How close do you like it ?

vs Stowmarket (away) 15th May ‘21

Three weeks of no match cricket, and the Colne were more than chomping at the bit; they were caged tigers not fed for a week, greyhounds waiting for the trap to open, punters outside a pub after lockdown.  Even the sight of many puddles on the road and ominous black clouds couldn’t put a damper on this bunch of intrepid explorers as they made their various ways up to Stowmarket in 11 separate cars.

The decision was taken to wait until 13.30 before starting, so sure enough, as the covers were rolled off at the start time, the drizzle started in earnest delaying us for a further 20 minutes. As the seven of us not batting or umpiring huddled together in the scorehut in a new “2cm social distancing” rule, we did our best to avoid Harry who had covered himself in Suffolk mud through his avid fielding practice.

Meanwhile, out where the real action was taking place, Daryl & David were dealing with a damp pitch and opening bowlers with a little more pace than normally seen in Div 9.  But the quicker it comes down, the quicker it flies to the boundary, so our experienced openers soon found their range.  Unfortunately, David “let his ego get the better of him”- whatever that means – and saw his stumps rearranged for 11.  Soon after, Daryl’s casual flick to the leg side was easily pouched, and Colne were facing a big challenge – two gun batsmen gone without a big score.  The form book pointed to an imminent collapse and when Jack was dismissed bizarrely, bowled through the gate and the bail dislodged with barely a sound, the watching crowds thought they were in with a chance of catching the whole FA Cup Final.

But this is the new Colne, and where there used to be a backbone limper than a wet egg sandwich, now we stand strong !  With Tom Moon dashing for every single going, Connor doing his “stand & deliver” batting, Ben turning 1’s into 3’s, and Pat purring along, there was hope.  The only downside for nearly all our batsmen was the large number who were bowled; Pat having made a 50, was out next ball to a new bowler as per normal; Connor improved the scoring rate no end with his rapid 46; Sam got in and then out, surprised by the bowler releasing the ball just as he looked up; Woodsy played on 1st ball.  Then it was all down to Harry, facing the hat-trick ball in the last over….but not only did he fend that off, but also scored his first run since in 436 matches and then had to be talked out of short-term retirement with a season’s average of infinity.

So a total of 180-9 (with only 7 of us clean bowled!) from the reduced number of 35 overs and plenty to be confident about.  If we could put a lid on the oppo’s early scoring, this was in the bag. We would be without Demon Dave, deliverer of devious dibbly-dobblies, but no matter, we still had plenty of bowling.  What could possibly go wrong ?  Even Connor had promised to cease sending keepers diving down the leg side by bowling spin only.

After a rapid tea, we took to the field with Pat having convinced the skipper that with the size of the outfield, our usual keeper should be out there roaming those plains so that Pat could himself try out his new gloves. After fielding one hard drive with his knee, Woodsy was soon cursing that decision. Our first three bowlers (Ben, Harry, & Sam) had a few problems finding the strip let alone the batsmen at the far end, but any width or short balls that were offered up were rapidly dispatched.  We’d have to find a smarter way to get these chaps out…

David Griffith recently graduated from the school of Norf London cricket, where subtle sledging is an art form, no comment considered too OTT, and direct comments to batsmen about their ability, eyesight, parentage, eating habits all acceptable.  As the Chairman endeavoured to help David make the difficult transition from Middlesex all-out insults to Suffolk farming-related banter, the latter hit upon calling one of the opening batsmen “Captain Block” (neither offensive nor too personal, you’ll agree) which had an immediate effect of that batsmen returning a drive straight back into Ben’s hands.  Pat soon learned to leave the art form to the experts as he tried out the indirect approach, “this kid hasn’t got a cover drive” producing one of the shots of the match…through the covers.

Unfortunately, Colne were soon wishing Captain Block could return as the 2nd wicket partnership developed.  However, Connor’s new accurate form of bowling finally brought it’s reward as he bowled the dangerous Richard Baxter for 54.  The skipper took the courageous decision to bring himself on and we all thought “game over with Connor at the other end, the run rate will dry up”.  However, having bought his B-game to his batting, Daryl bought his C-game to his bowling, but being the canny operator he is, mixed up random full tosses with balls that were hit skywards, Ben (twice) and Jack being the fielders to cash in.  This made up for our fielding display early in the innings when balls driven hard in the air somehow found a way through!

Although wickets were falling regularly (although Jack still finds new ways of beating the batsmen ends-up as well as the stumps), the required run rate still wasn’t looking too tricky and it all came down to the last over with seven runs required and two wickets in hand, with the ever-energetic Ben switching ends to take responsibility.  When the second ball was sent to the boundary by the established batsman, it wasn’t looking good.  When it came down to the last ball with one run required for the tie and two for the victory, you could hear a pin drop amongst both spectators.  Ben pinged it down in just the right spot for the batsmen to swipe and miss, then stand his ground whilst his batting partner was run out. Victory by one run !

A great, confidence-boosting win therefore that sends us, albeit early in the season, to the top of the table, and a great example of what can happen when we all pull together, get through early setbacks in both innings and encourage each other. Next week is our 1st home match against Stowupland, followed by a Sunday T20 against the formidable Halstead Templars Rugby Club (will we see Paul Bromley emerge for this one, and on whose side?).  With the pitch having been lovingly nurtured since early-March, paving slabs found for the Prestney Stand, bar now open full-time, electronic scoreboard almost ready, it should be a cracking weekend !

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