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Archive: 2008 News & Reports

Take a stroll down memory lane with club news and match reports from the Jesters CC 2008 season.

Updates appear in reverse chronological order...

1st December - Ollie Doward joins committee

We are delighted to welcome Ollie Doward to the club committee. He came on board at the AGM last month when; all the other committee members were re-elected.

30th November - Annual Awards

Thanks to everyone who made the AGM and annual dinner earlier this month such a success. Winners of the three annual awards presented at the dinner are:

Arnold Woods Trophy (best individual performance) to Jonny Bridcut for taking 12 wickets on the Cambridge weekend

Most Jester-like performance - Mike Palmer for falling flat on his backside at the moment of delivering his very first ball for the club.

Michael Meyer Trophy for big hitting to John Murphy for his enormous straight six at Middleton Stoney.

30th September - Barnes Common

We finished the season with a 6 wicket defeat at the hands of Barnes Common. A game we really should have won having had them 35-4 chasing our 195 (Simon Cleobury 70). Match manager Nick Mumby explains all:

"After almost a month of cricket was washed out it was splendid to turn up at Barnes Common in glorious sunshine. Jesters won the toss and we decided to have a bat.

“A slow start and the loss of two early wickets was not quite what the captain had ordered, but a partnership soon developed between Simon Cleobury and Mark Costin which got the innings back on track. The thick outfield didn't make boundaries easy to come by, and soon both players were taking the aerial root - Costin hitting a particularly big straight 6 onto the railway. The two put on 114 for the 3rd wicket and with the score on 124 with ten overs to spare and 7 wickets in hand a decent total was very much on the cards.

“Sadly, after they were both out in fairly quick succession (Costin for 46 and Cleobury for 74) wickets fell at regular intervals and no one else managed to get themselves in. A few lusty blows by Doward, Bridcut and Mumby got the score up to 193 for 9 from the 35 overs.

Our bowling effort began brightly with Bridcut and Murphy bowling tightly and accurately from the start. A wicket from the third ball of Bridcut's first over and then 3 in fairly quick succession from Murphy reduced Barnes to 30 for 4 from 10 overs. This was, however, to be the high point of our bowling performance. Their 5th wicket remained unbroken, and their two batsmen batted sensibly for the remainder of the innings. They accumulated singles intelligently and waited for the bad deliveries, which came along all too regularly. Again, a few too many dropped catches and lazy fielding meant that we lost a game we should have won.

“The pick of the bowling was Murphy with 3-22 from his 7 overs. Kipling also bowled well and was unlucky not to get a wicket. A good game again, and we look forward to reversing our losing record next year!"

7th September - Annual Dinner

Don’t forget that the annual dinner and AGM take place on Friday 14th November. Put the date in your diary now.

7th September - Rain, rain and MORE rain

Sadly the last three games - with Chobham, Maidenhead & Bray and Amersham - have all been cancelled due to the wet weather.

18th August - Middleton Stoney

From a beautiful Hertfordshire rural setting we progressed to an equally beautiful ground in the Oxfordshire countryside - Middleton Stoney. And won by the even more convincing margin of 130 runs.

Put into bat on a potentially treacherous wet wicket we did well to reach 195-7 by tea. The solid foundation provided by Simon Cleobury (18) and Tom Maxwell (27) was vital as this was potentially a hundred-all-out wicket. Roger Greenslade (65*) then held the rest of the innings together, before he was joined by John Murphy (29*) for the final acceleration. The champagne moment came when John walked down the wicket to their opening bowler and launched a huge straight six a long way over the sightscreen.

The Middleton Stoney innings never really got going against steady bowling from Matt Berry and John Murphy. After three quick wickets the middle order dug in for a while - so Andrew Short was summoned to serve up a little temptation. The batsmen found it hard to resist and the home side were soon all out for 65, Andrew looking bemused to have finished with figures of 5-7.

