2005 Match Reports
We travelled to Bodicote on the outskirts of Banbury for our first match of the new season. Spirits were high - after all we had 11 players, the sun was shining and we had all finally escaped from household duties. There was also the prospect of having a drink with the team after the match so that we could all talk the usual rubbish (some of us more than others, mind you). As it turned out we were in the pub rather earlier than we had expected. New skipper, Adam Holton, won the toss (in itself a bit of a rarity for us as well as for Nasser Hussain) and inserted the opposition. We opened with Matt Donger and Dave Wilson. Wilson was his usual steady self and kept an end tight, only conceding 7 runs from his six-over spell. Donger, on the other hand bowled an extremely hostile spell which brought him 2 for 7 from his 6 overs. An inspired double bowling change saw Steve Jones and Chris Bowmer come on. Jones kept one end tight and took the wicket of danger man Allen (who usually get runs against us). He ended with figures of 1 for 2 from his 4 overs.
The other half of the bowling change saw ex-skipper Bowmer let off the leash, opening the bowling being the norm for him. He proved to be, quite literally, unplayable for the opposition batsment. His prodigious late inswing was the undoing of four Bodicote batsmen, all of whom were bowled through the gate going for what they thought was an inviting half-volley outside the off stump. None of them seemed to learn the lesson from their predecessor and they came and went in a real procession. Bowmer got one of his other 2 wickets by tempting their number 6 batsmen to drive in a similar manner to the others. He only succeeded in getting an inside edge onto his pad and this offered a straightforward return catch to the rampant bowler. His sixth wicket came when he decided, just for fun, to bowl a quick straight one. The batsman's eyes lit up; he played inside the line and edged it straight to the keeper where Andre Bodily took a neat catch! The other truly amazing thing about this short but very sweet spell of bowling was revealed as we walked off at the end of the innings. Bowmer said, "I don't remember any runs whilst I was bowling - does anybody else?" We didn't and rushed over to the scorers. Sure enough his figures proved to be difficult to believe. They were 6 for 0 from 3.4 overs with, of course, 3 maidens. Will this ever be bettered? Not in my career, I feel.
The match ended before the normal time for the tea interval as new boy, Phil Tonkinson, and old hand, Ken Lewis saw Greens Norton home after one had stopped on opener, Neil Taylor. Roll on next week!
May 7th, 2005 See photographs of the action ...
Well we did it again - another win! This is the best start to a season that Greens Norton has had for a while. It's all slightly worrying. This was truly a match of many parts (rather than the proverbial 2 halves). The outstanding features were one superb innings for each side, with marginally better batting support play from the home team. Newly-promoted Radway batted first and Bowmer and Jones opened the bowling for Norton. Slightly less spectacular (but nonetheless effective) bowling than last week still restricted the visitors to 59 for 4 at the tea interval. Then it all began to go wrong for the home side .... Rutherford started hitting out for Radway and eventually reached a superb 98. I think that even the keenest Norton fan would not have begrudged him his century. An interesting fact, though, is that he was finally out bowled by Andre Bodily who had just relinquished the keeper's gloves to Pete Allen who had, in turn, recently bowled a 4 over spell himself! Fortunately for Norton most of the other Radway batsmen could not score at the same rate as Rutherford, even though one or two did manage to hang around for a while. The visitors' innings ended on 164 when Farley was run out in comical fashion off the penultimate ball - thus presenting us with maximum bowling points. Our best bowler was once again Bowmer who ended the innings with figures of 12-1-37-4.
Our reply got off to a slow start with openers Tonkinson and Lewis struggling to get the ball away. They were soon put out of their misery (despite Radway's attempts to prolong it by dropping Lewis twice) and replaced by 2 scoring batsmen. Kokott smacked 21 and Allen cracked 23 - both batsmen hitting 2 sixes. Kokott went first and this allowed the pugnacious Bodily to the crease. The watching Norton team were a bit worried by this time since they were slightly behind even Radway's slow scoring rate at the tea interval. We need not have been since Bodily began to play as we all know he can and as he sometimes does. In probably his finest innings for us since he joined the club he smashed a thunderously struck 88. (Mind you he did have to do something after running out Steve Jones, one of our bankers for runs.) "Bod" is not too keen on running as can be seen from the fact that he scored exactly 50 of his runs in boundaries, including 5 towering sixes. He was, unfortunately, out just short of the required score and we had to endure some nervous moments. Dave Robinson had provided some support with a solid 16 and was out shortly before Bod. Straight after this Gardner and Bowmer came and went in quick succession, leaving us needing 6 runs off 6 balls with one wicket standing. There was some serious nail biting going on in the crowd!
