Debutant stars in the foothills of Eight Ash Green

vs Eight Ash Green away on 26th July ’20

A first Sunday fixture of the season and clearly most of the team had skipped church early, as the sight of the team warming up doing fielding drills long before the coin-toss meant that Colne had travelled over to Eight Ash Green not wanting to forget all those vital skills they’d picked up from the coach during the week. We welcomed back into the team several players not seen for a while, Will Bosworth, Gary Pushman, Alex Chamberlain, and one debutant who would have a match to remember – Tom Woods. The other Tom (Bosworth-variety) graciously ceded to a non-playing position, although many suspected it was a silent protest at the host club’s position that “beer would only be served after the match” – an approach totally opposite to our man’s view of how the game is best played.

A quick glance at the pitch before starting rang some alarm bells – we’d be using the same strip from the day before and it had been battered not only by some heavy crease-marking but a lot of rain.  The outfield too still bore the scars of EAG’s uninvited visitors from a couple of years back.

Daryl duly lost the toss, and yet again we would bat first.  Opposition just never learn that we are at our mightiest, our most lethal, our most threatening when we bat first – many are the opposition skippers who have been harangued by their teams after yet another Colne boundary-bashing, century-ridden pasting of an innings, “why the heck did you put them into bat first?”

Today though, we chose to be merciful to the bowlers, to give them those confidence-boosting figures, and to give some young aspiring cricketers the chance to tell their grandchildren “I once played in a team that bowled Earls Colne out for less than 300”.  In fact, it was significantly less than that, as one after the other, batsmen saw their stumps ripped out of the ground, cartwheeling past the slips, as the benefits of line and length bore significant fruit.  A few could claim they were unfortunate – Colin run out by yet another of those fielders who can throw 50 yards to within 2 inches of there they want, Daryl by a ball that jumped up off a genuine hole in the pitch, and most unfortunately, Brommers who having top-scored with 19, found the light rain was playing havoc with his glasses.

But it was Brommers’ partnership with Tom Woods that had the socially-distanced crowd in raptures, as they found the boundary where others had failed and took the Colne total through the sunny pastures of the 50’s, up past the foothills of the 60’s, to the snow-ridden summit of 78 all out. Yes, unfortunately Colne had folded quicker than a nun’s deck-chair at a nudist beach.  Not since we had plumbed new shallows on 18th May 2019 in scoring 34 all out had the team succumbed for a scoreline that read like an U-10’s match. But fair play to the opposition, they bowled consistently where we don’t like it and fielded well, whilst our main batsmen failed to take off leaving it to the lower order to pick up the pieces.  Special mention must also go to the oppo wicketkeeper, who having earlier been outraged that a certain vice-captain didn’t walk when he thought he’d caught him then chose not to stump Tom when he wandered down the pitch !

After a sumptuous banquet of tea – personally, I think this DIY approach should stay, no more last-minute panicking over the lack of milk or whether 75 teabags is enough for the large teapot – we took to the field with a determined spring in our step.  We could do this ! The skipper was so confident that he was trying a 3rd wicketkeeper in as many matches, so after the new incumbent (Tom) had been kitted out and cannily pointed out he’d been given two right-handed inners, we knew we had our man ! 

And a couple of overs in, that decision was justified.  As the former glovemen languished in no-man’s land – deep mid-off and Wiltshire respectively – Tom took a catch off Brommers’ bowling to put us back on the path of certain victory. With Harry stopping anything that came his way and chasing lost causes down like Benny Hill, this was an unrecognizable fielding display from a team who had been starting to gain local notoriety with our version of the old bowling motto “you hit it, we’ll miss it”.  When the first outfield catch of the season was pouched off Connor’s bowling, seasoned watchers of the game were heard muttering “summat not right here, that bain’t be Earls Colne!”

But as we had feared, 78 was always going to be a challenge to defend, so despite Gary’s first twelve balls giving figures of just 1 for 2, he was clearly starting to think about how he’d celebrate winning this years bowling trophy.  The next 12 went for 32.  The unthinkable started to take shape – we might not win this game.

So another oddity of a game, finishing well before it’s planned time, but a chance to clean out the EAG bar as a team.  Cliché’s aside about lessons learned etc, there were some positives that we can build on (Brommers’ batting, Tom’s all-round game, the Editor’s teatime quiche) and we know all these games will make us stronger.  As a one-team club, playing friendlies against clubs with much deeper playing resources inevitably means we will face some far better cricketers than we’re used to in league cricket, but we’re already a greater collective force than last year.

Onwards next week at home to Coggeshall, with new sightscreens in place, 12.00 start

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