Many thanks to Middleton Stoney for their hospitality - the post-match barbie and conversation were as excellent as ever. Over the years this fixture has been cursed by the weather, so we look forward to a dry pitch and real August temperatures next year.

12th August - Rickling Ramblers

After losing our debut fixture at Rickling Green last year we were determined to make amends this season. Match manager Ollie Doward takes up the story:

“After a narrow defeat in last year's inaugural fixture, revenge was duly exacted at the village idyll that is Rickling Green.

“The Ramblers won the toss and, after some heavy overnight rain, were delighted to invite us to bat. We lost Mike Palmer and Simeon Douse early on, but Roger Wilcock had already launched the fourth ball of the innings over extra cover and bounding down the road to Manuden. It was the first of four maximums in a truly splendid 106. Roger was particularly brutal on anything remotely over-pitched, unleashing a series of booming straight and extra-cover drives, as well as marmelising one short ball for an enormous six over mid-wicket. It was a chanceless knock, the only hairy moment coming on 99 when, to the agony of team-mates in the pavilion, he lofted the ball millimetres from the grasp of the man on the log-on boundary.

“Roger shared a stand of 126 with Richie Patel who initially played second fiddle with a patient first fifty before exploding into life as we pushed for a declaration. With Richie on 89*, word was sent to the middle that he had two overs in which to reach his hundred. He needed two balls, both of which were dispatched with aplomb over the mid-wicket rope! Richie (101*) had added a further 81 with Andrew Short (20*) as we finished on 248-3 off 35.2 overs. Club historians were scratching their heads trying to recall the last time two Jesters reached a century in the same innings.

“Buoyed by these two stirring knocks, we were soon on top in the field. Anxious to keep up with the steep run-rate, their top order played some optimistic strokes against Berry & Murphy and were soon in trouble. With four Ramblers back in the hutch for less than a hundred, play was halted by a torrential downpour, forcing a change of tactics upon the resumption. Deprived of the fast bowling prowess of Shobu & Palmer by the slippery footholds, wet wicket weapon Short was quickly summoned. Despite some middle order resistance from stylish left-hander Bunting (32) and the obdurate Lodge (32), Berry remained unruffled by the tricky conditions underfoot to finish with season's best figures of 5-51. Rainmeister Short wrapped up the innings with 4-21 thanks to two sharp stumpings by Roger Greenslade.

“Despite the one-sided nature of the victory, the match was played in great spirit and we can expect a sterner challenge next year, with opposition players promising to 'unleash the Kiff' - the burly fast bowler who struck fear into our hearts in last year's game!”

8th August - Cuckfield

We beat Cuckfield by five wickets after the usual enjoyable day in their cricket week.

We arrived to find John Mole and his team working on the square after apocalyptic thunderstorms the previous evening. They did a fantastic job, allowing us to start only an hour late.

Even before we took the field there had been dramas with both side suffering two drop outs that morning. After negotiations, we drafted in two ten year olds and Cuckfield called up two players from their ladies side. All of whom performed well in the game.

Cuckfield lunched at the healthy 83-3 but fell away afterwards to 148 all out. Seaford CC’s Australian, Jacob Thompson, did the early damage with 3-41 before Simon Hardy mopped up with 4-33. We were helped by the absence of usual nemesis Chris Mole who was resting after scoring a half-century for Devon at Lord’s the day before.

The fielding highlight was Brian Pote-Hunt’s flying one-handed diving catch at second slip. Definitely life in the old dog yet!

After a solid start from Thompson and Matt Hepple we eased home by 5 wickets without too many alarms, promoting ten year olds Luke Appleton and Isaac Swan up the order to give them a game. Both batted very sensibly. Luke enjoyed his first ever partnership with his father Joey - and from the way they batted there will be many more to come.

Many thanks, once again, to Cuckfield for their tip-top hospitality. This game is one of the highlights of our fixture list and it’s a real shame that very few regular Jesters now travel down from London to take part. Why not put it in your diary now for 2009?

