Friendly Match - "Proper Cricket"
Hartley 255-6 dec. (40 overs)
New Ash Green 125 all out (43.4 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 130 runs
Although the bulk of the two sides were made up of players who had contested league matches between Hartley IV and New Ash Green II just a few weeks earlier both sides had some reinforcements. On Hartley's side however that meant two members of their first XI who had just secured promotion to the Premier League, as well as a couple of second and third XI players, and it was those players who really made the difference between the two sides.
Although billed as a friendly game, and mostly played in that spirit, there were a couple of needle moments in the match, and none more so than the opening confrontation, between Scott McKechnie, opening the batting for Hartley and his step father John Harley opening the bowling for New Ash Green. Both were desperate to triumph in the battle of the generations, and despite the joking comments from the rest of the players you could cut the tension with a knife. In all honesty, though, both reacted badly to the tension, Harley bowling an over which constained 5 wides, one of which went for four, and McKechnie failing to score a run off the bat, prodding very stiffly at the ball. Harley could claim a moral victory as one of those stiff prods resulted in an edge to slip where Chris Sooknanan put down a hard chance at ankle height. After Kieran Poole had bowled a solid over at the other end the battle recommenced in the second over, but eventually it was McKechnie who overcame his nerves and picked up a leg side full toss for six over the short boundary. After that the runs flowed much more easily for him, but Harley never recovered from the initial drop, going for 49 runs in his first 4 overs. Kieran Poole did make the breakthrough, but this merely brought in James Thompson, who had been averaging over 50 in their first XI. Nonethless Kieran Poole contained him, and Lee Saunders tested him a few times, one superb ball missing the stumps by no more than an inch having beaten Thompson all ends up. His class told, though, against anything less than perfect and he and McKechnie took the score forward rapidly. Simon Duke had replace Kieran Poole and bowled a very tidy spell of left arm spin, getting McKechnie caught for 46. Thompson carried on, becoming ever more aggressive, but having taken 18 from the first four balls of a Duke over to bring up his fifty he holed out on the boundary, well held by Dan Lewsey. This sparked the second flash point of the game as Duke, perhaps unwisely, pointed Thompson back to the pavilion, resulting in a face to face confrontation and the two having to be separated. Duke picked up a third wicket and despite the battering he received in that one over finished with very respectable figures. Graeeme Poole and Joe Elisak also picked up a wicket each and bwoled tidily enough, but John Harley's attempt to rescue his figures were wrecked by the other first XI player in the Hartley side, Daniel Redwood, who knocked up a quick fifty before Hartley declared, leaving John Harley just 11 runs short of becoming the second person to concede 100 runs in a game for New Ash Green.
The length of the match meant that New Ash Green had a huge amount of time to chase the total, but the Hartley bowling was more accurate from the start, and Kieran Poole, opening the batting as well as the bowling in the absence of any other volunteers, soon steered one to gully. Matthew Quantrill and Dan Lewsey took their time, picking up the odd runs here and there, and trying to set some sort of base for a run chase, but Lewsey pulled a short ball straight to square leg just as they seemd to be getting going. Graeme Poole played a solid supporting innings, and Quantrill began to pick up a few runs, keeping the target at least vaguely in sight. Daniel Redwood came on to bowl some leg breaks, turning the ball considerably, and Quantrill failed to get on top of one and was caught in the covers for 47. Graeme Poole, Chris Sooknanan, David Baker and Lee Saunders all made starts but couldn't go on, and the tail fell away fairly sharply, the most notable moment being when Matt Bushe was very plumb LBW to secure the Duck Cup for the season. Simon Duke was the last man out, caught and bowled by James Thompson, but by then I had left, so I don't know whether that resulted in a continuation of their earlier feud or if it all ended in smiles and reconciliation. I certainly wouldn't bank on the latter.
A heavy defeat to end the season, but one which perhaps sums up the season well in that there were signs of promise from many of the young players, and if all stay keen and enjoy their cricket there is promise still for a better future.