Skipper Adam Holton (and the umpire) came to our rescue. Davidson scrambled a quick single leaving Holton to face the last 5 deliveries. He missed the second ball, smacked the third for 4 (much to our relief) and then had to block the next two balls. (We credited his new fatherhood with being responsible for the bizarre decision to block these two.) Anyway, the scores were level and the last ball was about to be bowled ... The bowler - a slow left-armer - bowled and it drifted wide of the skipper's off stump. The umpire called it wide before it even reached the batsman's crease but Holton, presumably still suffering from the shock of baby Thomas's early arrival, chased it and edged it behind the keeper and slip. The batsmen ran a quick single. Phew! What a nail biter!
This report is not complete yet, however, because we still have a question. We all know that Greens Norton won. Questions remain, however. Did we score a run from the bat off the last ball? Was it an extra in the form of a wide? Did we win off the last ball (the sixth of the over) or was there still one ball to go? I feel a Question of Sport moment coming on. No mention of this match is complete without mentioning the all round contribution of the Bodily family. Andre kept wicket, bowled and batted in that order. His mum and sister (and, possibly, his girlfriend) made and delivered the teas and his dad, John, was the official League umpire! Andre also achieved the most unique hat trick that most of us have ever seen. After he had scored most of his runs, and when he was really hitting out, he was dropped 3 times off 3 successive balls! We shouldn't be too surprised, though, since the unfortunate visitors contrived to drop no less than 8 catches during Norton's innings. Talk about giving us a chance ....
This is really getting worrying now ... We've won three on the trot with this latest victory! This was our first win at Gayton for some time and very sweet it was. We lost the toss and took the field. The Gayton openers made steady progress until our opening bowler, Dave Wilson, produce an absolute peach of a ball to dismiss Waldron. Cameron Waldron is our bogeyman (as he is for many other teams in this division). A native Australian, he regularly scores runs against us. To remove him with an unplayable yorker was really sweet (especially since we had missed a comparatively easy run out chance an over or two earlier). Wilson continued to race in from the other end on a good, firm pitch and ended up with figures of 3 for 34 from just 9 overs. At the other end the normally reliable Chirs Bowmer struggled to find his rhythm and, in a brave move, was taken out of the attack by skipper Holton. It was just as well that he was because he then took a stunning catch off his replacement, Steve Jones. The Gayton top order continued to put up considerable resistance and were scoring at almost 5 an over despite some excellent bowling from Wilson and Jones. Once Bowmer returned to the attack, however, the picture changed. Having conceded quite a few runs, and having barely been able to bowl the ball at the wickets, during his first spell he ended the match with figures of 4 for 31! Pete Allen chipped in with his now regular wicket per match when he removed the other Gayton opener, Poulton, without having introduced the ball to the turf.
Then we came to bat (having partaken of a "dry" tea). Openers Lewis and Kokott failed to interest the scores to any great degree (despite the former being dismissed by an unplayable delivery). Simon Horley (aka "Sinbad" or "Lizzie") came to the wicket for his first appearance of the season. He stroked the ball around for an elegant 25 until he received much the same dismissal ball as was dished out to Lewis. Whilst this was happening all-rounder Jones had joined him and started to deal in boundaries, including one superbly-timed flick off his legs for 6. Once Horley was out, those of us watching (unless you were a Gayton supporter) were treated to a superb display of attacking batsmanship. Andre Bodily joined Jones at the wicket and the two of them proceeded to take the home attack apart. Even the normally-threatening O'Brien (who took a hat-trick against us in the corresponding fixture last season) suffered. They came together at 44 for 3 and smacked an unbeaten 81 to win us the match by 7 wickets. Jones hit 28 of his 44 n.o. in boundaries whilst Bodily smacked five sixes in his unbeaten 42. (He now has an average of over 100!) The really good thing was that we still had plenty of batting to come. There might even be competition for places this coming Saturday!
The match was also notable for the debut of Tom Wright, 12 year old village boy and son of that well known man-about-Greens Norton, Ian. He ran gamely from long leg to long leg for 26 overs and remained enthusiastic throughout. Well done, Tom. (Incidentally, there are no pictures this week due to an inexplicable lapse of memory on the part of your correspondent - viz. I forgot the camera.....)
Well at least it didn't matter whether anyone remembered the camera this week. The rain in the latter stages of the week contrived to make it impossible for the square maintenance team to prepare a wicket. The torrential rain on the Saturday ensured that no play would have been possible anyway. We can only hope (as far as our top-of-the-league position is concerned) that others suffered a similar fate.