4th August - No gnomes

Sadly the game with Lord Gnome’s XI had to be cancelled as they were unable to raise a side.

27 July - Roehampton

We were back to winning ways at Roehampton with a convincing 6 wicket victory.

A dead slow but erratically bouncy track made batting difficult, so we were unsure what to make of Roehampton’s 145-9 off 40 overs. Pete Tilley made a useful Jesters debut (8/3/12/2), Nick Mumby was leading wicket-taker with three, and Matt Berry his usual miserly self (16 runs off 9 overs).

Mike Palmer soon showed we had nothing to worry about with a commanding innings of 72, including five sixes. Alex Smith (48) joined Mike in a rollicking partnership of 105, which involved near misses on several sunbathing spectators and much work for players, dogs and spectators hunting balls lost in the surrounding undergrowth. In the end we cruised home with ten overs to spare.

24th July - Horsham

Match manager Brian Pote-Hunt reports on our drawn game at Horsham:

“Jesters contrived to draw on hot day in Horsham after victory had looked more likely. Having contained the host to 260-4, Jesters set about their total with gusto with Jeremy Crampton and Furrakh Mirza crashing the call around the park. Jeremy fell for 73 when the score was on 120. Matt Hepple and Furrakh then took the innings forward with 6 an over needed in the last 20 with wickets to spare.

“However good Horsham bowling and defensive fields limited the score to below 4 an over and slowly we got behind the required rate. Losing several wickets in an attempt to accelerate we were left with 22 off the last over, a tall order, and finished 10 short. A good close game - and Horsham’s track was in tip top shape a week before Sussex play there against Somerset”.

20th July - Gemini

The big news from the Gemini game was that we took a wicket - a great relief after taking precisely none in our previous two fixtures at Sunningdale School. In fact we took all ten, but still lost a closely fought game by 29 runs.

Gemini won the toss, batted and were well placed on 134-3 at lunch. We hit back after the break and did well to limit them to 208. John Murphy (16/5/45/4) and Jonny Bridcut (13/2/42/3) did most of the damage.

The Sunningdale square always gives a little help to the bowlers, but we thought the target was within reach if we could make a good start. This we duly made, taking tea at 39 without loss. But our foundation proved less solid than we’d hoped. After Robbie Hudson went lbw for 39 no one was able to play a major innings and we subsided to 140-9. Game over, we thought.

But at this point James Douse strode to the crease and proceeded to unfurl the most glorious array of stokes. Drives mainly, in the air and along the ground - to the increasingly loud cheers of his team mates. We were just daring to contemplate victory when the final wicket fell at the other end leaving James stranded on 28 not out.

Many thanks, once again, to Gemini for their excellent hospitality. One of the most enjoyable days of the season.

13th July - More dropped catches

Slaughter & May beat us by two wickets at the Shenley Cricket Centre. Again it was largely our own fault as we dropped an incredible seven catches. A match report will appear here soon, but in the meantime here are the scores:

Jesters: 167 for 6 (35 overs)

P. Durban 45, S. Douse 31*, O. Doward 29, C. Wilson 26, Edington 2-33, Warriner 2-29

Slaughter & May: 170 for 8 (33.5 overs)

R. Patel 81, Bridcut 3-16, Murphy 2-40

12th July - Rain (and more rain) in Dorset

The Dorset tour was a damp affair, with the Hampshire Hogs game called off at breakfast and the Bryanston match rained off after lunch.

We had high hopes at Bryanston. Not only was most of the team on the ground by 11.30 - in contrast to last year. But we also had them 56-4 three balls into the afternoon session, after they had lunched at 56-2. But then it rained and we settled for a couple of indoor games in the school sports hall and a good session in the pub afterwards..

Our inability to catch did for us next day at Canford where we crashed to a 7 wicket defeat. It should have been much closer. Our 210-7 was a good total that ought to have stretched the Cygnets, but we dropped both their number three and four off simple chances in the early stages of a large partnership.

