Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
Nurstead (1 pt) 79 all out (35.4 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 83-1 (11.5 overs)
New Ash Green won by 9 wickets
The nerves were jangling all week. Several players confessed to nerves of one sort or another, but everyone was present and correct, and up for the final challenge of the season. One worry, at least, was taken out of the equation, with the forecast for a warm sunny day, and indeed the early cloud cover was soon burnt away, and there was never any danger of being robbed of the title by poor weather. The entire team plus umpire were at the ground in plenty of time, along with travelling support, and were raring to go. With Nurstead without an umpire the skipper decided to follow the recent successful formula of bowling first despite the heat. Micky Sumner started in his usual way, solid as ever, and Dan Lewsey started in his, with a gentle loosener, but sadly the batsman declined to get out to it for a change. Indeed Dan Walker, who had been making runs recently in the league, looked a good bat as he put away two leg side balls for four with some ease. He looked slightly less at ease against Sumner, edging him for four, but then fatally shouldered arms to one that pitched middle and straightened to be going straight at middle. The height might have been an issue, but the very guilty look of a batsman not playing a shot probably counted against him, and there were no complaints from Nurstead about the decision to give him out. From then on Nurstead really struggled to score runs against either bowler, one huge blow down the ground for six off Lewsey aside. Mick Sumner bowled Chris Whatman comprehensively, and Nurstead skipper Jon Beadle nicked Lewsey behind, starting a collapse towards the end of the opening bowlers' spells. Olly Wallace was bowled by Lewsey, Dave Heath holed out to Andy Mayers trying to repeat the shot that had brought him six and dangerman Andrew Brown, whose swashbuckling innings at Manor Field had so nearly carried Nurstead to a shock victory, was bowled by Sumner after surviving a caught and bowled chance that Dan Lewsey couldn't quite get hold of. The lower order didn't give way, though, grafting their way to the end of Sumner and Lewsey's spells, and then seeing what they could do against Joe Elisak and Paul Sumner. New Ash Green stayed tight, creating a number of chances, and eventually that pressure told. Elisak managed to get one to turn on a pitch that was otherwise offering little assistance and bowled Harry Potts. Adam Whatman was lucky not to be given out (by his brother!) stumped, but his luck ran out when he was bowled by a shooter from Paul Sumner, and Andy Peeke played round a straight one from Elisak. The last wicket resisted briefly, but eventually Steve Peeke pulled a ball from Sumner into the welcoming midriff of Dave Baker. 79 to chase – even the most nervous were convinced that could be got on a wicket that was occasionally a little naughty, but generally not terribly helpful to the bowlers.
After a very pleasant tea Matthew Quantrill and Andy Mayers knocked off the runs. Again. Nearly.
OK, so they messed it up. Quantrill actually nearly messed it up badly, being dropped second ball when he failed to get on top of a cut shot to a ball that stopped a little, but after that both he and Mayers played powerful shots to anything loose and were sound on the straight balls. Mayers showed Quantrill what to do with the short balls outside off by cutting one over extra cover for six, and Quantrill responded by picking up a leg side full toss over fine leg for six, and later pulling two short balls square for six. In no time they were nearly home, and with five needed for victory Nurstead turned to Andy Hicks. Quantrill promptly swatted a short ball through mid-off for four to bring the scores level, and that was actually the shot that guaranteed the title, as a tie plus bonus points was enough. At this point, though, with one needed to win Quantrill needed four for his fifty. Mayers, who didn't know this, actually turned down a single, and the next ball Quantrill tried to pull to the leg side boundary, missed, and was plumb LBW for 46. It brought to an end a combined partnership of 302 between Quantrill and Mayers in the last three league games, a run of 246 personal runs since Quantrill was last out for New Ash Green and 268 consecutive overs in which Quantrill had been on the field for New Ash Green. David Baker had been waiting three weeks for a bat for New Ash Green, and it was alleged that there were tears in his eyes as he marched to the crease to finish off the game, but they didn't stop him from pulling his first ball powerfully for four and completing a nine wicket win and confirming the league title was New Ash Green's – by 6 points as it turned out, Sevenoaks Vine not slipping up, and winning their last game with maximum points, but to no avail.
