Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
New Ash Green (20 pts) 245-7 (46 overs)
Wrotham (3 pts) 27 all out (7 overs)
New Ash Green won by 218 runs
On a hot day at Wrotham the temptation must have been for Wrotham to bat first when they won the toss by virtue of having an umpire, but looking at the very hard wicket with one or two uneven patches, and perhaps sensing Joe Elisak's desire to bowl first their skipper chose to insert New Ash Green. When Dave Baker plundered ten runs from a loose first over he may have been regretting that decision, and even though Baker managed to slice one to gully in the third over the number of loose balls meant New Ash Green were away to a rapid start, reaching 33 in the fifth over. A bowling change brought the wicket of Karl Bartlett, as Wrotham skipper Stacy Buss hurried one through, but Arron Ward, making a rare appearance on leave from the Air Force carried on the attack, while Matthew Quantrill settled into the anchor role. Ward struck some crashing drives on his way to 25, and when he was finally bowled, by Buss, Fernando carried on the attack. The score had reached 102-3 in the 21st over before New Ash Green had something of a wobble. Fernando was desperately unlucky when trying to pull Buss and getting a bottom edge which somehow ricocheted off his feet and onto the stumps, and soon afterwards Quantrill made his first (and perhaps only) significant misjudgement when calling a quick single and leaving Glen Freeman stranded when Buss's throw hit the stumps directly. At 103-5 at the half way stage New Ash Green were more than capable of collapsing, but Kieran Hoddinott, in his first game for several years, managed to stay in and pick off the odd bad ball, while Quantrill slowly became more aggressive, reaching his fifty with a huge pulled six out of the ground, which dented the side of Joe Elisak's car before disappearing without trace. The pair added 72 for the sixth wicket in good time before Hoddinott lofted one into the air, and although Matt Bushe was immediately undone by a lifting ball the stage was set for an attack in the final overs, and who better to help launch it than Mick Sumner? With Quantrill getting more and more attacking Wrotham skipper Buss had removed himself from the attack and brought back spinner Neil Harvey, who had gone for only 11 runs in his first 6 overs. With the batsmen attacking, and Sumner in particular having a liking for spinners, he was not so economical in his final three overs, going for 25 runs, though he was unlucky to see Sumner dropped on the boundary and missed from a stumping so simple he had started to walk off. At the other end Will Meredith had probably been Wrotham's best bowler, but after Quantrill had nibbled him away for an all run four to bring up his hundred he could do little to stem the flow of runs, and the final pair eventually added 66 in the last six overs to take the total to a very respectable 245-7, Quantrill 128 not out.
Wrotham had been confident throughout that they could chase a big total, and even at tea they were heard to say that they believed the pitch was doing little to assist the bowlers and that they could get the runs. They were half right. The pitch did indeed do little to help, but they were nowhere near able to get the runs. It all started innocuously enough. Mick Sumner bowled a decent first over, and picked up a wicket courtesy of a careless attempt at a pull shot from Steve Brewer, which lofted up gently to the catch magnet that is Joe Elisak in 2011. A slightly harsh wide call meant it was 1-1 after the first over.
Dan Lewsey started in a way that has become typical of him this season – a slightly short loosener outside off stump prodded straight to a fielder, the novelty this time being that it was the safe hands of Matt Bushe in the gully rather than those of Fernando at short cover that completed the wicket. His third ball dropped short and was ruthlessly pulled for six, and a single from his fourth meant it was 8-2 after two overs. A good start, but plenty of work still to be done.
Three dot balls followed, then Sumner pitched one up and shot it straight through the defences of Russ Fennell. 8-3. Olly Stell came out at five, and the first ball was pitched up again and Stell was on his way back – 8-4, and Sumner on a hat trick. He certainly didn't bottle it, a third successive pitched up yorker looked to have beaten the batsman, but despite being somewhere in the region of seven foot tall he managed to jab his bat down on it at the last moment and keep it out. 8-4 at the end of the third over, Sumner 3-1.
We can draw a veil over Lewsey's second over. Two fours, admittedly neither from bad balls, meant the score raced on to 16-4 before Sumner returned to the fray. The first ball of his third over was outside off stump to the left hander, and he pushed the bat at it and managed to find a gap in the slip/gully cordon and see the ball race away for 4. No such mistake with the second ball, pitched up and straight, and again the stumps were flying, the holes getting looser and looser and the new set of stumps more and more covered in red marks. Danny Ralph on his way back, skipper Stacy Buss into the fray. His first ball is pitched well up and straight, and Sumner is on a hat trick again, this time against Jason Butler. Again the hat trick ball is a good one, shorter in length it lifts and flies off the shoulder of the bat, high to second slip. Dave Baker puts a hand up, but the pace is too much and it slips out of his hand. Four more dot balls follow, one a no ball, and at the end of the fifth over Wrotham are 20-6, Sumner 5-6.
