This was an excellent start to the season. The visiting Hanslope batsmen could not cope with the home side's bowlers. They could neither score nor defend their wickets and only C. Walmsley made a significant, if late, contribution of 19 before being caught and bowled by Bowmer. Bowmer was the pick of the Norton bowlers with 4-17 as Hanslope struggled to 70 all out from 36.5 overs. Fleming, Neil and the excellent Taylor shared the remaining wickets.
In reply the Norton batsmen blazed away at a phenomenal rate with Neil Taylor, in particular, taking the attack to the fielding side. He finished with 51 and managed to get himself out just before overhauling the visiting total. Norton did this from just 8.4 overs! What a start.
In a match eerily reminiscent of the first half of the previous week's effort, the Norton bowlers again dismissed the opposition for a relatively modest score. Visitors Sibford were all out for 143 from 34.5 overs. Only Peters (54) and Wollerton (31) made any inroads into the Norton bowling. Mark Neil (aka Curly) is clearly enjoying his return to the Norton fold and finished with 4-30. Taylor continued his startling early season form with both bat and ball by taking a superb 5-24. The other bowlers seemed reluctant to offer a threat so it was just as well that (M.)Neil and Neil(T.) bowled as well as they did.
Unfortunately this was when the Norton batting collapse re-emerged. It reared its ugly head as we collapsed for 87 all out from just 28.4 overs. It was a shame for (yes, you've guessed it) Taylor, 32, and O'Connor, 21 that no-one else was able to offer any support or make a contribution.
Sadly, despite getting Paul Turvey, Greens Norton's nemesis, out for just over 30 we still managed to lose. Mind, there is a susp[icion on the part of your correspondent that Hinton have been cheating. They've recruited a bowler under the age of 30! Where's the sportsmanship in that? (More details to follow as soon as I get them.) I am now given to understand that they have recruited several more players under 30! Huh!
Norton batted first against Gawcott and Hillesden (at Gawcott). Our top order did remarkably well in that numbers 1, 2 and 3 all scored well. Taylor made 33, Allen top-scored with 41 and Phil Tonkinson made a welcome return to the fold with 38. It was just as well, really, that these batsmen did this because there wasn't much support from the rest of the line up. One should probably exempt Bowmer from this observation as he made another decent score for a bowler, taking 19 from the opposing attack without sacrificing his wicket. (Mind you, new boy, Steve Chadwick, did make his maiden double-figure score.) Bod, where are you?
Things started badly for Gawcott as they lost their first 4 wickets for just 17 runs, with Bowmer and Fleming doing the damage. Things began to stabilise as, firstly, De Beer with 18 and, secondly, (C.) Piggott with a well-earned 50 began to re-build the innings. Fortunately for Norton this was as bad as things got because wickets resumed their tumble. Bowmer capped an impressive day by taking a hat-trick to close the Gawcott innings. In his own words it was a "dirty" hat-trick, though, with two out of the three wickets coming from catching practice in the deep. (Reading between the lines this probably meant that two of these opposing batsmen really got hold of Bowmer's bowling but it was an irresponsibly long boundary.)
What a match. The pitch, which should have played like a pudding given the recent local weather, held up remarkably well with very few deliveries "sitting up". Warwick batted first and made a creditable 169 for 8, with Wortman scoring a good 47 and being ably supported by Iqbal (32 n.o.) and, latterly, Cammis who got 23. It was good to see Pete Allen back amongst the wickets again. Although not as economical as he would have liked, he still took 3 for 55 from his 11 overs. (Mind you, the effort of bowling almost a full spell appeared to have taken so much out of him that he was unable to bat until no. 6 - several places lower down the order than is usual for him.) Bowmer, Taylor and Wilson shared the remaining wickets with one run out.