What a transformation from the last few painful years. Obviously being in a lower division has helped, but there is much more to it than that. A few new players, others who have been available much more regularly, younger players starting to develop, and a much greater sense of commitment have all contributed to this success, and the celebrations, which apparently went on long into the night and have largely escaped the drink addled memory of Joe Elisak, were richly deserved. Over the last few games the focus has mostly been on the opening batsmen and bowlers, but throughout the season this has been a team effort. The fielding has been generally good, the support bowling has stepped up when needed and when wickets have fallen someone, somewhere in the order has stood up and made runs when they were needed. Wins won't be so easy to come by next season, whether in this league or the Village League, but as long as the same attitudes persist and people remain committed, there is no reason why the side should not remain competitive and be able to play enjoyable cricket. This has been a great antidote to some of the beatings of the last six years, and everyone involved, especially those players who have stuck with the club throughout that difficult time, fully deserve the chance to celebrate and revel in this title.
New Ash Green & Hartley are Champions of KCRL Div 1B West!!!
Click here to see the Celebration Video from this match, a taste of what is to come when (hopefully) the end of season DVD is finalised.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Orpington (17 pts) 239-8 (40 overs)
New Ash Green (4 pts) 92-5 (10 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 147 runs
For the second XI it was a little bit of a dose of back to reality. After the heady heights of two consecutive wins facing title chasing Orpington in the final game with two or three key players missing was a challenge, and they were further handicapped by the departure of Edward Quantrill from the field half way through the first innings, ironically suffering from a stomach upset against the team who had (allegedly, for legal purposes!) poisoned half the side in the away game. Orpington's batting was consistent throughout, and although as for much of the season no one batsman could make a big score against New Ash Green they all contributed, along with extras, who did make a half century, and the total ended up as 239-8. Olly Cooper was the pick of the bowlers with 3-20, and Ashley Woodward bowled a full spell for the first time this season, taking 1-39, with Kieran Poole getting two wickets and John Harley and Keith Bushell, in his alleged retirement game, one each.
A target of exactly a run a ball was always likely to be beyond the team against a table topping bowling attack, and losing Olly Cooper early on probably finished off any chance they had of winning, or even getting into bonus point territory at 150 plus, a score they have achieved only once all season. None of the batsmen shut up shop, but they weren't able to score runs against the tidy Orpington attack, and the game petered out rather tamely, Orpington, like Hartley before them, failing to extract maximum bowling points from the bottom side through an apparent lack of imagination. With no need to worry about giving New Ash Green bonus points, and certainly no fear of losing after the half way stage, as well as a desperate need for bonus points themselves, the game was crying out for them to bring on someone who would toss the ball in the air and tempt the batsmen into indiscretion, but they carried on with their main attack, in the end using just one bowler with any real flight, although it was he who came closest to taking wickets at the end. To be fair to them most of their team were perfect gentlemen, and apologised for their one black sheep later, but the first man off the field for Orpington did give a master class in how to win gracelessly by suggesting the New Ash Green side should be ashamed of themselves, apparently for not being as good as his own team. Perhaps he and the gentleman from Hartley Country Club, who had complained in similar vein, should get together for a lecture in the old fashioned art of winkling a side out, and lessons in how the stronger side should control and take responsibility for the flow of the game – arts which have been sadly lost in the rush towards competitive limited overs cricket. It is unlikely this will cost Orpington, as Hartley are not likely to slip up next week, so those last few wickets not taken are probably not going to be as costly as they were to Old Williamsonians on a Sunday a few years ago, when similar New Ash Green tail end defiance cost them a league title, but it certainly shows that playing some good old fashioned friendly cricket can still benefit even the most competitive of captains.
That final slightly sour note aside it has been a good season for the second team. Early season hopes that they might actually be competing at the top of the league quickly faded, but given the fact that they had to concede half their games last year because they couldn't raise a side just putting a team out for every game was a major target achieved, and to win three games in the end was icing on the cake. Whilst they rarely bowled sides out cheaply no team got away from them and made a huge score, as happened all too often in the previous couple of seasons, and none of the highest individual scores in the division were made against them. The big struggle was in getting big enough totals to get in the games, although things are beginning to look up towards the end of the season with Mark Chapelhow starting to push his middling scores up towards the big scores that are needed to build an innings and others, especially Olly Cooper, starting to look as if they are capable of doing the same. Again it has been heartening to see worthwhile contributions from a number of players, as well as great support from all the various fringe members who have helped to make up the team when needed. With some youngsters coming through there should be more of the first team squad helping to make up second team numbers in the near future, and some of those who are still shaking rust form their games have potential to continue developing. The side have enjoyed their cricket this year, which has to be the most important thing of all, and surely with the enthusiasm and commitment that is present the results will continue to improve wherever the side end up playing their cricket next year – and with the usual reshuffling that goes on every year that is much less predictable than for the first team, even if the club do remain in the Regional League!
