friendly club cricket

"A Great Game"

A series of matches which stand out in the memories of club members

This page is devoted to reports of games that stick out in people’s minds from NAG&HCC’s history. The reasons why the game sticks in the mind are immaterial – it may be personal performance, team performance or just some comic moments. The page has been pending for quite some time and we've kicked off with three matches, memorable for a variety of reasons, that were waiting on file. Now we hope others will be encouraged to proffer their own personal favourites to be highlighted – either pick it from the archives or, if there isn't yet a match report, you'll need to create one, be it a fully fledged report, or a few lines about the bit you remember, let us know & we will add it to the page.
You might also enjoy our Blast from the Past page.

  1. BEXLEY HOSPITAL - On the face of it this looks like a very ordinary game. A Saturday without a league game, back in the days when there was only one league side, But it's Euro '96 and there's an England match on the Saturday afternoon, NAGCC consequently is starved of players... JUMP TO THE MATCH!
  2. PILOTONIANS - It is the team effort & particularly the extraordinary running between the wickets by Alan & Sharad in complete contrast to their usual reputations which makes this game stand out particularly as one of New Ash Green's great wins... JUMP TO THE MATCH!
  3. TONBRIDGE - A game which prompted a headline in a local paper along the lines "Tonbridge two sent to hospital" is, however, memorable for 2 particular acts of sportsmanship. (It's believed both injured did come out of all this without long term damage)... JUMP TO THE MATCH!

Saturday 8th June 1996 - Bexley Hospital v New Ash Green: (Friendly match)
A Saturday without a league game, back in the days of the Central League, when league matches could be on Saturday or Sunday, sometimes both, and there was only one league side. An additional factor for this game was that this was during Euro '96, and England had a game on the Saturday afternoon. With that distraction and no league game we were, not surprisingly, somewhat starved of players. On the face of it this looks like a very ordinary game, but for me it sticks out in my mind as one of the most enjoyable I ever had with New Ash Green, and my own role in it is only incidental to my enjoyment of it.

I was team secretary at the time, and I was determined to get a side out, something which I had never failed to do. For this one I had to pull out all the stops, phoning absolutely everyone on my list, and eventually I turned out a side which went something like this: Quantrill M, Howland J, Shannon G, Ellard, Pett, Glover, Packman (a bloke from Dartford Postal), McCloskey, One of the Hoddinotts, Sumner M and Rutland Ph.

It looks a weak team even by today's standards, but bearing in mind that at that stage Phil Rutland and Mick Sumner had a combined age of about 30, the Hoddinotts had not really started playing cricket at all regularly and Geoff Shannon was playing about one game a season and was decidedly rusty and it really was one of the weakest sides I have ever put out as an NAG 1st team. That only addresses the playing side though - the main thing about this side was that they were all people who wanted to play a game of cricket and were going to enjoy it come what may, and the fact that everyone playing was someone who would prefer to get out and play cricket rather than sit around and watch football was one of the biggest contributions to this being such an enjoyable match.

The drama for me didn't end with the team selection, though, because when I tried to start my car to get to the meet it was completely dead, and I had the club kit in the back. With a team of irregulars the club kit was somewhat important! Eventually Steve Glover came round to my house, couldn't get my car started and transferred the kit into his jeep. We arrived at Bexley Hospital just before the start time to find the rest of the team already in situ. The toss had been dealt with in my absence and John Howland and Geoff Shannon were padding up to bat. I went into the opposition changing room to offer my apologies and introduce myself to their skipper, and was slightly surprised to find that they also had two people padding up!

Once the confusion had been sorted out and we had discovered that we were in fact supposed to be fielding we got out onto the pitch to find a very green but surprisingly firm wicket. Our very junior opening attack was Phil Rutland, and Micky Sumner bowling left arm round seam. Bexley's opening batsmen looked very accomplished, and started helping themselves, slaughtering Phil and helping Micky's bowling round the corner with great relish. I can't remember the exact score, but with very little else in the way of tight bowling I know they were about 54-0 from 6 overs and we were looking at a pursuit of 300 or more. However I persuaded Micky to bowl over the wicket instead of round, and this stemmed the flow of runs from his end and immediately brought a wicket. I came on myself at the other end in place of Phil, to experiment with a bit of spin. I think I knew almost immediately that luck was turning our way - in my first over their number 3, who looked a very good bat indeed, stepped back to cut me and slashed his stumps down!

