Kent Regional League Match - 30 overs per side
Crockenhill (6 pts) 127-4 (30 overs)
New Ash Green (17 pts) 128-4 (25.5 overs)
New Ash Green won by 6 wickets
Despite a few regulars away this was the best day for availability that New Ash Green had had all season, and consequently both first and second team were able to field probably their strongest XIs of the season. As both were also playing sides at or near the bottom of their divisions it was something of a disappointment to see a forecast of rain all day on Saturday. As it turned out the rain was variable across the county, but virtually nowhere in the west of Kent escaped completely, and in some places the rain was terminally heavy – see second team report below! At Manor Field an hour of heavy rain just as preparations were getting under way in the morning posed a real threat to the game, and a second burst when thoughts were turning once again to rolling meant the game was teetering on a knife edge. Thanks to the diligence of Matt Bushe, though, the wicket had been cut before the rain had fallen, so the necessary preparation was nothing that needed a dry wicket. Crockenhill arrived to find a wicket still oozing water up when trodden on, something of a shock to them as they had had no rain at their ground at all. A bit of rolling brought out the moisture and a brief burst of sunshine, and a constant steady breeze helped to dry the wicket, and by 1.45 the pitch was dry enough to mark and make a game possible if no further rain fell. That looked a slim prospect with dark grey clouds still all around, but in fact throughout the rest of the afternoon the clouds managed to split around the ground, and the worst of them went one side or another leaving only a few very light sprinkles, none of which were enough to interrupt play. The game was able to start just after 2.15, perfect timing for Vic Mayers who had been having a terrible time in hideous traffic on the A2 and would have been more than an hour late for a game that had started on time. Anticipating probable further interruptions the captains agreed a 30 over game, and as New Ash Green had an umpire they were able to take their usual course of bowling first, something very much dictated by the conditions. One ball in Dan Lewsey's first over did leap and nearly hit the batsman in the head, but after that although there was occasionally quite sharp seam movement and the ball just stuck a little in the pitch the conditions were generally excellent, and aside from the odd rumble of thunder from passing storm clouds no one would ever have thought the game had been in danger of not being played.
The game itself was perhaps less exciting than the build up. It would have been very easy for Crockenhill's openers to assume batting was going to be difficult and get very bogged down, but they seemed to have made a positive decision that in a 30 over game they needed to be attacking from the start, and played positively straight away. They had a fair share of luck in the first few overs with several completely mistimed shots lobbing in the air and somehow finding gaps, but Ian Thomas in particular then speeded up, hitting Dan Lewsey strongly to leg from any ball that wasn't perfectly on the spot. He even took an early four from Micky Sumner, but having gone for 8 in his first two overs Sumner was on top of the batsmen for the rest of his spell, conceding just 3 runs in his last six overs, getting the wicket of Thomas, flashing hard and being caught behind, and ending with three consecutive maidens. He was replaced by Vic Mayers, who couldn't quite repeat his destructive form at Crockenill, where he took 5-17, but one expensive over aside was still on top of the batting throughout, picking up the second wicket, Crockenhill's captain being unlucky to see a ball cannon from bat to pad and then bounce gently against the stump dislodging one bail. It was at the other end that New Ash Green were struggling. Lewsey was taken off after five overs, and Andy Mayers, starting off a short run as he tried to shake off stiffness from a morning football match, kept the scoring in check for a while. He actually took the third wicket, when one of the worst balls he had bowled was scooped gently to David Baker in the covers, but having taken 1-14 in 5 overs had had enough, and was replaced by Paul Sumner. The conditions didn't work for him at all, and with Crockenhill looking to accelerate with wickets in hand he couldn't contain the strong attacking batting of Michael Field, so Joe Elisak took the final two overs. The slightly sticky surface seemed to work well for him, with some very sharp turn, and although they had plenty of wickets in hand Crockenhill were unable to really take advantage, Elisak getting 1-11 in two overs, a good tumbling catch at slip from Vic Mayers bringing the wicket.
