Match 3 – vs Kingstonian IV – 02/06/2012

After a right royal pasting last week, Churchleigh hoped that they would be able to celebrate the Jubilee by dishing out a royal pasting of their own.  With latecomers from both teams and the threat of rain later, a 35 over match was agreed.  The slightly shorter game did nothing to detract from the drama though – one of the most exciting finishes in recent Churchleigh history.

Having somehow won the toss, captain James Webb chose to bat and regretted the decision almost immediately when he edged a rising delivery to the keeper for a three ball duck.  The duck club for 2012 already getting booked up, Joe Woolgar came to the crease and set about repairing the early damage with Ray Dyal.  Within about fifteen minutes, all seemed well with shots flying all round the square and the fielders looked forlorn as boundaries began to become easily.  Too easy for Uncle Ray though, who decided that he’d slap a long hop straight to the square leg fielder who did his best to mis-judge it, but managed to cling on inches from the turf.  In walked debutant, Asif, called in as a last minute replacement.  Riding his luck, he resisted the urge to pull his pads up properly and with them hanging round his ankles insisted on playing airy shots towards fielders.  Dropped four or five times, Asif rode his luck and joined Joe in flaying the friendly bowling.  16 came in three balls for Joe as he brought up his 50 with a 6, a 4 and then another 6.  The run rate quickly eased past a run a ball and Joe continued to ruthlessly put away the bad balls, with Asif ably assiting him, thanks to the drops in the field.

Eventually, Joe picked out a fielder and had to depart for a very quickfire 62, including five 4s and four 6s.  Adam Bicker walked in, eager to get off the mark, but couldn’t as he played round a straight one and was plumb in front and the reluctant umpire reluctantly raised his reluctant finger.  Another duck colected by our resident duck collecter.  Andrew Woolgar came out at number 6 to join Asif and played some confident cut shots to get the ball of the mark.  Asif started to let loose as he spotted the heavy offside field and carted three consective 4s through the vacant legside.  A blow on the hand though prevented the partnership from taking the game away from the opposition as Andy retired hurt, bringing Shahid to join his cousin at the crease.  Shahid lasted just one ball as he was bowled and joined Russell Bamford as the proud owner of a golden duck.  Jim Dawson was next in and some streaky cuts took him to 5 before he was bolwed in a carbon copy of the Shahid dismissal.

Andy walked back in and tentatively pokked at something, clearly uncomfortable.  He only added one to his total when he was out for 16 as Churchleigh were collapsing horribly.  Asif, who had calmly moved to 51 was then removed by the wily leg spinner.and after dispatching a huge maximum, Graham Woolgar was out LBW for 9 before Ian Ashby tamely lobbed a ball up to cover for the innings’ fourth duck, leaving Andy Harden on 0 not out.  A collapse from a very comfortable 150 for 4 to 172 all out, leaving 3 and a half of the 35 overs unbowled.

With a target of 5 an over, it was crucial that opening bowler Jim found his line and length straight away.  He didn’t, but it didn’t matter as the opener became the fifth duck of the game, slapping along hop straight to the assured hands of Joe.  Ian Ashby opened the bowling from the other end and mixed up some regular beauties with some legside nonsense, eventually finding his rhythm by the fourth over when he worked out that he was starting off the wrong foot in his run up…!  Shahid pulled out a club first not long later as a long hop from Jim was slapped high in the air.  Shahid took it upon himself to spin on the spot, run in about four different directions before getting nowhere near the ball, only to claim that the ball had been “too high”!.  Jim soon had his second wicket when another short and wide ball was skied to the safe hands of James Webb, who decided to make it difficult for himself by pushing it behind him and then having to spin round and swoop it centimetres from the turf one handed.  Jim finished his five over spell taking 2 for 28.  Shahid came on to replace Jim and bowled some good balls with some wides (some of which weren’t wides), also known as ‘the Churchleigh way’.

Ian then took the role of wicket taker, as he trapped the other opener LBW.  When Ian clean bowled the number 5, Churchleigh looked set for a comfortable win.  The big hitting number 6 had other ideas though as he made clear his intentions by swiping hard at his first ball.  It wasn’t long before he connected and the ball went flying around the park.  Once Ian had bowled his 7 overs, 2 for 18, Adam Bicker was brought on and the trap was set.  Unfortunately, ball didn’t go to hand and at drinks, the game was finely balanced with Kingstonians needing about 90 off 15 overs.

Joe Woolgar who began his impressive spell with two overs before drinks then got the important wicket four balls after the break as the big hitter ran out of luck and picked out Ian Ashby who ran round and took a great catch.  Once again, the game looked to be heading Churchleigh’s way, but some eager swipes and lusty blows (and plenty of harsh wides!) got another partnership going.  Graham Woolgar was brought on to instill some control as Andy Harden took a turn behind the stumps.  However, chances came and went as Ray the Cat couldn’t hold on to a very sharp diving slip catch off Graham before another chance just fell in between Joe and James at square leg.  The batsmen were keeping up with the run rate and when Joe had finished his 7 overs taking 1 for 22, the last of which was a hugely important maiden, the game was in the balance.  Asif was chucked the ball and was carted for 14 off one over and all of a sudden Churchleigh were chasing the game.

More harsh wides were called off Graham who just couldn’t quite convince the umpire of any LBWs, causing Graham to mutter under hs breath (for everyone to hear) after a failed appeal, “Probably was a wide then.”  With three overs to go, wickets were needed and Shahid returned but was despatched for a boundary and all of a sudden Churchleigh looked out of it.  Graham’s last over needed to be spectacular.  And it was.  A wicket with his second ball broke the match-turning partnership and the biggest shock was that LBW was given.  Following a single, the other set batsman was on strike only to be bowled by Graham who let out an almighty roar.  The two batsmen were gone and the door was open.  Graham finished his spell of 7 overs, taking 2 for 29 and 5 runs were needed off the last over.  Frantically hyperventilating in the middle, James didn’t know who ti turn to.  With pace going for runs, James needed a slow, reliable bowler.  Uncle Ray was therefore given then last over of the match.

A dot ball was followed by another as it got to 5 off four balls.  A single to backward point was taken as Ray kept his cool and his line to leave Kingstonian needing 4 off three.  The fourth ball of the over was sliced to wide mid-wicket where James took an important tumbling catch to keep the game finely in the balance.  A further single was taken and Kingstonian needed three to win off the last ball.  A swipe went to deepish midwicket where James fielded the ball and threw to the wrong end allowing Kingstonian to seal a tie.  As the Kingstonian players stormed the pitch in celebration, Churchleigh were left frustrated by the injustice of the umpiring.  The scorebook revealed that Churchleigh had been penalised for 34 wides.  Ridiculous.  A further inspection of the scorebook by Graham and then Andrew Woolgar showed that Kingstonian had miscounted…

The captains looked at the book and added up the batting and the bowling.  Kingstonian had made a costly error in their counting and were actually two runs short!  Churchleigh had held their nerve to win by two runs!  What a triumph!  Elation and laughter swept through the Churchleigh ranks as the players realised that despite the umpires’ best efforts to gift the game to Kingstonian with endless unfair, international standard wides, it hadn’t been enough.  The season tally moves to played 3, won 2, lost 1.

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