Fen Ditton Vs Girton
Saturday 6th May
Fen Ditton Vs Girton
The first Saturday in May, and the 1st XI opened the season at home against Girton. We had a rather new-look team, with Rob and Longy unavailable, but debuts from three new players: batsman Dan Brown, and pace bowlers Krish and George. All had impressive debuts. They were joined by Giles and Darren, both promoted from the 2nds.
Bearing this in mind, a score of 198-9 batting first was about as good as we might have hoped for, even taking into account the flat pitch, quick outfield, and limited bowling attack of our opposition. After two nervy early wickets, Gilo (41) and Fez (23) rebuilt the innings responsibly. After Fez was disappointed to slap a long hop straight to cover, Gilo was joined at the crease by Skip, who began his innings patiently to take us to a healthy 85-3 at drinks. After Gilo was run-out, cameos from Dan (16, including a flicked 6 over square leg for his first ever FD scoring shot) and Paul (11, also hitting a 6) helped us up to 198-9. The backbone of the innings was the 89* from Skip, mixing his usual pugnacious legside hitting with some delicate late cuts.
Several of our bigger hits went to the newly christened Byron Smalley boundary, named in memory of a young lad whose innings came to a premature end. We'll keep you posted on hits to that part of the ground in his memory.
Over the past few seasons, we have been blessed with some excellent bowling attacks, and as a result, have got rather too used to simply going through the motions in the field, waiting for our bowlers to simply blow the opposition away. Perhaps if we hadn't had it so easy, we would be a little less shell-shocked when faced with a couple of decent batsmen willing to take the attack to us.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, the fielding wilted under the pressure almost from the off. If the first 10 overs were highlighted by some excellent attacking batting, the second 10 saw some equally poor and uncommitted fielding. Giving up 200 suggests a poor day with the ball, but truth be told, most of our regular bowlers bowled exactly the same variety and quality of deliveries as they normally do. We weren't brilliant, but we weren't bad, either. Jacko bowled his usual variations of pace neatly and economically but without troubling the batsmen; Adam bowled fast and straight but without much luck, and AB bowled a mixture of very good balls and the occasional long hop. It was he who eventually dismissed the one opener, bowled through the gate, and came close to dismissing the other, taking the edge twice, but he was eventually trapped lbw by Fez.
By this point Girton were 154-2 with plenty of overs in hand, and the game looked lost. However the new batsmen looked an altogether easier prospect, and AB kept reminding everyone that there were still 50 runs to get and that a collapse was still very much a possibility.
Two excellent spells now changed the game. Firstly Fez was rewarded for some increased control with 3-30, and Krish returned from taking a bit of a pasting in his opening spell to bowl fast and straight at Girton's long tail, to rescue his figures and finish with 3-40.
Girton remained strong favourites however, with 2 runs to win off the final 2 overs, with Adam and George to bowl. A fast yorker cleaned up batsman 10, with the possibility of a famous win now very much a reality. Unfortunately, the tension only lasted one ball, as the number 11 correctly guessed what was coming, and squirted the incoming yorker away through the offside.
Mixed emotions at the close. Pride and relief that we had belatedly found the mental strength to make a game of it, but disappointment and frustration that we hadn't found that level of motivation 10 overs earlier. If we had saved just half of the boundaries that went through or under fielders in the first half of the innings, we would be celebrating a famous 10 run win right now.
Fen Ditton Vs Burwell III
Second game of the season and another at home. A game primarily won by our last ten overs with the bat, and our first ten with the ball.
Three changes from the side that narrowly lost to Girton - Butler, H and Wayne Clements in for Jacko, AB and Dan Brown. Campo presented a cloudy day and once again a fast outfield, but a pitch that was offering more for the bowlers than the track used last week.
Michael and Gilo provided a steady start to lay a foundation. Gilo looked the more fluent of the two until he fell in the tenth over for a solid 25, nicking off caught behind. 37-1. Not long afterwards Michael departed for 13 to a catch in the gully that was apple-picking at its best.
Fez came in at 3 and batted with an awareness of how important his wicket was in the context of the game. Alongside him Wils went on the offensive and looked in good touch following on from his good innings last week, the pair taking us onto 78-2 at drinks.
Wils hit the Burwell spinner out of the attack and after drinks he continued on, including hitting a maximum over Byrons boundary. He reached 30 when he perished, though Fez was still ticking along nicely. Our West Indian hit a huge six into the trees and scored well all around the ground to keep the run rate decent throughout the middle overs.
Darren kept Fez company for a while, hitting 15 before being caught. H was bowled not long afterwards, playing on for a duck. Butler joined Fez, who eventually fell just inside the last ten overs for a well-made 55. Krish fell for just 1 and just before doing so appeared to pull his hamstring, causing a sharp intake of breath for us all, thankfully he’d bowl through later At that point it looked like we might have to settle for around 180, which would be a par total but nothing more.
