Fen Ditton Vs Royston II
Saturday 1st May
Fen Ditton Vs Royston II
The first game under the new leadership of Captain Reeds and Vice-Captain Smith was a typical English breezy May day: warm when the sun was out, freezing cold whenever it wasn't. "Perfect weather for cricket" said AB. No-one else agreed. Our first opposition in Junior 3 South were Royston 2nds. We didn't know much about them. On paper, Ditton looked stronger than we had anticipated in pre-season, with both batting and bowling depth. Joe won his first official toss and elected to bat.
The first over started well, with both Matt and Zak hitting crisp boundaries. Unfortunately, the Royston #2 opening bowler was a bit sharper than the #1, and dismissed both of them in the space of 3 overs. When Rob sportingly walked to a legside tickle to the keeper a few overs later, we were in a spot of bother at 27-3 after 9 overs. AB and George pulled things back with a combination of sensible batting, positive running, and, after they'd got themselves in, some crisp hitting, putting on an 88-run partnership before George found short extra cover for 29. AB had hit one big 6 into the wind and was aiming for his 11th 4, but instead found the man at extra cover for 59. A further partnership between Jon (30) and Ian (16) took us to the promising position of 141-5 off 30 overs, and a near-unassailable total of 200+ looked on the cards. Unfortunately, a trademark Ditton lower order collapse, featuring not one but two comedic runouts, saw us all out for 178 with 4 overs un-batted. Surely still enough?
It certainly didn't look it after 10 overs, with the opposition on 80-0 and two big-hitting opening batsmen now decidedly "in". We were a bit experimental with our initial bowling attack, and sometimes these things pay off, but today was a day it didn't. Nothing wrong with the fielding, but too many loose balls from the bowlers at this point. Fortunately, we had enough experience in our side to know that the opposition still needed 100 more, and if we could just stop the boundaries and pick up a few wickets, we'd be right back in the game. The move to bring Joe and Rob on in tandem was exactly what was required. A few overs with no full tosses or long hops to hit, and both openers obliged in chipping up simple catches. Joe went on to dismiss the next 4 batsmen in the order to finish a great 8-over spell with 5-30, Rob a very useful 1-16 off 5. Although we kept reminding ourselves not to be complacent, truth be told that we were now very firmly into the tail, and with each further wicket to fall, Royston's chances grew thinner. Ollie and AB picked up wickets, and Jon bowled a noteworthy spell of 5 overs, 1-3, to cap a fine all-round performance, but it was Ian who bowled the number 11 to finish the game with Royston on 139 in the 35th over. Great diving catches from Mitch behind the stumps and George at gully, and Chris looking an early contender for fielder of the season. Very few misfields to complain about in general, and a really positive team spirit throughout the innings.
After the game both sides decamped to the garden of the Kings Head for a beer or 2. Plenty to be pleased about in this performance, and in particular we've set an example of how calm and resilient we can be even when innings start badly, whether with the bat or in the field.
Ashdon Vs FDCC
This match looked unlikely to happen for anyone who had access to a weather forecast, heavy rain most of the morning and scheduled up to about an hour before the match. But reassured that the wicket had been covered and the forecast was brightening up we made the decision to push ahead. It was a shame not to have better weather as the ground is idyllic, sitting on a slight slope overlooked by the manor house. I was told that they have to move the sight screens after every match so as not to spoil the view from the balcony.
The wicket cover seemed to be of the porous type and the wicket was pretty wet so we agreed on a 30 over match. Ashdon won the toss and elected to bowl.
Opening for Ditton were Adam Jackson and Rob Smith - or Mr Smith to the opposition who all seemed to have been taught by him at one point or another. Jackson looked confident scoring 33 on his debut this year. Mr Smith continued the opposition's education punishing any short balls to the boundary hitting 10-4's and 2-6's before looking to hit another 6 but finding deep mid-wicket on the boundary finishing with 71. Chris Wiseman was very impressed with Rob's style and looked to emulate it, but unfortunately on his first ball chose Rob's last shot, straight to the same fielder in the air. Andy who followed Adam had a good innings of 34. At this stage we were 150 for 5 with 5 overs to go. An attacking attempt from Himesha, Chris and Phil left us 3 wickets further down for 2 runs. Joe and Ian added another 24 before Mani and Colwell saw out the last few balls. Colwell looked somewhat annoyed at having to pad up to face 2 balls before immediately coming back to change into his keeping gear. 181 for 9, though on a wicket that favoured the batsman, the damp taking all the speed out the ball and sitting nicely up to be smashed off anything short.