The Norton reply started slowly with just 52 for the loss of two wickets at the half way mark (20 overs). Taylor and Bristow struggled to get the ball off the square, as did Robinson. At this point Bodily, later to become the star of the innings, was also struggling uncharacteristically for runs. Then came the mighty Wills (Dave Wilson - a bowler, he tells us). He smote the ball to all corners of the ground. His 40 - made in much less than even time - consisted of 5 fours and 3 sixes. He only ran 2 singles! Anyway, this seemed to provide the inspiration Bod needed and he began to catch up with the required run rate. With some limited support from Allen and Bowmer, Bod got us to the position of needing 7 off the last over - a situation none of us had thought possible just half an innings earlier. A run out, a golden duck and a series of scrambles saw Norton get 6 from the first five balls, needing just a single to win. Fortunately, Bod, had ended up on strike and, sticking out his chin in time-honoured fashion, promptly dispatched the last ball of the match for 6, giving us a a 2-wicket victory!
Norton managed to see off former league giants, Wardington, in a very watchable encounter. Batting first, our boys got to a very presentable and well-paced 189. There were significant contributions from a number of batsmen. Form returned to Mike Bristow, who opened with 38. Sadly, the same cannot be said for his opening partner, the returning Simon Horley. He managed just a duck! Bod's return to form continued as he (unusually) accumulated a hard-earned 30. The ever-reliable Robinson chipped in with 27 whilst the undoubted star of the show was emerging all-rounder Allen. He cracked three 6s and three 4s in his jug-avoiding 47 whilst also sneaking in with a couple of wickets during the Wardington reply. The sight that will have gladdened the hearts of those of us who have heard tales of his past epic deeds with the bat was that of Ivor Gardner emerging from his shell to hit 19 (including one 6). (I bet that one went straight back over the bowler's head! It did, by the way.)
The Wardington openers put on over 50 for the first wicket. This created a certain amount of trepidation amongst the visitors until Bowmer came on in the 12th over. He bowled like the Bowmer of old and ripped through the home line-up as he took 5 for 34 in his 12 overs. He clean bowled 3 of his victims and had one of the others lbw. This tends to suggest there was no fluke involved! He was supported by Allen, who came on to winkle the tail out and by Fleming and Neil with one wicket apiece. The last man was run out as the reply ended 35 runs short. This result takes Norton up to third place. Watch out for nose bleeds!
Hanslope batted first and despite contributions from Coles and Bushrell, were soon in trouble. Allen, bowling like he has previously only told us he could, took 4 for 28. Bodily restricted the Hanlope batsmen to just 13 runs from his 5 overs as he took 1 for 13. Bowmer and Tustian were the other bowlers. The Hanslope innings finished 109 for 6.
In reply Greens Norton started as though they were keen to get the match ober quickly. Allen smote the ball all around the field for his unbeaten 65, including 3 sixes and 7 fours. He was well supported by Bristow and Bodily whilst Robinson chipped in with a cameo at the end. The Norton batsmen took just 16 overs to get to 110 for 2 - a resounding victory!
Things rather came back down to earth when the league programme resumed at Croughton. Over the years, the Croughton ground has proved something of a graveyard for Greens Norton - regardless of the personnel. So it proved today even though it looked, initially, as though we would break our duck. Croughton batted first and eventually reached 180 for 9. It rarely looked as though they would reach that - although there were clues when Connor was dropped twice in single figures. With the Norton fielding this is not that unusual in itself except that he then went on to score 108. Apparently (i.e. according to his team mates) he only ever scores centuries against Greens Norton. This tends to confirm the "graveyard" theory. Despite this Bowmer, with 3 for 31, and Wilson, with 5 for 43, both bowled really well, restricting the remaining ten Croughton batsmen to just 72 between them! Perhaps it was going to be our day.
This growing suspicion was confirmed when the Norton reply started well. Bristow (33), Bodily (33) and Robinson (32) all made significant contributions. Unfortunately, the other 8 batsmen didn't!