Butler had something to say about that. Initially he’d been trying to push the balls around for singles to get Fez on strike, but once the West Indian was out Butler found his groove. Trusting his excellent hand-eye instincts he started finding runs all around the ground.
He was joined by George, who went out and batted like a ‘cut snake’, as he later put it on the podcast. In more conventional English that meant running superbly, a lesson to everyone in this regard. Proper backing up, sprinting the first run and so often getting two by putting the fielders under pressure. The partnership reached a crescendo as 27 runs were added in the final two overs, Butler hitting a lovely reverse-sweep for 4 in the final over. 40 not out for him and an unbeaten 13 from George meant we posted an above-par 207-7.
After tea Burwell found themselves 16-1 from 10 overs thanks to George and Krish. Irish from the Pavillion End, George from the Jackson End. George took a wicket with his first ball, Wilson with the catch at slip. Krish bowled right arm around and both openers found a really nice length for the pitch - we bowled three maidens in a row at one point. Butler almost took a worldie of a catch off George too, a low left-handed chance almost sticking in. Eventually both openers came off with excellent figures - Krish 6-2-16-0 and George 6-2-11-1.
Inevitably more scoring shots followed, and change bowlers Skip and Wayne weren’t at their brilliant best. Just before drinks we had our second wicket, Paul C taking a great catch standing up. Burrell 64-2 at drinks and we were in the driving seat.
After the interval Wayne, jetlagged from a recent trip to the USA, found his groove when continuing from the Jackson End. His first four overs went for 19, but the four after drinks went for just 7, and he took another wicket. Neat figures of 8-1-26-2.
At the Pavillion end Fez continued on his excellent bowling from last week, bowling straight through in taking 8-1-19-3. Initially it looked like he might go unlucky though, H dropping one at mid-on, whilst Skip and Butler couldn’t hold on to nicks induced by the West Indian. Thankfully the deserved wickets did come, one bowled and then McCann taking two simple catches, one from a misjudged pull shot Fez had predicted, the other a simple one at cover.
Skip came back on, this time from the Pavillion End, and grabbed a couple of wickets in taking 8-0-33-2. Then Butler, who had earlier strengthened his ‘1000 runs this season’ campaign, finished the game off with a couple of Rabjohns/dirty wickets. Fez catching 10, Wilson catching Jack. A solid recovery from an over that started with six wides off spin.
Burrell 118 all out in 37 overs, Ditton the winners by 89 runs. A first win of the season. Happy days.
Granta III Vs Fen Ditton
Granta III at St Catherine’s brought a comfortable eight-wicket victory, with rain as much of a threat to our hopes as anything.
Five changes for Ditton - Lord Branwell Govier (Yes, Lord!) and the Will’s (Goulding and Sheeran) came in for debuts, whilst Rob Smith and Adam long played their first games this season. Out went Giles, H, Paul C, Wayne and Butler.
We warmed up with an extensive session of football, using a rock hard ball that stung those who were bravely barefooted. AB, Rob and Skip managed to nutmeg ‘keeper McCann, with Smith then content to shine his head by sunbathing. AB also completed his audition for Sea World by flapping around manically in trying to direct one volley towards goal. We also learnt that Krish is incredibly reluctant to shoot, Goulding has a nice first touch, and Longy really shouldn’t attempt to play whilst eating after regularly falling over. Thankfully nobody got injured, unlike when it was banned by England in the mid 2000s after four casualties within a year. I look forward to seeing Manchester United warm up with a game of quick cricket before the upcoming Europa League Final. Can Wayne Rooney bowl?
That warm-up served us well for fielding, Granta electing to bat on a visibly damp pitch after plenty of rain recently. George and Krish were once again all over it as an opening pair and Granta were going nowhere fast. George bowled through for 8-2-16-0, tight as a ducks watertight rear, to borrow a phrase he used on the podcast last week. Half of those runs were two edged boundaries. Meanwhile Krish got the wickets he deserved from last week in taking 7-1-18-2. One of those was a fortunate lbw from right-arm round the wicket that was apparently missing off-stump. The umpire who’d given it had words with team-mates before leaving the ground, reducing Granta to 10. The other dismissal was a more traditional caught behind, giving Branwell his first league catch for Ditton, a feat Will Sheehan would also achieve later on.
It wasn’t until the 15th over that we conceded a boundary from the middle of the bat. Shortly afterwards at 57-2 a rain delay came for half an hour, but mercifully the groundsman gave us the go ahead to get back on. The match reduced to 34 overs a side and seven overs per bowler, with George celebrating that he’d already got his eight in. Whilst waiting for the pitch to dry we learnt that Krish doesn’t know his own strength, hurling the balls at various team-mates ankles in enthusiastic fielding warm-ups. Fez, McCann and Long also practised combined boundary catches, appreciating through experience just how hard it is, no matter how easier people like Lyth and Finch make it look.