May 28th, 2005 See photographs of the action.
It had to happen at some point, I suppose. We finally found a way to lose. In the greater scheme of things this is no terrible result in that our opponents, Preston Capes, have regularly played a division above us in the Premier Division of the South Northants Cricket League. They are, however, very much local rivals and will have the bragging rights until we can try to even things out later in the season. Not much went right for us from the start. We found ourselves with too many players to select from and our captain (and new father) Adam Holton went for the Ryder Cup approach, making himself non-playing captain.
We lost the toss and found ourselves fielding in a constant gale-force wind. Preston play on a plateau, anyway, and this emphasised the conditions. The wind was blowing more or less straight down the pitch such that, at one end, the keeper could have stood almost on the boundary to take the quicker balls whilst, at the other, there was no need to field anywhere behind the bowler. This may be a slight exaggeration - but only very slight! Anyway Dave Wilson, a Preston old boy, opened the bowling from one end and must have passed the bat at considerable speed twice every over. Sadly, that was all that happened for some time - i.e. the ball kept passing the bat and the wickets with both Preston openers thinking it must be there lucky day. At the other end Chris Bowmer tried to bowl his inswingers into the wind. Was that a fruitless occupation or what? Those that did start to swing in were taken out again by the wind, having been slowed to a pace where the batsmen could have had a conversation with the ball as it (just about) passed them. Bowling into that wind was seriously hard work as stand-in skipper (and regular vice-captain) Steve Jones also found. Neil Taylor was the only bowler to find any success from that end - bowling one man and dropping a sharp return catch off another. At the wind-assisted end, Wilson eventually got his reward, taking two Preston wickets for just 39 runs off his 12 over spell. Despite Preston running well and our unusual lack of penetration with the ball - leading wicket-taker Bowmer going for 51 from just ten overs without a single wicket - we still managed to keep our discipline in the field, running two of their men out. The Preston innings closed on 198 for 5 - a daunting total.
When our turn came to bat we, too, made a steady start. Our first four batsmen all looked untroubled - unitl the ball that got them out! Then Andre Bodily came to the crease. Another Preston old boy (as, too, was skipper Jones) he took to the Preston attack with relish. He top-scored with a sparkling 65 and was ably supported by new recruit, Phil Tonkinson who made a sturdy 21. These two put on 81 for the fifth wicket and things were looking better all the time they stayed there. Sadly, this particular good thing came to an end when "Bod" was bowled by a slower one and Phil was ... well ...just bowled. Despite a brief wag of the tail our reply ended at 170. (We did, mind you, only have ten batsmen. Our other player put his back out whilst undoing his shoelaces during the tea interval!) I don't suppose either side can have too much cause for complaint on a day when 368 runs were scored from just under 79 overs. We Norton batsmen, however, could clearly do with some nets given that no less than 5 of us were clean bowled. We'll simply have to do better against Woodford Halse this coming Saturday.
Another windy day saw Greens Norton at home to Woodford Halse, as standard this year the toss was won and we fielded first, it all went downhill from there.
Woodford batted with some control and offered few real signs of trouble as again the wind blunted the Norton bowling attack. A fine opening stand, if slow, set a solid base and a few excellent shots started to push up the run rate. By the last 15 overs the shots were really flying and Norton again wilted in the field as whilst only a couple of catches were spilled misfields and wild throws were the order of the day. Even so a couple of run outs and a few wickets at the end from Bowmer and Wilson and a sharp rain shower slowed the scoring and Woodford finished with a creditable 198.
The Norton innings started with a bang with Kokott hitting 10 off the second over but in over 4 he tried to pull a ball off the wrong length and was bowled, after this the rot set in with Taylor caught behind and Bowmer promoted to number 4 was cruelly run out for the second week in a row.
Jones and Bodily mounted their traditional partnership but this came to an end when Bodily mistimed a drive for the first time this season and was out for 20. Jones and the skipper went trying to push the scoring rate to leave only a few dramatic bat swings from Burbage and a heroic first ball duck from Tom Wright.
All in all with a final score of 57 Norton were totally out played with Woodfords young lads taking the major honours, a real kick up the bum is required for Thornborough next week.
Apparently the kick up the bum didn't work. We put out a strong batting line up but still were unable to sustain an innings. Most of our batsment got a start of sorts but then got themselves out. The Norton cause was not helped by stand-in umpire, Darren "Trigger" Kokott, who gave two of our batsmen out with his own unique interpretation of the LBW rule. Nevertheless, five of our men got into double figures and then promptly got out! Interestingly we only scored 6 in singles off the bat and over half of our runs came in boundaries. Perhaps we need to re-think our approach and be prepared to scramble a bit when things are not going well. We are a much better side than this performance suggested and we all need to start taking a serious look at our performance. The odd net practice wouldn't go amiss, either.