Well, if it were possible to give the opposition a more auspicious start, I can't imagine it. They got to 100 off the first 20 overs and only slow scoring in the second half of the Evenley innings saw them effectively restrict themselves to 161-9. The top scorer was Chris Scott with 43. Our bowlers toiled but didn't really get very far. The most penetrative performance came from Neil Taylor who took 3-36. The most economical effort came from Chris Bowmer, who conceded just 29 runs from his 12 overs. Curly (aka Mark Neil) was running him close, having conceded the same number of runs from his firsat 11 overs. Unfortunately, and in his own words, he "got twatted" in his last over to go for 2-40. The most interesting spell of bowling came from Chris Moss and his leg breaks (at least, that's what we thought they were). His two over spell yielded 2 wickets for 19 runs. His wickets, it has to be said, came from two of the most unlikely looking deliveries one might imagine. The first came when Simon Walker strode 3 feet to his off side to balloon a catch which Taylor almost dropped. The second came when top scorer, Chris Scott, tried to sweep a ball which had already bounced twice. He managed to hit it straight to the only fielder any where near him!
In reply, Norton started poorly and got worse. Only Simon Horley managed a score worth recording. He went, in his usual stylish way, to 24 before being bowled. Our major other contributor was, sadly, extras. There were 20 of these as we were all out for 72 in just 22.1 overs. Oops! Graham Harman and Chris Moss (clearly having a good day) did most of the damage with the ball, taking 4-8 and 4-19 respectively.
If you really must, you can find some pictures here.
The day started with many of us believing the weather forecast and not expecting to play. It ended with all of us wishing we hadn't! We batted fairly poorly from the off. A consequence of accurate bowling and an inability to keep the ball away from fielders led to a very slow start. 5 of the first 10 overs were maidens. Only Mike Bristow seemed able to withstand the nagging accuracy of the Hanslope bowlers. He played himself in, whilst wickets were tumbling all around him, only to fall to a superb reflex catch from an outrageously-positioned silly mid-off. The Norton cause was not helped by an apparently mistaken umpiring decision which saw Dave Robinson given caught behind when he tells us he hit his pad with his bat. In defence of the umpire, half of the Hanslope players thought it was out and half didn't. Unfortunately, the umpire did! Eventually Bodily and Holton came together and things looked brighter for a while as they put on 45 in quick time. Sadly, Holton played all around a straight one whilst Bodily lofted a skyer soon after. Thereafter, only Bowmer troubled the Hanslope attack with a quickfire 19 (including, incredibly, one 4 off his legs). When your correspondent came out of retirement and went in to bat he soon discovered Hanslope's cunning plan. They kept bowling half-volleys and simply waited for the batsman to get underneath one. You can probably guess the rest .... Anyway, the innings closed after 38 overs and fortunately the tea was ready.
When Hanslope came in to bat the contrast couldn't have been greater. We gave them at least one 4 ball almost every over, looked leaden-footed in the field and seemed to spend a lot of time chasing the ball. The opposing batsmen looked serene and untroubled by our bowling. The time they seemed to have for every ball was impressive and the rest is history. Brown got 47 and Funnell got 71 not out. In fairness to Greens Norton the pitch did appear to play differently before and after tea. Before tea there seemd to be a significant amount of variable bounce which all but disappeared after tea. This is not intended to take credit away from Hanslope. They bounced back from being hammered by us at the Recreation Ground earlier in the season to exact a well-deserved revenge.
Pictures are available here.
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For the home game against Gawcott and Hillesden Greens Norton mustered a reasonable side for the first time for a few weeks. Also unusually, the sun was shining!
Skipper Holton, playing for the first time in 3 weeks, won the toss and, in the baking sun, elected to bat.
This proved a good plan as the sun took its toll on the opposition skipper and Norton's batsmen piled on the pressure. We made a solid 38 runs from the first 10 overs before Bristow fell to the opening bowler for 18. This brought in Neil Taylor who pressed the accelerator. He has looked good all year and soon overtook Horley (37) before being third out for 67 with 13 overs to go and Norton well placed at 137-3.
The remaining batsmen kept up the pace and took Norton to a solid 213-7 on a slow outfield. This score would have been much greater if our Parish Council contractor had managed to do what he is paid to do and cut the grass on the outfield!
Gawcott's reply began well enough, reaching 60-0 off 17 overs. The appearance of Dave Wilson and some aggression started to raise the temperature and wickets began to fall at one end whilst Stanger at the other continued to accumulate runs at a decent pace.