Longy and Fez had replaced Krish and George, and after the break found their rhythm. Longy claimed 7-2-20-2, both his wickets coming from big inswingers, one removing leg stump the other middle. A morning net with McCann had helped get his rhythm going, but his desire to sledge from gully and competitive edge had certainly not been lost. At the other end Fez continued his excellent season with 7-2-20-2 including remove the key wicket, a decent Asian batsman caught well by AB running in from mid-on.
Fez also put his audition in for ‘dick of the day’, by bowling a ball when the off-side field was still being openly moved around and the batsman wasn’t even looking. What’s more it was a head-height no-ball, and his figures were rightly punished for it. Thankfully for Fez this wasn’t a tour game. What’s more Butler’s desire to pay for his Guinni (as he calls it, Guinness to everyone else) by fining everyone anything so much as breathing hasn’t been implemented yet.
Butler’s Guini for the evening could have also been sorted by Skip’s fine in bringing himself on for a few Rabjohns wickets. Wils cleaned up the tail to finish with 3.4-2-9-3, and narrowly missed out on a hat-trick. Apparently he just ‘happened’ to come at that time in the innings, all too convenient. Hercule Poirot would not to bother with his standard search for small clues to solve this one.
Granta 95 all out with eight balls to spare. After a relatively swift tea the sun had come out and the wicket had been rolled. With dark clouds overhead though time was short.
McCann was caught behind for a duck pushed at one outside off-stump, whilst AB was caught and bowled for 3. Thankfully Rob was quietly effective, whilst Wils came in and gave everything the long handle. Both ran hard between the wickets and Skip channelled his inner Michael Fish by giving constant updates about the impending rain. The pair finished things off - Rob 46 not out, Skip unbeaten on 43 to continue his brilliant start to this season with the bat. The chase finished off in the 18th over, thankfully 25 minutes before a shower that would have cost us the match.
A first away victory of the season then, and our good record at St Cats continues. Back at home next week, and hopefully a third win on the spin.
Fen Ditton Vs Terrington St Clement
A third home game in four saw Terrington St Clement made the long trip to face us at El Campo. it would bring them 20 points, and us a very preventable and narrow defeat.
Six changes to the side that beat Granta - George S, Krish, Skip, Longy, the Will’s (Goulding and Sheeran) all unavailable for a variety of reasons. In came Giles, Darren, Butler, Dan Brown, Paul C and Jacko. That left us without our new-found opening duo of George and Krish, as well as Skip and Longy, who aren’t bad too.
AB replaced Skip as captain, and given we only had four recognised bowlers his plan was simple: bat first and rack up a big score to heap the pressure on. In the beating sun we won the toss and batted, but it didn’t start well. McCann was bowled by a good nut for 3 and not long afterwards Giles went for 2, bowled around his legs when stepping across to expose his leg stump. He had been stuck in traffic and arrived pretty much right as we started, so hurrying out to the middle probably didn’t help. 10-2. Not good.
With the openers gone numbers 3 and 4, Butler and Rob, rebuilt, playing responsibly against decent bowling. Both were quietly effective, taking advantage of the rare bad balls to start the recovery. Tom was looking good for 21 before mistiming one to cover, who took a good catch to dismiss one of our form batsman. He was understandably frustrated to get out having done the ‘hard yards’, and made sure everyone knew just how annoyed he was. His reaction might have left him glad his frequent calls for a fine system haven’t be heeded. A guini-free diet might have been needed for a while to afford the fine.
Fez joined Rob but after a brief cameo went for 12, caught behind despite being unsure if he nicked it. Rob continued to progress, and it was now clear our hopes of a big total were increasingly depending on him, and if he could find decent support. Darren made a useful 25 at a good pace, full of well-run singles to get Rob the strike and lusty leg-side hitting towards Byron's Boundary. Darren eventually went, caught right on the mid-wicket boundary with a shot that was a yard from being a maximum. At the other end Rob had kept going in his own merry way, with classic cut shots, straight hitting and clips through the leg-side. His hundred came and went with a ‘celebration’ that was a classic example of how he does everything with a minimum of fuss. The innings was aided by well-timed acceleration, and St Clement saving their ‘fifth’ bowler (a combination of a few) until the death.
Darren’s dismissal brought out captain AB, who had dropped himself to seven in the help of some friendlier bowling and to find his form. He did exactly that with a quick fire 22* featuring some ferocious drives, whilst Rob kept pushing on. We scored 126 from the last 14 overs, bang on nine runs an over, and that got us to 230-5. Even with the pitch playing well a very decent total. Rob scoring an outstanding 126* - 55% of the entire score and the 4th highest score in the history of the club.
