Friendly Match - "Proper Cricket"
Ash 189-9 dec. (46 overs)
New Ash Green 176-8 (39 overs)
After three weeks of beautiful Saturday weather and not enough players to raise a side it looked horribly as if the reverse might be true for a large part of the final week of September. As the weather improved, though, the numbers diminished, and by the time Saturday morning dawned bright and fresh enough to overcome the previous evening's final heavy shower New Ash Green were reduced from a possible 13 to 8 players as James Gegg called in sick. Desperate calls to all possible additional players failed to produce another, but the eight who turned out were determined to make the best of things, and with Ash playing the game in very much the right spirit a very enjoyable match was able to take place. Pete Maddocks escaped from tea making duties for long enough to make up numbers for half the innings and have a bowl, young Adam Blackett helped out in the field and Ash volunteered a fielder throughout the innings so that there were occasionally 11 on the field, if not always the strongest 11 fielders one could imagine.
By agreement Ash batted first, and Ian Mellor and Edward Quantrill kept things tight early on. Quantrill had Trevor Blackett dropped by his father flying through the air but unable to get his whole hand on the ball, but it proved an inexpensive miss, as well as being the only one in the innings, as the eight men put on a superb fielding display. Dave Harley started the ball rolling with a lightning fast stumping of Blackett in Quantrill's next over. There followed a lengthy wait for the next wicket, and after Ian Mellor was rested Ash finally started to score faster when Felix Quantrill couldn't quite get to grips (literally) with the muddy landing area. Older brother Edward finished his spell off with a magnificent slower ball to bowl Carl Graham and finish with 2-30 in 10 overs, but this did serve to bring together Ash's most dangerous pair, prolific run scorer Dave Green and part time Kent league opening batsman Mark Tripp. With few bowing options New Ash Green turned to guest player Pete Maddocks, who took some stick from his own side for turning out in jeans, thinly disguised as cricket kit by the addition of a sleeveless sweater. As he had only been expecting to make the teas and do some chauffeuring the sweater was an achievement enough in itself. At the other end desperate times called for desperate measures, and skipper Matthew Quantrill brought himself on to bowl. Having been bowling exclusively spin for the last couple of years he took the even more desperate decision to bowl seam, given that the conditions were perfect for slow seam bowling. It turned out to be a good decision, though one he paid for with a very sore back over the following few days. The veteran pair were able to keep the Ash batsmen in check, and Quantrill took the wicket of Dave Green, well caught behind by Dave Harley. Maddocks faded slightly towards the end of his spell, but Quantrill didn't concede a boundary in 9 overs, taking 1-20. Although Ash were only three down they were running out of time, and John Howland profited by taking the wicket of Tripp, looking to accelerate and managing somehow to get the ball onto his own stumps off what seemed to be back of bat and legs. Howland's short spell was followed by Michael Gallagher, who took a wicket immediately, bowling Dave Joslin, and went on to bowl his most consistent spell of the season. In the mean time the rested Ian Mellor returned for a very useful final burst, having Alex Piller caught by Dillon Pike, then the unfortunate James Joslin well caught (again) by Dave Harley from his first ball, one that lifted nastily and took his glove. He followed that by bowling George Pender, and when Gallagher bowled Dave Bishop 9 wickets were down. New Ash Green couldn't quite take the last wicket, but they kept Ash under 200, a very respectable effort, even given the conditions, particularly as they had carried on their excellent over rate at Ash from the bank holiday game, again exceeding 20 overs an hour and getting in 46 in 2½ hours.
That still left a formidable target to be chased by a shortened batting line up, and how difficult it would be was demonstrated by Ash's opening bowlers, the two Trevors Martenstyn and Blackett. Both bowled a slow medium pace, but both were accurate, and that was all that was needed on the sticky wicket. Matthew Quantrill and John Howland were in little difficulty early on, but they struggled to get the ball away, just three loose balls being put away for 4 in the first seven overs, and the odd scrambled single. The dangers of looking to be a bit more attacking were amply demonstrated in the 8th over when Quantrill tried to push harder at one, only to find it rearing up off a length, taking an edge and being held inches from the ground by a tumbling Mark Tripp, probably the only Ash fielder who could have held it. Howland suffered similarly in the next over, pushing harder and lofting a catch straight back to the bowler, and New Ash Green's hopes seemed to be in tatters. However Ash played the game in very much the right spirit, looking to keep it open and keep New Ash Green going for the runs, bring on spin at both ends in the shape of Alex Piller and George Pender. Dave Harley and Dllon Pike took advantage, after Pike had spent some time getting his first (adult) career runs, but eventually doing so in style with a flick through mid-wicket for 4. Thereafter the pair played positively, Dave Harley hitting anything loose, including one smashed into the grove of trees for his first (he thinks) New Ash Green 6 on his way to a career best score of 42 before finally being bowled by one that turned significantly as he looked to cut, ending a 3rd wicket partnership of 87. Pike had played his part, showing his inexperience in some of his shot selection and escaping two or three times when he should have been caught, but also showing that his basic ability and technique are certainly there, and playing some very classy shots on his way to a fifty in only his second innings, something very few others will match. He outlasted Edward Quantrill, caught off a full toss, but leaving it too late to defend his Duck Cup, and Adam Blackett, bowled by George Pender to a chorus of boos from his own side. Pike was eventually bowled by Pender as well, having a swing in an effort to keep the run rate up. With more than 60 still needed at this point, and only just over 4 overs to go, the game seemed up, but Michael Gallagher and (especially) Ian Mellor weren't prepared to simply bat out the draw, especially as Ash (quite rightly) kept the bowling tempting throughout. Gallagher was caught behind for 6, and although Felix Quantrill swatted his first ball over the heads of an advancing field to get 2 and match his best score the run rate had become insuperable, with 34 needed from the last over. Undeterred, Mellor became the third player to get a career best score for New Ash Green in the game by bludgeoning 37 from just 15 balls, twenty runs coming in the final over, before finally being caught off the last ball. With Pete Maddocks padded up and waiting to come in that meant that the game ended as a well deserved draw, with New Ash Green just 13 short of Ash in 7 less overs. In the end it was the perfect end to a season that has been disappointing from a friendly game point of view, but has had some real highlights when games have been played. Thanks to the magnificent 8 who played, and to Ash and their captain Dave Bishop, for the manner in which they played the game.
Click Here for the Averages for friendly games this season.