The captain returned from an excellent holiday on Dartmoor having worried sheep, ponies, cattle (actually they worried me a bit). Saw a hare bolt across a field near Fingle’s Bridge. So I recommend a stay at Chagford and plenty of walking. Even the long suffering Mrs H managed to enjoy herself when I wasn’t staring at my not-very-smart-phone and cursing the ebb and flow of the team for this match. However, come Friday evening / Saturday morning an eleven had been formed, the overnight rain passed over without dampening the wicket too much and we were ready to play.
Kenny called incorrectly so Richard took the option to bowl first, figuring we had some excellent bowling resources to call upon today. For once he was proved correct as Toby got one to lift giving a simple catch through to the skipper who was keeping today (Chris having somehow damaged his finger playing football … I think he was having a kick-about with some South American fella who bit him). So that’s a good start. Vikas is bowling up the hill and taking a while to get the right length, Vishal taking toll by hooking a number of balls to or near the boundary. Just as the skipper set the trap, Vikas found his length and Chirag got castled by an excellent outswinger. Toby continued his excellent spell, opting for control rather than outright pace on his first outing of the season and proving very hard to score off. Vishal was looking to score but Toby found a superb ball to rearrange his stumps. Sanjay and Nishal looked relatively comfortable until Nishal tried to belt Vikas back over his head, sending a steepling catch up that Jeremy moved in to take. The ball bounced up off Jeremy’s upturned palms (good idea to close your hands around the ball) and Vikas – who had moved across – got the rebound. Teamwork! Next ball (batsmen had crossed) and another wicket as a superb ball knocked back the off stump of Sanjay. Excellent hat-trick ball played well by the batsman. Meanwhile the King of Swing a.k.a. Lord Fakenham had taken over from Toby down the hill and was proving difficult to score off. Lost count of the number of times the batsmen played and missed. Then his lordship got one to straighten and secured an lbw. Sagaar then played well with Molly as Jeremy took over from Vikas; Richard decided that Chris could be the partnership breaker and made the Kentish all-rounder bowl up the hill, getting an outside edge that the captain parried. Yes, it always happens to Chris. Some more good deliveries before Richard realised that Chris’ head was becoming beetroot-like so a double change was made, Doosra down the hill and Stuart up the hill. Doosra took a short while to get his rhythm then had a couple put down in a very good spell. Meanwhile Stuart was snorting like a raging bull up the hill and the batsmen were trying to get away from the strike. Molly hit the ball straight to Fakenham at Cover, clearly thinking “old geezer, no worries”. Sagaar running to the danger end was beaten handsomely by a smart pick up and throw by the baronet … today’s champagne moment in the field. Shortly after Nick foxed Mihir with an excellent leg-spinner, turning through the gate to hit middle stump. Well deserved. Stuart could see that the batsmen were fending him off so we managed (by a series of entreaties and threats) to get Vikas to come in close at Point … just close enough as Prakul popped one up to him as he tumbled forward to make a good catch. Molly played some very good shots as Kavi supported him to the end of the 35 overs.
Tea – ah yes doubtless the highlight of the day. Excellent food as always, thanks very much Kenny and crew, truly magnificent. How many beers did you have Conor? Skipper opts to go down the order as (a) he’s had one samosa too many and (b) he hasn’t kept wicket for a few weeks.
So in go Adam and Will … wow the opening bowlers are good. Adam gets a peach of a ball from Nishal that he clips through to Kenny and we’re 0-1. Then Will gets a big outswinger from Vishal, Kenny takes the catch and we’re 0-2. Then Toby gets a very similar ball and gets a little more bat on it, Nishal taking the catch in the gully. Second week in a row that 3 of the top 5 have got ducks. Skipper should take more responsibility. Anyway, Chris and Jeremy put together an excellent stand of more than 50 to get us back into the game after seeing off the opening spells of the ‘ishals (N and V). Jeremy was just beginning to expand his strokes when he got a lifter from Sagaar, cannoning off his gloves and onto the stumps. Enter Conor … before the game Richard had been giving him the basic technique to hit the ball to leg … “if it’s outside leg stump, swing across freely, it’s a gift”. Conor applied this slightly too far, hitting a ball outside off stump to the square leg boundary (he did middle it though). Then he smashed a superb six over long-on for our batting champagne moment. Brilliant shot and we were now ahead in the game. Shortly after got a very good ball from Sagaar and was unable to stop it rattling the timbers. Stuart’s out there and bristling, ready to take on the bowlers. Chris saw Stuart approaching and though “oh gawd, I’m already cream crackered” (having compiled an excellent 34 with a wide range of shots against very good bowling) and retired (thanks to Kenny for agreeing he could re-enter if we lost a ninth wicket). So the captain arrived at the wicket as the new ball bowlers are reintroduced. Glad I put my helmet on … bouncer, yorker, bang into the ribs, then (phew) one outside off punched away for 2. Stuart’s not bothered by the pace and playing good shots … mainly to the fielders who were doing some sterling work and stemming our flow. Nishal’s back on to Richard and the ball buzzes over his shoulder … then the same length ball but wider and it gets carved over Point for 4. Quite enjoying this. Another 2 and a few singles … we’re nearing the total until the skipper guided the ball towards Point off Sagaar where Sanjay showed excellent technique – perfect hand position, eyes fixed on ball – as he tumbled to his right to take a good catch. Skipper had counted 12 to himself, saw 12 in the book (so he thought). Later found it was 2. Bowlers seem to have been debited the right amount and Stuart hadn’t gained my runs. Comprendez? What the heck. Lord Fakenham’s getting fed short-ish balls outside off stump (7 to win off 2 overs) and the poor fellow is getting himself into a lather as he couldn’t lay the bat on any of them. 6 needed off the last over … Stuart tries to do it off one (very good) ball from Mihir and gets bowled. Vikas and Fakenham try in vain to scramble the runs but it’s not easy getting the pace of this wicket without playing in and we frustratingly finished 3 adrift.
BENDEV WON BY 3 RUNS