With no fifth bowler we needed early wickets, but the two Asian openers went after Fez and Jacko, initially with success to give St Clement a fast start. Fez has bowled well this season and earn the slight fortune in removing both openers, moving to ten wickets this season. The first chopped on outside off, and the second was well taken by Darren at mid-wicket, at head high catch from a well-timed clip. With two new batters in Fez was removed to try and sneak in some ‘fifth bowler’ overs, Butler replacing him from the Pavillion End. His first two overs went for six, but the next two got a bit more tap, so he was taken off after 4-0-24-0. Meanwhile Jacko had bowled through at the Jackson End for 8-1-36-0, a reasonably tight spell significantly below the required run rate.
AB came on for Butler, and bowled a good spell from the Pavillion End of 8-0-32-1 to keep the pressure. His wicket came with one that turned and kept low. At the other end despite defensive field setting the scoreboard ticked much faster, as we sought to get through the rest of our ‘fifth’ bowler. Darren went for 17 from his two overs, then Giles conceded 14 from a couple of overs. Giles also picked up a wicket, Paul C with a very neat stumping, the batsman appearing to lose concentration due to an offer of proper liquorice all sorts that Bertie Bassett himself would be proud of.
We were continuing to take wickets relatively regularly, but St Clement were still very much in the game, needing 74 to win from the last ten overs. They also had a Pakistani batsman who was hitting fairly big sixes, fairly regularly. Rob was bowling from the Jackson End by now, with AB still finishing off from the Pavillion End. We had a sign of what was to come, as just after reaching his fifty the Pakistani batsman was dropped on the boundary by Branwell. That was compounded by said batsman quickly adding another maximum and a four. He was was brilliantly removed though , AB taking a brilliant catch running to his left out at deep wide mid-on, Rob the bowler grabbing a key wicket.
The new pair of batsman kept going though, and it came down to 35 to win from 4 overs, with 5 wickets left. Fez had returned by this point, and the first ball of his over brought a wicket, knocking back the off-stump. 35 to win from 23 and a new batsman had to come out of the traps flying. At this point the game should have been ours but fielding suicide set in.
McCann overran one out on the cover boundary, an inexcusable error, thinking about the throw before securing the pickup. It cost a couple of crucial runs, and helped St Clement reduce it down to 27 from three overs for victory. Then one over really killed us, going for 15 runs thanks to more of the same.
Giles ‘dropped’ a catch at deep mid-off but in reality it was much more of a brilliant stop, as the ball was travelling fast and above head-height. It was really a stop that saved two runs. Butler misfielded one on the boundary that should have been two at most. He then dropped a catch that, by his high standards, was relatively regulation. One was then chipped to the right of Fez (at point) at a very catchable height, who didn’t seem to move. Then came another one, the easiest of the lot, which went straight in and straight out of Fez’s hands. Rob was understandably frustrated, and the last ball of the over went for six towards the Plough to rub the salt in. 15 runs from the over, six from fielding errors including two dropped catches (Gilo rightly excluded), and one catch not attempted.
Add in McCann’s shoddy work and that’s eight runs handed over, as well as various chances to force another new batsman to come in to this pressure situation.
Just 12 needed from two overs then and Fez’s first ball went for four. He pulled it back well though finishing an excellent spell of 8-0-42-3 to continue his strong season with the ball. That left Rob with five to defend from the final over, which was always going to be incredibly difficult. He managed to make St Clement sweat for it, scampering a single from the penultimate ball of the match to secure victory. Rob finishing with 7.5-0-59-1, St Clement the winners by four wickets. A decent haul of eight bonus points a small consolation for a game we should have won, regardless of missing players.
A valuable lesson in the value of concentration in the field, and the old catches win matches motto. No matter one’s talent with bat and ball everyone has to do it, and today shows how it can change games.
A missed opportunity to make it three wins on the spin, and now we embark on a run of three away games. It starts with Girton away, a chance to get revenge for a narrow one-wicket defeat in the first game of this season.
Girton Vs Fen Ditton
“Waiting….NO!” A phrase only normally used on a cricket field when a batsman thinks of taking a run, then after good fielding decides against it. After all, using it any other time on the field wouldn’t really make much sense…Anyway this weekend the phrase “waiting…NO!” was unfortunately also an accurate answer to the question ‘will Fen Ditton CC win this Saturday?’
Ditton had five changes from the penultimate ball defeat to Terrington. Bowlers Krish and Wayne returned, Grant Gilmour and Dom Absolon made first-team debuts, whilst H came in as specialist captain (think Mike Brearley).
Out went centurion Rob (at a festival), AB (kids), Dan B/Browny (opening for the 2nds), Branwell (kids) and Butler (not paying his fine from his dismissal last week so captaining the 2nds). We were also missing Skip (nose operation), George (holiday) and Longy (kids). Can we get a good creche or something?