Anyway ... having succumbed for 92 to a persistent but unremarkable Thornborough attack it was our turn to bowl. It did appear that our bowlers were already demoralised at the prospect of having so few runs to aim at. Too often an over contained the proverbial "four ball". We did not pass the bat as frequently as we usually do and seemed unable to trouble the Thornborough batsmen in the way we normally trouble other teams. We're now going to have to wait until later in the season for revenge. If you can bear to look there are some photos here.
June 16th, 2005 See the photos ...
This marked our first midweek match of the season with a home fixture against Culworth in the Division 1 Cup. I don't know what all the fuss is about with Twenty20. Village cricketers have been playing this for years! We got off to a steady, if unspectacular start, having been inserted by the opposition. Skipper Holton played one unluckily onto his stumps, Bodily gave silly mid-off catching practice and Kokott left one alone which demolished his timbers. Fortunately, Steve Jones chose tonight to see a return to form, scoring steadily at the other end. He ended up with an excellent 46 before going the way of most batsmen in this form of the game (out going for a big hit). He was well supported by Allen, Tonkinson and Robinson (who scored exactly the same between them as Jones did on his own). We ended our innings on 123-5. A creditable, if not wildy optimistic score. (And to think we had all that batting to come ... sigh!)
Fortunately (again) ex-skipper Bowmer also chose this gamee to mark a return to form. He swung the ball accurately and took 4-14 (including a double-wicket maiden) from his allotted 5 overs. Culworth must have been getting heartily sick of Jones by this time as he returned with the ball and took 2-26. Davidson and Allen chipped in with a wicket apiece. There were also two runouts - one of them a superb wicket-breaking direct hit from the boundary by your correspondent! But enough off me ... all in all it was a steady performance against a Culworth side clearly missing some regulars. Their slightly younger replacements did not let themselves down and we look forward to seeing how we fare against the grown-up versions this Saturday. The match was also remarkable for the wicket-keeping debut of Phil Tonkinson. He kept tidily enough but tended to get a little over-excited on the run outs - only rarely remembering to catch the ball before taking the bails off!
June 18th, 2005 See the photos ...
Fresh from our victory over the same team only two days earlier we might have expected the same result. Sadly, Culworth had other ideas. In summary, we batted first and set a reasonable total - one which would have one us most games - but Culworth paced their chase really well and finished us off with an over or two to spare. Now to the detail ...
Although we reached 182 for 7 we did this in a way that really made it difficult for ourselves (and don't worry, Skipper, I'm not going to mention that run out). We only scored 49 off the first 20 overs. This meant that we reached our total only after a phenomenal acceleration from the in-form Bodily and paceman Wilson. Had we had a faster start we could well have put the game beyond reach. It was a joy to watch Bod show us how it should have been done on the way to his 63. He was out, incidentally, to an excellent return catch - one of only two catches that stuck all day for either side.. And as for Wilsy ... he came off and said "36 - never!". Even he couldn't believe what he'd scored.
Anyway, the total we posted ought still to have been enough. Unusually, our attack failed to make any real impression on the Culworth batsmen who cruised along. They were helped by several dropped catches including one by your own correspondent. This was probably the easiest catch in the world - so easy, in fact, that it would not have been much easier if the batsman had caught the ball himself, walked over to me and put it in my hand! Oh dear .... Even "bucket hands" Wilson missed one late on. As for Trigger's dropping of the bloke who went on to get 51 not out... the least said the better. Young Tommy Wright, however, did take a timely (if totally unexpected) catch for us. He was so overcome he had to go off the field for half an over. Mind you he was initiated into the Greens Norton Shandy Drinking Society later on that evening. Rock on Tommy!
Anyway you know the rest. It's time to look forward to renewing our recently established acquaintance with Warwick University Staff. We are away to them and Bod has promised not to drive there. We might even arrive with a full team on that basis. Next week's match marks the half way point in the season before the return fixtures begin. How sad is that?
After the best part of two weeks without any rain and with plentiful sunshine .... the rains came - just in time for the weekend's cricket! Anyway the Norton team were fully primed to exact revenge for their recent woeful performances on the soon-to-be-hapless Warwick Staff. Fortunately they were saved by the elements from this fate and we will now have to wait until the return fixture in August to rejoin battle. The real irony is that we were all looking forward to playing at their ground on a hard, fast wicket after playing on a virtual quagmire last year. Oh well.
