By Erik Samuelson
You would have thought that a total of 493 was sufficient to beat most teams but, despite this record for the aggregate age of today’s team, the Gardeners were unable to repeat last week’s winning performance. So, although SGCC produced a creditable effort with the bat, we fell to a 6 wicket defeat by Eversheds, probably the strongest team we face all season.
Following feedback on last week’s report, this week there will be a stronger focus on statistical data and less on the purple prose. It may, therefore, be of interest to readers to know that about 8 of the team are above its average age; while this may seem unbelievable, it is true, thanks to the extraordinary youthfulness of Daniel Curtis (who is under 30 !).
Today’s team showed several changes from last week’s. The expected return of Rod Birtles, who has been missing all season, was further delayed by yet another spectacular excuse. This time he has fallen off (been knocked off?) his bike and was unable to play again. We await a doctor’s report on the seriousness of the injury and a report from his children as to whether it was as good a laugh as when he slipped on an ice cream on the pavement and was unable to play for several weeks. A further late sensation was the return from retirement of Rob Mitchener who was thought to have become a born-again golfer and to have foresworn the pleasures of the flesh that Gardeners’ cricket offers, so it was good to welcome him back to the fold.
Despite this (i.e. Rod missing and Rob returning), it was a strong team that faced Eversheds and after a pre-match discussion between Gardeners’ captain, Hansie Samuelson, and the opposition captain, SGCC batted first without there being a toss. Samuelson (wearing a new leather jacket he acquired just before the game started) and Tait set off steadily against what is probably the most hostile attack we face all season. They survived with some luck and some fine shots by Tait until he was surprisingly first out in the 11th over, LBW trying to flick the ball down the leg side, for 18. At this stage the score was a quite healthy 38 for 1, as some well-timed playing and missing by both openers had seriously distracted the wicketkeeper and led to a lot of extras.
In came Wroe and he immediately benefited from the pre-match exchange of the leather jacket as he proceeded to be dropped four or five times over the next 20 or so overs. He batted sensibly, interspersing solid defence with a whole range of attractive attacking strokes in his hard earned 39. In the interim, Samuelson went, played on, for 23 after helping to see off the opening bowlers.
From a position of about 68 for 2, no other batsman scored double figures but almost everyone made a few; “young Daniel” Curtis played two beautifully-timed late cuts before succumbing to his weakness, a straight ball on the stumps.
After that, there was a procession of scores under ten. Highlights included Mike Fox finding the one Eversheds player who was willing to take a catch and some entertaining running between the wickets by several of the team. While not wishing to name any of the guilty parties, you wouldn’t want to meet one of them in your car in a narrow road since they don’t know the meaning of the words “backing up”.
Rob Mitchener’s return was limited to a cameo innings where, under pressure to score quickly, he scored about 4 before going for a leg glance and being bowled by another of those rather unfair balls that is straight and on the wicket. Finally, Phil Sessions played a magnificent cover drive for 4 before also succumbing to one of those straight balls.
In all, and for the second week running, SGCC batted for the full 35 overs, scoring 142 for 8. Also, for the second week running, Mike Stewart did not bat and the captain apologises profusely to him for this. The batting that did take place was sensible, rather than exciting, as the bowling was generally very tight. This was probably one of our more responsible efforts in recent years, but rather attritional to watch, it seemed.
With Mike Fox and Chris Packham taking the nearly-new ball, hopes were high for an early breakthrough. Unusually, Mike was taken off after 4 overs without getting a wicket, although he had several near misses. This brought Daniel Curtis on and he quickly got the breakthrough, with a ball that went off the batsman’s boot onto the stumps. The score rattled along at about the required rate of 4.085714285 – well you asked for more statistics – and wickets were hard to come by. Eventually, Daniel’s tight bowling led to him getting the first three wickets to fall and, with the score on about 75 for 3 off 18 overs, the match was in the balance. Back came Packham to take the fourth wicket and Gardeners’ hopes soared but, from then on, the run rate accelerated and even bringing on Rob Mitchener and Mike Fox had only limited effect in slowing down the rate (well, let’s be honest, it positively accelerated when Mike came back on). Probably the final chance evaporated when Mitchener had a sharp chance put down when the score was about 95 for 4.
In the end, then, it was a comfortable win for Eversheds, although the thought lingers that one more wicket at a crucial time might have led to a historic win. But it was not to be and there is no doubt that the best team won.
And so on to next week’s match at Amersham, where a depleted Gardeners’ team will be facing Oak and Beech.
Have a good week.