Thankfully Fez spent the car journey outlining his party-political broadcast to solve this. The slogan “I’m just asking for one day of the week, you get me for six” is clearly working for him. His expanded election manifesto was short and sweet - creches for all club cricketers, and the slogan “I’m just asking for you to vote for me on one day this year”. The fact he’s planned to have a rare Saturday off for childcare next weekend suggests he’s not remotely expecting to a win a majority on Thursday.
H won the toss and, in the sun on a rock hard pitch batted. Dom Absolon has already had a warning for strike manipulation from unofficial/wishes-he-was-the-finesmaster Butler during a 2nd team stand earlier this season, but began his 1st team career with a repeat offence. Dom faced 22 balls from the first 24 bowled through some aptly-timed singles. Once the partnership with McCann got going it was as if the cricketing Gods remembered that Dom still needed to be punished, particularly with no fines system. ’Lon’ absolutely nailed one straight at mid-wicket, who juggled and found a way to cling on. Dom unlucky to go for 11.
One down quickly began three down. Giles showed commendable commitment in driving down from North Yorkshire on Saturday morning to play. Unfortunately, he acquired more items of new garden furniture from that trip - four, than runs he was able to score for us - one. Gilo was bowled, and then Fez was caught behind for a golden duck next ball. Ditton 30-3 and in a pickle.
McCann was joined by Darren, and the pair steadily rebuilt. McCann had re-found his 2016 modus operandi, whilst Darren looked in the same good touch from a quick 25 last week. They added a fifty partnership, the highlight being a six over cow corner from Darren against the spinner, taking Ditton to 87-3 from 23 overs.
A new paragraph can only mean it didn’t last. Darren was run out for 35 by a direct hit from cover when incorrectly called through for a quick single. The next over saw McCann pinned lbw for 37 when trying to turn a ball into the leg side. Grant was caught at mid-on for one, and H was caught for seven.
Krish and Wayne fought well to salvage things, Clements making 11 before falling lbw when by his own admission, offering the pad to a straight ball. Jackson was promoted to number 10 by Paul C through virtue of “making the effort to bring his pads”, but was bowled for five. Paul was caught for one, leaving Krish stranded on a handy 24*, and Ditton stranded 13 runs short from the fourth batting point. 147 all out in 37.3 overs.
After a tea spent having a group discussion about the Champions Trophy we set out to field. Darren had passionately explained why England have to find a spot for Bairstow, leading to the obvious question - have we tried offering him a Don Page tea, a spot in the side and a few pints? As for our game, given both Girton openers hit fifties in the previous game this season Ditton knew early wickets were badly needed.
Krish and Wayne initially strained without success against good players on a batting track, Dom unable to hold onto a difficult and sharp chance at slip off Wayne. Towards the end of his spell Krish dismissed the right-handed opener to get himself in the wicket party. Jacko came on first change got the left-handed opener out and then created another chance that Paul C couldn’t hold onto. 6-0-29-1 for Jacko then, and a wicket to add to the all-time tally. Unlike in our reverse fixture, these wickets didn’t open the floodgates. Fez wasn’t able to add to his impressive tally this season on an unforgiving surface - 5-0-27-0. Grant replaced him and bowled three tidy overs for just eight runs before the bell tolled. At the other end Krish came back on to finish his allocation, his figures a more than reasonable 8-0-31-1. Then Wayne returned and got some tap in his second spell, conceding 47 from 6.2 overs. Girton 151-2 in 28.2 overs.
One comedic highlight of the innings was Fez and Gilo dancing apparently aimlessly running around just as Wayne was coming in to bowl. That makes Fez a repeat offender for such offences, after bowling a head height no-ball when absolutely nobody was ready at Granta.
An eight-wicket defeat then and four bonus points gained. Pride can be taken though in the effort from all involved in what was always going to be a testing away day.
Next up a trip to Littleport, which hopefully will see us return back to Ditton with a few more points to show for our hard work.
Littleport Vs Fen Ditton
‘We lost, could do better, get to the pub’. Some would prefer our match reports are limited to this phrase, particularly from a third successive defeat. Unfortunately, this method would make our accounts no different from other clubs, and half of the approximately 800,000 club cricketers in the UK. Anyway, those wishing for one-sentence match reports will have left us, so on we go. So whilst sitting in the shade of the outdoors press box at the Oval, and watching South Africa bat first against India, I’ll look to put some meats on the bones of how we lost this.
Changes again - Skip, Longy, Rob, AB and George returned, coming in for Grant, Dom, H, Fez and Wayne. We only had ten players due to an overall lack of resources (ten for both teams). With the Littleport ground unavailable we we made the track to the artificial track at Wimblington, providing no shortage of bounce. Think cricket on a trampoline. Sort of.
Every game between ourselves and Littleport over the years has been won by the side batting first, and that would continue. They won the toss and batted in the sun.