Spare a thought for Zac Curtis. After batting beautifully, and holding our innings together, he went for another big hit, not realising he was on 99. The ball went a long way, but unfortunately almost straight up in the air and he fell one short of what would have been a fine century.

Many thanks to the Butterflies and Cygnets for their hospitality. We’re looking forward to next year already.

29th June - The Mallards

Our new fixture against the Cambridge based Mallards was very enjoyable, and ended in a 151 run victory.

Jesters: 291-4 (40 overs) – Vijendran 87, Doward 115*, Moshinul Haque 29 - Debs 2-31

Mallards: 140 All Out (31.4 overs) Grimshaw 50 – Murphy 2-38, Ahmed 2-21, Haque 2-22, Douse 2-8, Twigg 2-8

Match manager, Matt Berry, fleshes out the statistics:

'Jesters registered a comfortable 151 run victory over The Mallards on a fine track in the superlative grounds of Churchill College, Cambridge. Owing to a few stragglers arriving late, The Mallards' captain kindly allowed us to bat first on an absolute road of a track. After Cleobury fell early, progress was comfortable with Patel (28) looking in particularly fine form until he was bamboozled by an innocuous but straight delivery.

From 39-2 Vijendran and Doward then accumulated rapidly against a varied attack that included a former Cambridge University 2nd XI bowler, a couple of decent medium pacers, and several who had honed the art of the juicy long-hop.

So upwardly projected was the bowling that followed, radar operators at RAF Brampton Wyton Henlow may well have been left scratching their heads. However, as the ball continued to fly over the wicketkeeper's head, both batsmen kept their heads to put on 176 in 23 overs. Vijendran, despite averaging 60+ for the Jesters this season, was once again left cursing another missed hundred when bowled for a textbook 73-ball 87.

Doward, matching Vijendran's class with bear-like aggression, raced to an 85-ball century, his first for Jesters, partnered by a run-a-ball 29 from 16-year old Moshinul Haque. Jesters finished on a tidy 291-4 off 40 overs.

“At 76-1 off 11 overs Mallards appeared to be making a good fist of chasing down the mammoth target, with an injured Berry not keeping to his usual accuracy. However fellow opener Murphy bowled the opposition No.3 for 31 leaving occasional Jester, Grimshaw, to tackle the raw pace of 16-year old Shobju Ahmed. Grimshaw bought up a stoical 50 in 30 balls, but once dismissed by a fast full delivery from Ahmed, the middle order collapsed in a heap thanks to the youngsters Shobju and Moshinul bowling in tandem. Brief resistance from the keeper and skipper only slightly delayed the highlight of the day, James Douse taking his first two wickets for Jesters. John Twigg merrily chipped in with two wickets as Mallards were bowled out of 140 in 31.4 overs. A super game – definitely a fixture to keep.”

22nd June - Captain Scott’s XI

Jesters: 232/5

Captain Scott’s XI: 163 all out

Won by 69 runs

Match manager Jonny Bridcut tells the story:

“On a bright and blustery day on the Balliol ground, Oxford, the Jesters triumphed in our inaugural fixture with the Captain Scott XI. Having lost the toss, we were asked to bat first. After the "Scotties" finally succeeded in their quest to discover an opening bowler and a wicketkeeper, the duel began, and the visitors' powerful top six quickly went about compiling a formidable total on a deceptively tricky wicket during our 35 over stay.

“After a promising start, with Robbie Hudson supplying typical early acceleration, Ponniah and Zac Curtis (our Kiwi debutant) gave the innings a tremendous foundation, putting on over a hundred for the second wicket. Having been unusually restrained, Ponniah unleashed a booming slap down the ground to their talkative South African medium pacer (every team has one), only to find his woodwork brutally rearranged, bringing to an end a solid 47. Ollie Doward and Alex Smith provided a characteristic Jesters mid-innings wobble, giving the lower order hope of a chance to wield the willow, before George Shepherd entered the fray and scampered eagerly between the wickets, ensuring Zac had as much of the strike as possible. Before long Zac reached a well deserved hundred, enabling him to fully blosom in the final overs of the innings. As a result the Jesters exceeded the captain's expectations with a daunting total of 232/5.