Richard Hunter, on his Wrotham debut, has watched this mostly from the safety of the far end, but sensing a need to do something he loses patience, and having looked secure gives Dan Lewsey the charge third ball, presenting Matthew Quantrill with the simplest of stumping chances. Will Meredith manages a single first ball, and from the last Butler slashes the ball past gully for a four. Wrotham 26-7 in 6 overs, Lewsey a somewhat expensive 2-20 in three overs.
Meredith had looked Wrotham's best bowler, and now played one of their better innings. Two solid defensive shots and a (once again somewhat harsh) wide restore a sense of order briefly, but the third (legal) ball of the over is a beauty, not only pitched up but swinging in around the defensive stroke and splaying the stumps for a fifth time. Out comes Sam Millett at number 10, the ball is another beauty and the stumps are out of the ground again, Wrotham's fourth golden duck of the innings, and Sumner on a hat trick for the third time in as many overs. Once again he didn't bottle it, another perfect ball being just about kept out by the prod of Neil Harvey's bat, but the final ball is a repeat, and this time Harvey cannot keep it out, triggering wild celebrations from Sumner and most of the New Ash Green side as a 218 run win is wrapped up in just seven overs, Sumner having taken 8-7 in just four overs.
Sumner's figures are the best in New Ash Green's history, eclipsing the mark of 8-10 set by Bob Browning in 1977. They are all the more remarkable for being achieved in a first XI league game, and on a pitch which, while not perfect, did little to assist him. Most astonishing of all was that the last seven wickets were all clean bowled and were taken in just three overs – not many bowlers could hit the stumps 7 times in three overs even without batsmen in the way. Having done so much of the hard work for little reward over the last few years, beating the bat and keeping runs down at the start of the innings Mick was due a good day, and this was it in spades. A thoroughly deserved return, and hopefully one that will mark a new era of wicket taking for him.
New Ash Green, meanwhile, take maximum points again and go into next week's game with league leaders Gravesham full of confidence that they can take charge in the title race even this early in the season.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Sidcup (9 pts) 106 all out (29.2 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 107-6 (38.2 overs)
New Ash Green won by 4 wickets
Meanwhile, back at Manor Field the second team were not to be outdone by the first team fireworks 15 minutes down the road. All season they had felt they were on the verge of getting through sides without quite managing to make the crucial breakthroughs, but this time they managed to get on top and prevent it getting away from them. John Harley and Sam MacNeil bowled through, with MacNeil apparently generating good pace, and the batsmen struggled to get them away. Harley took 4-21 and MacNeil 2-28 as they reduced Sidcup to 41-6. Having struggled to find an eleven at all New Ash Green were short of regular bowlers, so the crucial moments came when the opening pair had bowled out and were replaced by Martin Ives and Edward Quantrill. Without quite managing to keep on the stranglehold of the opening pair they prevented Sidcup getting away, Ives getting two wickets and Quantrill one as the score fell to 71-9 before Sidcup number 10 Nikhil Sutariya counter attacked. Against such tactics the skipper turned to the experience of Phil Steers, and he ended the dangerous last wicket partnership of 35, trapping the number 11 LBW and leaving Sutariya unbeaten as top scorer on 27*.
New Ash Green have been consistently making scores around 100, so a target of 107 was certainly within their compass, but could they do it when the pressure was on and a result at stake? Having 50 overs in which to make the runs helped, and Dave Harley and Mark Chapelhow once again provided a steady start, with Martin Ives making a good contribution at number 3, and at 48-1 New Ash Green looked favourites. Soon afterwards with the top three out and Phil Steers also going for just a single, though, the pressure was on Sam MacNeil to make the runs, the rest of the batting order looking decidedly fragile, with three under 15s at the tail. Martin Bartlett gave MacNeil good support initially, and after Adam Brown had perished early John Harley saw off the returning opening bowler and then hit the winning runs, MacNeil finishing top scorer in the match with 29, a welcome all round contribution from the vice captain securing the second team's first win of the season. What with the first team win, Sumner's record bowling and it being Karl Bartlett's 18th birthday the mood at the Royal Oak was decidedly buoyant, and a record post match attendance enjoyed the sunshine, drinks and food in the garden well into the evening. Let's hope it is the first of many such celebratory evenings.
Friendly Match - Proper Cricket
Nuxley 73-3 (14 overs)
New Ash Green did not bat
An overcast morning had produced only a few drops of rain before the start, so the match against Nuxley got away on time. John Harley won the toss and decided to bowl first, and Matt Bushe struck with the first ball of the second over. Harley himself took the second wicket, and after a little while the third, courtesy of a good diving catch by his nephew. With the rain getting steadily heavier and no sign of it relenting the usual arguments started to occur about whether to carry on or not, and eventually sanity prevailed and the players left the field before everyone was completely soaked. The skipper remained optimistic, but the majority of the side got changed immediately, and the lowering clouds and continuous steady rain proved them right this week, so tea was taken and the game abandoned.