Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
New Ash Green (7 pts) 67 all out (34 overs)
Cobham (20 pts) 68-5 (18.2 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 5 wickets
Despite a couple of dry days in the week and a lot of rolling this was still the softest pitch of the season at Manor Field, so it was a bad day for the opposition to have an umpire for the first time, and unfortunately the Cobham captain called right and a New Ash Green batting line up missing any number of possible top order batsmen had to take first use of the pitch. Cobham’s opening bowler Dave Clear was on the spot from the start, and with a mixture of balls staying low and the occasional one digging in and popping it was difficult to do anything safely with balls on a good line and length. Matthew Quantrill faced 24 balls from Clear without scoring before jabbing down on one that popped and seeing it screw back gently onto the base of the stumps and just dislodge a single bail. Glen Freeman, having arrived just after the start, looked to make up for lost time with a slightly more positive approach, and seemed to be making progress before missing an attempted drive. Stand in opener Matt Bushe and Olly Cooper steadied the ship, but again as they were beginning to look in control a wicket fell – Bushe edging behind after the longest innings of the whole match. Cooper followed soon afterwards, mistiming a pull after looking very good. Lee Saunders, in his first innings for nearly two years then looked in very good touch, especially given the very difficult circumstances for batting, playing some beautiful shots and running well before being beaten by one that moved down the hill, making the top score of 16. Martin Ives was more circumspect at the other end, choosing his moment to attack, and making the second highest score (12) in the second longest innings. At this stage although the run rate was still very low New Ash Green looked on course for something around 100, which they felt would be a very competitive total, but the tail fell away badly. Paul Sumner swung too early at the spinner and was bowled, Vic Mayers managed four runs before nicking one and being well held by slip by way of the keeper’s gloves, Ian Mellor was bowled first ball and after Ives innings ended, also bowled, Dan Lewsey survived one ball before strengthening his lead in the duck cup and failing to make his first run of the season.
Even in these conditions 67 did not look likely to be enough runs, but New Ash Green came out determined to fight hard. The strong wind throughout had dried up the pitch, though, and conditions were noticeably easier for batting, so that the Cobham openers were able to attack anything off line. In relative terms they raced away, not completely flawlessly, some edges and some nearly going to hand, but had 33 on the board by the end of the 8th over, a massive start in the context of the game. Micky Sumner, with the wind behind, had been getting quicker and quicker, and he made the breakthrough with one that beat the batsman for pace flying through him and brushing the gloves on the way to the keeper. In the next over the other opener tried to force Dan Lewsey away through the covers and only succeeded in lofting the ball up to Sumner. When Sumner beat another batsman for pace, pinning his foot in front of middle stump it was three wickets in three overs, the total was still only 41 and New Ash Green felt they might still have an outside chance. However although Sumner continued to cause problems for the batsmen another breakthrough eluded him, and it was Ian Mellor, replacing Lewsey who got the next wicket. In some ways it was a lucky one, almost identical to the way Quantrill had got out at the start of the game, with the ball squirting back onto the base of the stumps and knocking one bail off, but it was a just reward for a good spell of bowling, an excellent line and a little movement down the slope being perfect for the conditions. By now, though, the end was almost in sight, and this perhaps got the batsmen over excited, as with two needed to win a hard cut shot was well blocked by Martin Ives, but the striker seemed determined to take two and have the glory of the winning runs. Paul Sumner recovered the ball and sent in a good throw to make sure of a run out and a useful extra bonus point for New Ash Green. A leg bye finished things off next ball, but some pride had been restored. Although it was always going to be a tough day with so many batsmen missing and, in fairness, the Cobham bowlers exploited the conditions well, the conditions were certainly much better for batting by the end, and New Ash Green had to feel that had the coin fallen the other way they could well have ended Cobham’s unbeaten run, and know they have a chance against anyone in this division, particularly if they can get some batsmen playing more regularly!
Hartley VI are playing their home games at Eynsford, a lovely ground right next to the River Darent. Unfortunately having threatened to die completely a few years ago, the Darent has been revitalised by the recent rainfall, to the extent that the Eynsford ground is currently not so much next to the river as in it. The game was called off on Thursday.
Most of the missing first XI players this week were also Sunday players, and with it being clear early on that there would not be enough players to make up a side the game was called off early in the week.