2015 Match reports
Fen Ditton II Vs Sawston & Babraham IV
Saturday 3rd September
Fen Ditton II Vs Sawston & Babraham IV
The penultimate week of the season for us and the Ditton Revolving Door of Selection was still at it with another raft of team changes. Just 5 survived from 7 days ago – Adrian, Amelia, Phil and Sam and Fowler. Out went our 3 1st XI stars from last week - H, Darren and Wayne (the latter back to the 1sts). There was no Gav, so we’d lost 3 of last week’s top 4 batting line up and both opening bowlers. However, Joe was in to lead the attack, Mick was back too, as was MVS (‘Newly Engaged’ in every sense of that phrase), Tom and Jason, the latter back behind the stumps. Changes too lower down the order – no Mani, no Alan but Leo came in as did Louie, albeit he played for the opposition as they were short. On paper, against (judging by the league table) tougher opposition in Sawston and Babraham IVths, it felt a slightly weaker line up than last week, certainly in batting terms, but could MVS, our one true skipper, lead us to glory?
Given the forecast of steady, unrelenting rain around 4pm, notwithstanding the 12.30 start, MVS’ main job was two-fold: persuade their skipper to play less than 40 overs and win the toss so we could bowl – as we needed to get this over asap. These he did with aplomb so Joe opened from the Pavilion End. The S&B players would later rhetorically ask ‘He’s not a regular second teamer is he’: that gulf between 1sts and 2nds was evident again as Joe bowled a tight line, taking 2-16 off his 7 overs.
However, the bowling honours today went to Leo, opening from the Jackson End, taking 3 wickets in his first 4 overs. In fact, the first 9 overs of the S&B innings were, frankly, at times bizarre: there was certainly ‘something for everyone’. Their batsmen contrived to get themselves out in often unimaginable ways. Maybe, aware there were just 28 overs, they saw Leo, in contrast to Joe, and thought ‘Hello, I can have a go at this lad’? Perfectly possible and that would explain a couple of tame catches taken by MVS and Fowler off mistimed slogs to Leo’s perfectly sound bowling. But then what was their Number 3 thinking, seeing (in ‘Gardner-like’ fashion) a run to Amelia where, frankly, no-one else did? The ball travelled slowly about 10 yards straight to her at square leg. There was time for Jason to take Amelia’s throw, muck up the run out, drop the ball, look around, flap a bit, have a think, take advice from Fowler and then grab a stump out of the ground now with ball in hand, all before the number 3 batsman had even completed his run to the non-striker’s end where he found his partner hadn’t moved! And who would have expected Tom to take an extraordinary catch off Leo’s bowling, running from slip in the direction of wide-ish third man, clutching the ball no more than an inch above the ground to almost everyone’s disbelief (probably the Seconds’ ‘Catch of the Season’)? S&B had reached 30 for 5 off 9 and Leo had 3 wickets – even if he was mature enough to admit none of them owed much to his bowling!
There then developed the only real partnership of the S&B innings, between Messrs Granville and Tovey, their numbers 6 and 7. They batted steadily in the newly arrived drizzle – the rain was a couple of hours ahead of schedule. It felt like they survived numerous run out scares, Phil dropped a straightforward chance (which no doubt Sam will remind him of as he who later took one) and they relied heavily on a couple of shots (Granville to leg, Tovey aerial to mid-off). Amelia (4 overs for 23) and (in his opening overs) Mick bore the brunt of their run scoring as they put on 68 in 12 overs. Not electrifying but, without it, S&B would have been out within the hour: once they’d gone, we rounded up the tail and they were all out for just 106 as Mick took a couple (recovering well from a ropey first 3 overs), Joe came back and there was another crazy run out. Without Granville and Tovey they’d amassed all of 40 for 9, including 4 ducks, and 10 of those runs were extras. Now you’d think an asking rate of about 3.75 an over would be well within our capabilities. All the more so as, thanks to Phil and Tom, we reached 62 without loss in 13 and a bit overs, despite a great spell from S&B’s opening bowler, Mr Ebberson, he who’d batted as their Number 3, ran himself out and now had something to prove (7 overs for just 12). Phil played his best innings of the summer and went for 24. It began to rain steadily. Tom, aware the weather was closing in, was bowled trying to move things along. Not a worry as MVS (batting without his glasses which he’d ‘Left in Belgium’, as you do) and Fowler ticked things along. We needed just 18 off the last 7 overs.
However, thanks to the rain, by now the pitch had cut up: visibility-wise, at times it resembled a game of cricket as would have been captured in a French Impressionist painting. MVS gave a tame caught and bowled, Fowler missed a straight one and was LBW, Mick was clean bowled by a ‘grass snake’, Sam played his trade-mark, ‘across the line, slog to leg’ for the second week running and got the same result – bowled. We took just 5 runs from 4 overs and somehow ended up needing 4 to tie and 5 to win off the last 6 balls. By now, MVS was pacing up and down like an expectant father, visibly worried (he later admitted) at the prospect of the ‘verbal lashing’ AB would give him if we didn’t complete this win. No worries: Jason and Joe saw us home with a couple of balls to spare. The change in our Captain’s demeanour presumably resembled that which came over him when he got the reply ‘Yes’ from his lady when he popped the question a couple of weeks ago.
So, it turned out to be a wonderfully close game – played in a great spirit by S&B who, whether agreeing to shorten the game, delaying tea to the end or playing on in the rain as we batted, worked with us to ensure a result one way or the other. However, it was also an unusual game: both sides at times made batting look easy but then batted indifferently, making it all too close for comfort. But now we’ve played 14, won 7, lost 7. We’ve won 5 on the trot and, tidying up the Pavilion afterwards, someone uttered the word ‘Promotion’ in the context of next season. Up? Us? Steady on! You still wouldn’t bet on it – our batting is too fragile - but such talk is a measure of how far we’ve come since July. We’re a side whose primary goal was to get some new, young blood into the club. We’ve done that – and significantly there is a happy feel about the team (which is what winning does for you). Linton 3rds await next Saturday: win that and we’ll not only have brought in new faces, we’ll finish with a net winning, debut season record and in the top half of the division!