Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
Crockenhill (7 pts) 81 all out (37.5 overs)
New Ash Green (20 pts) 82-5 (27.4 overs)
New Ash Green won by 5 wickets
Yet again rain during the week meant the toss was vital, and this week it was back into the old routine as Crockenhill had no umpire and New Ash Green were able to bowl first, although they had to do without Mick Sumner, away on holiday, and for the first 10 overs without Paul Sumner, stuck in hideous traffic problems on the A20. In the absence of Mick Sumner Vic Mayers stepped up to open the bowling and continued his pattern of looking fitter and younger every week, bowling a fiery 12 over spell in which all the batsmen struggled, including opening batsman Michael Field who had scored an impressive 87 in the last match between the two sides. Indeed the majority of both teams were the same as in that previous match, which Crockenhill won by 157 runs, but the intervening two years have seen a huge swing in form and confidence for both sides, and a similar result never looked on the cards. Field was Vic Mayers first victim, and he followed up with two more, all with simple edges behind, and then finished his spell with a flourish, bowling two in three balls, to end with the superb figures of 5-17 in 12 overs. At the other end Dan Lewsey was even more economical, conceding just 10 runs in 8 overs, but taking just the one wicket, an LBW, before giving way to Joe Elisak. Although there was occasionally significant turn Elisak proved the most ineffective of the bowlers, as there was enough pace in the pitch to mean that slow bowling could be hit with more confidence than for most of this season, but it was still slow enough for the turn and occasional variable bounce to be countered by the batsmen. It was Ian Mellor, replacing Mayers, who took the seventh wicket, courtesy of a very sharp catch by Darren Phillips in the gully, but having reduced Crockenhill to 49-7 at that point New Ash Green were made to wait by the best stand of the innings, and indeed the match. Crockenhill's veterans, Andy Meaton and Trevor Lee mixed solid defence with occasional aggression to put on 29 before Andy Mayers brought himself on to replace Elisak and ended the partnership, with Lee rather surprisingly looking reluctant to get in line and being bowled. The end followed quickly with Meaton spooning one up into the covers off Mellor and Mayers producing a beauty to knock back off stump and finish the innings off for 81.
81 has been a competitive score for much of this season, but despite the variable bounce and lush outfield the ball was coming onto the bat well enough that it should have been easy, especially against a relatively gentle bowling attack. Of course New Ash Green couldn't make it easy, and after a solid start they managed to lose both openers, Quantrill and Phillips, in quick succession, both to balls that kept low. Lee Saunders looked good for his two, but found a fielder too soon, but David Baker looked in imperious form, pulling the previously frugal Meaton for 6 and 4 in the same over, and was well supported by Dean Freeman. Again just as it looked all over they were both out, bowled, in quick succession to Trevor Lee, and the already changed Vic Mayers and Dan Lewsey were having to worry on the sidelines about the possibility of digging their whites back out. However Paul Sumner and Ian Mellor managed to survive one or two alarms to see New Ash Green safely home with plenty of wickets and runs to spare, and another 20 points in the bag.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
Bkue Star (4 pts) 123-5 (40 overs)
New Ash Green (17 pts) 124-3 (28 overs)
New Ash Green won by 7 wickets
Back at Manor Field the second team were also taking advantage of having an umpire to bowl first, and Olly Cooper and Ashley Woodward were enjoying the soft wicket to put the batsmen under real pressure. Cooper took the only wicket to fall before drinks, courtesy of a catch behind by Dave Harley, but they both finished 10 over spells with only 11 runs conceded, and at the half way point Blue Star were on 27-1. There was some acceleration in the second half, but not enough to really lift the total, despite the wickets in hand. Ryan Harley and Matt Bushe both kept the scoring rate in check, and then Karl Bartlett and James Gegg bettered the opening bowlers by both having completely identical figures, each taking 2-23 in 4 overs as Blue Star finally tried to open up right at the end. A stumping and an LBW gave Gegg a hat trick ball from the last ball of the innings, but he couldn't take it and the total finished on 123-5.
With two of the divisions leading run scorers, the newly repatriated Matt Clark and a host of others who were capable of making contributions New Ash Green were able to bat with much greater freedom and confidence. Bartlett was disappointed to be out for just 18, but that was part of a 53 run stand for the first wicket with Clark, and the pattern of duplications recurred again as the second wicket also added 53 before Olly Cooper ran Clark out (allegedly) for 43. New Ash Green also lost Martin Ives for 1, but James Turner joined Cooper in seeing the seconds to their most comfortable win for quite a few years, and just reward for their growing confidence and improvement this season. On a weekend when Hartley lost all six matches it also gave New Ash Green the rare opportunity to have local bragging rights…for a week at least!
With New Ash Green looking like they would comfortably raise a side for the Sunday game at Harvel, and plenty of people looking forward to it, their bad luck with friendly cricket continued when Harvel called the game off as they were unable to raise a side! A combination of a poor weather forecast and the possibility of people dropping out if they couldn't be guaranteed to get home in time for England's football match (about 10 pm would have been good enough to see what mattered as it turns out!) meant that no alternative fixture was obtained, probably rightly given the heavy overnight rain and continuing occasional sharp showers on Sunday.