Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
New Ash Green (13 pts) 144 all out (40.1 overs)
Bexleyheath III (20 pts) 145-9 (47 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 1 wicket
Once Bexleyheath finally found the ground they won the toss and inserted New Ash Green. The wicket remained pacey, but unlike the previous two weeks the dryness began to show with the odd ball staying low as well, though not quite as dramatically low as the regular shooters at Snodland. Matthew Quantrill and Andy Mayers made a steady start, scoring slowly against an accurate opening attack, but gradually picking up the pace. They looked set for a big score when Mayers was unexpectedly bowled just as they had reached 50. Fernando joined Quantrill and in his usual way went after the bowling from the start, mixing magnificent shots of various kinds with head up swipes as he powered his way to 33 and took the score past 100. Just before the drinks break at 102-1 New Ash Green had a score well over 200 in their sights, but all too typically things then went badly wrong. Fernando missed a big hit and was bowled and two runs later Quantrill inexplicably missed a straight ball, and Joe Elisak followed him back immediately, caught trying for a big hit to his first ball. The rest of the innings was a struggle, with only Paul Sumner with 12 and Olly Cooper, 14, making double figures. Bexleyheath's young bowlers never threatened to blow New Ash Green away, but they gave nothing away, bowling with remarkable consistency for such a young attack, and New Ash Green's batting line up failed to deal with them patiently enough, crucially being all out in the 41st over and so gifting Bexleyheath five extra overs to make the runs in.
It was soon evident how crucial this might be, as Mick Sumner started his first bowl of the season on the spot and with reasonable pace, and remained there for most of his spell. At the other end Dan Lewsey started with an awful long hop, which the batsman obligingly chipped straight to Fernando in the covers. After that Lewsey was also mostly on the spot and the batsmen struggled to lift the rate much above one an over. Crucially, though, they survived, though not without some controversy, particularly in the case of Conor Luxford. Having survived a close stumping appeal off Lewsey he then got a thick edge from the same bowler, which popped up off his thigh and was caught by Matthew Quantrill. Somehow the umpire managed not to see the edge and the batsman refused to walk, despite admitting quite happily later that he knew he had hit it. His own side were embarrassed enough by his attitude that the umpire who had given him not out (and had said he assumed the batsman would walk if he hit it) promised to raise his finger if anything hit his pads, but nothing did. By the twentieth over the score had not reached 30, and batting first or chasing a lower target Bexleyheath may well have been forced to take more risks and may have collapsed. Knowing how much time they had they could afford to take their time, though, and although Dan Lewsey picked up two more wickets towards the end of his spell Sumner remained out of luck, both bowlers ending up conceding 24 runs in their 12 overs, with 11 maidens between them. The next pair carried the score into the 70s without looking convincing, but both fell, one to Ashley Woodward, who looked threatening in his first spell of the season, and Luxford finally falling for 38 (more than 30 of them unearned and, sadly, crucial) to Paul Sumner. A second wicket for Paul Sumner soon afterwards seemed to have tilted the game firmly New Ash Green's way, but Bexleyheath's youngsters, having bowled tidily, now also showed good technique and nerve with the bat. They played steadily and picked off the bad balls, of which there were a few too many, to keep the total building, with just one more wicket as Manraj Dhesi lofted one to mid off and was well held by a tumbling Mick Sumner off Joe Elisak. With less than 30 runs needed Andy Mayers decided to give himself a bowl, with immediate effect, bowling Michael Barker and immediately following up by taking the edge of his opposite number Tony Barker. Fraser McWhinnie, the youngest but most promising looking of all the Bexleyheath team, denied Mayers the hat trick, then proceeded to play a remarkably mature innings as he and Connor Barry inched their way to the target. There were a couple of alarms, and the importance of batting out the overs was emphasised as they eventually took Bexleyheath to victory in the 47th over. It was an impressive display from the youngsters, and it was a shame that such a tight and admirable finish should be overshadowed by the attitude of one of their (slightly) older colleagues. Luxford was unrepentant after the game, and could even be heard complaining of New Ash Green that they weren't a very nice team. Maybe one day he will learn that if you want people to be nice to you in cricket you have to understand the spirit of the game, especially where your own side are umpiring you and relying on you to walk. In fairness to the rest of the Bexleyheath side, especially their senior players, it is a lesson they are likely to be only too keen to teach him.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Mottingham (20 pts) 185-9 (40 overs)
New Ash Green (4 pts) 92 all out (26.5 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 93 runs
With a strengthened line up New Ash Green were hopeful of achieving a more positive result, but although they did get closer they once again fell short. Mottingham, with the benefit of an umpire, chose to bat first, and with Sam MacNeil and Keith Bushell joining the bowling attack New Ash Green were this time able to prevent the middle order getting away from them. Derek Mole and Keith Bushell, the change bowlers, made the initial breakthroughs, with 3 and 2 wickets respectively, and John Harley returned to pick up three of the tail aided by a run out from Macneil. New Ash Green couldn't quite squeeze the last bonus point out of the innings as Mottingham's last pair hung on to take the final total to 185-9.
