Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
Sevenoaks Vine (3 pts) 108 all out (43.3 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 111-2 all out (22.3 overs)
New Ash Green won by 8 wickets
A bit of a case of back to the future for the first XI, as they finally got under way in a new division, but against old opponents. As for the last two seasons an early game against the Vine represented a chance to take them on at their weakest, before they stock up with university students, and although this year, unlike two years ago, they were able to raise a team it wasn't a full one – they had 8. They also had no umpire, so Andy Mayers had no hesitation asking them to bat first. The pitch was in its usual superb condition at Otford, but even so it was damp and slow, and was always going to make scoring quickly difficult. Mick Sumner, with no nets or games behind him, needed one poor loosener before settling into his usual rhythm, bowling through his 12 overs for just 18 runs, but he couldn't get a wicket despite a few close calls. Vine skipper Will Peters looked a good bat, and put away a few fours off Dan Lewsey, but Lewsey had the last laugh, moving all his fielders to the off side then tempting Peters with a slower ball on middle stump and bowling him as he swung across the line. That was the sum total of the opening bowlers' successes, but they put the pressure on by keeping the scoring rate low, and the remaining batsmen found it difficult to increase the rate without taking risks. Vic Mayers picked up the next two, one bowled and one superbly held at slip from a flying edge by Dean Freeman. It was then the turn of Paul Sumner, who took an over to get into his stride, but then swung and moved the ball about well, picking up wickets to two catches from Joe Elisak and one return catch himself. Elisak was getting heavily into the game at this stage, having replaced Vic Mayers and getting a bit of turn from the wicket, but it was his throwing arm rather than his bowling one that made the final contribution, a huge throw to the far end catching Vine's number 8 looking for a third run that his partner wasn't interested in and giving plenty of time for Matthew Quantrill to take the ball and lob it underarm onto the stumps. Having looked for a while as if they might fail to take the last wickets, wasting precious bonus points, New Ash Green picked up the tail in something of a rush and gained themselves an extra couple of overs to chase 109 to win.
As it turned out time wasn't much of an issue. Vine's opening bowler, Steve Hickey, struggled hugely to get the ball in the right place, and mixed up full tosses and wides, leaving the batsmen with a simple job of putting away bad balls and nudging the rest into the huge gaps in the field created by the three missing men. After 5 overs New Ash Green had reached 43-0 (coincidentally the same score the seconds had last week) and Hickey was removed from the attack with 0-35 from three overs. The other bowlers were not quite as profligate, Andrew Ewen in particular wobbling the ball about and deceiving with his floating medium pace, but with a sound start and on a basically very good wicket New Ash Green were never under much pressure, a very rare ball that did a bit off the pitch or a rush of blood looking their only danger. It was the latter that broke the first wicket stand when Darren Phillips, in his first league match for several years, suddenly swung across the line – having looked very solid playing proper shots – and was bowled. However Matt Scanlan, also making a comeback, continued the solid batting, and with Matthew Quantrill also making few mistakes the winning line was brought nearly into sight with a second partnership of 47. Scanlan couldn't quite see it through, driving impatiently at one that stopped a little and lofting a straightforward catch to mid off, but Dean Freeman joined Quantrill to see the side to a maximum point win and deny Vine too many potentially critical bonus points. Quantrill reached his fifty with a six when Ewen dropped slightly short, and Freeman finished the game off with a superb drive over mid off for four. It won't be this easy for most of the season, but it was an excellent start to the season and got the team back into the winning habit from last season.
A short video match report should be available in due course. Do feel free to come back and have a look.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
New Ash Green (1 pt) 55 all out (26.4 overs)
Bromley Common (20 pts) 56-1 (17.2 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 9 wickets
A case of back to the future also for the second XI this week. With a drying wicket and neither side having an umpire the toss was critical, and for the second week in a row Kieran Poole lost it and had to bat first. Against bowling that was described as steady and accurate (which is pretty much perfect for those conditions) Martin Ives got them off to a reasonable start with 15, but no one else could get past 5, though almost everyone made some contribution and Matt Bushe had the (probably very small) consolation of sharing season leading partnerships for the 8th, 9th and 10th wickets with Kieran Poole, Martin Bartlett and Tim Cooper.
Even after all the rain and with a fairly lush outfield 55 was never likely to be enough, but the bowling performance was perfectly respectable, with all the bowlers returning solid figures. Olly Cooper got them off to a good start, and also took a catch off Kieran Poole for their one wicket, but Bromley Common cruised to a reasonably comfortable victory with plenty of time to spare. Points wise a disappointing result, but the gulf between the teams doesn't seem to have been that large, and a different call at the toss would probably have resulted in at least a few more bonus points.
Friendly Match - Time Game
Kingfisher 234-9 dec. (35 overs)
New Ash Green 159-5 (32 overs)
Kingfisher were something of an unknown quantity, but their description on their website of being a second team looking for a few social games conjured up an image of a few portly middle aged old buffers who would enjoy a good tea and give the Sunday side a gentle initiation for the 2012 season. When several car loads of young, fit looking Asians turned up that bubble was rapidly burst. Most club cricketers have an immediate image of what playing an Asian side is like, and without wanting to stereotype Kingfisher pretty much lived up to that image – friendly, enthusiastic and chaotic are all words that spring to mind and were all very much fulfilled. They had never played a timed game before, and this was something of a steep learning curve, as they failed to open the game up when it needed to be, and the abysmally slow over rate on both sides was in no small part down to the ruthless interpretation of the wide law, which seems to have been based on the rules of their league, poached almost word for word from T20 regulations at the highest level, meaning anything missing leg stump was called. Wides were one of the highest scorers in the match, and almost all the bowling figures look a bit worse than they should do as a result. Having said that most of the bowling figures are no more than a best estimate, as the scorebook was a victim of the chaotic part of the game, and it is a good thing their suggestion of a 40 over game was resisted or the game might still be going on.
