Friendly Match - 35 overs
Rusthall 207 - 4 (35 overs)
New Ash Green 139 - 6 (35 overs)
New Ash Green lost by 68 runs
After a long trip down to Tunbridge Wells, it was a sceptical New Ash Green team that stood around Rusthall's square, surveying conditions as the drizzle fell. Many felt that the pub would soon be frequented and the first game of the season pushed back to next week. However the determination of the home team to get the game on soon saw a toss being made with the skipper, Paul Sumner, winning and electing to field.
With the game shortened to 35 overs each and a delayed start of 20 minutes, New Ash Green took to the field with Noel Delaffon opening the bowling and delivering the first ball of the season, one that was left by the Rusthall batsman. His over was a good, solid foundation to the season, however without a wicket. At the other end, Felix Quantrill began his own quest to take a wicket in his first game of the season. His first over showed the consistency from last season, however a few slightly wider deliveries down the off side, lead to a few nice dabs from the batsmen to take some runs via the third man boundary. The two opening bowlers began to settle in, having some lovely bowling, but to no avail on the wicket front. Delaffon finished his 7 overs only going for the 13 runs, with an impressive display and Quantrill finished his 7 going for 37, a fine performance with only his first and last overs letting his figures slip. With the openers subsiding, Sumner made a change at each end, bringing on Nash and Ed Quantrill. Nash, despite a slight foot injury, impressively opened his spell, bowling with his normal consistency, however it was at the other end where the action happened. Quantrill, who bowled a slower delivery down leg for his first ball, which was sent for 4, realised that bowling the same rubbish would get a wicket, and he did just that off the second of his over. A sweep down to fine leg from the batsman lead to a top edge and after a slight juggle from NAG debutant Syed, the ball was held, leading to the first wicket of the season. Quantrill went on to finish with 1-18 off his 4. At the other end, Nash was bowling good line and length and eventually took the wicket of the other opener, bowled and proceeded to celebrate as if he had bowled out a 12-year-old. This wicket however started the, what can only be described as, carnage from Rusthall. The 3 and 4 batsmen, after starting with caution, started to come out of their shells and played a mixture of exquisite shots off good balls, and slogs off the poorer balls. As the deluge was looking bad, Nash took his second of the game, with the Rusthall number 3, knocking one up for Delaffon to take the catch. At the other end, Syed was having a go at turning his fingers over the ball, and in one very good over, had an excellent battle with the number 4 batsman, which saw 3 balls hit for boundaries(two 4s & a 6) and 3 balls that could all have got the batsman out, something recognised by said batsman. At the other end, Nash finished with fine figures of 2-27 off 7 and on came Simon Freeman, who promptly decided to give away all the runs he was going to give away for the whole season in one over. Sumner quickly replaced him for himself and at the other end Syed (0-28 off 3) made way for Bushe, who looked to calm the onslaught of 4s and 6s that had occurred over the last few overs. Sumner at the other end bowled well and took the 4th wicket of the game, bowling the captain (who this year could not complain about a dubious LBW decision). The pair looked to be keeping Rusthall's score under 200, however a late flurry saw them move onto 207 at the end of their 35 overs. Bushe finished on 0-26 off 3 and Sumner 1-20 off 3.
After a good tea and a nice chill in the sun, New Ash Green set out to chase the score set by Rusthall. Openers Bushe and Abraham played themselves in over the first few overs and were looking set. However, as things so often go with New Ash Green, this was not to last as Abraham spooned one up to mid-on for a simple catch and was out for 4. This bought in Syed who immediately looked comfortable. Along with Bushe, they progressed through the next few overs with a mixture of lovely shots, luck and in Bushe's case, a lot of blocking. One shot from Syed saw him smack a huge 6 down and over the heads of the watching team. With nice fluency and good shots, Syed was looking good to make a score however just as he was pushing on, he was bowled a nice ball that moved in and took out his middle stump and had to go for 16. This bought in premium First Team batsman Dean Freeman, who had kept well in the first innings and, after seeing off a few early balls, started to go on the attack. The next 10 overs saw Bushe & Freeman knock up some runs and give an early indication that the club does still have some batting talent. One over saw Freeman hit a six into the trees at the far end, sending off a search party. His reply to the opposition asking him not to hit it there again was to pull it next ball into the brambles at square leg. Despite this partnership progressing well, the run rate slipped further and further out of New Ash Green's grasp. It looked now to be a session of getting back in for the season and not to have a classic New Ash Green collapse. As both batmen were looking comfortable Bushe played an unusually attacking shot, leading to his demise, being caught for 28 runs. Delaffon joined Freeman and looked to attack, but he hit a ball up and long and was out for 6 runs. Clark joined Freeman who reached his 50, and then as any sensible batsman would, hit his next ball for 6. Clark batted out a couple of overs but then fell for 3 runs, bringing in the Freeman combo of Simon to bat with Dean. However, the next over Dean was caught in the deep, by a man who didn't see the ball until it was halfway back to earth, but still managed to grab it from out of the sun. This left Sumner and Simon Freeman to face the last over, one that will be remembered for a while. Sumner was on strike with 71 needed and, following the instructions of the crowd, took a hefty swing at the first ball of the last over. What could have been a cracking shot, was top edged and flew high into the sky. The keeper gently walked underneath and could have made a brew in the time it took the ball to come down. Sumner was heading off the pitch and the next batsman ready to come in, when the keeper caught the ball, only for it to bounce out and roll onto the floor, to the jubilations of every other person on and off the pitch. The next balls saw Sumner block one and then take a shot, before the 4th ball saw him smack one straight at a fielder, who again dropped him for him to scamper down to finish on a score of 9. Freeman on strike ignored the calls for him to have a swing and did what can only be described as “playing for his average” and blocked out the last 2 balls of the game to leave New Ash Green on 139-6 off their 35 overs, Freeman finishing on 2 not out.
After the bad weather at the start and the number of dropouts before the match, this match could have gone much worse, however a friendly game was had by all and it was a great start to the season, with everyone getting a go at something and warming themselves back into cricket. Rusthall were a friendly & pleasant team and the game seemed to be enjoyed by all.