There may be a delay in reporting this fixture since your correspondent has work commitments and cannot participate. If our stand-in, cub reporter comes up to scratch you may have a report at the appointed time .... Ahah - here it is:
On an overcast day in Greens Norton we hosted Bodicote with confidence after they were humbled earlier in the season. As usual this year the toss was won and we fielded first.
Bodicote struggled in the early overs scoring only 23 runs off the first 10, Bowmer and Jones bowled tightly and Bodicote found hitting the ball at all very difficult. The slow pace continued and the first wicket in over 13 finally saw Bowmer put the swinging ball in the right place for once. This brought in the tail with Dave Cronin batting number three, sadly he showed some significant control and towards the end some mighty power to make a solid 63. He received little support however and Bodicote were bowled out for 130. We had fielded and bowled well in helpful conditions but only Allen with 3-22 ended up with worthwhile figures.
Our reply started well and in the helpful conditions made our way to 40-0, if a little slowly. Once there, however, the rot set in and the performances of Horley (17) and Tonkinson (18) were put in to context as 3 wickets fell at 40. Robinson hung around well at number 3 with 26 but 5 noughts in all gave him no support. For the umpteenth time this year Nortons batsmen gave their wickets away and failed to use the 40 overs. This week we gave our wickets to Barlow who must be astonished to finish with 7-15 off his 11 overs. All in all with a final score of 83 Norton were soundly beaten in a situation where the game was there for the batsmen to take. More lessons must be learnt."
On hot and sunny evening Greens Norton trekked over to deepest Warwickshire for the semi final of the League Cup, the toss was lost and we fielded first.
Radway got off to a marginal start with a run out in the first over courtesy of a direct hit from the skipper (from about 8 yards). Wilsons (0-51) first ball was hit for 6 but the dangerous Tweedy was cleaned up by the traditional Bowmer (2-25) inswinger the next over. Douthwaite (41) and Rutherford (34) then scored well with 76 after 10 overs until Jones (3-41) got one to keep low and bowled Rutherford.
Radway continued to score consistently well and they managed a strong 145 off their 20 overs, the last over being very good for Jones with two wickets and only a couple of runs. Norton had bowled well but the fielding was not easy with a very hard and bumpy outfield making life tricky for any that committed early.
Nortons reply started poorly with Kokott out first ball. Jones and Tonkinson (10) then consolidated but at half way it looked a struggle with 51 runs and three wickets down.
Two overs later it looked worse, Waters (4-33) took two wickets and Allen (2) was run out in the same over leaving Norton at 57 for 6 when Robinson strode to the wicket with Norton needing 89 off the last 8 overs,
Instead of the traditional collapse the next 8 overs saw history in the making, with Robinson running many a leg bye and one or two singles of his own he gave the strike to Jones. The strategy worked brilliantly as Jones thundered the ball to all parts in the gathering gloom getting his 50 without fuss (not to spoil his focus) and moving to the point where 9 were needed off the last over. A four gave some space but it all came down to the last ball where only 2 were required and Jones had his 100 (nobody told him, focus remember), no-one knew what the result would be if we only got one.
The last ball was dapped down the leg side and a run was taken, the second run was never on but Jones came back hard nevertheless, the keeper gathered the ball as Jones was yards short, the keeper broke the wicket, Jones was out by yards. Cheering from Radway (apparently they knew it was on wickets if a tie), then the umpire confirmed Jones was not out. The keeper had broken the wicket before he had the ball! The second run stood and Norton won by 4 wickets and now contest a Sunday final on 31st July.
Amazing stuff -
Jones, 102 no, was the hero helped by Robinson's 9 no. No other batsmen really
bothered the scorer.
Well .... who would have thought it? The odds were all against us. A dreadful run of form, a semi-final only won by the brilliance of one man and the fielding incompetence of the opposition and a heavy defeat by our final opponents only the day before .... how could we possibly win? However, win we did - and in some style, too! I refer, of course, to the final of the SNCL Division One League Cup, held at Chipping Warden CC immediately after the corresponding final of the SNCL Division Two competition. (Do the ECB really think they invented twenty-over cricket and multiple matches in one day?)
We arrived fully pumped up for once, won the toss and elected to field. Things did not start well. Matt Donger's opening over went for 10 runs with a couple of streaky edges. Chris Bowmer's opening over from the other end went for 9 with slightly less control than usual. Did our heads go down? They did not. Did we do our usual trick of thinking, "Oh dear, here we go again"? We most definitely did not! Donger and Bowmer took control with their next two overs apiece. The Preston Capes batsmen could not cope with Donger who was just too hostile for them. At the other end, the batsment tried to make hay aginst what they saw as the easier target of Bowmer's slightly slower inswingers. They swung and missed so often it became amusing (unless you were a Preston supporter).
