Kent Regional League Match - 46 overs per side
New Ash Green (20 pts) 152 all out (43.5 overs)
Wilmington (13 pts) 142 all out (36.5 overs)
New Ash Green won by 10 runs
For the second time this season New Ash Green had a toss, and for the second time they lost and had to bat first. Unlike the previous time, against Cobham, the pitch was dry and hard, and having to bat first was not nearly such a disadvantage as it has been for most of the season. That was emphasised when Matthew Quantrill eased the first ball of the match through backward point for 4, and although it wasn't all quite as easy as that New Ash Green got off to a steady start putting on 30 before Matt Clarke played around a straight one. Andy Mayers had a rare venture up the order this season, helping Quantrill see off the opening bowlers before being bowled by a low skiddy ball from first change bowler Inderpreet Pal. There followed a blow when Quantrill placed one into a gap, but at an angle that probably didn't look like a gap to Dean Freeman at the bowler's end. Quantrill called, perhaps not loudly enough, set off and looked up half way through the run to find to his horror Freeman still standing in his ground. At that point Freeman did start to run, but was just beaten by the throw. Lee Saunders helped Quantrill to steady the ship, adding another 32 for the 4th wicket before carelessly putting a cut in the air straight to a fielder. Joe Elisak was next up, and with Quantrill now getting his eye in they added 58 in good time, Quantrill greeting the return of pace bowler Alfie May with a pull for 4 then skipped down the wicket to hit him back over his head. A change of end back to down hill with the wind made May a little more difficult to deal with, and he eventually ended Quantrill's innings at 83, skidding one through low and evading Quantrill's carve across the line. At 142-5 with nearly 8 overs remaining New Ash Green still looked good for a score getting close to 200, but the innings tailed off quickly. Elisak skied a big hit, Ian Mellor was run out in a mix up, Mick Sumner lifted a simple catch up first ball, Paul Sumner swung and missed and Vic Mayers was given out LBW second ball, to end the innings on 152 with more than two overs unused.
152 may have been less than they looked like getting, and less than an ideal score in fairly good batting conditions, but it was a big enough score that New Ash Green fancied their bowling attack to defend it. Almost from the start, though, they encountered frustration. Although Mick Sumner did pick up an early wicket with one that was completely mis-hit and lobbed up very gently for the keeper, there were numerous other shots in the air that should have gone to hand, but just evaded fielders, sometimes possibly through misjudgements. They nearly had a breakthrough when a quick single almost brought the end of Pal, but the ball just escaped Quantrill's glove as he took the stumps, something only he realised but was quick to point out as the umpire's finger went up. To add to the frustration Vic Mayers pulled a muscled during his seventh over and had to retire from bowling and hobble into the slips, to be replaced by his son – or, as the umpire assumed, his brother….As the total built up there was an increasing sense that luck had to change eventually, and in the end it was Andy Mayers who benefitted from the inevitable, Pal dragging one on from outside off stump. Mayers followed up immediately with another wicket, Les Packman pushed up the order due to having to leave early and not delaying his dinner date any more than necessary as he thrust his pad in the way of his first ball. The next few overs saw Chris Nicholson, who had struggled and used up much of the luck that was coming Wilmington's way, finally start to time the ball, picking off three fours in Ian Mellor's first over replacing Mick Sumner. The game seemed to be swinging back Wilmington's way, but in a few overs it had swung dramatically back again. Andy Mayers took Nicholson's edge and saw his dad ignoring his injured leg to take a tumbling slip catch, Mellor responded to his expensive first over with a far better second, bowling Jamie Wilson, and in the next over Mayers again found an edge, this time Tim Cotton's, held more straightforwardly by his dad. Wilmington's last recognised batsmen were now together, and