Chelsham Great Park
21st May 2016
Weather grey with occasional sunshine and showers.
South Bank won the toss and chose to bowl.
It was an under strength South Bank side that turned up more or less on time at the pretty ground at Chelsham Great Park near Warlingham. Only ten and missing some of the usual names - only Matt Porter had ever opened the bowling for South Bank before (and considering our turnover that was quite a feat). Nevertheless I resolved to bowl first make use of the one match ball and hope we could limit them and chase well. Matt P opened from the House end and bowled a good attacking line which was good as it needed to be as the few times he didn’t he was punished by the typically aggressive Churchleigh openers - Woolgar (G) and particularly Nilesh who clobbered successive sixes at one point. From the hedge end Dave Dawkins made his debut opening the bowling (having missed his over last week). The golden boots were back and he bowled well - outside off and getting decent lateral movement. I said I’d bowl him till they got after him but I should have said “if” as over after over went by and Churchleigh barely laid a glove on us. As usual the good balls went unrewarded and the first wicket fell to filth- a loping Dawkins full toss was bludgeoned only as far as Mark Bradshaw at midwicket (Nilesh 15). Peretz replaced Matt and could have had the number 3 Cooper when he flashed hard to a vacant first slip. Instead he got the elder Woolgar who top edged a ball that held in the air long enough for me to pouch it out of the sun (12). Despite Dave finishing the seventh of his golden overs, Churchleigh rallied around Cooper and Bicker and at drinks were well placed at 76-2 off 20.
After drinks Matt P came back and winkled out Bicker (lbw 4) and George was rewarded for a good searching length outside off as Cooper square drove the ball to Dan at point (33). Cross and Hayden counter-attacked Charl getting some typically muscular drives away off George and off debutant James Smith who replaced George at the hedge end. In between retrieving the ball from the hedge James kept wheeling away and a low shooter slipped past a mighty blow - Hayden b 24. Del came on after Matt’s short spell and showed us what we’d been missing. He was naggingly accurate and not as slow as he’d threatened, though the around the wicket line got the same occasional savage treatment as Dan gets too. Del got Cross to swipe to square leg where Simon put down a tough one - it bursting through to catch him “in the pods” as Charl put it. When another big hitter in Rob started to muscle the ball out of the ground a quickly placed man at deep mid wicket held a good catch from the flat struck hoick (ct George 10). Ben kept chipping away with fours and increasingly started to score at will. James chipped in with another good wicket- Prasang stepping to off to find the leg side boundary and instead losing the top of leg stump (5). The score was already challenging but we kept things pretty tight and the threatened 200+ never materialised. Dan replaced James and bowled a tricky to hit leg side line and did his best to stem the surge and Matt finished proceedings with a great final over- Woolgar A losing his off stump playing an uncharacteristically ugly mow (b 8), Best lbw next ball and finished the innings without the hat trick - but conceding just a leg bye to get Churchleigh to 177-9 off 35. Patel on 0* and Ben left shy of a deserved milestone on 45.
South Bank CC bowling
Porter, 7 overs, 3 maidens (1 wicket maiden) 21-3
Dawkins, 7 overs, 20-1
Milstein, 5 overs, 31-1
Rennison, 5 overs, 29-1
Alexander, 6 overs, 38-1
Smith, J 3 overs, 24-2
Cohen, 2 overs, 15-0
The Southbank reply started with Mark (fresh from his hundred the week before) and Dan in an attempt to frustrate Churchleigh’s bowlers - Hayden and Prasang. A light rain had started and it stole 3 or 4 yards from the outfield as Mark and Dan found when well struck shots just held up shy of the rope*. Both openers held off accurate bowling and counter punched as best they could - Dan’s hook for 4 off Prasang was the shot of the day (and he was still talking about it in the pub after). Dan was also the first to go to first change Cross- as useful with the ball as he had proven with the bat- Dan edging gently from his off drive to first slip (ct Woolgar G 15). Simon showed intent but looked short of practice and was soon out playing across a straight one (a sin many others have been guilty of) b Nilesh 3. At drinks Southbank were dug in deep at 50-2 but off 20 overs leaving us some accelerating to do in the second stage.
James Smith at 4 showed similar intent but he struggled to come to terms with the wicket. He holed out down the ground to give Nilesh another (2). Throughout this Mark was playing with complete solidity and kept pushing the runs but was too classy to put away the occasional leg side stuff that came his way. For that you need someone less classy and cometh the moment… I joined Mark with the score at 64-3 and with 12 to go - just shy of ten an over to chase. I started to pull to leg and was aided by some sloppy fielding and a reprieve for a slash to point that was above waist high (a late and contentious no ball call but correct). The scoring went up and there were nervous moments amongst the opposition. For a moment I thought I even thought I heard silence from the ever chatty Saffer skipper. Mark was picking up the pace too and when they brought on the elder Woolgar for his off breaks we both knew he had to go. We did get some blows in (my one six was our only one of the innings) but the wily campaigner lured Mark down the slippery wicket to his doom (stumped 33) and I then compounded the error by running George out off the first ball of a Cooper over and leaving him run out by half a pitch and me stranded watching new man Dawkins try to keep the pace from the off. Which he achieved momentarily with a Richie Richardson esque back foot cover drive for 4. But it was too little too late. My luck run out when having survived edging to Charl once (it bounced off him and he missed the ricochet) I again edged low and he held it at ankle height (b Cooper 43). Dave fell next bowled as he tried to smear another through covers (14) and Del next over - dancing down to Woolgar and losing his stumps too (b 0). So well short it was left to Matt and Peretz to bat out the last few balls as we finished 132-8, Matt 0, Peretz 2.
Churchleigh CC bowling
Sherpa 5 overs, 1 maiden, 12-0
Hayden, 7 overs, 2 maidens, 12-0
Nilesh, 7 overs, 1 maiden, 21-2
Cross, 7 overs, 27-1
Woolgar G, 4 overs, 30-2
Cooper, 4 overs, 18-2
Bicker, 1 over 1-0
Well beaten in the end but we fought hard all day and salved our feelings at the Bull (it had the football as opposed to usual haunt the Harrow which just had beer). We watched some of that other underdog for the day lose too - fitting but frustrating.
* Yes they had a rope and a shiny new scoreboard with Churchleigh on it and those ace baggy green caps. Such a shame the pitch is so