Then Steve Jones came on from Donger's end and bowled a tight line that also proved difficult to score from. He got his reward when he dismissed Vincent, Preston's most dangerous batsment, with one that nipped back through what was by then a very large gate. At the other end Cliff Davidson, veteran spinner and doyenne of Greens Norton Cricket Club, came on to bowl his unique brand of off-spin. By his own admission the batsmen kept expecting the ball to turn and played for that. This caused much playing and missing (which also caused some humour). Davidson and Jones kept things so tight that the Preston batsmen were forced into going for some suicidal runs. During this 10 over spell there were 3 run outs including one superb effort by Neil Taylor. Then Donger and Bowmer came back in the same manner as their earlier overs. The hapless Preston tail-enders simply could not cope and the last man was run out off the last ball for a team total of just 97. Although the bowlers deserved great credit for their performances with all out attack at either end of the innings and tight control in the middle, they were not alone. They were backed up by the best fielding display of the season. Skipper Adam Holton led his side superbly and everybody contributed in a huge way. There were just two mistakes in the whole innings - not bad for amateur cricketers!
The Norton reply got off to a (very) slow, if secure, start with Phil Tonkinson and Neil Taylor opening. Taylor was on the wrong end of an unlucky decision before Dave Robinson joined Tonkinson with orders to steady the ship. In the event Tonkinson steadied the ship so much that we reached the grand total of 41 from the first 12 overs. It would be untrue to say that this caused no anxiety amongst the Norton supporters (not to mention barracking). When Robinson was finally out - victim of another dubious umpiring decision - Pete Allen was sent in to speed things up. (He should have been admirably prepared for this task having rushed back from London and arrived 12 overs into the Preston innings.) Sadly he tried a little too hard to get his partner going and was run out after facing just two balls. Jones went in to join Tonkinson and he, too, had a slighlty slow start until his partner was finally out. Phil Tonkinson scored 28 - although how we will never know. (We do know, however, because he was brave enough to bring his own personal fan club with him and they infomed most of the audience of this fact.) Finally we were able to release Andre Bodily on to the opposition (he'd been chained up and fed raw meat through most of the previous 15 overs). His first move was to flick a six off his legs. He and Jones gradually eased our anxieties as they began to acquire the runs we needed and perhaps should have had earlier. We began the last four overs needing more than eight runs an over and with the task looking decidedly tricky. The pair accelerated smoothly with some more big hitting by Bod and we began the last over needing just six from it. Jonesy, not wanting to hang around or be outdone by Bod, smacked the first ball many a mile into the field behind the bowler's head.
We were duly crowned champions giving our season a much-needed boost. (Let's just hope we can carry this form into the last four games of the season.) There was a nice touch at the presentation when our actual twelfth man - the perennially unreliable but extremely talented Mark Stanbridge - forced Tom Wright, our intended twelfth man, to go and receive the squad medal. Well done Stanny! The celebrations continued for some time at the Chipping Warden ground before reparing to the Butchers' Arms in Norton. During this session, Cliff Davidson produced a clipping from the local paper of 1980 vintage. In this were pictured GNCC's finest - including the same Cliff "Belly" Davidson as a slim eighteen-year-old! For more on this follow the "History" link.
The Greens Norton side was away to Woodford Halse today. It was a match we really had to win to give us a realistic chance of survival in Division One. Skipper Adam Holton won the toss and elected to bat - a decision with which we all concurred (not least because we thought we had a man arriving late). The twin "T"s, Taylor and Tonkinson opened and Taylor, in particular, looked in good form. Unfortunately, he was the victim of yet another dubious umpiring decision when given out caught behind from a ball he appeared to jab down into the pitch. His luck must surely change soon! Tonkinson, meanwhile, battled on - staying there without being able to score particularly quickly. He was joined by your correspondent who hung around for a while, also without being able to score too many. Fortunately for Norton ex-skipper, Chris Bowmer, was in no mood to hang around. He came in to bat at the nosebleed-inducing position of number four and, in a measured contribution, scored 43 - his highest of the season. Only Steve Jones, with an unusually circumspect 12, and Andre Bodily, with an explosive 31 made any further notable contributions.