Eventually Bowmer returned and, against the plan, allowed the run rate to increase. He soon made amends, however, with his second hat trick of the year (also against Gawcott). This brought the opposition back down to earth and made the opposition skipper's day complete as he fell as the middle wicket of the three.
The run rate was always
climbing but, with Stanger capable of scoring well, Norton's nerves jangled
until 36 were required from the last over. There was only 1 wicket left
and some of our lads appeared to take a breath for the first time for a
while. Andre Bodily finished it all off with the wicket of Stanger for 96.
Dave Wilson's 4-31 was the pick of the day.
The hot weather of the weekend continued as Norton went to Byfield on a Sunday for the league cup final in the 20-20 format. Holton won the toss again despite being hot and bothered from playing in the Blakesley cricket sevens in the morning.
Collective opinion was to chase and we put Gayton in to bat. The Gayton innings started brilliantly well with the fast outfield and very sharp running put everyone under pressure. Waldron was dropped off Bowmer and it all started to look a little difficult as the first two put on 60 off 6 overs. The running always looked a bit tight and there should have been a run out or two before Waldron was run out for 27 by skipper Holton. Waldron went off unhappy with the decision by the league umpire but Norton were delighted.
The fall of the first wicket coincided with the introduction of Pete Allen with the ball and he proceeded to take Gayton apart. A spell of 5-10 in his permitted 5 overs destroyed the heart of their batting with only an injury to Wilson (hamstring as usual) delaying the demise. Gayton subsided to 122-9 off their 20 overs and it never looked like enough.
Norton's batting started well with Allen and Craig Burger easily keeping up with the required 6 an over. The fall of Allen and Taylor in quick succession only served to push Burger into ever more stunning shots including five 6's and eight 4's in a stunning 82 not out. The only minor blemish on his innings was a dropped catch off the highest shot of the day. We all suspected the snow made the ball slippery.
Norton reached the target with 4 full overs to go and 8 wickets left.
A great time was had by all except Gayton who blamed the run out decision and Craig's inclusion as a ringer for their loss when, really, it was down to the great bowling and fielding in the first half.
Warwick University Staff (whether in first or second team guise) are always a strong outfit. Admittedly, their 'A' team have struggled this season but they were fresh from a good win over Sibford. Fortunately the match was staged at their ground and enjoyed much the same weather as did the Edgbaston test match (albeit with a better result). Warwick batted first and got off to a slow, if steady, start. They were never able to get away from our bowling despite decent contributions from Allison, Carter and Muhammed. That they were unable to take advantage of our depleted siue in the field is testament to the quality of our bwoling and our efforts in the field. Apart from Fleming (who was in his customarily generous mode conceding 49 runs for just one wicket off his 8 overs) our bowlers did really well. Bowmer was back to his best, taking 4-23 off 12 overs. Allen, who has really begun to emerge as a bowler this season, backed him up with 4-37 off his stint. Bodily also kept one end tight with 0-23 off his eight-over spell. The Warwick innings closed on 138-9 after their 40 overs.
In reply, Horley, who has finally discovered his form for us, opened with Robinson and looked well on his way to a half century. Sadly, he fell just one short of this figure and so will for ever be accused of jug-avoidance. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term it originates from the theoretical, if rather strange, practice of a successful player buying a jug of beer for his team mates after a match. One says strange because success is normally rewarded rather than penalised. And "theoretical" because its occurrence is noted rather more in the breach than in the observance. The first landmark at which this penalty is imposed on a batsman is a half-century. Actually the first landmark is almost always the only one since centuries for Greens Norton are rarer than hens' teeth. The equivalent for bowlers is 5 wickets and the almost unheard of 10 wickets. In one context one might accuse two of our bowlers of avoiding the jug - each having taken 4 wickets. The problem with this notion is that it is much harder for a bowler to avoid the landmark since matters are less under his control than they are for a batsman. For example, it only takes a half-witted opposing batsmen to chase and nick a wide one when you are on 4 wickets and you could be out of pocket!
