Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
Swanscombe & Greenhithe (0 pts) 171-6 (46 overs)
New Ash Green (18 pts) 175-0 (26.5 overs)
New Ash Green won by 10 wickets
Swanscombe and Greenhithe have sunk to the bottom of the division since their opening win against Sevenoaks Vine, so this should have been a gentle warm up for New Ash Green after last week's enforced league break, but a weather forecast indicating heavy rain from mid-afternoon made life a little less simple. Despite playing in a public park surrounded by a public who clearly have little respect for the game - plenty of passers by chose to walk across the pitch rather than round it during the game, and the local advice was not to ask them to walk round for fear of being met by abuse – Swanscombe clearly have a groundsman who knows what he is doing, and apart from crying out for water the pitch looked very flat and even. Had it not been for the forecast batting first would have been a no-brainer, but the possibility of bowling the home side out and winning before the rain came, meant that a gamble had to be taken on bowling first. With Dan Lewsey and Andy Mayers delayed in their arrival, and not getting on the field until the second over there was a change to the usual plan, and the Sumner brothers opened together. Both were effective enough to keep runs down, but on a dead pitch offering little pace or seam movement, and no visible swing, they could do little to threaten batsmen who played resolutely. Mick did get manage to force one through to make the first breakthrough, and until going for ten in his final over he was extremely economical – even with that final over he still conceded less than 2 per over – but it was hard labour for him on a hot afternoon. Dan Lewsey took over from Paul after twelve overs, and did at least draw a little more adventure from the batsmen, but New Ash Green were still slightly sluggish in the field, and as so often happens when fielders are not quite on top of their game they seemed to have little luck as well. Catches went just out of the reach of fielders, and when they were within range difficult chances were missed or dropped. It took the introduction of Joe Elisak to really start asking some questions of the batsmen. The very dry wicket immediately produced sharp spin, and he looked as if he could produce a repeat of his Petts Wood performance. He struck early when Mick Sumner held a mishit drive at mid off, and Lewsey soon picked up another plumb LBW. Some aggressive batting brought a brief acceleration in the scoring rate before Elisak turned one massively through the gate to bowl the number five. At this point, though, the clouds that had been steadily thickening began to disgorge their load, and after an over of playing in heavy rain hoping it would pass the sides were off, with ten overs remaining. Given the forecast they might well have thought the game was over, but surprisingly after ten minutes of heavy rain the clouds passed over and the sun appeared, and remained out for the rest of the afternoon. The pitch absorbed the water with no difficulty, but it did take a little while for the sun to dry out the pitch and surroundings, and for the remainder of the innings all sign of spin had vanished, while all the bowlers struggled with grip. Elisak had also injured his hand, so his bowling after the break was far less effective than before. With wickets in hand Swanscombe could go on the attack, but they still failed to really up the run rate despite the circumstances being so much in their favour. Andy Mayers picked up two wickets, one bowled and one caught at fly slip as David Baker clutched it to his chest, determined not to join the ranks of the guilty who had missed chances, which included most of his team mates. Fernando took over from Elisak for the last couple of overs and was effective but as unlucky as the rest, and in the end the conditions defeated New Ash Green's hopes of picking up maximum bonus points, as did Keith Gould, who batted through the innings with a combination of resolution and luck to be unbeaten on 64 at the end.
After a very pleasant tea Matthew Quantrill and Andy Mayers knocked the runs off.
There is genuinely little more that can be said about the innings. Swanscombe's seam bowling was steady enough, but with no help from the pitch it was no match for the division's leading opening pair in their contrasting styles. Quantrill started things off with nudges and pushes, Mayers got his eye in, then battered a few more powerful shots, and as he tired Quantrill picked up the rate, punishing tiring bowlers when they strayed. Pandya turned the ball at least as much as Elisak had once the pitch had dried up, but both batsmen played him well. There were a couple of difficult chances and Quantrill was dropped on 46 off an absolute sitter by Swanscombe's captain, a poor ball getting a poor shot and an even worse piece of fielding which he blamed on the sun in his eyes, but other than that it was an efficient demolition job. Victory was completed with nearly twenty overs to spare and leaving the batsmen to wonder how many they could have made if they had batted first and had the full 46 overs. With Sevenoaks Vine giving GHS Dartford a sound beating it means the promotion race is as good as over, but the battle for the title remains tight, and New Ash Green need to win their last two games against third placed GHS and fourth placed current form team Nurstead if they are to take the title. They will need to step up a gear in the field if they are to do it, but the title is definitely within their reach.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Old Elthamians (7 pts) 148 all out (36 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 151-5 (34 overs)
New Ash Green won by 5 wickets
Having lost two batsmen late in the week the second team didn't look quite as strong as it had done on selection, but the optimistic mood of the last few weeks was finally translated into a performance on the field. Olly Cooper and Kieran Poole got them off to a steady start, but couldn't break the opening partnership. It was John Harley at first change who took the first three wickets, and then the returning Cooper took two in the middle order. However it was when Mark Chapelhow stepped in for a couple of filler overs as Cooper tired that things really turned round, as he took three wickets for 14 runs in two eventful overs. Bushell and Harley then returned to finish things off, though there wasn't a lot of finishing to do, Bushell quickly picking up the final wicket as Elthamians were bowled out for 148.
