Kent Regional League Match - 28 overs per side
GHS Dartford (0 pts) 46 all out (28 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 47-0 (10 overs)
New Ash Green won by 10 wickets
Two obstacles lay between New Ash Green and title winning glory, and the first of those was the last team to beat them, indeed the only team to beat them soundly all season, and the only team to score over 200 against them. However that was against a ten man New Ash Green shorn of most of their main bowlers, and with a near full strength side out New Ash Green were confident it wouldn't happen again. First, though, there was a further potential obstacle in their path to be cleared first, and that was the weather. Heavy rain for the previous few days had left a sodden field, and more overnight rain meant pitch preparation on Saturday morning had to be delayed while wind and sun made at least a start on drying it out. With some rolling as well a playable pitch looked as if it would be ready for a late start at 1.30, and the captains had agreed a start then and a game reduced to 40 overs, but a further shower put paid to that plan. With more showers threatened a decision was taken immediately to reduce the game to 28 overs and hope there would be enough time between them to get at least that much in, if the pitch remained playable. Eventually at something close to 2 p.m. the game got under way, with New Ash Green having won the toss and asking GHS to bat. GHS tend to be attacking batsmen, and at their ground against second string bowlers it had proved an effective tactic, but against Mick Sumner and Dan Lewsey on a wet pitch it was much more risky. In fact the pitch played well, with surprising pace and bounce, the ball seeming mostly to skid through, but it did make timing a little difficult, always a dangerous situation to be throwing the bat. Sumner started with a maiden, but Lewsey as ever struck in his first over with an innocuous looking ball, a wide one being chased and nicked behind. This set the pattern for the first 14 overs, with the bowlers regularly beating the bat, the occasional big shot connecting, but more balls being hit in the air as the wickets tumbled on a regular basis. Joe Elisak ignored the pain of a broken finger to take two good catches in the covers from balls that went high in the air, Matthew Quantrill finally saw someone nick Mick Sumner instead of missing him, and picked up another catch from Lewsey, Fernando comfortably took a skyer from Lewsey and Sumner hit the stumps twice, the first just nicking one bail off so that it took a moment or two before anyone realised what had happened. By the time the opening bowlers had finished their spells with four cheap wickets each not a single batsman had reached double figures. When Andy Mayers got an edge in his first over and Quantrill changed directions well to snatch his fourth catch one handed, and the number 11 came out wearing black tracksuit trousers and looking like a startled rabbit to every ball it looked all over. Somehow he managed to survive, and Amandeep Singh at number 9 played the best GHS innings in making 11 not out, so that the final wicket partnership proved the best of the innings. It was eventually ended only by a run out, when Singh tried to keep the strike from the last ball of the over but the number 11 was easily beaten by Paul Sumner's throw to the keeper, leaving GHS all out for 46.
Before a pleasant tea Matthew Quantrill and Andy Mayers knocked the runs off. Again.
Ok…so there is a little more to say, but not much. GHS are an Asian team, and one of the features of Asian teams is a much greater willingness than the English to try the unorthodox. It is often a strength, but in this case perhaps a weakness, as they tried opening with spin, maybe remembering that it was spin that had run through New Ash Green in the first game. There was no turn in the wicket, and the ball mostly sat up, especially from the slower spinner, Cheema. 22 in the first three overs was a good start. Although the variety of bowlers tried thereafter, especially seamer Amandeep Singh, made life a little more difficult, Quantrill and Mayers never looked in any difficulty in getting the 47 needed to win in just ten overs. Oh yes, and although he didn't bat or bowl it was very good to see Vic Mayers taking the field for the first, and quite possibly only, time this season, looking sprightly as ever despite his protestations.
