Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
New Ash Green (20 pts) 115 all out (38.4 overs)
Snodland Community (10 pts) 75 all out (19.3 overs)
New Ash Green won by 40 runs
The first league game in yet another lower division saw New Ash Green suffering their usual early season problems of lack of full availability. However the difference this year is that there is a greater depth in the squad, and this was a stronger side than they have started the campaign with for a few years, despite the number of absentees. On first glance the wicket at Snodland looked distinctly bumpy, and closer inspection confirmed it to be very uneven, so losing the toss and being asked to bat first wasnít the ideal start. The first three balls, from a similar length went over head height, along the ground at ankle height, then over head height again, and it didnít improve a great deal from then on. The bounce was largely random, in both height and sideways movement, making shot selection something of a lottery. Matthew Quantrill and Matt Clark battled away, tucking the ball into gaps when they could, and were aided by a number of dropped catches by Snodland, as well as numerous byes as the ball shot in various directions, up, down or sideways, out of the keeperís reach. On one occasion one straight along the ground hit the helmet behind the keeper, enabling Keith Bushell to fulfil one of his umpiring ambitions and give five penalty runs. The openers put on 44, but eventually their luck ran out in the same over, Clark getting a lifter that hit his elbow and ballooned up for the keeper. From the other end it looked to have come off his glove, and he was given out, and two balls later one shot along the ground and pinned Quantrill in front LBW. Dave Baker and Fernando added another 27 for the third wicket, with Fernando looking to be positive where he could, but they were out in quick succession, also to one ball shooting and one popping. With the pitch remaining difficult a further 5 wickets fell for only 11 runs, and when Keith Bushell strode to the wicket for his first ball of the season the score was 82-9 and the bowler was on a hat trick. Bushell, a specialist in useful last wicket stands in league games, swung the hat trick ball over mid-wicket for six, and aided by the watchful Matt Bushe proceeded to add 33 invaluable runs for the 10th wicket, making himself comfortably top scorer (other than byes) with 24 and putting at least a slight dent in some very flattering bowling figures for the Snodland change bowlers, before he was eventually cleaned up by yet another ball keeping low.
There was a certain amount of speculation as to just what would have happened had Micky Sumner, Ashley Woodward or the Mayers been available to open the bowling on this wicket. It might have resulted in injuries to batsmen, or quite possibly plenty of byes, as the ball flew uncontrollably in all directions. As it was Paul Sumner and Dan Lewsey were of a gentle enough pace that the movement was less wild and New Ash Green gave away 25 less byes than their opponents, but it was still enough to make playing any shot a dangerous business unless the ball was a full toss or very short. New Ash Green held their catches where Snodland hadnít and within six overs the score was 4-3. Snodland recovered marginally, mostly by dint of throwing the bat at anything slightly short, but none of the batsmen ever looked secure, and New Ash Green continued to hold almost every chance that came their way, Dan Lewsey leading the way with a diving catch to remove Snodlandís top scorer Mark Edmonds. Paul Sumner was the main beneficiary, ending up with 5-31, while Lewsey picked up three wickets and Keith Bushell wrapped up a man of the match performance, including what he claims to be his first ever diving stop in the field, by taking the last two wickets and completing a 40 run win before the drinks break. A satisfying start to the league season, especially with so many players missing, and hopefully a sign of a better season to come, though it will have done nothing to alleviate fears about the standard of pitches that might be found in this division.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Mottingham (19 pts) 262-4 (40 overs)
New Ash Green (2 pts) 101-8 (40 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 161 runs
The second team didnít have quite such a successful start to their season, but in some ways even having a second team after last yearís difficulty and with so many players unavailable is something of a triumph. In any event although the margin of defeat looks large it seems that the team generally felt they were actually reasonably competitive, unlike some of last yearís heavy thrashings, and the game seems to have been enjoyed, which has to be the main aim. Fielding first stand in captain John Harley bowled through his ten overs for just 15 runs, taking one wicket, while at the other end Derek Mole picked up two wickets at rather higher cost. Mottingham's middle order swung the bat hard on what seems to have been a good batting track, and New Ash Greenís fill in bowlers all struggled to keep them pinned down. Phil Steers did pick up one more wicket, but all four bowlers were expensive as Mottingham took their total up to 262-4 by the end of their forty overs.
New Ash Greenís reply got off to a bad start with Glen Freeman getting a controversial early LBW from the home umpire, the injured Mark Chapelhow showing the honesty expected from our police service. With so many players missing it was obvious that New Ash Green did not have the firepower to chase such a big score, but there were steady innings from Martin Ives and Phil Steers, and David Harley played through to the end to be not out and top scorer on 24. It may be that promotion will be beyond the second team this year, but the signs are that at least they should be able to play enjoyable and competitive cricket, which will be a big improvement on the last few seasons.
Friendly Match - Proper Cricket
East Malling 156 all out (30.3 overs)
New Ash Green 144 all out (41 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 12 runs
After the perils of Snodland the wicket in Clare Park at East Malling was positively placid, the variability being mostly only upward jumps, with quite a bit of sideways movement, but not the regular sprinkling of balls along the ground that had made batting so perilous on Saturday. Nonetheless New Ash Green were quite happy to have the chance to bowl first, and the game could have been over in no time had the Sunday side caught as well as their Saturday colleagues. Both East Mallingís openers gave chances, Arul Anbazhagan in particular getting away with three relatively simple chances, before getting into his stride and striking a number of very clean boundaries. 62 were put on in good time for the first wicket before Olly Cooper finally found a fielder who could hold a catch, newcomer Tony Alvis taking the chance at point. Arul continued to score rapidly, but the remaining batsmen, especially the lower order, all looked in difficulty against anything straight, and Dan Lewsey was soon picking up wickets. When he eventually got Arul the remaining batting crumbled away, Lewsey taking 5-30 and Fernando getting two, before Joe Chapelhow was introduced for the 31st over. His second ball produced his trademark wicket, a legside ball deflected onto the stumps by the batsman, and his fourth, after a wide, was pulled to mid-wicket where Olly Cooper held an excellent low catch to finish off the innings and give Joe figures of 2-1.
New Ash Greenís reply, with nearly two hours plus twenty overs to get the runs, started well with 8 runs in the first over, but then suffered something of a hiccup when John Howland was unlucky to get one of the few balls that kept low second ball. Worse was to follow as Matthew Quantrill misjudged the line and Derek Mole followed immediately, leaving New Ash Green on 9-3. Ross Mole kept Fernando company in getting the score to 45 and Fernando accelerated against the change bowling, getting to 42 out of 75 before he edged one behind. At that stage New Ash Greenís chances looked slim, but with Dan Lewsey holding up one end debutant Tony Alvis, playing only his second game in 20 years, showed good technique and slowly remembered how and when to play shots, while wides also helped keep the total ticking over. They had put on 43 and had swung the game back New Ash Greenís way when East Malling turned back to their opening bowler, and Alvis immediately missed one and was bowled for a very promising 27. Olly Cooper added a few more before fencing to gully and Tim Cooper went first ball. John Harley survived the hat trick and smacked one four down the ground before finding a fielder trying a repeat. That left some 23 runs needed for the last wicket, and in fairness to East Malling despite the tightness of the game they played in a good spirit bowling at a sensible pace to Joe Chapelhow, who survived for several overs and even picked up a single, while Dan Lewsey had a swing at the other end and picked up a couple more fours before eventually getting out twelve runs short of the total. It wasnít an ideal wicket, but far better than the previous day's, and ended up with a good game between two well balanced sides, played in the right way and with the right sort of tea. All in all a good dayís cricket.