Anyway, to continue .... Horley duly saved himself some money with support from Robinson and, briefly, Bodily. Mention must be made here of Dave Robinson, our very own version of Geoff Boycott. He only scored 13 but he managed to hang around for almost 18 overs, allowing Horley free reign withhis slightly more classical style at the other end. Every side needs a "sticker" and we have all too rarely had one. Anyway the score reached 84 for 3 before Horley managed to avoid a straight ball and a jug at the same time. Then Allen, whose recent all-round form has been a revelation, came to the fore. Suuported by Bowmer, who also had a good all-round match, he finished the match off in style. Whilst Bowmer played the supporting role with his 15 n.o., Allen cruised to 47 and won the match with a boundary (Kevin Pieterson eat your heart out)! Allen also struck the only 6 of the Norton innings. (We could hardly accuse him of avoiding the jug since it was not entirely his fault that the opposition failed to get the 3 more runs which would have allowed him a shot at the half-century.) One has to say what a superb performance it was by those lads who were available. Well done to all nine of them!
Sadly the English summer weather intervened to force a cancellation.
As we greeted our opponents at home it rapidly became clear that all was not as it should be. Apparently, a friend of 7 members of the team chose this day to have his stag night and it began at Newbury Races that afternoon. As a result, Croughton arrived with 4 under-11s and at least 1 over-60 in their 10-man line up. We batted first and Sinbad (aka Simon Horley) once again avoided a jug by getting out in the 40s. He managed the remarkable feat of scoring 45 without hitting a single boundary. None of us were sure that he'd ever run that far before! He, along with other batsmen on both sides, claimed that it was due to the Parish Council's contractor once again failing to mow the outfield to the required length. Anyway, after a brief but telling contribution from Allen, Neil Taylor came in and showed Sinbad how to do it. He scored 35, including 5 fours and 1 six! Mike Bristow, on his return from holiday, came in at the unaccustomed position of number 4 and proceeded to notch up his first half-century of the season. (It was amazing to see Norton having 5 openers available. In previous seasons a batsman had to be sent out to open for Norton at gunpoint!) Anyway Bristow's 55, together with a flurry from Dave Robinson, saw us to 205 for 7 - a score which would, in all fairness, probably have been significantly higher had it not been, once again, for the Parish Council contractor's failure to mow the outfield sufficiently. Notwithstanding any of this, mention must be made of our last wicket partnership. Dave Robinson can sometimes tend to drop anchor when batting.. This is normally a good thing for a Norton side containing too many of us who get out too easily. Whilst there were no immediate signs of his doing just this our skipper decided when he finally went in to hurry things up a little. In Bungle's defence it must be said that Adam Holton plays rugby and is young and fit, whereas Bungle used to play rugby and is neither of the other two. Anyway the sight of Adam almost lapping Bungle on a quickly taken 3, and of Bungle leaning on his bat and gasping for oxygen at the non-striker's end is a one which will remain with most of us for a while. Somehow, I don't think he's going to be allowed to forget that in a hurry.
When it came to Croughton's innings they showed the same game spirit that had taken them through their fielding efforts. Although only 3 of their batsmen got into double figures mention must be made of their youngsters. At least 3 of the 4 are clearly going to be good cricketers when they grow up. (Mind you, we've been saying the same thing about half the Norton players for quite some time now....) Anyway, 5 of their wickets came from unlikely sources. Sinbad, who used to be a more than useful seamer in his younger days but who rarely bowls for Norton, twirled his arm over with a variety of spinners and took 2-20. Mike Bristow, in what was probably his first spell for Norton, did the same and took 3-12 including two in two balls. We did help the opposition to get as many as they did by some of our (non) catching. Pete Allen missed a sitter and Chris Bowmer jibbed out of going for a catch which he proceede to make into a difficult half-volley. These were just two of the more glaring ones. Anyway, under the circumstances, an enjoyable time was had by all. Congratulations must go to Croughton CC for their efforts to get a side out and their refusal to use their senior players' dereliction of duty (including, incidentally, their captain) as an excuse.
The final result was Greens Norton 205-7. Croughton 84-8. Greens Norton duly won by 121 runs. See the pictures here.