Following a technical debate with the umpire about when tea could actually take place, Woodford began their reply. Bowmer and Jones opened the bowling and kept the Woodford openers pegged back without having much luck in the wicket-taking department. After just 6 overs, Bowmer pulled a hamstring. He attempted his 7th over but it was obvious he would have to be replaced. This was a real blow since he is, and generally has been, our leading wicket taker. He had bowled well before the injury and finished with 1 for 15 from seven overs. Jones bowled right through and deserved far more than his meagre return of 1 for 44 from his allotted twelve overs. Neil Taylor joined the attack and proved very effective until some unkind treatment in his last over rather spoiled his figures. He finished with 1 for 31 from eight overs (although 10 of those came in the last over). "Bod" came on to replace Jones but he already had an injured shoulder and couldn't throw the ball in from the field. How he managed to bowl none of us were sure. His three overs went for 27 before skipper Holton brought himself on in recognition of the fact that we had lost the game. Mind you, I don't think any of us expected him to go for all the remaining required runs in the same over! All of our bowlers were enthusiastically supported by our 5 (yes five) fit, adult fielders - which leads on to an editorial comment from your correspondent ....
On the previous Sunday when we played in the Cup Final we could probably have selected from up to 18 fit adult players. When we were back to the League struggle to avoid relegation this Saturday we could barely scrape together 11 players of any description. In the event, one player simply failed to turn up at all. Another, having warned us that he might be late, failed to appear at any time. This left us with 9 players when we arrived at Woodford Halse CC. Of these 9, two were juniors who had barely played a match between them. This left 7 regular, adult players (for a vital match, mind you). Of these, one played with a very restricting injury (because he's that sort of person and would not let his side down) and another was injured during the match (probably as a result of having done too much during the course of the game as a whole). This left us with just five fit adults in the field. At any one time, one of these was bowling and another was keeping wicket. One does not need to be a mathematical genius to see that if the ball did not go top one of the 3 fit, adult outfielders the opponents were always likely to score runs. It is to the whole team's immense credit that we were able to keep the opposition at bay as long as we were. It is, however, to the discredit of those who left us in this situation that we lost this vitally important league match. Let's just hope that next week's selection produces both better availability and reliability!
This was a classic bottom v. top clash at the Playing Fields when we greeted Thornborough. The visitors desperately needed the points to press home their championship hopes and we .... well, it was probably already too late for us this season anyway. These different situations were clearly reflected in the attitudes towards playing on a sodden Saturday afternoon. It's fair to say that most of the home team felt the umpire - a very genial man, mind you - should have taken a common sense view to abandon play mid afternoon.
The whole afternoon followed a bizarre, almost surreal, pattern. First of all it began to rain bang on time - at about 1.59 p.m. for a 2 p.m. start. (We won't dwell on the BBC weather forecast of the previous night even though this categorically predicted that any rain would have cleared by breakfast time.) Whilst the elements were misbehaving themselves the captains dispensed with the toss and came to a gentleman's agreement that we would bat first - if the chance ever came. The rain gradually eased off without ever really stopping. The umpire decided that we would start 45 minutes late and lose 5 overs each. Your correspondent opened with Phil Tonkinson and was soon hitting the middle of the bat. Unfortunately he failed to notice a rather sneaky fielding placement of a man at very straight short mid on. He was so straight that he gave the appearance of being our other batsman backing up! Needless to say Lewis "middled" the ball straight to him! Tonkinson followed soon after by completely mistiming a hook which lobbed gently into square leg's hands. Tonkinson did not go, however, before running Pete Allen out with a classic piece of calling, "Wait, yes, no, wait, perhaps?" (or that's what it seemed like from the boundary).
This brought together our season-long bankers (at least, that's what I thought they were being called) of Andre Bodily and Steve Jones. They duly put on 44 in quick time before Bod (21) fell victim to a rain soaked pitch. He got a shooter - inevitable under the conditions. Jones went on to reach 37 before marching down the pitch and missing a straight one. Under normal conditions he would never have done this - but these were not normal conditions! Dave Robinson and skipper Adam Holton put on 5 between them in as many balls and, at that point, a very wet GNCC innings closed at 87 - 4 after 21 overs! More will follow about the conditions later but, meanwhile, a word or two about the visitor's reply ....
Thornborough started brighlty as befits a championship chasing side and the openers put on 62 until they went for a suicidal single. Your correspondent was able to throw down the stumps at the bowlers end to see off I. Chapman for 29. K. Edwards followed soon after for 36 but not until Wood and S. Chapman had both gone for ducks in the same over as the run out! They went from 62 - 0 to 63 - 3 in one over. From cruising to their target of just 88 in 21 overs .... suddenly Thornborough were struggling. Norton pressed home our new-found advantage and the Thornborough batsman seemed to panic a little. Only May (11 n.o.) withstood the pressure as wickets tumbled. Thornborough were reduced to 88 - 8 by the time they scrambled the winning run. This was probably the only match in the area to be completed. It sealed our fate for we are now relegated (see tables).