Going into field with 181 to defend - 6 an over - it was really ours to lose, defending the short boundary from the start and utilising our spin/slower bowlers in Ian and Oli to good effect, followed by a great spell from Himesha with incredible accuracy and 2 wickets to show for it. After 10 overs Ashdon were 2 down with less than 30 runs on the board. Now needing somewhere close to 8-over it was an opportunity to experiment. Chris who's struggled to control his away swing this season started the same but taking on board advice from the team brought it under control finishing a 5 over spell with a maiden.
By this point, the wind blowing parallel with the wicket had picked up to almost unplayable speeds, 25mph steady winds with 44 mph gusts, making bowlers unsure if they would reach the wicket. Joe being aware that Colwell was recovering from 2 cracked ribs kindly tested it out by bowling consistent wides far down leg side, bringing the total wides to 18 for the day. A mix of Joe, Jackson, and P Gardner bowling led to a lot of edges, uncontrolled shots in the air which unfortunately landed out of reach of players meant Ashdon were starting to score more consistently, but the game was now well out of their reach. A more consistent spell from Mani took 2 wickets finishing the game with Ashdon on 153 for 7.
Overall the game gave us confidence in the season and the depth of our squad, entirely different players from last week in Rob, Andy and Jackson putting runs on the board and Chris, Himesha and Mani looking good with the ball.
We were the only match not cancelled in our league putting us 15 points ahead of 2nd place Barrington who we play in 2 weeks time, a match I suspect will be one of the toughest of the season. It was also nice to see former skip, Adam Wilson, and Wayne at the pitch to watch.
No honours board for Mani this week but maybe Rob's 71 could make it in a week with very few games played.
p.s. the team would all recommend the beer at Wylde sky brewery in Linton, where we had a post-match celebratory drink, just don't ask Rob for directions.
FDCC Vs Barrington II
After a weekend off in the Division 3 league, FDCC 1st XI were raring to continue our winning run when hosting Barrington 2nd XI on Saturday at the Rec. On a greyish afternoon, Captain Reeds made his first big call of the day by winning the toss and choosing to bat first on a green wicket. Starting with the third different opening partnership of the season, this week it was Zak and H’s turn to get FDCC off to a good start. After some inaccurate bowling from the far end FDCC were 12/0 off the first over and the total soon moved past 30 before Zak slapped a wide to point, walking off for 24 off 17 balls. However, from 36/1 at the end of the fifth over, it became the Matt and Andy show, with fluent stroke-making from both batsmen. In a partnership just shy of 150 the pair both achieved the 50 mark in good time, racking up an impressive fourteen 4's and four 6's between them.
Andy was the first to fall for a classy 56, eventually holing out in the deep, before Matt fell an agonising 10 runs short of what would have been a well-earned century. The innings was then finished off in good style with Adam (30), George (21 not out) and Chris making good use of the last overs to push FDCC up to an imposing score of 246/4 from our forty overs.
FDCC took to the field high in confidence with such a high score on the board, but still weary of the potential of the Barrington batting line-up. Opening the bowling with the pace of George and guile of Ian, FDCC looked to make some early inroads, but where initially met with some powerful shots down the ground from the Barrington openers. Barrington seemed set for a fast start with opener Sam Carrington hitting George for a 6 square of the wicket, only for George to respond brilliantly with a vicious in-swinger to take the first of seven bowled dismissals. George struck again quickly and finished with figures of 2-33 off his 8 overs.
Then came the express pace Krish and Chris who both made inroads into the Barrington middle order. Krish took the wicket of the second opener thanks to a brilliant one-handed catch from Adam Jackson, who move sharply to his right and stuck out a hand to earn a nomination for the champagne moment of the season. Krish continued to run in and finished the day with the best bowling figures of the group (8-1-18-3). Barrington continued to attack but after the Ian's wicket of Stephen Beattie, who top scored for Barrington with 35, the game was all but over. Joe then decided to use nearly all the remaining bowling options to finish the game off with Joe (5-1-18-1), Adam (3-0-5-1) and Matt (2-0-6-1) blowing away any remaining resistance in the 40th over.
Three games, three wins and with FDCC sat at the top of the table, we all marched off to the Kings Head for a well-earned drink or two. On to round 4…
Newton Vs FDCC
The picturesque ground at Newton, reminiscent of a scene from Seigfried Sasson's 'The Flower Show Match', was the venue for unbeaten, table topping Fen Ditton. Fabulous sunshine, wispy cumulus and twenty celsius meant we were set perfectly for a fine day of cricket. Which ultimately we got.
Brown won the toss and Hayward and Govier strode to the middle. The pitch was slow and low, Govier stoic scoring deceptively slowly. Hayward ticking over nicely and punishing the bad balls.