Although the runs continued to come our fielding was keen and some good catches were held, I have vague memories of Hoddinott, McCloskey and Glover holding some. Micky got 4 wickets, I ended up with 5-40 and astonishingly our scratch side bowled out what seemed a formidable batting side for 143 with something like 40 minutes still to go before tea. Frankly I think if we had played again with the same teams for the next 20 days we wouldn't have got near getting them out for such a low score again, but on this day things just went our way.

This left us with a tricky period of batting before tea, and as their opening bowlers swung and seamed the ball all over the place at a reasonably brisk medium pace their total was looking rather more than adequate. With some difficulty John Howland and I survived until tea, but we were both out soon afterwards. I don't remember much of the middle order, I think there were a lot of little contributions, but their bowling was really far too good for our side and we were reasonably pleased to have taken the fight into the last twenty overs and made a game of it when the 9th wicket fell at about 110.

Our last pair came together, the opening bowling pair of Micky Sumner and Phil Rutland. Remember again that they were both about 15 at the time, and that this was a good quality opposition on a wicket very helpful to them, and you will realise why we all considered it just a matter of time before the end came. Astonishingly, though, with a mixture of sensible and resolute batting and some good fortune with edges flying out of fielders reach, the final pair inched their way towards the required total, and to the unconfined joy of all concerned finally crept past it with time to spare. A one wicket win - and in my diary next to the score I have written 'What a result!!' - something which accurately sums up my feeling on the day. We were undoubtedly by far the weaker side on the day, but everyone in that side went out to enjoy their cricket and try their best without worrying about the result, and they got the result they thoroughly deserved. The turnaround between the time when our youngest pair opened the bowling and were slaughtered early on, and them carrying us to victory with a last wicket stand of 35 was amazing, and is what makes this match stand out for me as the greatest team performance I have taken part in for New Ash Green. The side were a joy to captain, with no prima donnas (except me, of course) and it is a match I will never forget. New Ash Green won by 1 wicket!!!!

Footnote by the author: Since I wrote this report Simon Duke has dug out the scorecard, which is attached below, and I am pleased to see that my memories of events are almost entirely accurate. One point I had forgotten was that they only used 3 bowlers, and after tea only 2, one of them bowling throughout, another point which emphasises what a good result this was, because they were all good bowlers in very helpful conditions. MQ

Here's the scorecard:
gg scorecard
gg scorecard

Sunday 12th September 1999 - Old Pilotonians v New Ash Green: (Friendly match)
Old Pilotonians usually played in the Dartford area, but for this match one of their contacts had arranged a game down in the suburbs of Tunbridge Wells, at a ground where we had previously played against Linden Park II's. At this time the wicket was very dry and firm, and was one of the most peculiar I have ever played on. Bouncing the ball on the wicket produced an almost hollow sound, as if bouncing it on the steel deck of an oil tanker, and a bounce to match. Andy Stuart was playing in this game, and had he bowled he would have been a truly frightening prospect, probably hitting people in the head off a length, but he had chosen to play as an opening batsman for this game, and left the bowling to those who would be less dangerous on this wicket. Probably Vaughan John and I, who would have been the next fastest bowlers in the side at ordinary medium pace (we were both younger and fitter in those days…) would have been dangerous enough, but we left the bowling to the likes of Alan Cottrell, Sharad Bawdekar and Matthew Pennell, who were enough of a handful!

Old Pilotonians batted first and I remember little of the early part of the innings, but I think they scored steadily enough against our fairly gentle bowling until an incident about two thirds of the way through the innings when John Howland, who was keeping wicket, was hit in the face by a ball from Matthew Pennell, which bounced sharply, and had to leave the pitch with a severe nosebleed and distinct dizziness. I took over behind the stumps and I seem to remember getting a catch first ball and a very close stumping appeal next ball. A bloke came in for them who I will forever remember as 'the bouncy bowler' (see later!) but who was also a big hitter, being fairly tall and broad shouldered. He smashed a few off Sharad, but was so full of his own importance that he was desperate to keep the strike at almost any cost towards the end, to the extent that I was keeping with one glove off ready to throw to the other end to catch him backing up too far. In fact I didn't need to do that as he tried to take a suicidal run when his partner had hit the ball only about 5 feet and I was able to retrieve the ball and run him out easily.

