2015 Match reports
Burwell IV Vs Fen Ditton II
Saturday 27th August
Burwell IV Vs Fen Ditton II
Two weeks ago, the Seconds won by the narrowest of margins. Did the fact that, today, only 4 of that team remained in the starting XI – Fowler, Gav, H and Adrian – reflect a new, brutal, ‘results driven’, selection regime imposed by AB in Skip’s absence? Or was it just the holidays?
Whatever, we welcomed back a host of familiar faces – 2 Gardners, 2 Edwardses and our irrepressible overseas professional, Mani – and were strengthened by addition of the 1st XI ‘nouse’ of Darren (whose 90-odd for us earlier in the season instantly gave him legendary (in our minds) and 1st XI status) and Wayne, who's rejoined the club and who’d opened the bowling for the 1sts last week, bowling 10 overs for just a miserly and most un-Seconds-like 27. Both would not be missed by the 1sts today as their league opposition had defaulted. Despite having demonstrated his inability to count securely a fortnight ago, Fowler was captain again and we were away to Burwell IV’s who were a rarity on two counts. First, they may be only the third team we’ve met this season who, on match day, had a worse record than us. Second, rare because they play at Margaret Field, who sounds she should be the newly elected Labour MP for Bolton Central and so have since become a Shadow Minister in Corbyn’s miniscule Front Bench team but is, in fact, a rather picturesque, tree-lined spot on the edge of Burwell village, North-West of Newmarket.
Some blindingly hot days in the week before had given way to clouds on match day and the threat of a shower later but they ensured a firm pitch and fast outfield. As the temperature was not near-30, as it had been, given the risk of rain and that we were fairly certain of our bowling attack (at least 4 decent bowlers and 3 or more others), the plan was to unleash Wayne and Gav on them and get the result in the shortest time. Fowler called correctly and so Wayne took the new ball.
From the off, you could see the gulf between our 1sts and 2nds (the lesson of the day) as Wayne got lift – his first ball hit their captain/opener, Rob, on the shoulder – and away swing. What he didn’t get was any luck. Cricket’s horrid like that sometimes. Perhaps it was simply that much of his bowling is too good for batsmen in our league as they couldn’t get near him? One over, straight after drinks, when he was brought back as we badly needed a wicket, against their, by then well-set, top scoring and hard hitting Number 3, he beat the bat 5 times and was edged for 4 past H (keeping) and Fowler (slip). He did take 2 catches off others but no wickets for 19 in 10 overs are figures that do not reflect his contribution. Whereas, at the other end, Gav claimed 4 scalps: he’s now the joint (with Mick) leading wicket-taker this season with 16 but at no time yesterday did Gav really ‘control’ their batsmen as Wayne did (hence he took 4 for a generous 54).
Anyway, against Gav and Wayne their openers proceeded slowly – 30-odd for none off 10 – despite the fast outfield and narrow-ish square boundaries, before Mani took a smart catch at square off Gav to get rid of one and Fowler, taking over from Wayne, got the other LBW. This brought together the hard-hitting Number 3, Mr Reeve, and the diminutive young Mr Jarmin for what was really the only meaningful partnership of their innings, other than that of the openers. Reeve rode his luck – Fowler described his 82 as ’82 for 4’ as we dropped him at least twice and he couldn’t play Wayne – but he was obviously a decent bat. Jarmin Junior (who made 35) possesses a great defensive technique for one so young but really only had two scoring shots, gliding it through the slips (which we soon cut off) and the pull off his legs and, sadly, we tended to bowl there all too often. Eventually, it was Mani who broke through as we rotated the bowling: we used 8, Amelia (4 overs for 38 - not her day but she stuck to the task), Sam (4 overs for 19 – he’s improved hugely this season with the ball) and Phil (1 over for ‘a lot’ as he ‘hates’ left handers) being the others. After that, runs came far more infrequently but wickets fell regularly, a notable one being Adrian’s first. In other words, if we’d held one of the chances offered by Reeves and Jarmin Junior or completed a run out (H took the bails off with Young Jarmin a good 3 feet short – only to find he’d used an invisible set of stumps 5 feet to the left of where they actually were), we’d have had them all out for not much more than 100 in much less than 40 overs. As it was, we were chasing 193 as they batted the full 40 and lost just 8 wickets.
Tea was a few hundred yards away at their main ground and was notable in Darren’s mind for a ‘gorgeous’ chocolate cake (he bemoaned the lack of cream) and sausage rolls that were ‘fresh from the oven’: he’d worked up quite an appetite standing at gully for 36 overs (he was late), apparently, and no doubt his beard comes in useful for storing mid-innings snacks. Back at Mrs M Field, the ‘rain’ had duly arrived. Not in the form of anything wet (although a nice lady in a deckchair said it was heavy a couple of miles away to the south), but in the form of very menacing clouds. As we batted, it grew darker and, against the tree lined boundary, the ball was, at times, not easy to pick up. H advised, ‘We need to get Darren in early’ and so Darren and Gav opened. Gav had hurt his hand dropping one of our chances but said he was OK to go out and bat. However, he was soon back, gone for 1 to a leg-side ball that looked rather high but wasn’t called ‘No Ball’ by Phil: it simply hit Gav’s body as it came down as he mis-timed a pull at it and ‘plopped’ onto his stumps.
This brought together Darren and H in the partnership that we knew would make or break our innings as we really only had 4 reliable batsmen and one had already gone. Neither of this pair have really set the 1sts on fire this season it is fair to say – but, by heaven, they woke up Mrs Margaret Field today! H even managed to wake up one of Margaret’s neighbours with a giant, straight 6 which hit the front door of the house opposite the ground (the lady owner and her dog were none too pleased and she gave Fowler (who retrieved the ball) some ‘advice’ for H). Darren played some lovely touch shots on both sides of the wicket and within 15 overs we were 130 or so for 1 as the pair demolished the (admittedly young) Burwell attack and Mr Jarmin Senior, giving few chances. That gulf between our 1sts and 2nds really is a very, very big one.
Darren was bowled for 77 bringing Fowler to the crease and, although this did slow the scoring rate (‘Fowler’ and ‘Slow Scoring’ being synonymous as regular readers know), it was still a one-sided affair. Only when Gav, the bearded but kindly face of the NHS, took pity on them and gave Fowler out LBW, much to the surprise of, well, to be honest, everyone but Gav, did we manage to contrive a close-ish finish. Phil ran himself out – he sees ‘easy’ runs all around him in the way others see pixies: either that or he fondly imagines he’s a greyhound. Sam hit his first four for the club but, in a rush of blood to the head, played exactly the same ‘across the line’ shot to the next, better length and straight ball and was bowled. However, H (72 not out) steered us home in the gloom with 10 overs to spare.
So with 2 games to go we find ourselves in the unlikely position of having won 4 on the trot. We’ve now won 6 and lost 7 this season: it’s possible we can finish with a net winning record, something that not even that annoying, if (hopefully this is not just me!) alluring woman in the Betsafe ads would have offered you odds on in mid-July! However, next week at home Sawston and Babraham IV’s won’t be easy. Their record is better than ours and, in his post-match press conference, H revealed that today was his last match this year as fatherly and work duties call. He loves his cricket and sets himself high standards – not least as he has displayed them for many years. In his emotional farewell address to the team, probably fighting back the tears (although it was too dark to truly see), he said ‘The Seconds have saved me this season’. He was, in truth, being what hard-nosed Yorkshiremen like Darren and Mick would call ‘A Big Jessie’ but we all know it would be far more accurate to rearrange that sentence. If you’d watched us before he came you’d never have imagined we were only an H short of a winning team.