I don’t want that to detract from his all round contribution to the game. He admitted to me after the game that they had a bowler less for the game than they usually have. In the end we won the game because our overall play was better than theirs. This includes the all round play of Rob Noble.
This was an excellent game that was just what recreational league cricket is all about. We have now won our 2 opening games against teams we have traditionally struggled against. I am now looking forward to the rest of our season. There will be tougher games ahead, but we are proving ourselves to be a very good team.
– Simon Hutchins