Well, I'd like to tell you that we had a glorious start to the season but you might guess that I'd be fibbing if I did. It's a cliche - but the only winner was the rain. At least we're still unbeaten. Hmmmm .... I wonder if we can "do an Arsenal".
You've guessed it - rained off again. I think most cricketers are beginning to understand how Noah must have felt!
Well, we actually got some cricket at last. Unfortunately, our opponents were rather more pleased about this than we were! Despite missing a number of regulars we still had a strong team out. Our opponents, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, have for many years had a team with more maturity than most. This year they took us by surprise by playing at least 3 new players under 50! It all seemed a little unsporting and clearly ruined our concentration. We fielded first and, despite the unusual lack of penetration from our attack, kept Hinton bogged down for quite some time. Sadly just 4 errant overs (at crucial moments) yielded 37 runs for the home team. When we batted, we never seemed to quite recover from this and succumbed to a paltry 96 all out. It might all have been so very different, of course, if your correspondent had not been given out LBW by an umpire who clearly does not understand the "pitching outside-the-line-of-leg-stump-rule". Still, Pete Allen top-scored for us with 41and Adam Holton chipped in with 14. Best bowling (if one can describe our performance with the ball in these terms) came from club skipper, Chris Bowmer, who took 2 - 33 off 12 overs. There was also a creditable performance from Dave Wilson, just returning from injury. He kept one end tight right up until the last over when he was tiring. There was also one superb run out, but modesty forfends that the fielder should be named. We have, hopefully, learned our lesson and will not be caught by surprise again. Have a look at some action pictures.
Not only did we get some more cricket, but we recorded our first win of the season. The wicket responded well (always a worry to the ground staff for the first match of the season). Over 300 runs were scored in 80 overs and 17 wickets were taken (or given away, like your correspondent). The consensus from both sides was that such a pitch can't be too bad. Our opposition, newly-relegated Culworth, have been for many years a Premier Division mainstay. I'm not sure they are enjoying life in the First Division but did take their defeat graciously (despite refusing our offer of post-match refreshments). As you will have gathered we won. We elected to bat first and, after losing an early wicket, gradually increased our scoring rate to the point where we set a target of 166. Matt Donger, making his first appearance of the season, scored a superb 71 and was well supported by opener Neil Taylor and Dave Robinson who scored 22 and 15 respectively. In between Andre Bodily smacked a typically quickfire 30. When Culworth replied, our bowling resumed normal service and exerted a stranglehold on the scoring. Only one opposition batsmen made a significant score and Culworth ended up 20 runs short and hanging on to their last wicket for dear life. Notable performances with the ball were from skipper Chris Bowmer (with 2 for 38), Andre Bodily (with 3 for 31) and Neil Taylor (with 3 for 29). Action pictures from the game.
Normal service was very much resumed as we continued with our winning ways. The victims this week were Preston Bissett (whose outfield is once again beginning to resemble a corner of the San Andreas fault). They batted first and were pegged back for much of the innings to not much more than 2 runs an over. Only a late slog aginst some bowling which, to be fair, did rather encourage the sort of cross-batted stuff it received, enabled Preston to set any sort of a target. In the end Greens Norton were set to chase 157 under looming skies. Given that there was a real prospect of rain interrupting or prematurely ending the match, our batsmen knew they had to get on with it. A cautious start lasted about 6 overs - at which point we started to accelerate. All of our batsmen looked good (including the returning Steve "Porky" Pittom) and at least a couple looked back in disbelief as their bails were dislodged. (Mind you, they did at least get a go - not that your correspondent is bitter or anything!) The real star of the show, however, was new boy Neil Taylor. He opened the innings and carried his bat for an unbeaten 92 - the club's top score of the season to date. He started off cautiously on a good track and gradually accelerated - eventually hitting boundaries at will. We all enjoyed this emphatic win (achieved in less than 30 overs) but some celebrated rather more than others. Half the team set off on a pub crawl of South Northamptonshire and the other half retired to Greens Norton's local to while away the night. Apparently all enjoyed themselves - not least of which the erstwhile opening batsman, who was last seen with a slightly fixed grin rather late in the evening. I hope your head was alright on Sunday, Neil! Pictures appear courtesy of Pete Allen and family.