Things had started well - maidens from Krish and Longy, who both bowled good first spells. Darren arriving a few overs late meant we only had nine (seven outfielders) initially, but we were bowling to a five-two offside field pretty well. The run rate was very much under control throughout the first half of the innings, as Skip and Jacko continued the good word. Jacko removed both openers in the same over before drinks, the first edging onto his helmet and eventually into Paul’s gloves, the second cutting straight to George in the gully. 69-2 from 20 overs and promising signs.
It was the best of times, but then, to paraphrase Dickens, it quickly became the worst of times. In the same over Jacko took both wickets, Littleport captain Marsh strode out and hit his second ball for six. Remembering his rapid fifty against us last year we had Rob out at the short straight boundary, and he did brilliantly to push the ball back into play. It was a fantastic effort that the opposition rightly applauded, but unfortunately he was already out of play.
To quote Skip ‘our fielding was was good as I’ve seen in the first twenty, and as bad as I’ve seen in the last twenty’ - I wouldn’t disagree. Throughout the last twenty overs we had too many fielding errors to list, of every kind. Fielders throwing to a bowler not paying attention and nobody backing up, falling to make what should be pretty regulation stops (guilty), and fielders having the ball at their feet, yet just not actually throwing it in. Schoolboy stuff. Marsh and his left-handed partner got going, and our seamers often bowled too full, allowing both to hit through the line with confidence. The short straight boundaries were successfully targeted and carnage ensued from both ends. AB had a go at changing things but went for 21 from his two overs. Skip had conceded only 11 in his first four overs, but went for 42 from his final four.
Longy returned to stem the runs, and got the left-hander out with the last ball of his spell. Rob with the catch at mid-on, Longy returning neat figures of 8-1-22-1. At the other end Krish picked up two wickets in two balls during his final over, one caught at cover by George, the other bowled. That left him with reasonable figures of 8-1-38-2. Jack then returned with a wicket maiden, getting his third of the day clean bowled. Thus run of wickets left Littleport 141-6, having been 137-2, but Marsh was still present and going. He got some lower-order support and that allowed Littleport to get away again. Jacko did get himself a fourth wicket, a neat stumping for Paul to remove another partner of Marsh, who batted through for 73 not out. George finished off with a lethal bouncer-filled final over, including one that was strangely no-balled, conceding 32 from his six overs.
208 to win was a par score given the surface. Littleport’s inswinging opening bowler picked up three early wickets. McCann bowled for six, Darren caught at short leg for 1, and Skip bowled by a yorker for six. Rob had watched from the other end, and Longy stepped out for his first bat this season. We badly needed a strong and stable partnership, but it ended as a coalition of chaos. Our Yorkshireman fell for just 4, run out when Rob hit one just short of the longest part of the boundary. He was seeking a fourth run on the arm, and called Longy through, but he didn’t get the memo. By the time he did Rob was alongside him. Little port had time to get the ball in, and to the other end. 57-4. Ironically just as I write this paragraph, as if it’s some kind of tribute act, South Africa have committed two suicidal run outs in two overs. The second seeing Miller and Du Plessis ending up at the same end. It is cricket, it happens to the best.*
AB had, as he did against Terrington, elected to bat down the order, so came out at no.6. That brought a veritable feast of boundaries, seven coming in the four overs before drinks, six of them from AB. This flurry took us close to three figures by drinks, ahead of Littleport at this stage but having lost more wickets. After the break AB added a couple more boundaries against South but was then nicked off, caught behind to a swinging delivery outside off. A really well-made 41, scored at significantly quicker than a run-a-ball. George was bowled for 0 and suddenly we were 114-6, eventually seven given we only had ten men Those wickets meant that just as things were moving our way, we were pegged back, and that happened a few times more.
Krish joined Rob, and battled through admirably after getting a bad leg injury whilst fielding. He was nearly run out once due to limping so badly, but was being very polite about not wanting a runner, so I insisted we got one. George did the honours whilst Krish went for his shots to good effect, including three off-side fours, and a straight six. During this stand Rob passed his fifty, though from my position umpiring it was hard to tell exactly when. It was now clear we just needed somebody to stay with him. His partnership with Rob was worth 49 when finally ended, bowled for a gutsy 27 scored at a decent rate. Having limped from the crease to the square leg umpire during his knock, Krish then limped off, kindly aided by George. 163-7, effectively eight with us a man short. 44 runs needed from the last eight overs or so.
Jacko joined Rob, and a few more wides and byes, which had come regularly throughout our innings, helped us along. Rob hit a straight six and we had whittled it down to 24 from five overs. Then Jacko was out stumped for 2, when batting outside of his crease and failing to re-make his ground. That gave the wicket-keeper enough time, standing back, to roll the back onto the stumps. The very next ball it was all over, as one hit Paul in the body, bounced down and rolled onto the stumps. Ditton 184 all out with overs to spare, Rob 68 not out to continue his fine efforts next season.
A loss by 23 runs and seven bonus points gained. So we give Littleport their first win of the season, a feat we won’t hope to repeat next week when playing at Burwell.