Whilst this was an improvement on most weeks it still left the hosts chasing considerably more than they have made all season in the league. They were helped by some fairly wild bowling from Elthamians opening bowlers, with extras getting the scoring off to a good start, well ahead of the usual run rate. John Harding played his usual anchor role while Mark Chapelhow started steadily but then picked up the pace a little. Harding eventually went mis-hitting to mid on, but Chapelhow reached his fifty, the second team's first in the league this year, with a couple of powerful pulls before he nicked one behind. Martin Ives and Phil Steers looked to be in command, keeping the run rate up, until an unfortunate incident where Martin was perhaps lucky to be given not out LBW, but whilst waiting for the decision missed the fact that his partner was running, and was run out by a smart piece of work from the keeper, hitting the stumps at the bowler's end directly. Dave Harley came and went quickly, and Phil Steers also found the keeper, but with less than twenty needed extras kept the score going, before Olly Cooper and Michael Gallagher overcame initial nerves to see the side to their second win and their first score over 150, brought up with Olly hitting a beautiful cover drive for the winning runs.
Friendly Match - Proper Cricket
Newington 159 all out (37.2 overs)
New Ash Green 155 all out (35 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 4 runs
Newington, despite being a third eleven of a club who have no Saturday presence at all, turned out a side of fit young men, a contrast to New Ash Green's side of the aged and the very junior, plus Dave Baker. Nonetheless the game developed into an enthralling contest in the way a Sunday game should. New Ash Green opened the bowling with the youthful pairing of Olly Cooper and Joe Chapelhow, and Chapelhow put the pressure on early, taking a wicket in his third over, by which time he had conceded only two runs. He conceded a few more in the rest of his spell, but still finished with very respectable figures before being replaced by John Harley, who propped up the pavilion end for the rest of the innings. Cooper also took a couple of wickets before giving way to Phil Steers whose flight tempted Newington and soon left them on 87-6, with one retired hurt. The 7th wicket pair restored some order with some good hitting, but eventually one swung too often and was bowled by James Ives. John Harley picked up another, and the returning Olly Cooper took a third to make the final total 159 at about 4.20.
With the sides having agreed twenty overs from 6.30 this left New Ash Green with more than an hour and a half plus twenty overs to reach 160, so time was never likely to be an issue. More of a problem was the tall gangly opening bowler, Jim Palmer, who got a lot of bounce at a reasonable pace. David Baker played him with reasonable ease, but Martin Ives was unlucky to get a consistent four balls which put him under pressure, and eventually he fell fending one off and being well caught by a diving silly mid off. Phil Markham didn't last long, being yorked, but Tim Cooper used his edge effectively to make a few runs before being bowled himself. He did enough to see off the opener's spell, but a change of bowling didn't bring much relief as Michael Gallagher and Mark Chapelhow were out in quick succession. A change at the other end also brought quick rewards for Newington. David Baker had looked a different class from other batsmen in the match, only spoiled by a slight impatience, but putting away anything he could get a bat on. However on 49 he prodded forward and jabbed a ball straight to mid-off, and the next ball James Ives swung at a loose ball and lofted it into the covers for a simple catch. At 76-7 New Ash Green looked out of it, but Phil Steers and Olly Cooper then produced the best partnership of the match. Steers lived up to his name, guiding the ball away at every opportunity, while Olly played watchfully and was quickly on to anything short or over-pitched. Newington had been starting to open the game up, but as the partnership grew they were soon getting worried, and returned to their stronger bowlers, not least the tall fast bowler. He was in fact lucky to stay in the attack, as he bowled two high full tosses, which were called no balls and should have earned him a warning and removal from the attack, a rule not often applied but given the dangerous nature (albeit entirely unintentionally) of his beamers perhaps should have been enforced here. He was, though, allowed to stay on, and responded by bowling Olly Cooper just as a comeback win was beginning to look the favourite. This brought Joe Chapelhow to the crease, and he was able to defend solidly enough, while Steers continued to nudge and nurdle away at the target, even contributing the odd more positive swing as he made his way to 29. With 12 needed he became Palmer's fifth victim, and John Harley survived the rest of the over, pulling the last ball for 4. Extras of various sorts, including more conventional no balls from Palmer, also chipped in and the target was down to five to win when Harley went for the big swing to level the scores, and missed, leaving Newington the winners by 4 runs.