Victory was once again ours! We lost the toss and were put into to bat. Woodford Halse, playing at home, obviously knew their wicket because we were bowled out for 122 (in only 30 overs - I hope the teas were ready!) Only Steve Jones looked in touch with an excellent 45. (He was only out when he managed to pick out the only fielder on that part of the boundary!) To begin with even this meagre total looked to be easily enough when Matt Donger got among the Woodford batsmen early on. With the help of an outstanding reflex catch from Pete Allen the opposition were soon reduced to 25 for 4. Woodford did then manage a stand of 30 before Donger claimed his fourth scalp of the innings. This effectively ended the resistance. Skipper Chris Bowmer and the returning, but rusty, Mark Neil ("Curly") cleaned up the tail. Donger finished with the outstanding figures of 4 for 23 and Bowmer weighed in with 3 for 22 (his best of the season). Our boys did all of this in just 25 overs and 3 balls. I suspect a little early celebration was undertaken!
Oh dear! Once again Bodicote proved to be our bogey team. They batted first and were made to scrat around for runs. During the first 10 overs, their openers barely saw the ball! With skipper Chris Bowmer swinging the ball like a boomerang and tyro Matt Donger hurtling in the only runs Bodicote scored during this period were edged boundaries. Then we made our first mistake - we got them and their number 3 (usually a big scorer aginst us) out. Their number 4 man scored a lot of runs quite quickly. In fact, his total later proved to be virtually the difference between the sides. He did, however, have a nice line in whingeing about the pitch. Given that he scored more than anyone else it clearly wasn't that bad! Suffice it to say that he could have whinged for just about any couontry he was qualified to whinge for! Anyway, after he was gone we wrapped up the innings reasonably quickly to dismiss them in just under the 40 overs. A rejuvenated Mark Neil tore through their middle order to produce his best figures of the season, 4-53. In reply we had a faltering start with your correspondent agin falling foul of an outrageous umpiring decision. Just because he was back on his stumps and bang in fornt of them ... since when did that mean he had to be given out? Back on planet Earth, the other opener, Adam Holton continued to show his improvement and also gave the rest of us a lesson in batting temperament. He may have only scored 16 runs, but he hung around until the 25th over - which is rather more than most of us managed. (He subsequently tells me that it was the 18th over and I can but defer to him since he was clearly concentrating more than most of us.) Of the other batsmen, only all-rounder Matt Donger and South African new boy Darren Kokott really contributed - Donger with a dashing 20 and Kokott with a more measured but, at times, explosive 25. Sadly our fielding also let us down to an extent this week. We will have to sharpen up for our next match. Have a look at pictures from the match.
Im afraid it's "Oh dear" again. We seem to have hit a bad streak! Our opposition were Warwick University Staff - new to our division but clearly not out of their depth. Whilst neither side appeared to have an edge in terms of playing ability the academics, as one might have predicted, applied themselves better. On a pitch which is normally docile but which was livened up by a pre-match shower, our batsmen lacked either the necessary application or aggression and we only managed 34 for 3 from the first 20 overs. Eventually we crawled to 103 all out in the 40th over. Once again our South African import, Darren Kokott, top scored. He accumulated 24 before succumbing to Warwick's left-arm seamer, Keating. He achieved his runs with the help of a very eventful 6. First of all it was a flat-batted swipe back over the bowler's head to long on. Secondly this fielder made a valiant, one-handed effort to take the catch but only succeeded in tipping it over the boundary. Thirdly, it was scored off the seventh ball of the 24th over! That was one of only two moments of excitement throughout the whole of our innings. The other was the four overthrows given to Mark Stanbridge as he scampered a single on his way to the second top score of 18 not out. In reply, the staff also started slowly, being just 39 for 1 off their first 20 overs. Sadly for us they kept their nerve and gradually accelerated to reach the total in the 32nd over with no further loss of wickets. Unfortunately, our fielding - with such a low total to defend - rather went to pieces after a couple of overs during which the staff scored significantly. It is a truism but we will have to bat, bowl and field better than this over the next two weeks during the enforced absence of your correspondent. (Regular readers of this web site will understand if reports and pictures are slow to emerge over this period.) If you can bear it, pictures are available here.
It's getting worse before it gets better! As your correspondent understands it (not having been available for selection) GNCC went down a little ignominiously. Reports reaching this web site suggest that we were all out for less than 50 and that the opposition - Afro Caribbean - knocked off the required runs in less than 5 overs. More details will follow once we are all out of mourning.
One of our more difficult fixtures (Croughton). Historically, this has never been a happy hunting ground for us! In the event we made it a much closer run contest than we have managed in the recent past. We bowled and fielded manfully and kept them down to 216 - 5, with Chris Bowmer again amongst the wickets. he took 3 - 55 this week. In reply we made steady progress but were always slightly behind the run rate. Inevitably, when chasing a relatively large total, some of our batsmen fell going for quick runs. There were notable exceptions, however, including Darren Kokott's 37 and Andre Bodily's 25. Star of the show, though, was Steve Jones with a superb knock of 62. He was the mainstay of the innings and was only out to the best catch of the day! It was not a bad day for Jonesy since he also took 2 wickets with the ball.