As a result of the early finish and the continuing absence of any further rain a fifteen over beer match was played after tea. GHS batted first and piled up a huge score, largely courtesy of Victor Singh who opened and made 90, being dropped numerous times in the deep as he flung the bat at all the bowlers. With only nine men (Vic Mayers and Paul Sumner having ducked out) New Ash Green struggled to cover all the gaps, and only just managed to keep the score under 150. In response GHS, with a full complement, managed to actually hold their catches, and although there were some useful blows from David Baker and Mick Sumner, who top scored, New Ash Green were never quite up with the asking rate, and eventually subsided to defeat. With the game lost Ben Chapelhow went out to bat at number 8 for his adult (sort of) debut, but was bowled second ball, and farce finally took over when Dan Lewsey stayed at the crease after being run out, having been told that Andy Mayers did not want to bat, and Matthew Quantrill scored a six with a reverse sweep from the final ball – though it was an all run six, made when the throw to stop the fourth was missed by keeper and fielder backing up and the GHS bowler couldn't be bothered to complete the run out on the sixth! It did at least mean a few more people got a game of some sort and some practice before the final big match next week. With Sevenoaks Vine having apparently also picked up maximum points New Ash Green still need a win to guarantee promotion unless Vine are docked points for late entry of their result, which seems unlikely at this critical stage of the season. Nurstead have been the form team in the second half of the season, but a fired up New Ash Green side should be able to complete victory and take the title if they play to their full potential.
Kent Regional League Match - 30 overs per side
Blue Star (3 pts) 108-8 (30 overs)
New Ash Green (19 pts) 110-2 (21.2 overs)
New Ash Green won by 8 wickets
The second team had the pleasure of travelling to North West Kent College to play Blue Star, not the ideal ground to be at if the weather is poor, but having mostly changed in their cars, as the firsts did last year, they made the best of it by winning the toss and choosing to bowl first. They were soon on top with Keith Bushell bowling one opener and Olly Cooper running the other out with a direct hit from a distance before he had faced a ball. With John Harley also contributing two early wickets courtesy of catches by Phil Steers and Olly Cooper Blue Star were teetering on the brink at 5-4. The next pair staged something of a recovery, not able to get Bushell away and only making a few more off Harley, but at least surviving. With the damp conditions making bowling at pace treacherous Olly Cooper and Ashley Woodward were ineffective, and Kieran Poole didn't even try and bowl, so the skipper turned to his most gentle bowler, himself, with immediate effect. He bowled one batsman and then took two more quick wickets, the first coming by way of a one handed diving catch from Tim Cooper that he himself said he was quite pleased with – for others the word gobsmacked seems to have been the one that came to mind. There was then a second revival, but the scoring rate never really took off, and Chapelhow picked up a fourth wicket towards the end to check any thoughts of a late surge. By the end of the 30 overs Blue Star had reached 108-8, though that is still as many as New Ash Green have made in 40 overs in every game bar one.
That one game, though, was their last one, and not only are they finally beginning to find their run scoring touch, but they were additionally fired up by the absence of any tea, a fact made worse by the absence of any warning. Profuse apologies and explanations of confusion and misunderstanding were not enough to satisfy Tim Cooper, who needs his cup of tea, and was still distinctly disgruntled the next day by its absence. A second problem came with the realisation that Sue Chapelhow had left the ground with her car keys, while Mark Chapelhow's batting kit was in the car, so necessitating a change in the planned batting order. The unfortunate victim of this was Martin Ives, who was out for a duck in the first over, while the beneficiary was Olly Cooper who opened and batted through for his highest ever score of 43 not out. He was accompanied by Phil Steers in a partnership of 52 for the second wicket, and then joined by his captain, who made up for lost time by knocking up a rapid 47 not out from just 33 balls to see New Ash Green to their second successive victory with more than 8 overs to spare.
The weather didn't improve greatly for the family fun day, but nonetheless the turn out was excellent with a majority of regular players and many families turning up for most of the day. A badminton net, which later turned into a volleyball net to allow more people to participate at once, was the initial attraction, before the cricket got under way at about 1.45. There was time for some sibling rivalry between the Sumners, Paul and Karen batting against Mick and Bernadette's bowling, as well as for Ritchie Harley to get his father out so many times that the scorers refused to count them all, and for Fernando and Lakshika to pile up a few runs, but a very heavy shower of rain drove almost everyone into the pavilion with the first innings only about two thirds completed, and lasted long enough to leave the pitch sodden with liquid mud and in such a poor condition that even a relatively gentle match of this nature couldn't continue. Whilst this was disappointing, especially for those who had not yet had a go, it did not dampen the spirits and the fun continued apace. The brave chefs remained at their stations with the cover of gazebos weighed down by David Baker that kept most of the rain off them, and the food and drink disappeared at a rate of knots.