A score of 127 was hardly mammoth in a 30 over game, but was higher than might have been expected in the conditions, and New Ash Green could not afford to be as circumspect in their response as they had been in chasing a lower score in the full 46 overs in the away game. Andy Mayers got them away to a cracking start with three fours from the second over, seeing off one opening bowler straight away, and although he then got himself caught at mid-on to a good running catch the tone was set. The other batsmen didn't go for it quite as hard as he had, but none got bogged down, and indeed there was no real need to take risks as even Crockenhill's best bowler, John Field, couldn't keep the ball on the spot sufficiently often to put the batsmen under real pressure. Glen Freeman was undone by one from Field that lifted sharply and went to slip from the shoulder of his bat, an out of sorts David Baker pulled one to mid-wicket and Dean Freeman was caught at mid-on trying to clear the fielder with a straight drive, but Lee Saunders made no mistakes, while Matthew Quantrill was happily blocking the straight balls and picking off the short ones, of which there were plenty. Together they added a largely untroubled 55 for the 4th wicket against a selection of bowlers, as Crockenhill tried everything they could to find another wicket. They couldn't get the breakthrough, though, and New Ash Green were able to comfortably cruise to a six wicket win and the points they needed to guarantee themselves 3rd place in the league, with an outside chance of taking second spot if Cobham have a complete meltdown in their final game.
Kent Regional League Match - 30 overs per side
Blue Star (10 pts) 114-8 (30 overs)
New Ash Green (10 pts) 2-0 (0.3 overs)
New Ash Green 2nd XI were denied a sixth win from seven as heavy showers led to the abandonment of their clash and sharing of the points with bottom side Blue Star.
NAG were chasing 115 but only faced three balls before a heavy thunderstorm.
Playing in the delights of Catford with security on the entrance, three takeaways behind the bowler’s arm and sirens every 23 balls, the game was reduced to 30 overs a side – for meteorological reasons, not security.
Having the choice and bowling, NAG’s pace attack of Ashley Woodward and Ian Mellor immediately caused discomfort.
Andrew Kentish and Steve Chenery put on a streaky 30, of which many flew off the edge, until Woodward had Kentish (14) caught behind by Dave Harley.
10 runs later, Woodward and Mellor had bowled James Brinkley (0) and Steve Chenery (15).
Woodward was in superb rhythm and had Junaid Akhtar caught and bowled off a top edge for a duck to make it 41-4.
After the openers had made their mark with the ball from their eight allotted overs, Ryan Harley had Mark Chenery caught at cover by Karl Bartlett for 15.
At the other end, Ollie Cooper went unrewarded but found tremendous movement beating the bat several times.
There was then a Harley double act in which Harley junior teased Barney Crean (1) out of his crease for Harley senior to whip off the bails to make it 69-6.
Colin Freestone (14) and Ivan Golledge (11*) put on 23 until Freestone was caught by NAG skipper Kieran Poole at mid wicket off the bowling of Matt Bushe.
Bushe struck again five runs later trapping the dangerous-looking Mani Srinivasan LBW for 18, and could easily have had a third in the final over with Blue Star skipper Warren Bird and Golledge hitting out and reaching 114-8.
NAG play OD CUACO 4th XI next Saturday at home in their last league outing of the campaign, looking to leapfrog Sidcup 4th XI into fourth who face championship chasing Natwest 2nd XI.
In many ways the Family Fun Day is one of the most important days of the year for the club, a chance to relax without cricket in the way, spend some social time together and to try and give something back to our families for all the support that they give us during the season. It was with some relief therefore that we saw the weather forecast in the build up to the weekend gradually change to give a clear sunny day on Sunday, and in the end the weather matched the success of the day.
Despite the excellent turn out and the success of the day one of the first headlines must go to one of the absentees. The best reason for non-attendance was that given by Paul Sumner and family – the fact that they were in hospital and that Karen gave birth to a baby daughter during the day being a very acceptable excuse, and if it probably wasn't exactly fun it was at least appropriate that it happened on a Family Day. Congratulations to Paul & Karen, and we hope to see them and anyone else who couldn't make it at future matches and Fun Days.
Back to the day itself. The demographic was a little different this year, with lots of young children and very few between the ages of 7 and 14, which is the age group that has usually dominated the traditional events of family cricket and egg throwing. Consequently the cricket took a slightly different shape, with a game between sides that varied from about 7 to 10 at different times, and varied equally in seriousness throughout. This was amply demonstrated by a first innings that started with two batsmen in whites and pads playing against a hard ball, and ended with a pair in chef's hats and no pads followed by two ladies playing against a soft ball. With some slightly random umpiring and scoring the result ended up being incredibly tight, with the team batting second, possibly captained Joe Elisak, winning by one run despite Andy Payne's dismissal to the final ball of the match.