“It wasn't long before the Captain Scott XI openers were in difficulties. Matt Berry managed to get the ball to dance off a length, and bowled straight through his allotted 7 overs, with typically miserly figures of 2/21. With wickets also falling at the other end, the required run rate soon climbed to over 8 an over, which even the skill and strength of the Reilly brothers could not overturn (one enormous straight six will live long in the memory). Taking pace off the ball proved decisive as the canny Andrew Short and the golden arm of Zac tore into the opposition's middle order. Once Ollie had somehow clung onto a rasping pull at midwicket to remove their skipper, the match disappeared beyond the Scotties' reach. Zac finished with 5/24, rounding off a memorable day, whilst Robbie claimed a couple of swift stumpings, thereby securing a 69 run victory.

8th June - Headley

Resuming our long-standing fixture with Headley after a year’s break we were surprised to turn up and find them about to play against another club. We were clearly in their fixture card for this date so it was a curious mix up. Good sense prevailed and we played a series of Fifteen/15 matches so all three teams had some cricket. In the end an enjoyable afternoon.

7th June - Jesus College, Cambridge

A fruitful day in the Fens with nearby Strawberry Fair festival providing a thumping soundtrack to a thumping Jesters victory.

Jesters 216-7 dec, Jesus College 123 all out

Jesters won by 93 runs.

Many thanks to match manager Ollie Doward for this account...

“After electing to bat on a moist surface under leaden skies, perennial openers Cleobury and Hudson weathered the juicy conditions well, but three quick wickets suddenly reduced us to 45-3. Alex Smith (39) & Sam Grimshaw (63) then came together for a crucial 4th wicket stand of 76. Timing the ball was never easy on a slow track but both men pounced on anything loose. The impetus was added by debutant Ros Atkins whose swift 30 included an inside-out six over extra cover and allowed us to declare on a healthy 216-7.

“In reply, the Jesus top order (just like their counterparts at St John's and Magdalene) had no answer to the Bridcut boomerang. At 5-3 then 26-5, the game was virtually over as a contest. Of Jonny's 24 wickets so far this season, a Wasim Akram-like 80% have now been either bowled or lbw. One exception was the day's champagne moment, an edged exocet which flew to 2nd slip where Simon Cleobury clung on spectacularly in front of his face to spare himself a trip to Addenbrooke's!

“Despite some late order resistance from Robinson (their stand-out player with 42 runs and 2-20 off 10 overs), Nick Mumby (7.3-1-22-2) wrapped things up when keeper Malcolm Birks claimed his second stumping of the innings. Jonny finished with figures of 10-4-18-6, supported at one point by a seven-man cordon behind the stumps.”

2nd June - Sawbridgeworth

“We drew against a very strong and youthful Sawbridgeworth side containing several 1st XI league players. Thankfully this didn't include their West Indies A fast bowler Andrew Richardson (who counts Rahul Dravid amongst his previous dismissals).

“After working hard to put together 11 players, (including the loan from Sawbo of Arsenal's U16 goalkeeper) it was disappointing that one player decided not to turn up. However this disappointment soon turned to rapture as Sawbridgeworth, having elected to bat, collapsed spectacularly to 17-5 - Jonny Bridcut (3) and Matt Berry (2) scything through their self-professed strong batting lineup.

“To make a game of it, the openers were withdrawn, which turned out to be generosity in the extreme as they recovered to 231-6 declared, making the most of a short boundary on one side of the ground. Ashman (75) and Birch (100*) were the ones who rescued them in a stand of nearly 200.