Final Statistical Note: Various New Ash Green players featured highly in the comprehensive statistics produced by the Playcricket site for the league. Pride of place must go to Mick Sumner, whose club record bowling figures of 8-7 against Wrotham were the best bowling figures in the entire league, while Joe Elisak also had a league best with 17 outfield catches. Looking purely at our own divisions, Matthew Quantrill was top and Andy Mayers third in runs scored for the first team, with Mark Chapelhow third in the second team's division, though there are still a couple of results to come in that and it is quite close. Quantrill's 128 against Wrotham was also the highest score in the division. On the bowling front Dan Lewsey, with 42 wickets, lies second in the division (and joint second in the league overall) while Mick Sumner (32) is fourth and Joe Elisak (29) seventh. John Harley (26) is currently in second place in the second team's division, with Keith Bushell (16) joint tenth – though that doesn't account for his two first team wickets. Mick Sumner's economy and average are also well up there in the league, though more difficult to rank due to the number of people with freak figures from a small number of overs. In fielding Matthew Quantrill leads the way in catches and stumpings for wicket keepers, while Joe Elisak naturally tops the charts on outfield catches, with Fernando joint third and Andy Mayers and David Baker joint eighth. Finally Olly Cooper ranks in the top three in the entire league for run outs, and joint leading wicket taker (catches and run outs combined) of any out-fielder in the second team's division.
Friendly Match - Twenty20
New Ash Green 148-3 (20 overs)
Brasted & Sundridge 120 for 7 (20 overs)
New Ash Green won by 28 runs
With New Ash Green themselves a little short of Sunday players, and the opposition having only 8 as of Saturday, a lot of work had gone into pulling together twenty two people to play a game of cricket, so those who turned up probably deserved better than the steady cold rain that started at around 1 p.m. and lasted for nearly two hours. Miraculously when it stopped the wicket seemed far less muddy and slippery than might have been expected, and the captains agreed to play a twenty over game in the time remaining to them. With Brasted and Sundridge having lost another player overnight they were balanced up with Joe and Ben Chapelhow and Ritchie Harley, as well as James Gegg, possibly reducing their average age below fifty, so there was an agreement that they should bowl first. Dave Harley and Karl Bartlett, having been waiting eagerly for a bat throughout the rain, seemed to struggle at first to get going, with repeated sharp reminders from the sidelines about the short length of the game, and perhaps it was that pressure that eventually led to the breaking of their partnership when Bartlett hit the ball straight to James Gegg and declined to answer Harley's call for a run. Joe Elisak joined Bartlett in a brisk stand of 25, making 15 form 10 balls, before Bartlett outscored Scott McKechnie in a stand of 53 for the third wicket of which McKechnie made 18 at a run a ball before getting caught from the bowling of James Gegg, proving something of a star turn for the opposition. Finally Ryan Harley continued his new found form with the bat as he made 8 not out from six balls, while Bartlett finished with 71 not out and the final total a respectable 148-3.
Brasted & Sundridge got away to a good start, helped by John Harley struggling with his line in a game where it had been agreed that anything leg side was wide, and apparently trying to get his entire normal bowling spell into a Twenty20 game, s going for 29 in two overs that must have consisted of nearly 24 balls. Kieran Poole wasn't much cheaper, and it took the advent of Simon Freeman and Mark Chapelhow to get the breakthrough. Brasted continued going for the runs, but with little depth to their batting wickets were costly. Poole came back to have the top scoring opening batsman caught and bowled, and Phil Steers bowled the last likely danger man. John Harley returned to try his luck form the other end, and improved his accuracy enough to somewhat salvage his economy rate if not pick up a wicket. Freeman came back to take another wicket, and this apparently left the only batsman padded up and ready being Ritchie Harley, who promptly marched out to the middle, and curtly dismissed his brother form trying to help him. He managed a couple of runs past the close set field before Freeman bowled him to give himself match figures of 3-15. With the game almost dead Andy Noakes came on to bowl the last over, and to his third ball James Gegg charged down the pitch and missed, leaving Dave Harley the task of completing a simple stumping with Gegg almost out of sight towards the bowlers end. Harley must have momentarily feared for his life at the sight of the delighted bowler arms aloft charging towards him, but Noakes managed to slow down before embracing the keeper, and may have been slightly deflated when Ben Chapelhow promptly charged him and smacked him into a big gap for two runs before the game ended with a 28 run victory for New Ash Green. The weather could have been far better for the final home match of the year, but great credit to all those involved for getting out two elevens and getting everyone involved some sort of game.