Old Pilotonians eventually declared on 166-7 and we opened up against the bouncy bowler. Now he clearly thought he was a quick bowler, though in fact he was probably no quicker than Matt Pennell. What he was, though, was tall, and he had a good high action. On this wicket this meant that he got very steep bounce off a length, and was very awkward to play against. Andy Stuart got a few before getting out and Vaughan also took him on with a little success before he also fell. With John Howland injured and only batting in emergency and a number of youngsters in the side this seemed to leave us with little hope. However I had worked out a way of playing this bowler, and this is one of the reasons I remember this match with such pleasure. I can't ever remember another time when I have so successfully worked out an unorthodox method for dealing with a particular bowler and pulled it off so well, and the fact that the bowler himself was very much full of his own brilliance made it all the more sweet. I decided to come down the wicket to him every ball, taking three or four big steps. If the ball was a good length I would get to it and drive it straight, as apart from the bounce there was nothing else dangerous about the bowler. If the ball was at all short I'd just step out of the way, with complete confidence that it would bounce over the stumps. With the extreme bounce the wicketkeeper didn't want to stand up and put an end to this tactic, so I kept using it against this bowler to the very end with great success.
Before reaching the end though there were a few more twists and turns. I think David Howland had come in at number 5, then aged about 15 and a reasonably capable batsman, but looking about 10 years old. Clearly believing that he would be dangerous to such a young batsman the bouncy bowler asked to be taken off, and David made a few runs. After that the bouncy bowler was forever telling his captain when he should bowl, insisting on being brought back on every time we seemed to be getting on top, despite the fact that by now it must have been obvious that I was finding him quite easy to deal with, whereas I was struggling with some of the slower bowlers who were awkward to deal with on the bouncy track with the keeper standing up. Indeed I was dropped off an absolute sitter at one stage, but the fielder who dropped it was clearly a complete non-sportsman who was just making up the numbers, and had he been actually capable of taking a catch he might well have been fielding somewhere other than the position a second slip would stand to a quickish bowler when the bowler was actually a spinner!

Runs were not easy to come by, and despite my successful method against the bouncy bowler we seemed to be in some difficulty in keeping up with the required rate. With quite a big boundary around most of the field a lot of running between the wickets was required, and the next two partnerships were the main reason why the match stands out in my memory. I can't now remember the order, but I think it was Alan Cottrell and then Sharad Bawdekar who batted at 7 and 8 respectively, and my feeling was that they were not noted for their speed between the wickets. Both, however, astonished me as we kept up with the run rate with brisk singles and in Sharad's case two all run threes, in one of which I can distinctly remember thinking there would only be two only to find Sharad looking at the fielder, assessing the situation, realising that I would be running to the danger end and calling the third run! Running like that, completely out of character from two players who would normally have been considered to be two of the worst runners between the wickets in the club, aided by the strange reluctance of the bouncy bowler to place men back at long on and long off despite my consistently hitting him there in the air enabled us to get close to the target. The bouncy bowler insisted he be brought back on for a last try when I was struggling to score runs off their spinner and I took a few runs off him to bring us back on target, before he at last used his head a bit and began to drop the ball a bit shorter, making it more difficult to score off him. Having faced five dot balls at a stage when we needed 6 an over I decided to go for the pre-determined shot, faked to charge as usual and then stepped back and across and pulled towards the relatively short cow corner boundary. This shot is the third reason why this game is so memorable, for a number of reasons. Firstly the bat I was using then was on its last legs and starting to crack down the inside edge. When I played this shot a huge chunk came out of it! Secondly the bowler clearly thought he was fast and bouncy rather than just bouncy and couldn't quite believe that anyone could play such a shot off his bowling. Finally, to go with my strategy for dealing with him generally this was a very successful pre-determined shot, because I hit it as well as any I ever have hit. I got under it a bit, so it didn't go as far as I would have hoped, but it went very high and comfortably over the boundary for six, and although I may well have hit a few better sixes I don't think I have ever hit one quite like this.

Avoiding the maiden kept us on track and shortly afterwards, accompanied by one of the youngsters after Sharad had got out I hit the winning runs, ending on 92* as we won by 3 wickets. Although my personal contribution brings back pleasant memories, it is the team effort and particularly the extraordinary running between the wickets by Alan and Sharad in complete contrast to their usual reputations which makes this game stand out particularly as one of New Ash Green's great wins in my mind. MQ
New Ash Green won by 3 wickets 

WebEd’s note: Although I have been unable to trace down a scorecard, I can see from a handful of matches twix us & them that made it on to play-cricket, that they seem generally to come off best, hence no doubt making this NAG victory all the sweeter. If anyone has a scorecard, please let us know.

