Lose :: Played on Sunday 21st May 2017
Knockers first visit to the delightful Kemsing ground could have gone better, but they walked away with some pride in forcing the hosts into the penultimate over to chase down a moderate total. Sayem took well to the gloves, Seb bagged three wickets, Guido is in good nick and Ollie's bowling is adding smart to sharp, two words that also described his debut as captain.
Happy to bat first, concerns over potential breaking up of the track proved unfounded as it held true, unlike the bowling line as the real danger was in the steep slope which Kemsing used to full effect. Seb Horner and new Knocker Brad Bergh opened and were initially thrown by the choice of slow bowling from the off, including a particularly tricky septuagenarian. Horner will probably see off more challenging balls than the one that kissed his middle stump. "I just missed it" was his succinct analysis.
Kemsing then went about pouching every catch that came to hand. Sayem was caught, Brad, who'd looked like being our best chance at runs, was bowled, Lando who looked ungiven to temptation dollied one to midwicket and asides from Guido fighting back, the wickets were challenging the runs for the greater number on the board.
Marsh curbed his attacking instincts to take over from Guido, whose carefree cameo stopped the rot before he too was caught by a tidy running catch. It brought our man of the match on, Ben Hafford - we'll gloss over the fact he was the player they loaned us. The pair built on Guido's platform in our biggest partnership to bring us one shy of three figures before Marsh fell to a further catch. JT and Hollows were then bowled by successive balls and the fair wind rather went from the sails of recovery.
Neil, who had last picked up a bat as a child, looked nerveless at the crease and can look forward to creeping up the order, the 22 run ninth wicket partnership with Hafford giving us something to bowl at. Hafford fell caught and Gerald was last man out, getting bowled in the 32nd over of this 40-over match. Knockers finished on 122-10.
Tea was superb. Homemade cakes and cookies softened the blow of our batting performance as a gentle early summer breeze reminded us how pleasant this country can be with every angle at the picturesque Kemsing ground offering something to savour while Guido updated us on a life still scandalously ignored by more established publications.
It's when things get tough that you get the measure of a man. Our new club captain set about restoring pride by rallying his team into a sharp fielding outfit. He used his pace to unsettle and the rest of Knockers' bowling attack to its full potential as every run was made hard earned to the point where an unlikely victory fleetingly teased us.
Kemsing lost their opener before posting a single run. Next man in, Martin, got a rude awakening as an Ollie lifter smarted his fingers. A Knockers debut from Phil Hollows saw him bowl through with controlled and testing spin. One wicket - the remaining opener playing on - was scant return for the pressure he'd applied.
By drinks Kemsing had registered just 51-3. Hafford had relished bowling Kemsing stalwart, Shaddock and looked to continue following the break but a migraine gradually got the better of him. Martin, a Kemsing under-15's player, was building all the while. He lost a solid partner in Wood as Ollie trapped him LBW but it brought the recognisable Ide Hill skipper, Walkling to the crease and despite great efforts by Neil, JT and Seb, the pair brought the finishing line within sight.
Sayem's quick glovework stumped Martin one shy of his 50 off of Seb's bowling. JT bowled another and as Seb bowled one more and then combined again with Sayem, who'd kept wicket wonderfully despite a bad ankle, for another stumping, ten were needed off the three remaining overs but with only two wickets in hand. Walkling stood firm but it was ninth man, Whitehead who dealt the final blow.
A great effort with the ball. Perfect weather for cricket, great hosts and a decent local in The Bell to chat through the game's details with Pete Smith adding his company to a good crowd. The irony that Lando's net bowling had done more to prepare Ollie for the game than the other way round was not lost on him. There's more to come from Knockers.
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