Alfie May should have gone first ball, lobbing one up from Mayers which just evaded Mick Sumner's dive, but then standing out of his ground and beaten by a sharp throw from Dean Freeman which seems to have caught the umpire unaware, allowing May to survive, despite the fact that he himself seemed to realise he was out. May then started to take the attack to New Ash Green, advancing down the track to Mayers, something which soon brought Quantrill up to the stumps. The second ball he was stood up May advanced slightly and missed, with Quantrill whipping off the bails. Quantrill was convinced May's foot was still in the air on the way back, but it was a difficult one for the umpire to give without the aid of TV replays, and he didn't. Things seemed to be swinging back towards Wilmington again, and as Ian Mellor slightly overpitched for two successive balls and was whipped away for 2 and 4 the runs required had dropped to just 26.Mellor, however, found the ball he had been looking for with his third, a Yorker length ball taking out off stump. The last three Wilmington batsmen looked out of their depth, but May was still in and going for the runs. Any ball he wasn't facing looked a potential wicket, and Mellor capitalised with the 8th wicket, clean bowled. May took more runs from Mayers, reducing the requirement to 11 to win, but facing Mellor he didn't quite time an attempted slash through the covers and lofted it into the fairly safe hands of Joe Elisak. 11 was by no means an impossible target for the last pair normally, but they did not look likely to score at all, and it took Mellor just 4 balls to finish the innings off, giving himself 5-27, the last 4 of them coming in 15 balls without conceding a run. As ever a close win, with the accompanying tension, triggered wilder celebrations than more comfortable ones, but they were deserved, with excellent bowling to defend what was probably a below par total, and good spirit to persist and carry on working hard in the face of fate seeming to be completely set against them. It takes New Ash Green into a comfortable third place in the league at the half way stage of the season, a massive improvement on the last season in this division two years ago.
Kent Regional League Match - 40 overs per side
OD CUACO (3 pts) 154-9 (40 overs)
New Ash Green (19 pts) 158-2 (37.3 overs)
New Ash Green won by 8 wickets
Karl Bartlett hit a maiden ton as New Ash Green 2nd XI comfortably saw off near-table rivals OD CUACO 4th XI by eight wickets.
Remarkably, Bartlett was on 97 with only one required for victory when he smashed through cover for four with 2.3 overs remaining to finish 101*.
NAG were set 155 and lost only Martin Ives and Derek Mole in their chase. Ives went for 23 which brought in Mole who was solid alongside Bartlett. Together they saw off the superb Rajesh Raghavan, who conceded just 12 runs in 10 overs, supported by David Marshall at the other end.
Raghavan's and Marshall's wicket-to-wicket bowling meant Mole and Bartlett found it difficult to find runs, resulting in several maidens between the 20th and 30th over.
However, when their spells ended, the following efforts were not as tight meaning Bartlett was able to unleash as he had done on the openers, culminating in one over containing four boundaries.
Earlier in the day, NAG's fielding had been impressive in taking nine wickets, with Ashley Woodward taking four for a successive week.
His first came courtesy of a field change at 61-0 when skipper Kieran Poole took a high catch on the mid-wicket boundary.
Soon after, Woodward struck again, and then Mole was rewarded with the wicket of Mick Boyden. Marshall then came in at 82-3 and was dangerous before Woodward bowled him, and then Liam Osbourne with his next delivery.
Ollie Cooper then dived for a well-judged catch before Michael Gallagher and Martin Ives both took their own, and Bartlett struck with a fine run-out.
The bowling of Mole, Woodward and Ives meant the target was restricted with six maidens between them, and when in the final over by Poole, only a single was added, NAG were confident they could reach the target and rise to fifth in the league.
Not as confident, however, were they at tea when selecting cakes, knowing they needed to negotiate the two feeble planks of wood to re-cross the small river running along one side of the boundary.