It seems odd that we actually finished a match which should never have taken place or, at least, should never have finished. I think most of the players were unhappy with the indecisive umpiring. Certainly, most of us felt that the match should have been abandoned after the first abortive attempts to get us under way. Events unfolded like this:
2.45 play begins with overs reduced to 35 per side.
3.30 play resumes with overs reduced to 32 each.
4.00 rain. Umpire avers that "We might as well take tea since it's ready" (which it was).
4.30 Umpire calls upon our batsmen to resume and informs us that we had 3 balls left! Apparently the rain break, during which we took tea, had knocked more overs off, and we were reduced to a total of 21 overs. We had batted as in a proper match - albeit slightly rain-reduced - and not had a 20 over thrash! If Thornborough were able to bat they would know exactly what their rain-reduced total was.
4.40 Thornborough captain offers us the chance to call the match off (whcih was exactly what we had wanted for much of the afternoon). Most of our players feel that the same gentleman had been largely responsible for keeping us put in the rain all afternoon and that he would only have offered the draw if he felt his side might struggle to get the runs. Our skipper concurs.
4.45 We take the field for the Thornborough innings which is described above
5.30 It begins raining again. We come off the field.
5.45 We resume.
6.00 It rains again. We continue and play through it to the denouement.
It must be emphasised here that our (only slight) sense of grievance is not directed at Thornborough or their captain since we might well have done the same. It's just that we all felt that cricket is a summer game, suitable for playing only in the dry. In addition, if one is lucky enough to have an umpire, we feel that the official should take the lead and not just go along with the wishes of one side's captain. Basically, we should not have continued after the first rain break since the ground was already sodden from the pre-start drenching. We were looking for decisiveness, not indecision.
Division Two, here we come.
Our latest (and, amazingly, your correspondent's first) visit to Culworth did not go well. In fact, it started badly and went downhill from there. We met at the appointed hour with (again) 7 adult players and 3 very raw young recruits. They were so raw, infact, that they had only played perhaps 6 games of cricket between them! We arrived, lost the toss and were asked to field. We duly did this and made a decent fist of it given the depleted nature of our bowling and fielding line up. We bowled well with Bowmer returning to some sort of form, taking 4-33 in his 12 over spell. He was ably supported by Jones, davidson and skipper Holton who took another 5 wickets between them. The Culworth innings closed on 175-9 which, in the circumstances, was a decent score from either side's point of view.
We opened our reply with Lewis and Robinson. Without ever seeming to be in trouble these two were unable to get the bowling away. They did put on 34 for the first wicket but it took 13 overs. Once Robinson was out for 7, Lewis followed a couple of overs later with what turned out to be the painfully low top score of 25. Unfortunately things went downhill from then on. The seven senior players got the score to 58 but the juniors were unable to add to that. The innings therefore closed on 58 after 23 overs and a few balls. Inevitably we lost by a lot - 117 runs in fact. (Incidentally, this is more than our average score with the bat this season.)
Next week we entertain promotion-chasing Warwick University Satff. We played them in our last fixture of the season in 2004 and scrambled to what had seemed at one point an unlikely win. We look forward to a similar result this year in our last fixture of the season (and, indeed, our last fixture in Division One for a year).
See the photos ...
Predictably our fixture with Warwick University Staff (already promoted and chasing the title) did not go well. We won the toss and elected to bowl. So far so good. We bowled and fielded extremely well for a side with, once again, 7 adult senior players and 3 juniors. The pitch was, admittedly, very damp and difficult to score on but our opening bowlers still did extremely well. After 24 overs (the complete spell of both ment) WUS were just 28 for 3. Chris Bowmer ended with 1-15 and Steve Jones with 2-12. They bowled 9 maidens between them. The WUS tail finally began to wag a little and they got their score up to 104-6.
No problem, we all thought. Even we can knock those off - couldn't we? Well we couldn't, as it turned out. We were all out for 28 with Jones reaching 10 and skipper Holton rattling up 8. Your correspondent in, sadly, his last match for the club kept true to his season's form by getting a magnificent 1!
Roll on next season. We are looking to recruit some younger and more consistently available players to bring us back to our spiritual home (i.e. Division One of the SNCL).
See the photos ....