With Paul Sumner otherwise engaged, Mick had to find a new partner to try and defend their egg throwing title, and set the early target with the assistance of Joe Elisak. Karl Bartlett and Olly Cooper, a traditionally strong pair, then easily surpassed them, withstood a threat from Bushey and John Howland before finally being dethroned by Joe and Andy Mayers, who got out to sufficient distance to need overarm throws and ended up as comfortable winners. Vicky and Lou John won the ladies prize, and set an early benchmark in the spectacular splat contest with a break which went all over Lou's face, to the chagrin of her mother, but probably her own amusement and certainly her brother's. She was eventually outdone by John Howland, though, as he and Bushey came close to taking the lead. A long throw from Bushey was taken in textbook hands up style by Spot, perfectly keeping his eye on the egg all the way into his hands. Unfortunately while this is an excellent way to catch a cricket ball it doesn't allow for the give needed in catching an egg, and hands in front of face ends up with entertaining results if the receiving hands aren't quite soft enough….
In the meantime away from the cricket and egg throwing the badminton net made another appearance as a volleyball court, and was in near constant use until darkness forced an end to the final game of the day, providing an endless source of good humoured arguments about line calls, tactics and responsibility for points lost throughout the day, and an endless way for the younger and fitter element of the club to expend their energy. Tim Cooper's pogo stick also made a reappearance, though any potential competition was killed stone dead at an early stage. Last year it had taken dozens of gos before anyone could get into double figures on numbers of bounces, and only a very few got there in the end, so when Sam John got on and merrily bounced into the nineties on his first attempt, coming off only because he landed on the grass and the stick stuck, everyone else knew they were just bouncing for fun after that!
This was all complimented throughout by a boundless supply of food, once again provided at exceptional value by Tim Cooper and John Howland, with magnificent support from assorted family, friends and supporters. Barbecued chicken, sausages and hot dogs in sufficient quantity to sate any appetite were supported by a selection of desserts, the only fault with which was that so many people had volunteered to bring one that it was impossible to sample all of them, though all looked tempting enough to try, and the quantity left at the end of the day was only a testament to the generosity of all those who had supplied food rather than any comment on its quality.
Finally the day came to an end on an Olympic themed quiz for those who remained, and a closely fought battle between the Three Amigos, Bushey, Spot and Arthur Cooper, who were hot favourites at the start and the Volleyball team of Olly Cooper, James Gegg, Karl Bartlett and Edward Quantrill, who closed to within a point with one round to go, but then fell apart on the final round to give the Amigos a comfortable win. The less said about Jennifer Ennis's Bun (Lee Saunders, Joe Elisak and Felix Quantrill – spelling not their strong point) the better, despite the late assistance they received from David Baker. Even his assistance couldn't help them to catch up with Tim's Twits (The Cooper family), who held on to third place.
And so another hugely successful Family Fun Day drew to a close. Enormous thanks, as always are due to those who organised it, primarily Tim Cooper and family, and to all those who contributed to helping out. Thanks also to Matt and Hannah, for collecting some fantastic raffle prizes – in the end the prizes were so good that we didn't feel we were taking enough money at the Fun Day to justify giving them away, so the raffle will roll over to the Dinner – watch out for more news on this soon. Finally, and most importantly of all, thanks to all the Families of club members without whom the club could not carry on. The last couple of years in particular the support we have received from families at games as well as in terms of allowing us all to play has been phenomenal – to turn up to away games with more supporters than the home team is always a good feeling, and has happened frequently in the last few years. This is the strength of the club at the moment, and it is this side more than the playing strength that is the key to the future. Long may it continue.
