Hadlow, last game of the season, muggy air, 40/40, lost toss, bowling.
Knockers heroes are forged in uphill battles and this fixture proved to be a stern test with some brilliant displays leading to an emphatic victory.
Dry conditions on the ground belied the promise of a green track to offer some seaming nibbles as openers Marsh and Randell toiled against some resolute Hadlow openers. Any missed lengths were suitably punished in the early overs as Ted and George made sure any shine wouldn’t last long (Landers had other ideas later on). Marsh’s yips landed metaphorically as he struggled to pitch several deliveries that led to a very ashamed warning from the umpire after the third time of nearly striking a severe bodyline approach with which only Oil Boreham can empathise. Something in the Marsh breakfast. On a day of few chances, one early edge behind went down, with Shah inexplicably bounding to his left as the ball went right, late reactions waving the ball go by. He even had the temerity to ask first slip Cal if he got a hand to it.
Hadlow continued to assert an aggressive tone where they could, despatching boundaries with occasional ease throughout the opening 20 overs. Knockers stood firm though and Horner, Andrew and Papa Shah all added clout to a bowling attack that never let the RR climb much above 5 or 6. Blowers on the boundary was calling for a Landers-P Shah bowling partnership that warmed the skipper but
Following drinks, the more productive opener made his way to three figures and very graciously bowed out of the middle to give some teammates a whack at it. Landers and Dave threw down some meaty overs that unfortunately went unrewarded as aerial shots fortuitously found the gaps between fielders. Indeed, chances continued to be hard to come by but the graft shown by our tweakers ground the RR down to an alarming low, such that the men in the middle lost patience and, with it, their grip on the bowling of Cal, a man who typified the relentless hungover energy that we all love to see on a hazy Sunday. 8 overs on the trot for a chap only recently out of retirement, charging in off 20 paces, taking 2 out of the 3 wickets for the cause. Magnificent to watch and a formidable asset to take into the middle-late overs, returning splendid figures with only 13 runs coming from his final 6 after a loosening 1st. All repaid by the captain dropping one at long on.
The outfield had been sluggish throughout but some outstanding efforts in the closing overs from Andrew was inspiring to see, outdone only by the surest of safe catches from Johnny the Mitch off Seb to remove a potentially dangerous death batter. The clampdown didn’t let up as the final 10 overs went for 29 runs, the final 5 for just 7. 198 the total. Shout out to Landers for tireless time wasting through ball shining. It played a winner for Cal as an in-ducker caught their 3 LBW, crashing into the middle of his front pad* to send him back to the pav.
A calm tea was taken, supermarché supplies consumed and batting lineups wobbled over. Off you go, Shah and Wade.
9 men sat hoping that similar opener success in the middle would provide a feet-up run chase were treated to a compelling first 5 with Shah quickly into a stride of patient free hitting, showing an enviable air of nonchalance mixed with discipline. Wade stuck to his guns and was watchful before carting a lovely boundary that was unfortunately followed by a devious twitcher that found his gate. Landers unleashed some delightful attacking intent from ball 1, sending the Sarge for an in-to-out one bounce boundary to lay down his marker. A 113-run partnership followed with both Knockers calmly clobbering the ball around to bring the required RR further and further down.
Skipper Ted erroneously mentioned individual totals at drinks as Shah rehydrated his composure before strolling back out to continue his merry innings. Landers fell from a mis-timed thwack and was caught of the oppo chairman, bringing an end to a thoroughly enjoyable partnership. Seb very briefly joined Jai before the latter surpassed Snellers’ at the top of the runs charts before passing three figures, a landmark, and match-winning, moment in his debut season. Not sure what protocol is on us needing to bring kit if he and Snellers ever open together!
J Mitch joined his protégé in the middle and left soon after, a devilish straight one finding its way through. Another great showing this season, the caps are notching up nicely.
Luke Andrew came in and punctured any residual opposition hopes with some delightful stroke play. After swatting away a handful of boundaries, while Mitchy was still unpadding, he finished the game with a pulverising six over the trees that arched and soared in a far superior fashion to the one Ivor Green had hit there a year prior. 100m+. BCCI are set to be short of cash soon but may come calling for such a commercial opportunity.
Good humour for a couple of drinks afterwards and the glorious news arrived that the oppo were tapping Scott up for a bit of Saturday action next season.
Thanks for the company, chaps. A wonderful day out to cap off a winning season.
Whispers abound of winter nets with curry houses nearby so stay tuned for that. Winter well those who can’t join.
*Bat came after, in case he’s reading this
|Batsman||  How Out||  4s||  6s||  Runs|
|Jai Shah||  not out||  13||  4||  100|
|Josh Wade||  bowled||  1||  0||  6|
|Scott Landers||  caught||  5||  0||  37|
|Seb Horner||  not out||  2||  0||  19|
|John Mitchell||  bowled||  0||  0||  0|
|Luke Andrew||  not out||  2||  2||  23|
|Vinit Shah||  dnb||  0||  0||  0|
|Neil Dave||  dnb||  0||  0||  0|
|Callum McCulloch||  dnb||  0||  0||  0|
|Ted Marsh||  dnb||  0||  0||  0|
|George Randell||  dnb||  0||  0||  0|
|Bowler||    Overs||    Mdns||    Runs||    Wkts|
|Ted Marsh||    7.0||    2||    28||0|
|George Randell||    5.0||    1||    21||0|
|Seb Horner||    8.0||    1||    33||1|
|Luke Andrew||    3.0||    0||    16||0|
|Vinit Shah||    5.0||    0||    31||0|
|Callum McCulloch||    8.0||    3||    26||2|
|Scott Landers||    2.0||    0||    17||0|
|Neil Dave||    2.0||    0||    13||0|