Another damp day in South Northamptonshire -oh, I think I've said that before! Gayton batted first on what looked like the proverbial sticky wicket. So it proved to be with the home batsmen struggling to get the ball off the square. Tight bowling by Bowmer and Allen kept the reins on the openers. Before long Cameron Waldron, probably Gayton's best batsman for several years (well, he can't help being an Aussie, can he?) was dismissed by a stunning catch by Dave Wilson off Allen's bowling. Our fielding in general was tight with everyone on their toes. Joe Lindsay just failed to hold on to a superb effort at square leg and Mike Bristow took two catches in short order and prowled the covers looking sharp. (He'd probably been locked up all week without any food.) In years gone by we might have thought that that was game over. This was particularly so when Neil and Fleming replaced the opening bowlers and continued in the same vein. Gayton really struggled to score and eventually Bowmer was brought back. He took four wickets in three overs, specialising in caught behind in the first over and bowled in the third. Sadly some late slogging across any line one could imagine brought Gayton a few late runs and they finished on 139 for 9. Still .... no problem we thought ....
Our reply also began slowly but that didn't seem a problem with such a low target to chase. Almost everybody got a start but wickets still fell regularly. Of course our predictions were wrong! Then a fighting skipper's knock of 32 from Adam Holton, ably supported by Dave Robinson seemed to be turning things our way again. Unfortunately, Bungle decided to run himself out going for a run which our skipper tells me was never on. With him and this partnership went the last chance of a Norton victory. You can guess the rest. Gayton had made just too many runs. We were all out on the last ball for 128 and lost by 11 runs. We'll have to try to end the season next week on a better note. It will be a tall order at Evenley, though, even playing their second team.
See the pictures here ....
Under the unfamiliar yellow orb in the sky Greens Norton batted first. Opener Sinbad - in complete contrast to his previous innings - hit six 4s in his 26. Joe Lindsay, opening with him, was very unlucky to be caught on just 1. Bungle managed just the two scoring strokes and it was left to Taylor and Brizza to steady the ship. In fact, they steadied it so much that, had it not been for the 29 extras offered to us by Evenley 'A', we would have been in danger of grinding to a halt. We had scored just 114 for 5 after 27 overs when Bod and Holton came together. Skipper Holton, in particular, was in no mood to let the game drift quietly away from us. He started smiting the ball to all corners of the ground and, by his own admission, rode his luck a little. Nevertheless, it was a magnificent knock and one which was just what the doctor ordered. It galvanised Bod, who had been uncharacteristically quiet until then - scoring just 18 in the 7 overs before the skipper came in. With the two of them in such explosive form they put on 102 for the fifth wicket in just 13 overs. This included seven 4s and one 6 for Holton and six 4s and four 6s for Bod. Between them they ran 36 of their runs (at least three times Bod's normal quota). At the after-match barbecue, Bod looked like a pale shadow of himself - so much so that he had to have an extra helping.
Needing to score at more than 5 an over Evenley went about their task calmly and deliberately. Their openers put on 65 for the first wicket and, unusually, neither Bowmer nor Curly could make any impression with the ball. Eventually Bowmer came off to be replaced by Bod. He removed the opener with his first ball and, suddenly, Curly (still bowling his spell) looked a different proposition. He took three wickets in his last five overs, having managed none from his first seven! Bod began to concede a few runs and he and Curly were replaced by Fleming and Taylor. Fleming went for around 5 an over whilst Taylor immediately took some of the pace off the ball and and the sting out of the batting. He only bowled two overs but took 1 for 7. Things were looking shaky for Norton when, in a last throw of the dice, skipper Holton brought back Bod. At this point Evenley were still very much on target, needing just 30 runs with 4 wickets in hand. Not one to let things slide when in this most pugnacious of moods, Bod proceeded to take 4 wickets for 13 runs from just 2 overs and 2 balls. At the start of the last over Evenley needed just 9 runs to win and had two wickets in hand. Did this bother Bod? Apparently not. As he started his last over, he clean bowled the last two men with his first two deliveries. Game over and Norton had won by 8 runs. What a match!