2015 Match reports
Newport II Vs Fen Ditton II
Saturday 18th June
Newport II Vs Fen Ditton II
It had rained heavily off and on all week: even on the morning of the match there was a little drizzle. But, nevertheless, no ‘match abandoned’ call came so we ventured South and, although the skies remained leadened (at least until 6pm), we found ourselves over the border in the land they call Essex – Newport to be precise. And Newport’s pitch was, surprisingly, dry – and flat.
Newport’s most famous son is Jamie Oliver who learnt his early cooking skills in the kitchens of his father’s pub, the aptly named (for the purposes of this report) ‘Cricketers’, in nearby Clavering. Now not only we were unbeaten in these sorts of ‘International’ or ‘Cross-Border’ fixtures (Played 1, Won 1…) but Newport 2nds had lost last week to Royston 3rds who we beat easily a few weeks ago. So the form book was, as it had been for our home defeat against Willingham 2 weeks ago, firmly on our side. Thus, obviously, we went into this fixture with all the confidence of a worldly-wise lobster finding itself alone in a pan of water whose temperature is rising suspiciously quickly. We probably knew this would only end in one result – one involving a little garlic butter and a chap saying ‘Pukka’ in an Estuary English accent.
There had, apparently, been post-match talk after the Willingham defeat about the need to rotate things more to ‘give everybody a go’ – probably a fair point from a bowling perspective even if, against Willingham, technically everybody had, sadly, ‘had a go’ in batting terms, however briefly and ineffectually. Whatever, rotation was the order of the day and it began with the team sheet. Gav, who’d opened the bowling in more or less every game thus far and to date was also our leading run maker with the bat, wasn’t available: Jason was back in his place. Sam Gardner was also back, for Amelia, to play alongside his Dad Phil – suitably so as it was Father’s Day weekend. It wasn’t all change as, for the first time this season, we had the same captain two games running in Gilo. However, mid-week Ed McCann was posted missing so we were short of a wicket keeper: Jason took the gloves and Hugh returned for Ed. No sign of MVS in all of these team changes of course: indeed, some of the team may wonder who the new, tall chap with the funny bowling action is if/when he ever returns (the latest rumour in high society circles being that we may see him ‘in July’, presumably once Ascot, Wimbledon and Silverstone are safely out of the way).
Giles once again won the toss and we elected to field – the right call we all felt and ‘as usual’ (as we’ve yet to bat first in any game this season). Mick and Mani took the new ball and off we went. Or rather, off Newport went. Their innings came in 3 parts. By the 17th over they’d racked up 78 runs, we’d dropped at least 4 catches and a daydreaming Fowler had missed an easy run out. Then, either side of drinks, the pendulum swung. Giles held another absolute blinder off Phil’s bowling, Sameer bowled the other opener, Phil took 2 wickets in the first over after drinks and the runs dried up. By the end of the 27th over they were just 117 for 4: had we taken another wicket or two then, maybe the outcome would have been different, or at least more in doubt. As it was, it all went, well, rather badly thereafter. 123 runs came off the final 13 overs – 36 of them off 2 Fowler overs – as a young chap peppered Cow Corner. Whilst all but Daniel S-P and Jason (who kept well) had had a bowl, the fact was that by the end we were chasing 240, an asking rate of 6 an over and roughly double our highest innings total of the year to date. Don’t get me wrong – there were fielding highlights. Sameer bowled a solid spell (1 for 35 off 8), Dave Shah had a decent first-ever bowl (4 overs for 19) and Phil’s 3 for 17 off 5 probably won’t be as big a memory for him as watching his son Sam take a great catch and a then first ever wicket when bowling. And we all tried to keep going and remain cheerfully upbeat. But during that final ‘third’ there is no doubt we flagged (even the usually irrepressible Mani went quiet) and, in truth, at tea we probably each had to mentally kid ourselves the game was still alive.
Again, sticking to the brief to mix it up, Gilo shuffled the batting line up. It was perhaps telling that no-one much seemed to want to open the batting – so out went Sameer and Fowler. No disrespect but, compared to some of the stuff we’d faced in previous matches, this bowling was gentle and ordinary - 21 runs off the first 5 overs. Then Fowler ran out Sameer (Sameer had already tried hard to have himself caught to be fair) and, 3 balls later, Fowler played a dreadful, ‘agricultural’ shot to be caught off a leading edge, rounding off a performance to forget for him (ironically it was his 23rd wedding anniversary – which he happily didn’t forget!) But, to be honest, that was that. We were 30 for 5 after 10 overs and 43 for 7 off 17 as the two Newport opening bowlers bowled unchanged and simply tried hard to boost their averages. Phil and Mick rightly opted to enjoy some time at the crease, putting on roughly 50 for the 8th wicket in 15 overs: Phil top scored with 22 but Mick (19) deserves a medal for both playing in a week his Mother sadly died and batting on with cramps in his legs and spasms in his back (they breed tough competitors in Yorkshire). Oddly, even as late as around the 30th over Newport could still be heard busily working out our required run rate (which was basically about 150 off 10) - as if a batting line up that in the preceding 30 overs had hit 3 fours were about to be a real, explosive threat! Giles, finally coming in at 10, had 6 overs in which he avoided getting out to a young Mr Page (who he teaches so it was very important he remained not out otherwise Monday’s Biology lesson, Period 3 with Year 9, would be a write-off) and Jason (batting at 11) faced 5 overs and became just the 4th Ditton player on the day to reach double figures (not counting our friend Extras who may actually now be the Ditton 2nd XI top run getter so far this season). As the clocked ticked past 7pm, we’d reached only 109 for 9.
So we lost by 131 runs. In truth we didn’t just lose, we were well and truly hammered – or ‘Well and Truly Homard’ as the local chef might punningly put it. There’s no game again next week which, all things considered, may be a blessing. 6 games in and we are yet to play a match that isn’t embarrassingly one-sided, whether in our favour (we’ve won twice, by 8 and 9 wickets) or, rather more often, not (4 defeats, 3 by over 100 runs and in none have we ever really looked like winning). It’s not easy being a lobster.