“With some talented batting in the team we fancied giving it a good go, and with Ponniah Vijendran (94) looking comfortable against anything they threw at us, it was looking good at 130-3. However we steadily lost wickets, and we ended by batting the last few overs out for a draw, the last 3 deliveries competently seen out by Jesters debutant Sud "Sid" Sarkar. We finished at 172-8 - 4 wickets for their pacy opening bowler, and 4 for their left arm chinaman bowler.

“This is a great new fixture on the card - with such a strong league setup Sawbo will always be one of our more challenging fixtures, and with warm hospitality and a great ground in a pleasant Hertfordshire/Essex town, I'd recommend this game wholeheartedly. Just as long as Richardson doesn't play.”

Thanks to match manager Alex Smith for this account.

18th May - Epic tied draw at NPL

A wonderful run-filled afternoon ended with NPL needing two from the last ball, bowled by Sandy Ross. They managed only one leaving the scores level - a tied draw.

We batted first. And on a good pitch Richie Patel and Ponniah Vijendran (52) got us off to a flying start. But with the advent of the spinners the wheels well and truly came off - and we found ourselves perilously poised on 107-5. At this point the counter attack began, Nick Mumby and Andrew Short adding 120 at a brisk rate. Nick was particularly brutal on anything even remotely short pitched. We finally declared on 249-7, Nick hitting 93 off only 67 balls.

Some us thought the declaration had come too late. Which just goes to show how wrong you can be. Our skipper’s main concern was NPL’s Sri Lankan pro, who’d scored a league century the day before. He started effortlessly, but Jonny Bridcut then plucked a tracer bullet out of the air to take the most incredible caught and bowled. Game over, surely.

But we had reckoned without their other opener, Chris Churchman. He proceeded to play the most astonishing innings, for which words are barely adequate - 177 not out. There was power (9 sixes) certainly, but also complete control over the placement of every shot. With his precise judgement of singles and twos we found it very difficult to get more than a few balls at the other batsmen. What’s more, we had a decent attack who bowled well. It was the best club innings many of us had ever seen.

He even had the surgical precision to take out one of our fielders. Standing at mid-off, Matt Berry was poleaxed by a fearsome drive and fell so hard he aggravated a long-standing knee injury and had to sit out the rest of the game.

160 off the last 20 overs became 13 from the final one. A huge six disappeared over mid-wicket but Sandy did a great job and crucially managed to get the superstar off strike for the last ball. Final score: 249-5. What a game!

5th May - Cambridge weekend

The Cambridge weekend was a huge success, both on and off the field. We beat St. John’s by 6 wickets, after bowling them out for 71, and drew an exciting game with Magdelene. Jonny Bridcut took 12 wickets over the weekend.

St. John’s were surprised we didn’t want to bat first. But they had underestimated our skipper’s ruthless pursuit of victory against his old college. Jonny Bridcut was unleashed on the students and duly swept them aside, taking 6-29 from 9 overs. All six were bowled, testimony his wicked late in-swing which did much of the damage. The students bowled much better than they had batted - one veteran of the fixture thought it the second best bowling attack he’d faced there - and we could only crawl to victory, losing 4 wickets in the process.

Magdalene won the toss and put us in. A decision they may have regretted when we declared on 202-2, Mike Palmer (76* in his debut innings for the club) and Alex Smith (59*) both batting beautifully, and building on Robbie Hudson’s solid foundation (41). Alex hit 26 off the penultimate over. The students batted far better than their counterparts the day before and, after playing themselves in carefully, nos. 2 and 3 began a clinical dissection of our attack. At 107-1 they looked in total control. At which point Jonny Bridcut returned to the attack - and promptly took 3 wickets in his first over! This was the turning point. To their credit the college didn’t give up, but we were able to restrict them to 164-7, even sniffing victory for a few overs near the end. Jonny took 6-25 and was ably supported by a tight spell from Adnan Mohammed’s slows.

