Saturday saw the curtain come down on the 2019 4ths cricket season. We were paired at home with Grayswood 4ths; for the third time this season with the honours in favour of our opponents 0-2. We were keen to finish with a flourish and record that elusive first win. There was a sense of glum amongst both teams during the pre-match chats in the full knowledge that cricket was almost done with winter was heading our way (sorry to mention it).
Tim Fry won the toss and we elected to bat first, he was soon back in the middle with his regular opening partner Mark Weekes. Both looked comfortable and set about providing a platform for our strong batting line up to follow. Tim hit two beautiful fours before edging one to 2nd slip, a very smart low catch saw the end of his innings for 9. Geoff Garrett strode out to the middle looking to continue his rich vein of form throughout this summer. Mark was watchful and determined to bat long. Both formed a partnership that was steady and progressive, frustratingly for Mark his innings was ended just before the drinks break following a smart caught and bowled. Mark batted well for his 18, once again demonstrating what an able and reliable opener he is.
Matt Field, returning to the team after a period out, joined Geoff in the middle of the heart of the innings. Both men were keen to accelerate the scoring, we were acutely aware from previous duels how destructive Grayswood's batting could be a sizeable total was needed. Geoff worked hard showing his quality and it came as no surprise as he passed 50 again, much to the joy of his teammates. It came as a bit of shock when he advanced down the crease, the following fresh air shot brought the dreaded sound of wickets shattering as the keeper smartly stumped him for a well worked 62.
Whilst we had batted well, the run rate needed a boost and Graeme Aggar was promoted to five with a licence to cause chaos, no pressure. Graeme and Matt were ticking the scoreboard over, Graeme was quickly into the big shots, a mighty six saw everyone fretting about their parked cars. Another big hit to the mid off boundary saw a remarkable catch, that no one could quite believe and Graeme was gone for 12.
Alex White was next up and he provided good support for Matt. Unfortunately Matt was soon heading back to pavilion when he was bowled for 25. Scott Clarke joined Alex with 10 balls left in the innings. Alex (13) and Scott (8) threw caution to the wind and moved the score onto 168-5 at the close. The feeling at half time was we were 30-40 short, not for the first time this year.
A joint tea was provided by Scott (actually Katie) Clarke and Graeme Aggar (who baked a splendid cake that was attacked with vigour by all).
Suitably refreshed we took to the field for one last heroic effort of the season. Aaron Avery opened up and was hostile and fast, the Grayswood opener Tom White is a friend of Aaron's and both were sledging each other during a fascinating and enjoyable dual. Aaron was supported at the other end by Toby White, who has developed his cricket and confidence immensely this year. He was also bowling quickly and with good lines.
Aaron picked up the first wicket when he clean bowled 'James Howard' for 13. Youngster Seb Royds was next a batsman who had been a thorn in our side during previous encounters, we knew the value of his wicket. Tim continued to attack with Aaron steaming in, making the batsmen jump about. Henry Garrett was introduced, another young man who has developed extremely well this season. He was soon into his stride, moving the ball in and out prompting the Grayswood opener to comment on how much trouble Henry was causing. Frustratingly our bowlers kept just missing the edge (millimetres), fine margins.
Graeme Aggar was introduced to mix it up with spin and opened with a maiden. Graeme and Henry were bowling in tandem and pressure was enforced. Geoff Garrett joined the attack introduced and bowled the dangerous Royds for 41, another quick wicket followed when Aaron took a smart catch at short leg giving Geoff two wickets. Passmore the Grayswood number 5 didn't waste any time, he smashed a 4 to mid on and quickly went one better smashing a giant 6 to the same place on his way to spirited 41 not out.
Mark Weekes and John Lee shared an over each, before Grayswood reached their target with 7 overs in the bank. Despite losing again, it was smiles and handshakes all round. An impromptu and emotional guard of honour saw the team show their appreciation for our skipper by clapping him from the pitch (supported by the Grayswood team who also understood the challenges Tim has faced with is health this season), in return Tim sheepishly acknowledged the acclaim and sped for the safety of the pavilion.
In my opinion Aaron Avery was the MotM, just edging out the impressive Geoff. Aaron who recently dislocated his shoulder, bowled with real energy, purpose and heart. His dual with Tom White was the day's highlight; the wicket keeper Scott has the hand bruises to prove how fast he was bowling and how often he beat the bat. He returned impressive figures of 9-1-17-1, the wickets column didn't do him justice. In addition he was fielding at short leg throughout, took a catch and was on hand to give supportive advice to the junior bowlers throughout. If that wasn't enough he carried out score-book and umpiring duties during our batting innings. A great lad and a great team player.
A few post match drinks encouraged a discussion on the highs and lows of the season, just as England were falling apart at the start of our second innings. At the time of writing they continue to crumble.
Big thanks to Dave who came down and umpired both teams. As he left the pitch, appreciative Grayshott players jogged up to him and shook his hand to offer thanks for a season of umpiring, generally helping out and the bit many don't see - roller duty. He spends hours going up and down the strip so that we can play on wonderful playing tracks, thank you Sir your endeavours are appreciated.
Big thanks to Tim who has steered the ship throughout, morale has remained high amongst the team and everyone always got a game. Whist we won 0 matches, no one has minded, enjoyment and development has been the aim. Tim has had some health difficulties this summer, despite his personal challenges he's managed to put them to one side and ensure that we continued to play and enjoy our cricket.
Thanks to all who performed tea duties, umpiring, match-day set up and tidying up, bar duty, score-book/board duty, family support, other stuff and behind the scenes preparation.
Reflections include the rapid development of the youngsters who have done brilliantly, each person has raised their game regularly; the future is bright. Whilst their have been numerous individuals triumphs throughout it would be remiss to wrap this up in any other way except to commend the whole squad. The games have been played in good spirits and everyone has given everything for the cause, particularly those who were injured and refused to throw the towel in.
Sadly that's that and time to handover to football and the rugby world cup, as such you'll be pleased that these reports are now done for the summer. On a final note, don't forget the Club Dinner Dance evening (partners welcome) on the 19th October, see the website for details.