Kent Regional League Match - 36 overs per side
Hartley (20 pts) 75 all out (22.5 overs)
New Ash Green (14 pts) 70 all out (29.3 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 5 runs
A top of the table clash, a local derby and a clash of cricketing cultures. Throw in a few controversial decisions and a close finish and you have all the elements for a heated game, and that is very much what this was. It all started calmly enough, with both teams looking at the skies and wondering about taking the covers off. New Ash Green won the toss, and not surprisingly chose to bowl first, but a further shower delayed the start, and when the skies cleared a bit the captains decided, with further showers forecast, to reduce the game to 36 overs a side. New Ash Green got away to a great start, with Mick Sumner getting a wicket in his first over, a ball staying a bit low and going on to the stumps off the bottom of the bat, and Ian Mellor picking up a bonus wicket when the worst ball of his first over was hit gently to Andy Mayers at very short cover – Mayers having just placed himself there for a very different ball. Despite the covers the pitch still had a lot in it for the seam bowlers, with occasional sharp movement and slightly variable bounce, and with Sumner generating good pace down the hill it remained a battle for the batsmen throughout, despite the occasional magnificent looking shot. Sumner took the next two, one bowled, keeping low but also moving off the seam, and one brilliantly caught by Joe Elisak in the covers when a well timed poke by the batsman skimmed at no more than knee height and was held just off the ground. Hartley skipper Justin Crouch was fresh from a century the previous week, and played some thumping shots, but having reached ten he pulled Mellor to an enormous height, but very little distance, Dean Freeman waiting an age without moving before safely pocketing the catch at mid-wicket. Mellor followed up with another driven hard to extra cover and safely held by Andy Mayers, and Mick Sumner took his fourth in his ninth and final over getting one to lift and take the batsman's gloves and go straight to the keeper. He finished with 4-30 and Mellor with 3-27, and the score was 58-7 at drinks. Joe Elisak hadn't wanted a slip fielder, but Vic Mayers, struggling still with a sore leg, insisted, and that decision paid off when the last ball of Elisak's first over took the edge and was well held. Paul Sumner's first over brought the first controversial decision when Harry Johnson played forward and missed, and seemed still to be well out of his ground as Matthew Quantrill whipped the bails off, but Hartley's umpire shook his head. Johnson's reprieve didn't last long, a decision to take a quick single to Joe Elisak proving unwise, this time the umpire did raise his finger. The last wicket pair showed the depth of the Hartley side, to be expected in a third team out of six, looking as good as most top order batsmen in this division – and better than some – before another edge from Elisak further vindicated Vic Mayers' decision to stay in the slips and the innings was wrapped up for 75.
A further shower during the tea break caused some concerns, but having looked gloomy for a while the weather eventually lifted, the cover came off and New Ash Green set about the task of making 76 to win. It wasn't a huge target, but the pitch was still helping the bowlers and New Ash Green's batting has not been their strong suit this year. The very tall Joe Martin, opening down the hill, generated plenty of pace, but at the other end Sanjay Hundahl looked less threatening and the openers initially looked comfortable. However the luck that had, to some extent, helped the bowlers in the first innings continued to be with the bowling side as Matthew Quantrill was hit on the thigh by a ball that jagged in sharply off the seam and deflected it from well over and to the leg side of the stumps back on to them. David Baker and Andy Mayers looked comfortable enough and accumulated slowly, but the controversy began to brew with the dismissal of Andy Mayers, given out LBW to Martin. It looked a generous decision to the bowler, but at this stage you couldn't say there was anything clearly wrong with it. In any event Dean Freeman joined Baker, and they added 30, the best partnership of the match, both looking very good, with Freeman in particular looking the most comfortable of any batsman on either side. The partnership was ended by a careless shot from Baker, swinging across the line and missing, but much worse followed when Freeman was given out LBW having hit the ball. Even so New Ash Green reached 50 with only 4 wickets down, and still looked favourites, with plenty of batting of their own. Glen Freeman looked in good touch as well, making double figures before edging one behind, but Karl Bartlett, very much the man in form, was desperately unlucky when a downward edge apparently hit the keeper's foot and bounced up to be caught diving backwards by second slip. There may have been more controversy, as Bartlett walked off having thought he had been given out, though it didn't actually look as if the umpire raised a finger, and whether anyone could really be sure what had happened if he had asked for a decision will never be known. Paul Sumner played a hit and miss innings, a couple of good strikes for 4 mixed with a couple of narrow escapes, before he too was LBW, this time given by Keith Bushell, though he was well forward. There then followed possibly the worst decision of the lot, when Joe Elisak became the fourth LBW victim of the innings despite the fact that it was abundantly obvious to anyone sideways on, as the rest of the New Ash Green team were, that the ball was going well over the stumps. That view was made very plain in a fairly frank exchange of view amongst various players, but of course the decision was never likely to be changed. That was a critical blow, with New Ash Green still 13 runs short of their target, and with two overs left for the quick bowler, Joe Martin, who returned to use those two overs at the tail. It proved too much, despite a brave effort, particularly from Vic Mayers who looked very comfortable against the pace and got New Ash Green to within 5 runs before running out of partners. Getting so close to the side who are undoubtedly the strongest in the division was an excellent result, and in all honesty New Ash Green's batting should still have been good enough to get them home after the hard work of the bowlers, but the frankly very poor decisions and the usual excessively competitive Hartley attitude on the field did make the defeat particularly hard to take. Luckily calm heads prevailed in the aftermath, and there were handshakes and no sign of abuse being thrown. Ultimately it depends on your views on how cricket should be played, but in some ways this was a moral victory – but then from that point of view it is always a moral victory against Hartley, no matter what the result! It would have been nice to have an actual victory as well, but New Ash Green can take pride from their efforts, and know that they are very close to being a match for the best sides in this division and for the first time for several years can really feel they belong where they are.
