The lead up to Saturday saw some frantic plans being deployed to beat the weather by Graham Sampson et al (thanks to all who contributed - special shout out to our very own 4th team superstar John Lee who is scary when armed with a chainsaw). The cricket cover did a good impression of an aerial hot air balloon, not quite what was intended.
Despite the Autumnal weather, us hardcore cricket folk assembled for cricket battle. In true British weather obsessed fashion we walked out to the middle, gathered around in the rain and moaned about the weather; only in the UK. The wicket was green and it was howling a gale, well a little bit windy. Bat or bowl???? there was lots of discussion and opinion shared. Tim Fry our Captain rose above the 10 other captains and busied himself with leadership issues. He won the toss and opted to field; that was my vote incidentally - game on.
Aaron Avery our speedster opened the bowling working in tandem with our new hero Luke Gudge. Aaron bowled quickly and had the the Grayswood openers jumping about, his bowling partner Luke was first to strike knocking over Gywnn's stumps. Spurred on by some friendly and supportive banter about Luke being 1-0 up, Aaron got the next wicket 1-1, Graeme Aggar took a very smart low catch at point to get Grayswood 2 down. Aaron's figures 9 - 0 - 25 -1. Luke returned 10 - 0 - 69 - 1.
Tim was busy shuffling the pack and the first bowling change saw Graeme introduced, it proved to be a very good one. The young Grayswood batsman dispatched Graeme's bowling for consecutive boundaries, the grimace was replaced with an outburst of joy when he took a smart catch off his own bowling. It wasn't long before he was at it again - C&B; showoff.....
This brought Seb Royds and Ben Cooley together excellent products of the Grayswood youth system. They set about playing aggressively and stylishly, both did us some catching practice that we were unable to capitalise upon; we paid for that.
Young Henry Garrett showcased his cricketing development with a tidy opening spell that caused both batsmen trouble throughout, he was unlucky not to break the partnership. Tim turned to Mark Weekes' spin and a smart caught and bowled did the trick, Royds junior was finally out for 65. Mark achieved figures of 4 - 0 - 27 - 1. This brought the dangerous Darren Pierce to the wicket and after a flurry of scoring, Pierce retired hurt with a back injury.
Graeme picked up a 3rd wicket when Cooley holed out to Aaron on the mid-on boundary departing for a tidy 73. Don't take your eyes off the action - BOWLED, Graeme struck again 2 from 2. Hat trick ball for 5, arrrgghh someone had to mention the joy of buying a jug of beer before his next delivery, funny how his radar went rogue from that point and that 5th wicket didn't materialise. That said he finished with a very impressive 9 - 1 - 52 - 4.
Henry in his 2nd spell got a well deserved wicket when Carter holed out to debutant Mark Le Mare at point, Mark playing only his 3rd game of cricket - very good effort. Mark also showcased his goalkeeping skills fielding at mid-on he threw himself to his left to stop a certain 4, well done. There was still time for Henry to really open his shoulders and send down a real fizzer, castling the Grayswood Captain's stumps. Henry finished with 8 - 0 - 63 -2 impressive.
A short time later the innings concluded on 278 - 9 from 40 overs, a challenging run chase was ahead for the 4ths. Boosted by last week's impressive display we felt we could chase this down, if we started well. Tea was provided by Mark Weekes, thank you very nice.
Tim assessed the batting requirement, quick runs were needed, Luke was promoted to open alongside Mark. Luke was in a hurry and got us off to a fast start reaching 10 in no time, unfortunately for him/us he was caught. It is clear that we have a terrific all-rounder on our hands. Geoff Garrett our Stella batsman was next in.
Mark was next to go having spent much of the early exchanges at the non-strikers end, he found himself trapped LBW. Scott Clarke was next at 4. Geoff and Scott set about providing a platform, whilst trying to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The drinks break brought about a 20 over requirement reassessment. Despite the planning Scott perished for 36 soon after, due to a smart Cooley delivery that moved away from him and hit off stump leaving Scott to search for the hole in his bat.
Graeme joined Geoff and the fireworks really began. Soon after Geoff brought up a hard fought 50. What followed was incredible, both men just went for it; albeit very skilfully. Graeme was hitting boundary after boundary, six six six. The cars and the pavilion were not spared. Geoff was by now putting the foot to the floor as well and reached a fantastic 100 that received warm applause from all involved, quite rightly he was thrilled.
Could they see us home, the run rate was up at 10 an over and they were landing it over after over. Just when the odds were starting to shift our way Geoff was bowled on 105, 'no please let it be a no ball'. Wishful thinking didn't come to the rescue. This was an outstanding innings that had got us to within 5 overs of our target and a frantic finale, the Grayswood fielders had been fretting.
It was Graeme and John Lee to keep up the run rate as the 40th over closed in on us. Graeme unfortunately tried to take a quick single to retain the strike and was short of his crease, Cooley gleefully ran in and removed the bails when we'd hoped for a rush of blood to the head resulting in a shy and a miss, intelligent cricket did for us well played. Graeme departed the arena having raced to 81, fantastic effort and great entertainment.
John and Francesca Haywood had the very unenviable task of scoring 25 in 3 overs. Some tidy bowling and sharp fielding had the run rate creeping up all the time. The game ran its course and we finished on 258 - 6, some 22 short. Despite the heroics and effort of all we were left to reflect upon what might have been.
There were a number of standout performances, not least the bravery of Aaron who appeared to play on despite dislocating his shoulder whilst bowling. Although it immediately popped back in he played on in some obvious discomfort, he should be awarded a medal - get fit soon. Tim took a nasty one on the shin that opened up. Francesca was also in the wars, wicket keeping with her head.
Despite there being a plethora of MOTM candidates, in my opinion there can only be one winner and it goes to Geoff for a tremendous and well crafted innings - well played.
Happy 21st birthday wishes to Francesca who got to celebrate her memorable day with us at Broxhead, before heading off for raucous family celebrations.
1. The ground staff for making the game possible at all;
2. Aaron and Luke for performing bar duty;
3. Dave, Allan et al for umpiring;
4. Mark for the lovely tea.
In summary, a terrific performance by the 4ths who toiled hard against a very good team. We ran them close and there was anxiety in the field as we got closer to the target. Regrettably we came up short again and we are still striving for that first win.
Despite the weather, cricket was the winner and only show in town. Football can wait a bit longer. Kingsley are up next in a fortnight back at Broxhead.