Jesters CC 172-6 (Irish 47, Harrison 33)
Eversholt 158-9 (Short 3-32)
Won by 14 runs
After Berkshire pinched the Wargrave pitch resulting in the cancellation of our penultimate game, we signed off with a fine win at Eversholt in a 35 over contest.
Debutant Ben Irish's 47 set the foundation on a spicy wicket, backed up by Rob Harrison (33) and some lusty blows from John Murphy, who deposited his first ball into the pavilion! Nigel Buckingham-Jones and Andrew Short starred with the ball as the home side lost wickets at regular intervals. Andrew has promised a full report soon, which will hopefully include a lavish description of a 12 year old hooking his first ball from Murph for four! And here it is...
The Jesters season came to an end on a golden afternoon in Bedfordshire. There was a September nip in the air but the sun shone as we gathered to remember our old friend Roger Greenslade in the now traditional end of season memorial game with Eversholt. As we recalled past deeds and prepared to pack away our kit for another long winter, the great cricketing adventure was just beginning for one member of the Eversholt side. Twelve year old Arthur Fletcher was playing his first game of adult cricket. Unlike so many young cricketers who seem tall for their age he is a small boy and it's no surprise he isn't yet a teenager. Welcome, Arthur.
The game itself was a 35 overs a side contest - 7 over limit per bowler - and after much ado it was 'agreed' the Jesters would bat first. Both sides felt they were weak and were worried about setting a reasonable total. We had suffered from our now regular availability problems and only had eleven thanks to three guests from Waresley CC, a few miles west of Cambridge - and thanks to Alex Smith who turned out with a very wobbly knee when he really shouldn't have played. Thank you all. Adnan Mohammed skippered in the absence of the injured match manager Ollie Doward.
Our innings was built around a solid 47 from Ben Irish, one of the Waresley guests. On a far from straightforward wicket - the bounce was occasionally very uneven - he batted with great maturity for a 17 year old and allowed others to play around him. The first of these was Rob Dancey opening our innings with a few crisp boundaries. He was followed by Jim Keys, the second Waresley guest, who was surprised to be given out caught behind (although not as surprised as the keeper who hadn't even appealed!).
Adnan Mohammed was in next and proceeded to play a gutsy innings worth more than the runs he scored. One delivery reared from a length and left a nasty graze on his forearm that needed treatment. Another, later that same over, kept low and was dug out with aplomb. Adnan eventually holed out for 26 trying to step up the rate. The score was now 86-3 but we were already in the 23rd over and quick runs were needed if we were to make a decent total.
Thankfully Rob Harrison looked in top form. His cultured 33 at slightly better than a run a ball was studded with six lovely boundaries and really shifted the balance of the innings. Even so, when he went the total was still only 136 and there were just four overs remaining.
Enter John Murphy so often the 'finisher' in these situations. How would 'Big Murph' play it, we wondered. Have a look for a couple of deliveries before 'going big'? Certainly not. First ball John was down the wicket and smashed the ball straight back over the bowler's head and into the Eversholt pavilion. Great shot! John went on to belt a rapid 24* - including another big six, this time over the sight screen at the pavilion end - and we finished on 172-6. A respectable total thanks to 36 from the final four overs. We noted young Arthur had scurried around enthusiastically in the field and made some useful stops.
Skipper Mohammed opened the bowling with the metronomic seam of Dan Hayes and the slow left arm of Nigel Buckingham-Jones, the third Waresley guest. Neither gave anything away and after they had bowled their seven over allocations straight through the score was 53-3 from 14 (Dan 0-26, Nigel 2-22 , plus one run out). The squeeze was also well and truly on with their final eight overs having gone for only ten runs. Change bowlers John Murphy and Andy Mortimer did well to maintain the squeeze. Andy's first four overs produced 1-22 and John's five over spell 1-17. That wicket of John's came in his final over and led to the game's champagne moment...
Next in was young Arthur batting at eight. And at a crucial point in the innings - 110-6 in the 25th. Question: how do you bowl at a tiny twelve year old? Perhaps John took just a little pace of the delivery, but what came down looked like a perfectly respectable good length ball - possibly even a half volley to a tall batsman. But Arthur - facing his first ball in adult cricket - went back and across and hooked the ball behind square for as sweetly struck a boundary as you can imagine. There were cheers from the pavilion and even, it has to be said, from one or two Jesters fielders. 'Good recovery, John', chirped those same fielders as the next delivery was met with the most immaculate forward defensive.
Sadly, Arthur perished soon afterwards, cruelly denied pace on the ball by the wily Short. The score then stood at 120-7 and it was difficult to assess the match situation. Wickets-down were certainly in our favour but the Eversholt lower order seemed perfectly capable of wielding the willow in Murphy-esque fashion. One ball had already disappeared over the imposing boundary wall into the grounds of Woburn Abbey. Perhaps it was still game on. There followed an entertaining passage of play as Andrew Short and Adnan Mohammed attempted to close out the game while the Eversholt tailenders swung hard. Andrew's flight burgled three wickets (3-32). While at the other end connoisseurs had the rare spectacle of Adnan bowling seam-up. Regrettably there was no speed gun on the ground but Adnan's figures of 6 overs for only 17 runs tell their own story. Eversholt were never more than a couple of lusty blows from having the upper hand, but these blows never quite came - the final four overs were particularly tight, going for only 13 runs - and they finished 14 runs adrift.
Many thanks to Eversholt for their excellent hospitality. It was a very even contest throughout and a lovely way to finish the season.
After the game our thoughts turned to Roger and we swapped stories about his exploits for both clubs. Several locals who remembered him came up and introduced themselves and we toasted his memory with the engraved Greenslade tankard that sits behind the Eversholt bar. Young Arthur's attacking intent reminded us of the Greenslayer at the crease - and we knew Roger would have been among the first to offer advice and encouragement to the young lad.
Jesters XI: Mohammed (c), Irish (wk), Dancey, Keys, Harrison, Murphy, Short, Mortimer, Hayes, Buckingham-Jones, A Smith