I am going to add an addendum to this report following a message from the league that complaints had been made about its content, presumably from Hartley. Firstly I will say that I don't set out to offend anyone, and I am sorry if people have been offended. However this report does appear on the club's website, and is very deliberately not posted on PlayCricket because it is intended to be written from the point of view of this club, and not necessarily to be a neutral report. It is open for anyone to read, of course, that is the nature of the internet, but clearly if you come here you will know this is a partisan view. I would fully expect a report on another club's website to reflect a different view of a game, and I would not dream of complaining about them having a different view from us. Secondly it has to be remembered that we are all, players and umpires alike, medium level amateurs, and all human. We will all make mistakes that a professional would be ashamed of, and those mistakes will shape the course of the game. Any report that is going to truly reflect what happens in a match has to include those mistakes, and comment on what people felt about them. Even whilst trying to encourage our side I will report on mistakes we make that negatively effect our side, and will do the same about the opposition and, sometimes, umpires. Without cameras and replays we can never go back and establish the true rights and wrongs of events, but as already said these reports are written from the partisan view of one team, and aimed mainly at that team and its supporters. Others are welcome to come and read those reports, but they need to understand and accept the point of view they are written from. I would emphasise, though, that I refer to mistakes - I am not going to suggest that anyone is doing anything more than can be accounted for by normal human error. Finally with regard to attitudes on the field I can say that I have never had any problem with Hartley players off the field, indeed I have had many pleasant conversations with some of them. On the field, though, they choose to play in a competitive style that many modern teams seem to think is necessary to produce a good performance, but which I think can bring out the worst in people's characters on both sides. I certainly think it brings the worst out in me. My personal view, which I think is one shared by many club cricketers, is that it is not necessary to play this way in order to perform well, and that even if it were, at the level we play the cost in terms of enjoyment, which is ultimately why we play the game at this level, is too high. I appreciate that others may take a different view, and clearly there is no absolute right or wrong answer, only personal preferences. However I think people's philosophy of cricket remains a legitimate, and indeed important, subject for debate, hence why I continue to write about it within reports. I hope all of this will help people to understand the viewpoint and aim of these reports, and clear up any misunderstandings that might lead to anyone taking offence at what is written in them.
Kent Regional League Match - 30 overs per side
Bexleyheath (6 pts) 62 all out (26.2 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 66-4 (21.3 overs)
New Ash Green won by 6 wickets
New Ash Green 2nd XI completed a first hat-trick of victories since 2007 on Saturday by convincingly beating Bexleyheath 4th XI.
Matt Bushe led the side for his maiden win as captain with Kieran Poole and Karl Bartlett absent, and negotiated the toss to bowl first in damp conditions.
Ryan Harley and Ashley Woodward were outstanding with three wickets apiece, and produced four maidens in 10.2 overs to concede just 20 between them.
They were backed by Derek Mole, playing his last game for a month, and Ollie Cooper who took two of the eight wickets required as Bexleyheath only fielded nine men.
Andy Asbury high-scored with 25 and only the extras tally reached double figures in support.
Chasing 63, Martin Ives and John Harding were steady opening as NAG reached 30 before both were caught in the space of four runs.
James Gegg was aggressive and made 17 which included several sublime cover drives. Ross Mole (9) accompanied him until at 59-3 they both perished to simple catches.
Bexleyheath were buoyed but with only three runs needed, it was too little too late, as in stepped Michael Gallagher who smashed a winning boundary over mid-on to complete a comfortable chase.
The weather had improved at last, the opposition had a team, New Ash Green had a team, surely, we thought, as the weekend approached, we were settling down for some good Sunday cricket....