We have never been noted as exponents of the shorter version of the game (20 overs a side) but, despite this, the rain, the gloom and the opposition we gave it our best shot. We were put in to bat and our openers, Neil Taylor and Darren Kokott, each scored 28. Our best performance with the bat, however, came from Andre Bodily who racked up a belligerent 33 not out. Unfortunately, we came up against one of the league's best batsmen in prime form. Waldron scored 88 not out for Gayton with the rest of their team managin a paltry 50 odd between them. Still, it was enough to get past our 132 for 6!
Revenge was duly taken against Hinton-in-the-Hedges this week! They had the temerity to beat us in our opening match of the season and we have been waiting for the return with some eagerness. We were once agin inserted and, after a rain reduced 34 overs, amassed 176 for 6. Nick Evans, in possibly his last match for the club before he moves abroad, scored a hearty 28. Neil Taylor also weighed in with another valuable contribution of 30. This week's top scorer was your correspondent . Although far too modest to mention that he is not a million miles away from being Ken Lewis, he struggled and wheezed his way to a season's best of 63. If it had been made in half the overs, it might have been called dashing! In reply Hinton struggled to 83 for 3 when the heavens opened (again). Our vastly superior run rate ensured that we took a richly-deserved victory.
Gayton batted first after GN won the toss, an early wicket for the skipper was the first of a season's best return of 5 for 38. Unfortunately, this brought in their Australian. His 91 was the basis for the whole Gayton innings. His only error a sharp (but dropped) return catch to Neil Taylor early in his innings. Gayton held on to reach an adequate 183, a total which looked achievable.
Norton started well but wickets fell as the runs came. A good partnership between Pittom and Bodily looked to have the match in control until Pittom was given out caught off a beamer. The umpire only admitted his error three overs later but it was the decisive blow. We blame Gayton's skipper for not calling him back - clearly they were worried.
After this the scoring rate fell and Norton reached only 143 in their 40 overs.
The game began with abad sign - the Culworth skipper apologising before the game for the team they were putting out. Talk about psychology! The Norton attack all bowled solidly with control and regular wickets, only the Culworth opener hanging around well. (Mind you, he then threw it away once he had 50.) Nevertheless the 151 they got was 30 or 40 more than they should have and we were disappointed we could not get their young lads out. A few classic dropped catches did not help. Does it count as a drop if you get no hands on it at all and it hits you on the chest?
Norton's reply started poorly with Holton, Olive and Pittom all out within 3 overs to put us at 3 for 3 and the task beginning to look tricky. This brought in Jones who looked in control immediately and managed to get the score to 39. However, a further 3 wickets fell at the other end. At 39-6 the task still looked hard. With batsman number 8 in the toilet and number 9 on the phone the skipper went in with rather more determination than usual. Jones took the bowlers on and Bowmer took the time to move his feet and eventually hit the ball. The score moved on to 105 before Jones' great 61 was ended by an inside edge on to the stumps. This brought in Nick Evans (with a bad back) and he and Bowmer then put on a further 50 (lots of quick singles) to finish the victory with 4 overs to spare. Bowmer 40 no, Evans 29 no.
Incidentally, one Culworth player had a very bad day. Drafted in at the last minute, he was out first ball, dropped two catches and then impaled himself on the barbed wire fence around the boundary. Luckily he was OK because he had to run home as he had not brought the car.
Norton lost the toss and were inserted (a strange decision by the visiting skipper). We started off securely, if sedately. Neil Taylor again looked solid and reached 39 before putting one up in the air. We then had a slow period before Jones and Bodily came together. They blasted 81 for the fifth wicket in just 10 overs. Sadly, they were then both out in the same over! Some quick scoring late in the game from Evans saved his blushes after having called for a non-existent single and run your correspondent out! Our innings closed on 207 for 7.
The Preston Bissett reply started more quickly than ours but they lost wickets cheaply along the way. Only the evergreen Arthur Bryant showed any real resistance and the game had gone long before they reached their final score of 156 all out. The most notable feature of the innings was Pete Allen's first "5 for" return for the club. His 5 for 35 has forced us to re-assess his bowling potential. I can honestly say that his 12 overs had the most variation I have seen in a nominal 72 deliveries! Well done, Pete.