Egg throwing took place throughout, with Joe Elisak and Karl Bartlett trying to slip a rubber egg into play, but being spotted. The Sumner brothers took the main honours with some massive throws, getting far enough apart that they had to throw overarm, the only people to do so, and still managed to take more catches, reaching a total of 24 before the egg finally shattered. Other highlights included Joe Elisak and Olly Cooper breaking an egg on their first throw to score the only zero and lots of good egg splatters to go with the general mud. Winners in the arbitrary made up categories were guests Gwynneth and Nic Young in the couples category and Edward Quantrill and Gareth Young in the juniors section.
Once the eggs had been used up, most of the food had been eaten, including salads, one being a distinctly spicy Sri Lankan production (“No! It's a medium” – S. Fernando) produced by Lakshika and enjoyed by those with a taste for spice, as well as a splendid trifle offered as a dessert, and improvised football and volleyball had worn a few people out there was a clear up of the hall and a mad search for enough chairs to seat six teams for the quiz. The acoustics in the hall meant the sound round was a little tricky, but that hiccup aside there was eager participation from most, with Jasper Holliday's Knights Croft Exiles featuring Matt Bushe, Andy Noakes and Mick Sumner running away with the competition, while Dan Lewsey and James Gegg picked up the consolation prize for the comfortably last placed Nobatrons. The other four teams (Charleys, Woolly Hat Wearers, Gary Glitter's Under 16s and The Chefs) came fairly close to each other in the middle.
With the quiz over there was a mass clear up operation, which surprisingly quickly returned the hall to a relatively pristine state and proved that many hands do make light work. People drifted slowly away, but further games of football, volleyball and catching a cricket ball continued for some time, before a final entertainment with the pogo stick challenge on Tim Cooper's boot fair (and probably child sized) pogo stick. The effects of the locally brewed beer he had provided and imbibed may have explained Tim's inability to bounce more than twice without crashing into the pavilion, but it proved a remarkably tough challenge for almost everyone. A small crowd gathered round to watch almost everyone fail spectacularly to make any progress. Bushey led initially with five bounces, before Pea slipped in what looked an unbeatable 8, which Bushey could not better despite intense concentration. Many others tried and failed in more or less spectacular and amusing ways until Felix Quantrill (who in fairness was probably closer to the size the pogo stick was designed for than most others) stepped in and suddenly made it look easy with 21 bounces. This inspired further efforts, but no one could match that, though his father did come close with 19.
Eventually the last few people drifted away from a day that was a big success despite the weather, and showed what a club this size should be all about. Huge thanks to all who helped out throughout the day, but so many people helped in one way or another, including all the usual suspects, that I won't try and name them here, but will just mention Tim Cooper, with family support, whose sterling work in setting up and running the barbecue was at the centre of the whole day. The last thing to mention is that a quite startling amount of clothing and equipment was left behind. Some was taken by people who thought they knew who the owners were and will try and contact them, but there is an array of unclaimed clothing as well as pads and a plastic cricket set which has all been left in the home dressing room at the pavilion, so anyone who thinks they have left anything behind should get along there on Saturday morning before the second team game to see if it is there!