*The final wicket of the South African innings was yet ANOTHER run-out. Three for the innings. It really does happen to even the best.
Burwell III Vs Fen Ditton
In many ways this week was deja vu. We lost away at a side who got themselves a first win of the season. We (and the oppo) faced a really hot, humid and sticky day. We certainly didn’t do ourselves justice. This defeat was a significantly more emphatic one though, meaning we head into hosting Sutton next week having lost our last four in a row. Given that starting point, I’ll naturally try and spend the rest of this report on extraneous observations rather than cricket itself.
Plenty of changes from Littleport - in came Craig, Fez, Ralph, Paul Jenkins, out went AB, Paul C, Longy and Rob. Particular credit to Paul Jenkins, honourably filling in at the last-minute for the ill Paul Colwell. You don’t ever see Ed Woodward donning a Manchester United shirt, do you? And particular not once quite so unusually shaped….
Arriving at Margeret’s Field we were quite surprised - no stumps, boundaries or ladies named Margeret, just a playground and some cars parked dangerously close to the square. Our bumps day coincided with Burwell’s carnival, but one team had to be at home. Thus they had to find the owners of these cars, and get them removed. That delayed our start, and with Skip having to leave at 6pm for a trip to France he was understandably hoping we could get going sharpish. He would easily make his deadline, but not for the reasons we’d like. The delayed start gave some a chance to wander over to the main Burwell pavilion, and witness some East Anglian Premier League action. We unfortunately had no such facilities, so made do with changing out of cars and the like whilst the ground was assembled - proper village/hamlet/WhatIsSmallerThanAHamlet cricket. The ground was on a significant slope, with the playground and road at the bottom of it.
We won the toss, and in blistering hit with a staggeringly short boundary on one side of the wicket, we batted first. Craig hit a ton for the 2nd team last week but after a week of congratulations was brought back down to earth - caught for 3 spooning a wide one straight to point. McCann and Butler set about the rebuild job and for a time it was going well - bad balls going for four, singles being taken frequently. The openers had been and gone, Ditton 57-1 when the stand ended. McCann gone for 28 to the newly-introduced left-arm spinner bowling down the hill. He was caught and bowled when weeks early onto an attempt to turn the ball into the leg side. Tom went soon afterwards to the same bowler for 21, bowled by a length ball that ‘bounced’, only to never leave the ground again, hitting the base of middle.
Skip climbed into the change bowling, particularly taking advantage of the invitingly short boundaries in striking a rapid 33 before he suffered the exact same fate as Butler. Darren has also been taking advantage of the facilities, or lack off them in regard to boundary lengths, striking 14 from one over of medium pace. That brought a bowling change, which in turn brought Dazza’s downfall, bowled playing inside the line of a leg-spinner for 15. Fez provided our second deja vu dismissal of the day, hitting said spinner for two boundaries from his next over, before getting out in the same way as Darren. Unfortunately in-between these dismissal Ralph went for just a second ball duck, bowled by the left-arm spinner. So we stumbled to drinks seven down, desperately needing strong and stable leadership with so many overs left.
Krish and George both wielded the wallow in typically aggressive fashion, but both fell for 14. Krish was ‘six and out’ - he hit the left-arm spinner for six over midwicket, a man was put out, Krish found his next ball trying to repeat the feat. George was caught behind against the leg-spinner to a very thin edge, and walked. Paul Jenkins was out for 0 caught at mid-on, leaving Jacko 0* and Ditton 144 all out from 27 overs. Below par. Butler’s favourite ‘tfc’ phrase comes to mind. We were finished so early we had to wait 15 minutes for Burwell to get tea ready. The fare itself was very decent, customised baguettes meaning no wasted food from the guessing game of most popular sandwich choices. Once that had been consumed, with quality EAPL cricket to enjoy, it was time to get back to our game.
In a collectors item for Fen Ditton fans and statisticians, Skip took the new ball bowling down the hill, partnered by Krish. The pace generated by both unfortunately brought the short boundaries even more into play. Following a flurry of early boundaries Skip took a wicket, then brought himself off, leaving his figures as 1-24 from four overs. At the other end Krish brought in figures of 6-2-25-0, doing his best to build pressure and slightly unfortunate to go wicketless. Skip was replaced by George, who impressively changed from his seam to his off-breaks in an attempt to adapt to the conditions. He did get a clean bowled with one that turned through the batsman’s gate, but anything short was mercilessly punished to the relatively small leg-side boundary, meaning he took 1-36 in five overs. At the ‘Playground End’ Jacko had a go as the other half of this change to something slower, and conceded 26 from his five over spell. Burwell reached drinks two down with around 35 needed.
