Game 1 – Vs RAC C.C. – Sunday 4th May 2014

A new year, a new season, a fresh start…. Same old Churchleigh!

It was a beautiful sunny and surprisingly warm May bank holiday Sunday at Greatpark that was the setting for the first game of the season against RAC, who some will remember from last season was a fixture that consisted of two sessions of rain interrupted briefly by lunch and a game of football.

The game saw the long awaited return of Charl Haden to the Churchleigh ranks, who has returned following a five year exodus to South Africa. This game also saw the blooding of two new churchleighians churchleighists churchleighites churchillians players, with Batsmen Ajay Machhi, recently relocated from Cheltenham and All-Rounder Angus Matchett formerly of Brighton, both picking up their first games for the team.

With the toss deciding that Churchleigh would be bowling first, the team waded through the knee-high grass of the outfield to take up their position against RAC’s openers.  After the usual tight and consistent opening over from Lee Wilkinson not letting the batsmen get off the mark, it was time to see if Charl “All from the Shoulder” Haden had lost any of his zip off of his four pace run up.  After a quick loosener, he clean bowled their batsmen with the second ball of his over with a ball that moved of the pitch and beat the outside of the bat. With the opposition on 0 for 1 in the second over, Churchleigh were looking set for a good performance.

Wilkinson bowled a further 4 overs before being rested for Jon Woolgar from the pavilion end and Haden saw out the remainder of his overs and despite the bowling continuing to be tight and accurate throughout, no further wickets fell before the drinks break in what was a turgid affair, with the batsmen finding it hard to reach the boundary on a very slow outfield.  There were however some highlights with some good fielding all round, most notably from the two new men Ajay and Angus.  At 20 overs RAC were 47/1.

With the very first ball following the break, Jon Woolgar found the batsmen’s outside edge with a beautiful rising ball that was safely snaffled by wicket-keeper Joe, for the first Woolgar-Woolgar of the day.  While from the other end the pace was taken off the ball with Graham Woolgar’s offspin and after several overs of dragging the batsmen around the crease with his usual guile, the trap was set and with long-on and long-off pushed back, Graham tossed up a teasing full toss that the batsmen dutifully obliged by driving over the top into the hands of Lee Wilkinson who took a wonderful diving catch sprinting round from long-on.  In fact the trap worked so well, the pair did it again in an almost carbon copy several overs later.

With several bowlers now bowled out, Churchleigh turned to Adam Bicker for a couple of overs to make up the numbers, a decision that was quickly regretted as a serious case of the yips got the better of him.  With a mixture of wides and no balls, the only way the over was completed was because the batsmen, through pity or stupidity, went chasing the wide ones. This led to one of the batsmen’s demise in Adam’s second over (they gave him two overs?!), as he hit what would have been a wide up to long-on and went for a single that was never on. Although Lee Wilkinson’s return pass was fizzed in quickly, his radar was a long way off and with the ball flying well wide of the target it took the quick thinking of Adam to step into the ball’s path and deflect the ball back onto the stumps using the flexed abdominals of his perfectly toned physique.  Run Out (Bicker)

New player Angus had been brought in at the other end and his consistency was rewarded when he got one to rise a little more off a length than the batsman expected and he sent a looping top edge off a pull shot that was caught by Bicker stood a short mid-wicket.  Although the batsmen did manage to get him away for a boundary here and there, Angus proved he has plenty to add to the team this season.

Lee Wilkinson was brought back in to finish off the innings but couldn’t buy a wicket and so it was left to Steven Woolgar to take the last wicket of the innings as he fired one down the leg side which the batsmen charged at and missed and Joe whipped off the bails (Woolgar-Woolgar) on the last ball of 40 overs. RAC finished on 123/7, a target of 124 had the Churchleigh faithful licking their lips for what should be a relatively simple chase.

After lunch was taken in the usual fashion, openers Graham and Adam took to the field to see what the RAC bowlers had to offer and after the second ball was tucked nicely down to fine leg for two it seemed like they didn’t have much and with only 3 an over needed, we could push ahead but this proved to be our downfall. Adam drove hard at one in the fourth over that took a thick outside edge and was caught by the opposition captain in Gully just before the ball died on him, meaning Adam became the first member of the duck club this season.

Graham was then joined by new player Ajay and the pair set about their task with aplomb. Graham hit two huge sixes, one bouncing off a hollow sounding tree, a sound that was echoed the very next delivery as the ball bounced off his box! Graham eventually got out swinging and missing a ball that stayed low and was bowled. Lee Wilkinson was in at 4, which happened to be about the number of balls he managed to face before being bowled for a duck.  This brought about a partnership of both new players as Angus went in to bat and apart from an over when Ajay hit 3 fours, scoring was slow, but this was exactly what Churchleigh needed, a bit of patience.  Sadly it didn’t last and after 4 or 5 overs together Ajay spooned a slap shot to mid off.

In strode Charl “6 or out” Haden, sadly for Churchleigh he chose the second option and on the very first ball was bowled for a golden duck, trying to play a shot to dissect the fielders stood at Bromley and Orpington.  At this point with the game still looking very winnable, this reporter decided to nip for a shower and having walked past Jon Woolgar strapping on his pads, he was a bit surprised when he came down 5 minutes later to find Jon taking them off again! In the mean time Joe had top edged to long-off for 2, Andrew had been caught for a duck and Jon had played at a wide one he should have left and cut a soft one to gully and was out for 4.  The final nail in the coffin came about 6 balls later as Steven hit one in the air and was caught for a duck, leaving Tim stranded on 0 not out.  Churchleigh all out for 52 in 15 overs and losing by 71 runs and handing their very average bowler Bunce the best figures of his life with 7 wickets, he should have been in the pub buying the round for us afterwards.

Not the start to the season we had all hoped for and meaning the monkey is still on our backs from last season, in fact he’s probably more of a gorilla now.  In true Sesame Street fashion, next week kids we will be learning the word “PATIENCE”.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply