Play it again, Sam (&Tom) !

vs Abberton and District Cricket Club away 20th September ’20

(by Harry Porcher)

With the end of the season looming, Colne were looking to finish the season on a high, following their three successive victories of late. The victory against Maldon the previous week ensured the team had a result to be positive about going into the penultimate game against fellow division 9 side Boxted. With the fixture arrangement made, Colne were ready to march on towards their next opponent. With the pre-match tactics and analysis complete (consisting of direction instructions to the ground and whether everyone would go back to the recreation ground afterwards for a pint), Colne were ready to hit the pitch. Unfortunately, the pitch wasn’t ready to hit Earls Colne though, with Boxted having to cancel the fixture with just days to go. The reasoning was the pitch was unavailable, but I like to think it was a ploy to avoid being victim to another Colne victory. Nevertheless, the disruption did not deter the team’s enthusiasm, and within hours, a fixture against Abberton and District was confirmed. 

Having never played against Abberton, the fixture posed as an exciting prospect for myself. The reputation of opposition however suggested this wasn’t going to be an easy match (even for the in-form Colne) to play. With the heat rising on a lovely September morning, the team arrived (gradually) at the ground. Having never heard of Abberton prior to the fixture, Woodsy was soon given a tour of the village and the surrounding district (as mentioned in the club’s name) as I missed the turning to the ground and had to make de-tour around the surrounding villages of Peldon and Little Wigborough. Subsequently, we were a late arrival to the ground. Still, better late than never. With the toss decided, we were instructed to bat first by the skipper. With the batting order decided, Daryl and Dave were ready to begin another innings together, in what is looking to be a stalwart partnership for the Colne, for the 2021 season ahead. 

The Colne made a strong start with both the opening batsmen scoring quickly and efficiently, allowing the team to build healthy foundation, in order to score a respectable total for the opposition to follow. With the opening partnership settled, all was looking comfortable against a seemingly strong and consistent bowling attack. Earls Colne had a threatening run-rate, but like most good things, they must come to an end. This was the case when LBW was given against the skipper, meaning he departed for 36. Nevertheless, the team morale was high at this point, with the task of carrying the momentum being understood throughout. However, this is Earls Colne we’re talking about. Sure enough, the infamous collapse syndrome kicked in (albeit a smaller one this time) with Sam Beale and Tom Bosworth departing for ducks in reasonably quick succession. Colne had fight left in them though. Will Bosworth scored a handy 6 to steady the innings, and Dave continued to score quickly, until he was bowled out for 54. The innings was in the balance, we could either roll over and die, or continue the resurgence. Fortunately, Ben chose the latter and scored an impressive 48 in quick succession allowing the Colne to put the pressure back on the hosts, like a table of unsatisfied guests on ‘Come dine with me’.

With the innings nearing the end, Colne were not done scoring just yet. Connor scored runs too, with 33 against his former team mates in what would be part of an exciting battle to come between them. Trevor also added to the Colne total with 4 to allow the tail-end to walk out into the middle in a reasonable position. With just a few innings left the tail were summoned to play their part too. Abberton chose to put their pace bowlers on to wrap the innings up, and sure enough their plan paid dividend, with the wicket of Woodsy in the middle of the last over for yet another duck for Colne. Perhaps the excitement of the de-tour earlier proved too much for the wicket-keeper’s composure, and Colne were left with the unfortunate position of myself coming into bat for the final two balls. Having destroyed the previous two bats this season, I decided to give debut to the third, in the hope it would see better luck than the predecessors. On the final ball of the match, I made a lunge towards the ball, and somehow managed to drive it through cover (i think that’s the name) to get a couple of runs too. This brought to an end a run-drought that had gone on longer than a rain-drought in the Atacama desert. It also meant that myself and Paul had another ‘not-out’ in the stat book each. 226 was the final score, a total the Colne could be proud of.

Cricket is a game of two halves though, and the total had to be defended. The team was aware that we’d have to be in peak form against Abberton, of whom had a batting line up packed with youthful energy, yet with depth of skill too, unlike a batting line-up we aren’t used to seeing in familiar div 9. With myself and Ben opening, Abberton were able to defend the good balls, yet pounce on the not-so-good, and by end of our stints, they had built a healthy total without the loss of any wickets. It was clear that this opening partnership was not going to be easy to break.

With Abberton continuing to score at respectable rate, the skipper was forced to bring on a new bowling attack in Sam and Connor, in an attempt to break the deadlock. While both troubled the batsmen, particularly Connor against Sullivan with the outside-edge danger coming into play, neither were able to break what was becoming a seemingly an impossible feat. With the run rate still flowing, much like the sweat on the fielders on this hot September afternoon, the skipper brought himself on to break the long-standing partnership. Sure enough, within a few balls he did, removing Sullivan for an impressive 78. Magic. He gave the Colne a lift, that was perhaps needed to vent the frustration felt within the team. Daryl was not done there though, removing the prodigy opener in Schofield too for 65, with the help of Woodsy behind the stumps taking yet another catch for the Colne in his impressive debut season.

Two down, eight to go. The chances of winning were still unlikely, but the skipper had at least made a breakthrough, giving the team a sense of optimism heading into the final few overs. With the number three (McKim) scoring well, Earls Colne knew they had to make their breakthrough before the number four (Lingard) got settled too. Sure enough, Daryl was the man to deliver, yet again, removing Lingard for a duck. While the number four had been removed cheaply, the number three and new batsmen Austin were able to continue the run-chase with relative ease until the final stages when Daryl got the last of his four wickets, with the scalp of McKim for 22. The damage had been done however, with Abberton on 210-ish for the loss of just four wickets. The chase was completed soon afterwards, with the talented young batsmen in Austin, 47 not out.A good fight from Colne this match, forcing Abberton to toil in the heat all the way to the final stages of the second innings, in a game that perhaps looked easier for them on paper than in reality. However, like a few times this season against higher quality opposition, the depth of quality between the two sides was apparent, and the performances of just a couple of opposition players was normally the difference between us and them. Nevertheless, a positive 2020, with little embarrassment against teams that had the capability of inflicting it.

Next week’s match against Halstead High St. on Sunday is the final game of the season, albeit a shortened game of 25 overs each. With a batting line up set to be determined by the pulling names out of a hat, along with the promise of everyone having to bowl, it’s fair to say there will be entertainment.

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