A throng of spectators accumulated on the boundary and celebrated a Hayward boundary to quizzical looks from the fielders. 8000 career runs for Fen Ditton for Hayward had been reached, but mere stats matter little for the run machine Hayward who steadfastly focused on the task at hand. Soon after an unwise attempted quick two from Govier to the short boundary resulted in a run out by a whisker after smart fielding from Newton. Surprisingly it was around the 35th over before the first two of the innings, all preceding scoring being singles or boundaries. Brown upped the run rate with regular boundaries and rotation of strike. A middle order wobble followed but a fruitful partnership between Colwell and Suntharalingam (Krish) meant Fen Ditton reached a healthy 177 at close of innings.
Newton started slowly but solidly keeping wickets in hand after the early loss of one opener. Once the dangerous Lewis was caught in the deep Ditton scented victory and a flurry of wickets followed. Absolon and Butler consolidated. Brown rotated the bowling trying to find a breakthrough, but an injury to Suntharalingam proved costly - his three lost overs sorely missed after bowling five overs for three runs earlier.
Ditton were sharp in the field, took all their catches although balls in the air just missed fielders on a couple of occasions. But hats off to a fine chase from Newton, a maiden fifty from Absolon only inches away from a maiden century too as the final ball fell just short of the boundary leaving him carrying his bat for ninety nine. Victory for Newton by five wickets with seven balls to spare. Well played! Good beer afterwards at the Queen's Head. We look forward to the reverse fixture on 10th July when we swap Queen's Head for King's Head!
FDCC Vs Little Shelford II
Captain Reeds was back at the helm as Ditton welcomed Little Shelford II to The Rec. Half a dozen team changes from last week - who might make a telling contribution? Perfect weather for cricket, in contrast to Friday which had been wall to wall rain, leaving the strip a bit damp and the outfield a little sluggish.
Rumour was that Joe lost the toss but got his wish to bat first anyway. Zak and H had thier names pulled from the hat to open with the rest of the lineup "flexible". Zak began with his usual attacking intent, including a lovely clip through mid-wicket. Next over Mani interupted the flow giving a straightforward LBW (bit high maybe?). Branwell joined H, who had begun to take a liking for anything pitched short and they put on 62 together. Having reached 50, H chipped one back to the bowler. This brought Matt to the crease with the promise of another long, high scoring innings. Although partners were coming and going at the other end, Matt also passed 50 but, this time, failed to go on much further. A classy cameo of 22 from Himesha took us to 173-9 from our 40. 20-25 short of comfortable?
The Lt Shelford reply began cautiously, thanks to accurate bowling from Ian, Himesha (when he wasn't bowling No balls), Joe and George. It felt like a couple of wickets would really allow us to take charge and again it was George who broke through with three of the first four wickets to fall. He would finish with 3-30 from his eight overs. Joe and Himesha chipped in with a wicket each and then left the stage for Ian Steed.
Having worked on his action during the week, Ian was rewarded with 5-13 as none of the final five batsmen reached double figures. The game went from narrowly in our favour to a 40 run win in quick time. Another good match which saw the teams drinking at the pub after, as it should be. Ditton retain a slender lead at the top of 3S and will test themselves next week at Thriplow.
Thriplow II Vs FDCC
League leaders Fen Ditton CC travelled south to Thriplow of the Daffolid Weekend. Feathery cirrostratus, bright sunshine and mid seventies fahrenheit, at the charming ground, set the scene. Pimms at the score table and a wheelbarrow full of beer were the icing on the cake!
Thriplow won the toss and elected to field. Smith and Smith set off at a blistering pace as Neild L struggled with line and length early on but improved steadily throughout with a corker last ball of the spell to get Gardener P to nick off. Meadows was tight and quicker and brought about the initial breakthrough in a sequence of maiden, wicket maiden, maiden with Smith Z out. Smith R followed a few overs later and the scoring slowed. But keeping wickets in hand Ditton's middle and lower order accelerated especially Steed and Da Silva gaining a total of 166 for 9 off 40. Contributions all through the order. But it felt twenty light.
Reeds and Smith opened the bowling keeping it tighter than a Fort William wallet. Four maidens running to start from Reeds. It was noteworthery that in a not especially low scoring game, 320 runs, there were in total seventeen maidens including four wicket maidens on a good batting track. Complements to both bowling attacks. Swinging from both Smith and Reeds especially Reeds getting it to veer out of the hand becoming more exaggerated upon the batter. Beautiful to watch, which is what the batters mainly did especially left handers as it swung away. Wickets were picked up regularly with a wealth of options for the skipper helped by three good catches from Smith R. But the run rate crept up with Thriplow's batting strength running all through their order. It was clear ten wickets would be needed before the overs were out. Especially as the Thriplow keeper was scoring at will in patches, boundaries rebounding off the high wall and over the road hedge. Thoughts of the Newton defeat lurked in the background, would a missed chance behind off Silcock's bowling prove costly?