2nd May - New fixture with Captain Scott’s XI

We have arranged a new fixture on Sunday 22nd June with Captain Scott’s XI, to be played on one of the college grounds in Oxford (2pm start). Jonny Bridcut is our match manager.

2nd May - Match manager for Mallards game

Matt Berry has kindly agreed to be match manager of this new fixture with the Mallards on Sunday 29th June in Cambridge.

1st May - Club ties and cricket shirts

We have just taken delivery of new stocks of club ties (the same design as before) and cricket shirts (with a red and black jester on the left breast and the words “Jesters CC” above it). Both ties and shirts cost £20.00 each. Contact Andrew Short to purchase yours.

27th April - Antelopians

We beat Antelopians by 9 wickets after bowling them out for 50. Match manager Nick Mumby tells how it happened.

"The first of the Jesters' new opponents this year saw us take on the Antelopians at Dulwich. Given the dismal weather - it poured with rain all morning - it was something of a miracle that we managed to play. But at our intended start time of 2pm the rains had passed.

“Antelopians won the toss and elected to bat on what was a juicy surface to, say the least. Jonny Bridcut and Mike Palmer opened the bowling and were both into their stride quickly - although for Mike it took slightly longer, having lost his footing on what would have been his first ball for the Jesters and ended up in an unceremonious heap!

“Both bowlers managed to get the ball to move both ways off the pitch and in the air, and both picked up two wickets for very few runs - including one of the most astounding caught and bowleds I have ever seen, Jonny taking the ball hit by like a tracer bullet barely an inch off the ground.

“The difficulties continued for the batsmen with Matt Berry near impossible to get away and Nick Mumby finding an unusual amount of grip for such a wet surface. Each of their top six had threatened to get going, but had then been beaten by a good delivery (with no small amount of help attributed to the pitch). Bridcut, Berry and Palmer each ended with 2 wickets, and Mumby claimed the remaining 4 as the Antelopians were dismissed for 50.

"At the point of tea, the heavens opened again and it looked like further play would be impossible. But the rain passed and the openers set about knocking off the runs, with the ball splashing around the outfield and the bounce of the wicket becoming ever more uneven. We only lost one wicket, however, with Simon Cleobury and Ollie Doward guiding us home.

"It was a shame the weather spoiled what promises to be a good addition to the fixture card, and I'm sure that in better conditions it would have been a much more closely fought game. At the same time, it was good to register the first win of the new season!"

22nd April - Down to the wire at Hurlingham

We began the 2008 season with a tense finish at Hurlingham, losing off the penultimate delivery.

The pitch was again on the edge of the square, but this year the opposite one from usual, away from the pavilion. We were inserted in murky, overcast conditions, and with the ball moving around openers Simon Cleobury (51) and George Shepherd (35) did well to take us into the 70s before their partnership was broken. After that, no one was able to put together the big innings that’s usually needed at Hurlingham. Ollie Doward and Ponniah Vijendran both made it into the 40s, but our final total of 204 felt about 30 short. A series of excellent catches from the more senior Hurlingham players were at least partly responsible.

Early wickets were crucial, and Andy Sutton duly bowled their opener with the first ball of the innings. But that proved a false dawn as their other opener rode his luck and nos. 3 and 4 batted sensibly. As the final 20 overs arrived they needed just 80 with eight wickets remaining, a nearly hopeless position for us on that fast scoring ground. We were rescued by a tight spell from Adnan Mohammed, bowling his slow left arm darts. Scoring suddenly became more difficult and, under pressure, Hurlingham began to lose wickets. At the start of the final over, bowled by Andy Sutton, they needed 8 with four wickets remaining. We were hopeful. That became 5 off three balls. But then a wild hoick took a top edge and disappeared over our keeper for four. The scores were level and they duly scampered the winning single from the next delivery.

Disappointing to lose. But a great fight-back and great way to start the season.

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