Mark Chapelhow, returning from injury, and last week's undefeated batsman Dave Harley, gave New Ash Green a positive start, and once Harley was finally out, for 12, Glen Freeman helped Chapelhow take the score to 70-1 before Chapelhow went for 43. That was the catalyst for a spectacular collapse, with 6 of the next 7 batsmen making ducks, only Keith Bushell with 12 offering any further resistance. His brave effort fell just short of taking New Ash Green into bonus point territory as they were finally all out for 92. Like the first team the second team need to work on the consistency of their batting, very much New Ash Green's Achilles heel over the last few seasons.
Harvel 218-6 (38.4 overs)
New Ash Green 220-7 (47 overs)
New Ash Green won by 3 wickets
A first fixture at Harvel for many years reintroduced New Ash Green to probably the smallest (and perhaps most picturesque) pitch in the Kent League, and sure enough a very short square boundary on one side played a prominent role in the game. New Ash Green won the toss and chose to bowl first, with John Harley having a bad day and soon removing himself from the attack. Derek Mole, Phil Steers and Joe Elisak kept the scoring in check, but only chipped away a few wickets and Harvel were able to accelerate later on, producing some expensive bowling figures, though Joe Chapelhow did strike with his first ball, inducing the batsman to hit his own wicket. A very generous and, as it turned out, almost perfectly timed declaration at 218-6 gave the teams time to enjoy an excellent tea and still leave New Ash Green an hour and twenty minutes, plus twenty overs, which turned out to equate to 47 overs, to chase the runs.
Mark Chapelhow, Martin Ives and Karl Bartlett got them off to a good start, with Ives making his first fifty for the club, and with nine wickets in hand just 80 were required off the final 20 overs. However Karl Bartlett fell to the first ball of the 20, and Ives went for 57 soon afterwards, with Joe Elisak following a few overs later and the scoring rate slowing. 61 were needed from 14 overs, but Phil Steers and John Howland looked to be making them as they steadied the ship. 45 were needed from the last 10, and 25 from the final 5. 4, 5 and then just 2 from the next three overs meant that 14 were needed from the last 2, but 8 from the penultimate over, aided by a misfield, seemed to have tilted things back in New Ash Green's favour. The final dramatic over was bowled by Rod Loe, and from the first the fifth wicket stand of 56 was ended when John Howland was bowled. Out strode Tim Cooper. The ball struck his pad, the fielders went up…and so did the umpire's finger. Still six needed, and now a hat trick ball. Taking responsibility upon himself skipper John Harley marched the short distance to the middle…and was soon marching back again, as the bowler celebrated, having knocked back the stumps. Ever the man for a crisis Matt Bushe stemmed the tide, taking a single and bringing Phil Steers back on strike, with five still needed. Phil couldn't score from the penultimate ball, so it was effectively six needed from the last ball, with the short square boundary looming large. Loe had looked the hero so far – 3-1 in the last over, and a draw apparently snatched from the jaws of defeat, but Phil Steers had other ideas, swinging the final ball just behind square and over the short boundary to bring up his own fifty and a dramatic win by 3 wickets. For the second Sunday in a row an excellent game with a close finish, apparently played in the best Sunday cricketing spirit. Long may it continue.