Friendly Match - "Proper Cricket"
Earlswood Strollers 202-5 dec. (37 overs)
New Ash Green 131 all out (35.2 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 71 runs
Having seemed to have plenty of players for a Sunday game for a change New Ash Green found themselves struggling to get the last man they needed, and ended up playing with ten, Vic Mayers playing through the pain of his pulled muscle from the previous day to make sure they weren't any shorter. Earlswood have an impressive record against some strong Sunday teams, so the main aim for the day was to avoid a drubbing, and in that at least New Ash Green succeeded. Earlswood batted first by agreement, leaving New Ash Green to field through regular irritating showers. Matt Bushe and Joe Elisak opened the bowling and were able to keep the accomplished looking opening batsmen reasonably under control. Elisak made the first breakthrough, bowling Armstrong (who made 170 not out in a game two weeks earlier), but there were no further successes for the openers. Vic Mayers replaced Bushe, bowling a 7 over spell off a couple of paces, and did respectably without matching his form off his full run, but it was at the other end that New Ash Green had success. Edward Quantrill replaced Elisak and had immediate success, Dring swinging across the line and being very plumb LBW to Quantrill's 3rd ball. He kept the runs down reasonably well for the next few overs, before beginning to lose his line a bit as he tried to bowl a little quicker. A decision to try and slow down immediately paid dividends as he bowled the other opener, York, for 50, and followed up by bowling the Earlswood skipper for a duck in the same over after he had played a couple of accomplished looking drives to fielders, completing a double wicket maiden. Successes after that were harder to come by for New Ash Green, both Michael Gallagher and Jasper Holliday struggling in short spells, and Quantrill suffering from a few more attacking shots, though he did see one batsman dropped, before eventually getting his fourth wicket when a legside ball came off the back of the bat and was well clung on to by Karl Bartlett behind the stumps. It gave Quantrill his career best bowling figures, but it was New Ash Green's last success, a very fair declaration coming 15 minutes early when the score passed 200.
Had Earlswood's bowling been of the same calibre as their batting then New Ash Green would never have stood a chance of getting near 200, but in fact it was somewhat less accomplished, and perhaps had the two leading batsmen not made careless mistakes the game might have had a tight finish. John Howland missed a gift first ball and then missed a straight ball, but Karl Bartlett showed all the confidence of a man fresh from his maiden hundred in setting about anything lose with powerful strokes, while Matt Bushe played a supporting role at the other end. Bartlett had made 36 at better than a run a ball when he tried to pull a ball of good length and was bowled. The run rate then slowed a bit, although Bushe was beginning to look a little more positive, something that proved his undoing as he dragged a wideish ball back onto his stumps. Tony Alvis suffered a stroke of bad luck on his season's debut, being run out going for an optimistic second that he perhaps didn't have the confidence to turn down on only his second ball of the year. With four wickets down Earlswood were beginning to close in around the bat, which nearly brought an injury or two as Matthew Quantrill, also fresh from a high score the previous day, set about loose balls with almost as much vigour as Bartlett had done. The field quickly backed off to a more normal distance, and for a while New Ash Green looked as if they might mount a challenge, with none of the bowling looking particularly threatening. The loss in quick succession of Michael Gallagher and Jasper Holliday put only a slight dent in those hopes, but a much bigger dent was struck soon afterwards when Quantrill struck a short wide one straight to point and was held by a fielder who apparently never catches anything, departing for 27 from 21 balls. Not long after that Joe Elisak came down the wicket and was stumped for five, and New Ash Green's last pair were at the crease with some 18 overs to go and more than 100 needed. With Vic Mayers only able to stroll very gentle singles and Edward Quantrill not having scored a run for more than a year it might have been assumed that the game would be over in no time, but after Quantrill had been dropped at point (a very sharp chance hit hard at a close fielder) the pair started to settle in. Quantrill got his first run of 2012, and having got that off his back became increasingly confident, while Mayers hit a few big shots out to the boundaries, even managing to stroll an occasional 2 when the ball didn't quite reach the line. Earlswood were worried enough to return to their opening bowlers, but this did nothing to unsettle the batsmen, if anything increasing their scoring rate, Quantrill pulling a ball through mid-wicket for 4 to reach double figures for the first time in his life, adding career best batting to his career best bowling figures. With less then six overs to go and the partnership having reached 39 there was even a suspicion that the partnership might hold out for the draw, but still playing in the right spirit they didn't try and block it out, and Quantrill eventually got carried away and tried to hit one over the top, only to be caught at mid-wicket. A 71 run win for Earlswood was probably a fair reflection of the game, but given their other results this season it was a good effort by New Ash Green, especially the final pair, who for different reasons will have every reason to look back on their efforts with pride – Edward Quantrill for his best batting and bowling in the same game, and Vic Mayers for turning up and playing despite his injury and making a positive contribution to supporting the club.