Friendly Match - Proper Cricket
Ash 167 all out (47.4 overs)
New Ash Green 168-5 (47.4 overs)
New Ash Green won by 5 wickets
Unfortunate problems with vandalism and theft at their isolated ground meant that New Ifield were unable to host the annual Bank Holiday fixture, but there was a silver lining for New Ash Green in that the replacement fixture was at Ash, a suitably local and friendly game for a bank holiday. Somewhat short of regular bowlers stand in captain Kieran Poole chose to bowl first in a game that, with a 1 p.m. start and twenty overs from 6 p.m. had the potential to be very long. This also meant a lot of work for Poole and John Harley, though the latter, at least, is not shy of a heavy workload. It was Harley who got New Ash Green on top early on, probably getting the best of the conditions with a new ball on a wicket that was still drying, and getting the ball to do quite a bit as he took four early wickets, including the two openers who were touted as class batsmen. Movement off the seam brought catches for John Harding at slip and James Turner at gully, and one sitting up was pulled to James Gegg at square leg, who took the catch well. Finally one fired through the batsman's defence brought a fourth wicket, but after an over or two more without getting a fifth he was rested as New Ash Green looked to open the game up. Given the other bowling at their disposal that wasn't too difficult. Ryan Harley started with a couple of loose balls, but bowled a tidy spell thereafter, but Mark Chapelhow, Michael Gallagher and Matthew Quantrill, occasional bowlers all, failed to produce any pressure as Ash's fifth wicket added 96. Eventually it was the return of Poole that produced the breakthrough, and almost immediately afterwards Quantrill did get a wicket in his final over, managing to land a leg break and turn it enough to bowl David Green, Ash's top scorer with 61, round his legs. Poole took two more wickets, and also brought John Harley back to claim his fifth wicket when Pete Maddocks got a leading edge to one that popped, and Mark Chapelhow just managed to get a hand up to knock it out of the air and clutch the rebound. Phil Steers finished things off, getting another one to stop and pop up for a close catch comfortably pouched by Michael Gallagher.
A very good tea, particularly notable for the freshness of the sandwiches, was followed by New Ash Green's attempt to make 168 in more than 90 minutes plus twenty overs. Ash's bowling attack was not threatening in pace terms, but with the wicket still doing a little bit and the ball dying from the slower bowlers, attacking shots were always risky. Matthew Qauntrill and John Harding played with patience, waiting for the bad balls, and picking them off efficiently, Quantrill in particular being quick onto anything short. They kept up a respectable if not lightening fast scoring rate in getting past fifty for the first wicket, before Harding couldn't quite keep a flick to leg down and was caught at square leg. Mark Chapelhow initially looked in good touch with a pull for four, but he soon fell victim to the problems of playing straight on a slow wicket, getting through a shot too early and putting it in the air straight at short mid-off. The ball was moving, but people tend to react very quickly when a ball is heading straight for their face, and the fielder clung onto it somewhere in his arms and chest. James Turner nudged a few runs away before also getting under one and finding a fielder, but Quantrill kept going patiently, apart from one over where he was through two shots too early, one of which just fell short of one fielder and the other was dropped. He had reached his fifty with a six pulled high into the Ash trees, as well as benefitting from a four overthrows when a young fielder threw the ball into the trees. He was joined for the fourth wicket by Ryan Harley, who looked more willing than anyone else to move his feet, and took on the spinners as well as playing the pace bowlers with little fear. His aggression deserved the luck he gained as he hit a couple of balls just over or out of the reach of fielders, and he answered the question of the opposition's 'fast' bowler as to whether it was OK to bowl flat out at him by pulling a leg side ball for four. At one point he was outscoring Quantrill, who was happily taking the singles on offer to him as Ash tried to get Harley on strike, but Quantrill did eventually make his century. He and Harley had a fifty partnership and Harley was being urged to stay out till the end when Ash's 7th bowler, who had been bowling very short, suddenly pitched one right up in the blockhole and bowled Harley for 19. There followed a comic moment that may well get a mention in the season's champagne moment contenders as Dave Harley came out to bat. The wicket had fallen to the last ball of the over, so Quantrill was on strike, and with victory now secure he decided to try and play the shot he had been avoiding all day and drive the ball back down the ground. He managed to get a toe end on the ball, but hit it with some power back along the ground towards the bowler, who stuck out a foot and managed to deflect it onto the stumps, where the unfortunate Harley was just out of his ground backing up – run out first ball without facing. He had to return with some reluctance to the pavilion to endure the taunts of his teammates, who were strangely unsympathetic at his misfortune. Quantrill resolutely dead batted the next ball to ensure there was no repeat, and he and Phil Steers soon polished off the remaining runs to notch up a five wicket win in what turned out to be exactly the same time it had taken to bowl Ash out and complete a 100% weekend for New Ash Green. What they would give for another one next weekend….