The game ebbed and flowed, with less than thirty to win the ground became ever more silent only the goldfinches songs could be heard. Reeds came back and continued to swing it prodigiously taking two key wickets. Both hitting the top of leg, the dangerous keeper having passed fifty haunched on his bat when bowled a la Bret Lee 2005 Ashes. With nine down the score kept ticking over and another juggling miss behind, again off the unfortunate Silcock, did not help. Was that the faint tones of 'Dance of the Cukoos' drifting over the outfield? The captain turned to Smith Z who bowled consistently straight forcing the error with Steed making a tricky catch look easy to go with his three wickets. Victory by twelve runs, twenty points secured in an enjoyable hard faught game. Thanks to Thriplow and wheelbarrow!
Barrington II Vs FDCC
Ditton travelled south, as always now to league fixtures, to Barrington where we found a decent wicket with one very short boundary and others almost impossible to reach due to the lush outfield. As always, several changes in personnel from our last outing. Joe called incorrectly at the toss and we fielded.
The 40 overs that followed were mostly forgettable from our point of view, other than one stunning catch and a 50th stumping for the club by Paul Colwell. Our effort might be compared to a pressure cooker. we forgot to turn it on and watched both Barrington openers score half centuries. Suddenly we realised why we were there at all and through gaining some control, applied some pressure which saw three wickets fall in as many overs. Then we switched off again. The innings meandered - any time we bowled some tight overs, fooling us into thinking we might chase 160, we then gave up some boundaries. A middle-order partnership with one of the batsmen reaching 50 pushed Barrington up to 200 before we took a couple of wickets but 207 was always going to be a challenging chase, especially when your mindset, like our fielding, is lethargic.
Other than Rob opening and Mani at 11, the rest of the order was pulled out of the magic hat but this time it failed. Rob scored a very good 50 but the rest of us were guilty of poor shots from poor thinking and no plan. Bright spots were Ian, who smashed a properly big six in his 23 and the sight of Ollie and Mani batting out the overs among frustrated bowlers, reaching a dozen each. Our 140-9 was 67 too few but had we been chasing 160 it would have been a very tight game.
Yet another weekend with no league action next week, so a wait until July 10 to put things right with Newton, scene of our previous no-thinking defeat.
FDCC Vs Abington III (Lower Junior Cup)
Reporting restrictions lifted. Appeal against fielding an inelligible player by Abington has been upheld by the CCA. Therefore, Ditton progress to a Quater Final on 25th July with Little Shelford II at The Rec.
FDCC Vs Newton
FDCC Vs Thriplow II
Ditton lost a crucial toss and it set the tone for the afternnon.
Visitors Thriplow are known to have a seam/swing bowling battery that could make full use of a green wicket in overcast conditions. Despite Ditton being at full strength, this innings was going to take more than the usual grit and determination to set a defendable total.
The opening exchanges were nervy and a dig-in ensued with the score edging to 20-2 after ten overs (Only fact in this report.) Then, with the lacquer off the ball, batting became much more difficult. With the ball swinging both ways and the odd one spitting off a good length, the technique of the Ditton batters came under close scrutiny. Some failed to cope while others were out to great catches, as anything hit in the air was gobbled up by an athletic fielding unit. The sun had now come out and the temperature rose to such an extent that the wicket dried out and the Thriplow spinner was able to turn the ball alarmingly. A Headingley circa 1980 wicket had become Chennai in the space of a couple of overs. Ditton wickets tumbled and reaching 50 was actually quite an achievement. When the final wicket fell for 57, it seemed that Ditton could also make full use of the conditions and have a real go at the Thriplow batting.
Alas, during the sandwich break, the wicket metamorphasised again into something resembling the nearby A14 but without the roadworks. The outfield was now like an ice rink, with defensive pushes and prods going straight down the ground for boundaries. Thick edges, just evading fourth slip, sped to the fence at Third Man. Absolute Jaffa deliveries missed the stumps by millimetres as Thriplow reached 41-0 from ten overs (Sorry, second factual comment.) Despite best efforts it was not to be a successful defence as Thriplow skilfully ran out victors by ten wickets, leaving Ditton with just one point for their endeavours. Thriplow go top of Div 3S and Ditton slip to second, with the big boys of S&B III hovering with games in hand in third. A promotion battle that could go all the way to the end. This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end - that starts at Little Shelford next week.
Little Shelford II Vs FDCC