Oh dear (again). Our roller coaster season continues. Woodford Halse may or may not deserve to be propping up the table but we would still have expected to beat them. We lost the toss and had to field in temperatures more normally found in the desert at noon! Still, we didn't do too badly to restrict them to 168 all out. Best performances with the ball were given by our ever-reliable skipper, Chris Bowmer, with 4-30, and Pete Allen with 3-55. Allen is clearly on the comeback trail with the ball - stung by this website's player profile of him!
In reply, we could only muster 148 all out in the 39th over. Only Pete Allen - in fine all round form - and Andre Bodily ("Bod") continuing his season-long form managed any runs. Allen (43) and Bodily (41) looked in control for a while and we were all hopeful as long as they were in. Sadly, they both holed out before the target approached. If only our batsmen had some net practice! (Sigh.) Look at photos from the game.
We seem to
have become rather expert this season in snatching defeat from the jaws of
victory! Having said that, we almost snatched it back again - but read on
We lost the toss and fielded first. We bowled and fielded exceptionally well. Our bowlers - especially Chris Bowmer (4-13 from 12 overs and practically unplayable) and Neil Taylor (5-38) - had the Bodicote batsmen tied up in knots. We took some exceptionally good catches, with Holton's spectacular, diving effort probably the pick of the bunch. One must, however, mention Davidson - who looked astonished as he caught a sharp catch at gully from Bodicote's most dangerous batsman - and Lewis who, as he waited under a steepler, was desperately waiting for a cry of "Neil Taylor's" (which never came).
Unfortunately, we then had to bat! We were only chasing 114 and had 40 overs to do it. Perhaps we felt it was too easy because our wickets started to tumble with too many of our batsmen getting themselves out by poor shot selection rather than being outfoxed by the opposing bowlers. Then, out of nowhere with the score on 72-9 , Bowmer and Robinson came together and showed the rest of us how it should be done. They put on 31 for the final wicket and would almost certainly have won the match for us had Bowmer not picked out a fielder with a rising off drive. The only other batsmen to offer any resistance were Jones and Bodily, who put on 34 (including 20 in 4 overs). It's been said before, but we really must get some batting practice from somewhere. Pictures (if you can bear to look) are here.
We were away to Warwick University Staff this week - a new experience to us. Our hosts were just once place above us in the league but this proved to be anything other than a boring end-of-season, mid-table match. Eventually, we all arrived safely at the ground (minus our reliability-challenged wicketkeeper) . Getting a team there in one piece was far more stressful for our captain than the rest of the day. If mobile phones had not been invented we would not have had a match!
Anyway, we won the toss and elected to field on a (naturally) very damp wicket. For the first 20 overs there can rarely have been a better bowling and fielding display! We were awesome - or those of us to whom the ball went were awesome. Not a run was given away nor catch dropped and the bowling .... oh, the bowling! Bowmer's figures were 12-2-18-5 and Allen's 12-3-20-3. The University Staff were 35 for 8 at the drinks interval. Unfortunately, we could not quite keep this up and the Staff's captain used all his considerable experience to marshall his troops through to 105 all out. They lasted until the 40th over when your correspondent cannily left a sun-blinded chance to fall and then ran the over-enthusiastic batsman out with a direct hit.
We replied with the unusual combination of Jones and Bodily opening. (This was less for cricketing reasons than for social ones - i.e. they both had to leave early.) "Bod" duly obliged by getting out early one but Jonesy struggled to fulfil his social obligations (in fact he was due at work). He played a magnificent innings and showed that it was possible to bat on a sticky wicket . He was out late on, stumped for 64, going for yet another big hit. Only Nick Evans made any noticeable impression on the scoreboard with 12 not out to steer us to a slightly unexpected, if very welcome, victory. He proved yet again (if proof were needed) how badly he will be missed when he finally moves to Barcelona. On this note, Jonesy must surely be in the running for an award at the annual dinner and presentation.
The win leaves us safe in the table. With just one match against champions-elect Afro Caribbean to come we can relax and enjoy the experience even more than usual. (Mind you we are struggling for players for this fixture - due to holiday commitments - and so, if any registered players are reading this and can be available for the 28th please contact the captain or treasurer via this website.)
A special mention must be made of the home side's hospitality. They surely provide the best teas in Division 1 of the SNCL and are easily the most social after-match team (win or lose). We look forward to playing them again next season.
Unfortunately, the season ended as it began with the weather ruining the chance of the fixture being played. I'm sure it's not the way either team would have wanted the season to end (especially our opponents Afro Caribbean, the Division 1 champions elect). The rain defeated our best efforts to produce a playable surface and so we will now have to look forward to the annual dinner and presentation on Saturday, September 11th, at which we will no doubt review the season through rose-coloured spectacles!