vs Hockerill away 17th April ‘21
After the long winter wait, finally the first game of the season and off to the leafy ‘burbs of Bishops Stortford for a friendly with Hockerill and a chance for plane-spotters to count the Ryanair jets coming in overhead.
Having summoned the team for arrival a good 45 minutes before the start (always a great sporting psychological ploy over the oppo!) skipper Sleeman confounded usual form and won the toss, choosing to bat. With two debutants in Tom Moon and Rob Scott, and a well-balanced side with depth in batting and bowling strength, but shallowness aplenty in the wicket-keeping domain, we had little to fear.
Daryl and opening partner Pat set about the bowling attack with relish, soon finding the boundary regularly and also frustratingly, the spots where the ball could be lost for a long, drawn-out search, viz the bowling green next door, the brambles, the field over the hedge, etc. Just before the drinks break, Daryl retired with his 50 reached, and one ball after it, Pat did the same with the score on 121.
Now it was down to the middle order to keep the pace going as the opposition gamely rotated the bowling attack. Jack came and went for a few, Rob likewise, Nick came and stayed quite a while, Connor probably should have saved himself the walk to the middle, Tom attacked from the off, as did Ben, whilst Dave and Woodsy wrapped up the innings with a lot of singles. Walking off the pitch at 14.55 with ECB instructions not to play between 3-4pm (due to the Royal funeral, if you’re reading this way in the future) with two overs of the quota left and all the spectators shouting “get back and finish it off!”, the teams agreed that a 38-over innings each was a novelty we’d live with, so we closed on 197-6. Special mentions to Ben for a scoring rate over 250%, and Nick for scoring the only 2 in the entire innings – some work on backing up and ‘running the first one quick’ probably needed for all !
But just as the Royal family were mourning their loss, so came ours during the longer enforced tea break. Woodsy the wicketkeeper developed one of his severe migraine attacks and we were forced to re-shuffle the pack. Having just been denied the opportunity to extend his remarkable run of zero not outs, Earl Grey guzzler Harry stepped in to drive Woodsy home with promises that he’d return (note to skipper – shall we send Harry for a 1-hour drive before bowling every week if it has the results we saw ?) Up stepped former ‘keeper Pat with only minor complaints about the state of the gloves, whilst two ‘willing’ oppo players were coerced into fielding for us.
The Colne opening bowlers took a little while to sort out their radar, with Connor sending the stand-in keeper (did I mention he was ‘stand-in’?- Ed) scuttling down the leg side, and Dave offering up some lovely pies, before both settled down to containing the batsmen and snaffling an early wicket each, with Dave determined not to be outdone by his swashbuckling younger brother so taking a further two. Ben & Jack were both unlucky not to be rewarded, with the latter’s swing foxing the stand-in keeper ever further. Tom came on and delivered more left-arm pace with ever-increasing menace, before Harry, fresh from a sedate drive to and fro along the A120, came back and picked up three wickets.
With overs running out, it was clear Hockerill were not chasing a win, but defeat with honours as their own pitch became a minefield of uneven bounce. Sensing some cheap wickets, Daryl brought himself on and whilst his economy was remarkable (1-1 from 3 overs) the ‘keeper was just grateful for his accuracy. As the clock edged closer to 6.30pm victory was secured for the men in white & green by 66 runs, everyone contributed, and a great occasion to get the team spirit out of the bag again. Next week, onto Mildenhall as the first of our many forays into deepest Suffolk, and our first league action in almost 20 months !