We fought right until the bitter end, with Fez and Craig doing a great job in delaying the near-inevitable. Fez continued his good season with the ball in another probing spell down the hill. Edges flew away for four, but he deservedly got a couple of wickets, one with a craft slower ball off-cutter. He’s now onto 13 wickets for this season, the most in the club, finishing with 5-0-24-2. At the ‘Playground End’ Craig’s spin proved effective, picking up a wicket to turn in very respectable figures of 1-11 from four overs. Burwell 146-5 from 30 overs, chasing the target down pretty comfortably. We also found out that 96 of the first 108 runs they scored came in boundaries (24 fours), which suggests that short boundaries and pace bowling in particular don’t mix well.
A five wicket defeat then, giving Burwell a first win of the season. A day for Fen Ditton CC best summarised by Ralph Colin Woodward’s social media post. “Since I occasionally report on cricketing high-points, it's only fair to record that today I scored a 2-ball duck, we lost to the lowest team in the league, and I was stung by nettles retrieving a ball from a hedge.”
Today’s ‘Thought For The Day’ is a cautionary tale about disturbing the cricketing Gods. It comes from a Fen Ditton back garden. Butler, Silcock and Jenkins made it back to the annual McCann Bumps party, joined by a certain Mr Dobson, a forgotten Ditton cricketer from another era. The main attraction was garden cricket, the highlight of which saw the cricketing divine distribute some karma upon a certain T Butler.
A young batsman named Toby, aged 12, was going about his business at the crease, only to find all sorts of sledging comes from behind the stumps. Nonsense appeals of every variety - LBW’s, stumpings, supposedly attacking shots that were nothing more than defensive pushes. It was like watching the worst stereotypes of an excitable wicket-keeper - nearly everything was out, Butler just needed to find a mode of dismissal as the excuse to appeal. The stumps had been tactically placed to leave Butler keeping perilously close to a huge prickly plant, which was at a very close leg slip. Disappointingly despite such innovative thinking we didn’t get the joy of fishing Butler out of said plant. Thankfully for him everyone else wasn’t following his lead, in trying to ‘tactically’ induce attacking shot by bowling waist-high wides down leg.
Back to those frivolous appeals then and with the match at McCann’s ground, and McCann considered a guardian of the ‘Garden Cricket’ rules, he was regularly hounded. However, McCann steadfastly stuck to the garden cricket policy that under-13s get certain benefits to level the playing field - unlimited leaves/misses, no LBW’s and being allowed to bowl eight-ball overs, for example. Tom’s parents were (proudly?!) watching on at mid-off, rightly joking that such a ‘passion’ for testing young people’s resolve out makes him an ideal school sports teacher. Little did they know this tale was a long way from its apex - the first flashpoint was still yet to happen.
Butler took a caught behind to dismiss young Toby, and gave him a send off that Merv Hughes would be proud of. Ball thrown in the air, a chainsaw to rival Brett Lee and a fist pump to match anything Tim Henman ever managed. The reminder that his victim was half his age sparked loud laughter from the two dozen spectators watching on, most in the mid-wicket region where the marquee was situated.
Butler was delighted to have learnt his opportunity to back, taking up the plastic red bat, and faded green handle, with real gusto. He was greeted by a certain M McCann, bowling loopy right-arm rubbish. Immediately out came all the chat - anyone in Fen Ditton (or most female’s in Cambridge) will know exactly what I mean. A certainty of personal ability. A certainty of the opposition's incompetence. A certainty that nothing could possibly go wrong. A threat was issued to crash at the tennis ball straight drive out of the ground. The smattering of spectators infront of the marquee at mid wicket shook in terror - they’ve heard the stories about Butler’s golfing, and knew they were in grave danger. McCann, now in the unusual triple role of bowler, host and Garden Cricket match official, stepped in. Butler was warned that an aggressive shot would result in dismissal, a fiver for a lost ball and paying for any damage to Harolese’s beautiful plants next door.
Butler just had to find another way to be the focus of all and sundry. This came through so far down the wicket to McCann’s first five balls that he took almost every fielder out of the equation. The keeper, short leg, silly mid-off and point were all helpless, as he had run past them all before the ball had left McCann’s hand. With McCann having no quicker ball in his locker, surely this innovation made him simply unstoppable?
The cricketing divinity were having none of it. Remembering his earlier antics against Toby, they struck back with the full force of the law on the last ball of the over. Once again Butler came racing down the track, but this time McCann managed to somehow avoid sending the ball so high that it would come down with snow on it. Butler worked himself and prodded back down the pitch for a caught and bowled. The crowd roared with laughter. As Handel famously said in Judas Maccabaeus - Hallelujah, Amen.
If the cricketing divine decided that Butler was wrong to get the chainsaw out when catching a 12-year-old in garden cricket, when is it acceptable - if ever?
Joins us next week, where we’ll move onto another burning cricketing issue: can Krish ever throw a ball in a fashion that can be described as ‘easy’?
Fen Ditton Vs Sutton