Anyway, enough of generalities – back to the game itself. New Ash Green won the toss, and although the wicket still looked in good condition Matthew Quantrill judged on looking at the opposition that the game may be easier to control batting second and put them in. Ian Mellor started with a short ball that was summarily dispatched to the square leg boundary, but responded by bowling the batsman with the final ball of the first over. After that the batsmen were very similar in style, looking to attack with uninhibited abandon at every opportunity in the way that could, on a bad day, lead to them being all out for 50, but on a good day get a score over 300 against almost any bowling. Mellor remained tidy throughout his first spell with no further success. Matt Bushe was slightly less consistent, struggling to control the movement on occasion, but did get the second wicket when the batsman prodded at one outside off and edged it back onto his stumps. It was Edward Quantrill at first change who was the pick of the bowlers, as having struggled for consistency the previous week he found it here and kept even these aggressive batsmen in check with a steady line and length. Eventually their frustration told and the batsman scooped one straight to Glen Freeman at square leg, who held the catch securely. He followed up by bowling the top scoring Javed for 49 and getting the skipper LBW trying to come down the pitch. Martin Ives chipped in with a wicket, caught by Andy Mayers in the covers, and had Quantrill got his fourth when a mishit drive just slipped through Ian Mellor's outstretched hands Kingfisher might well have been out fairly cheaply and Quantrill have had a maiden five wicket haul. As it was he had to settle for career best figures of 3-34, spoilt a little in his last couple of overs as he tired and the reprieved batsman continued to attack in the biggest partnership of the innings. Neither Andy Mayers nor Joe Elisak could stem the flow of runs as the batsmen became increasingly reckless as the innings went on, though the number of balls in the air that were just out of the reach of fielders remained a source of frustration. Eventually Elisak got one through to break the partnership, and two more wickets fell to near suicidal running towards the end thanks to sharp fielding from Shane Hampsheir and Martin Ives. The final total was 234-9, which looked pretty high in the circumstances, but it could easily have been much lower, and indeed quite a bit higher.
Having done nothing on Saturday Andy Mayers had the chance to bowl and bat today, opening with Glen Freeman. The opening bowlers were a respectable pace, and there was still enough damp in the pitch for the odd ball to do a bit, but extras quickly had the scoreboard ticking over – indeed although the top four batsmen made only 10 runs between them they added 30 to the total. Glen Freeman was first to go, beaten by one that moved. Shane Hampsheir and Mayers looked very solid, Hampsheir particularly impressing given his lack of recent games. He was looking very promising until the skipper jinxed him from the sidelines by mentioning how well he was batting whereupon he poked one that stopped a bit straight back to the bowler. Shortly afterwards Mayers was the victim of another damp patch with a ball shooting through low at pace, and Jasper Holliday was beaten in a similar way to Hampsheir, unable to keep down one that came through slower than he expected. At 30-4 in 8 overs New Ash Green were under some pressure, but the captain and vice-captain saw off the opening bowlers and a succession of others who changed with bewildering frequency as the innings went on, many bowling one over spells. There were no really poor bowlers amongst them, though, and no real effort was made to toss the ball up and get New Ash Green interested in taking risks, though neither batsman completely shut up shop. Against this attack it was pretty much impossible to get the runs required, but there was still a danger of losing. A partnership of 59 for the fifth wicket largely relieved the risk, before Karl Bartlett was out to an almost unplayable ball that moved off a length from leg stump to hit off, and Joe Elisak, inevitably with a moment or two of excitement thrown in, then saw it home with Matthew Quantrill, the run rate soaring in the last few overs as they threw caution to the winds with the game pretty much safe. There were a couple of unfortunate incidents towards the end, with Kingfisher incensed that a stumping wasn't given out as Quantrill chased a wide and pirouetted back into his ground, but Andy Mayers at square leg was convinced he had made it back in time. The second was even more controversial as Elisak top edged an attempted pull and set off for a run. Although simply running straight to the far end, as he was entitled to do, this put him on a collision course with the bowler who pulled out of an attempt to take the catch. This was the trigger for much heated debate, but it calmed down fairly quickly, with everyone perhaps realising that it was by now irrelevant to the result anyway. Ironically both batsmen had already decided they would be prepared to take silly risks to give others a chance to bat, something which the others waiting were apparently quite happy for them not to do. The hitting and running continued to the end, leaving Quantrill on his knees failing to go for what would have been the 8th three of the innings from the final ball, so concluding the partnership on 70, with Quantrill on 69 and Elisak 29. In the end the draw was probably a fair result, with Kingfisher having the slight edge, and the squabbles near the end were quickly forgotten in a friendly conclusion. What with an excellent tea, sunshine most of the day and the presence of several families it was very much the start to the season the Sunday team needed, showing hopefully that the best of Sunday cricket will still be present this season.