Saturday 22nd July 2000 - New Ash Green vs Tonbridge: (League match)
This is a game that stands out in my mind for two things - my finest individual cricketing moment and two unusual acts of sportsmanship.

It was our first Mid-Kent league game against Tonbridge, who were in their first season in the league and doing well. This was a top of the table clash, the week after the infamous Addington match which we had won to keep ourselves right in the title fight, and they had a few good players, including the Carr brothers. One of the Carrs batted very well and looked capable of making a large score, but as he was getting going he was well caught, one of a number of good catches in the innings. The other thing I remember from their innings was that one of their top order batsmen top edged a ball from Andy Cox straight into his face and had to go to hospital. With this, the good fielding and tight bowling we kept Tonbridge down to 148-8, a pretty low score in a 46 over game.

I don't remember a lot about the early part of our innings. I think we lost a few wickets and were scoring slowly, but I know that Rob Newmarch and I put on a good steady partnership for the 6th wicket which seemed to have us cruising to victory. I also remember a point when their slow spinner, who was mostly very accurate, bowled me a very slow full toss, just outside leg stump that arrived at waist height. With my eye well in and starved of much loose bowling to hit I made no mistake with this one and really middled it - it might well have gone for 6, even to the long New Ash Green boundary, but for the fielder at mid-wicket. Although he was some 20 yards away from the bat he simply didn't see the ball coming and it hit him straight in the forehead. The ball was travelling so hard that I was nearly caught by fine leg from the rebound, and he was about 40 yards from the fielder who was hit. The mid-wicket went down like a felled tree, and later had a lump the size of an egg on his forehead. He refused to go to hospital at the time, but later I gather he collapsed and did go to hospital, apparently prompting a headline in a local paper in Tonbridge along the lines "Tonbridge two sent to hospital". I believe both did come out of all this without long term damage.

This incident prompted the first of two bits of unusual sportsmanship in this game, as seeing Tonbridge now two men short in the field Steve Hurst volunteered to field for them - something commonplace in friendlies, but unusual, indeed virtually unheard off, in top of the table league games. In the meantime although I was a bit distracted worrying about how badly I might have hurt the fielder (I knew just how hard I had hit the ball!) we were reasonably comfortably getting the runs, and with about 20 needed off the last 5 overs with 5 wickets in hand I suggested to Rob that we should try to speed it up and not put ourselves under pressure in the last over. Something of a mistake as he got out immediately, Graham Hobbs was quickly caught off a dolly (by Steve Hurst, much to Graham's disgust!) and Andy Stuart went first ball. I managed to squeeze a four past point in the penultimate over, but we still needed 7 off the last, bowled by one of the Carr brothers who was bowling flat accurate spin, and had given very little away. Ian Shambrook got a single off the first ball, and to the 2nd I tried to step away and hit through the off side, but the bowler followed me down the legside and I couldn't get it away. 6 needed off 4 balls. Really we needed a boundary now, and looking round the field the only obvious gap was behind square on the off side, but the way Carr was bowling no orthodox shot was going to go there. I am known for playing reverse sweeps, but in truth my reverse sweep is more of a reverse slog and unless it’s a situation where it doesn't matter if I get out I usually play it only to bowlers who are very slow and bowling well outside off stump. Carr didn’t qualify on either count, so quite what possessed me to play one now, under this sort of pressure I don't know, but given the circumstances it was undoubtedly the best shot I have ever played. A well pitched up straight ball was perfectly reverse swept round the corner, all along the ground, beating the deep extra cover fielder as he ran round to third man, leaving us 2 to win off three balls. That might still have been difficult, but the moment the ball crossed the boundary the game was effectively over - their heads went down, and everyone knew we were going to win. I got a single next ball and with the field in to save one Ian Shambrook slashed the next ball over the infield for 4 and a 2 wicket win with a ball to spare.

I have never felt quite so pleased with myself as after that game - I couldn't stop grinning. Nonetheless for me there was one person more of a hero than I was on that day, and that was Tonbridge's wicketkeeper. As the reverse sweep was going over the boundary, snatching what had seemed a hard fought victory from his team's grasp and possibly ending their ambitions of winning the league he said to me without a trace of resentment 'That's a top shot.' I don't think many people could have been so generous and sporting in those circumstances, and I will remember it for as long as I remember that reverse sweep. It will always remind me to try and live up to the same standard of sportsmanship, though I doubt I will ever attain it. MQ
New Ash Green won by 2 wickets