Friendly Match - "Proper Cricket"
New Ash Green 248-4 dec. (39 overs)
Ash 120-7 (42 overs)
The Bank Holiday brought the threat of showers, but in the end only a few brief spurts of rain, and no real interruptions to the cricket, so it was off to Ash for a gentle friendly game. New Ash Green won the toss, and with the wicket looking even and Ash's bowling attack never the most fearsome, New Ash Green decided to have a go at batting first, something of a rarity this season. James Gegg and Karl Bartlett opened, and after Bartlett had survived a run out chance taking a distinctly aggressive single, Gegg became the first to depart, bowled by a good ball that left him and took off stump. Joe Elisak had a short cameo, with a couple of fine aggressive shots before being given out, much to his dismay, LBW to one that seemed quite high. Ash's captain was actually considering recalling him, but decided not to as a measure of his displeasure at Elisak's own somewhat profane response to the decision! There followed the highest partnership of the season for New Ash Green, between Bartlett and Lee Saunders, 159, punctuated by a series of fine shots to almost every corner of the ground. They were hugely assisted by Ash's fielding, which gave them quite a few runs in misfields and overthrows and dropped them a combined total of 7 times, catches varying from fairly easy to very hard. Both took advantage, and with twenty minutes to go till tea Bartlett reached his second century of the season and of his career. With plenty of people still to bat he tried to donate his wicket, but still failed to find anyone willing to catch him, and eventually had to settle for retiring on 111. Debutant Dillon Pike had been waiting nervously for nearly two hours for his first innings in many years, though in taking a few throwdowns he had already shown enough to prove that he knew the basics of the game. He had to be the unluckiest man on the team, though, in that having on several occasions had his heart rate raised as the batsmen hit the ball to fielders, only to have to sit back down and calm down as the fielders spilled them he managed to find a fielder with his fourth ball and see the catch securely held. He had shown enough technique, though, for all those watching to be confident his first runs will not be long in coming if he becomes a regular player. He was followed by Edward Quantrill, who did mange to get off the mark before having a swing, hitting the ball in the air and also finding a fielder who could catch. With Lee Saunders approaching his century Matthew Quantrill joined him to see if he could score the 13 he needed from the final over before tea, but despite aggressive running to keep Saunders on strike he could only find 8 runs and was left stranded on 95 not out at tea, still an excellent innings to end the season on, and one to leave the club eagerly awaiting his return from university next season.
248 was at the top of the range of scores New Ash Green had been aiming for, but it was still one that Ash believed was in their compass. They might have had more confidence if their star batsman, Mark Tripp, was not quite so obviously suffering from the effects of a night out, clearly not being quite as used to playing in such circumstances as the hard core party goers of the New Ash Green side, who mostly don't know what it is like to play sober. With Ian Mellor on the spot and hard to get away, and Kieran Poole recovering from a spate of very wide wides in his first over to bowl well, moving the ball around, they were soon well behind the run rate. This may have contributed to the first wicket, a run out that should have been easy, but ended up being distinctly fluky when Poole dropped the return throw from Gegg but saw it bounce gently onto the stumps and knock one bail off in just in time to beat the batsman. New Ash Green replaced the accuracy of Mellor with the slow left arm of Edward Quantrill, hoping to tempt Ash into indiscretion. Indeed there were a few, of varying types, in the next few overs. Firstly a typical bullet throw from Joe Elisak seemed to have caught Dave Green short of his ground, but the umpire didn't agree. Green didn't last much longer though, pushing at Poole and being well held by Dillon Pike tumbling forward. Very shortly afterwards Tripp swung across the line at Quantrill and was bowled, and Ash's top order were all back in the pavilion. The one down side for New Ash Green was that with the top three gone relatively cheaply Ash had little left to play for, and for the rest of the innings it was a constant battle to try and get them to open up and take risks, or beat them playing defensively – not easy on an even and slow paced track. Edward Quantrill managed one of each, getting Joslin LBW and finally tempting Boughtwood to play an attacking shot and slice to backward point for Elisak. The one Ash lower order player to go for his shots was Nick Cook, who swung hard and made comfortably their top score with 38 before top edging Matt Bushe to be caught behind, but the rest blocked with determination. Dan Lewsey tried all sorts of variations of pace, but could get nothing out of the batsmen, to his frustration, so it was the perfect time to give a bowl to someone who hadn't bowled for more than a decade. With runs utterly irrelevant Dillon Pike couldn't have chosen a better time to have his first match bowl, and he proved just right for the situation, a mixture of wild and poor balls with some that were on a good line and length and turned a bit being exactly what was needed. He did tempt some aggression out of the batsmen, and picked up a debut wicket when the previously wall like Taylor (3 singles from 52 balls) swung at a long hop, missed and was bowled. That, though, was the end of the wicket taking. New Ash Green did all they could to give themselves a chance, getting through 20 overs in the first hour, and then even with a drinks break in the final hour managing to bowl another 22 overs, a very rare feat and one that meant they bowled three more overs in two hours than they received in two and a half. It was all in vain though. Mellor and Quantrill returned for short second bursts to no avail, and even James Gegg and Joe Elisak could not tempt any indiscretions from Ash's senior players, so the game ended in what could comfortably said to be a winning draw, but one which illustrated the dilemma of playing on a good batting track. Batting first is a pleasure, but it ain't half hard to get a side out to win a game!