Win :: Played on Sunday 16th June 2019
Staplehurst 185 A/O (30.5 - Bowen 3/58, Rawson 3/12)
Knockers 186/8 (38.3 - LSA 48, Marsh 54*, Rawson 17*)
What a game, what a win. It was the best performance of the season so far from the Knockers. Grinding out victory with 10 men against a youth-injected Staplehurst being the ideal way to celebrate Lando’s hundredth.
Put in to bowl first, a stiff and tardy group took to the field with some unfamiliar sights on show. LSA wasn’t keeping, Oli Boreham was making his first appearance since 1989 (I took off a year every time he told us) and a 13 year-old was opening the batting. The Knockers sent him packing in the second over however, as McKiernan teased him into a leg side hoik and Marsh took the catch down at fine leg. This spurred us into a great rhythm, albeit with runs leaking all over. Mark continued at a mediated pace and Ted enjoyed a helpful gusting to support his run up. Wickets flowed through a mixture of conducive green turf that any sane skipper would’ve bowled on, tactful Ziggy burners and some atrocious shot selection from the wee nippers. Runs also flowed, this time assisted by more than one full toss and dodgy field placement. Importantly though, we held our catches (Boreham doing the job behind the sticks off Ziggy a highlight) and, at drinks, the oppo were 150-7 off 20. Memorable first session.
We sensed they only had one or two partnerships left so rehydrated and got back to it. Kutner bowled his usual feisty lines and had a very good LBW shout denied, and Simon Rawson replaced Ziggy with regular opportunities created off tight channels, also having a great shout turned down. I’m counting the days until DRS comes to Kent. Their leadership team settled in, however, and seriously threatened to build to an insurmountable total with the run rate still around 7 after 25. The skipper lost his head though and skied one in Simon’s first over to Ted at mid off. That partnership was their last hope of a big total and the knockers tidied up the tail with 185 on the board. After just 31 overs.
Side note: by the look of the website, Scott would have you believe that he opened the bowling but that man only plies his craft in the latter stages, a real master of the night, a lycanthropic grenadier we know exactly how to employ. He did bowl one over. It was majestic.
Pickled onions, mars bar rice crispy cakes and sausage and egg sandwiches. Staplehurst tea was sublime, complete with the requisite unassuming air of ease that garners an 8/10. Tidy refuelling in the pav with a quick tankard presentation to Scott to mark his occasion and we were ready set to go.
Paul and Scott headed out first, with the same question on everyone’s lips: will he do the honourable thing and ton up on his hundredth? Boundaries flowed and singles were turned down but these came from Paul and Scott was left pondering where to find his runs. Scott, looking more at ease at the crease with a few sharp shots to their boundarymen, then opted for a ludicrous spearfishing-esque shot that saw him bowled for not many, shortly after Paul had himself been bowled going for a big one. I had the pleasure of the oppo scorer notifying me how far behind the run rate we were after every over for the first 8 overs but I had faith in our depth. And depth was the need of the day as we struggled to forge partnerships with LSA and Ted the only ones fancying sticking around. I believe in a (healthy) blame culture and it’s safe to say that some running between the wickets caused some unnecessarily premature spikes in the heart rates of all fans present. But we knew we had time to play with and the run rate never crept too far north of 5. Keeping ourselves going to 40 overs was all we had to do. A very well crafted (and verified) 48 from LSA injected some vital impetus into the innings but he fell to some canny bowling from the oppo 4-footer. The lad had a great game with a direct hit run out of Kutner to boot; when puberty hits, we’ll have some real issues at staplehurst.
Ted made good grounds towards the total, capitalising on a few errant deliveries to ease some tension but then let desperation seep in and managed to bring it all back again with questionable shot selections. The arrival of final man Simon to the crease, with 30-odd runs left to be had, might have lit up opposition spirits but, cap donned, he quickly calmed things for the battling Knockers as orthodoxy solved brief headaches and gaps were well found. A strong partnership developed and we guided ourselves ever closer to the much-needed post-match urinal break. I think shouting sorry at Simon when signalling for a run now means run very expletive fast or else. A second Marsh was gunning for the C*** tag. With some successful quick singles, forced overthrows and a damning boundary from Si, we needed 3 off 12 and made it happen with Simon splitting the infield with consummate ease.
What a win. A real lesson in keeping focused right to the end and well done all to persevere in the field with only 10. Against a challenging opposition as well. Scott commented that he couldn’t have hoped for a better win to mark his three figures as it was a truly dramatic victory, far better viewing for the supposed 1 billion watching India Pakistan.
4 from 4 so roll on next weekend to keep the season shining!
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