vs Long Melford II’s – 22nd April ’23
After a tumultuous week or two in which Colne had played the part of the drowning man with the lead weights around his ankles who then realises he’s actually only in 2 feet of water, our cricketing heroes emerged once again to the new season, this time under new management.
To cut a long story short (“please do!” – Ed) Earls Colne CC were on the brink of exiting from the heady heights of league cricket only to be saved by the founder of the IPSCOL club who correctly pointed out that his problem was the opposite of ours, ie not enough players for the games. So, several new registered players later, and one conceded match later, we were ready – onto the hallowed turf of Long Melford, where only 223 days earlier, David G. had scored a mighty 149 (later upgraded to 150).
With the former skipper Daryl having taken the wiser option of guaranteed cricket at an alternative club that also could offer a higher grade of the game (“don’t tell everyone, they’ll all want out !” – Ed), we now turned to that loyal stalwart Ben Mason to lead the new upgraded Earls Colne 2.0. Having pocketed the fielding and bowling trophies last year, here was a simple way to ensure the ‘clean sweep’ and put yourself into bat at the most opportunistic times. We looked to our new captain for playing inspiration, for leading rousing renditions of ‘Jerusalem’, and ever-deep pockets for the bar afterwards…well, one out of three will do for a start.
We also welcomed four new players for this match, Ismail & Aqeel, from the Badlands the other side of the A12, and Steve & Ben W., more local recruits who had both recently remembered they could play a bit and had little else to do for several hours on a Saturday. With one eye on tradition, the new skipper craftily lost the toss then learnt that his newly-assembled team were two short; young Ben W.’s promise of a lift from an established player had been dashed by that person ‘over-sleeping’. No names no pack drill, but as excuses go, this was outdoing former regular Gary P. who used to wake up with a ‘sore fingernail’.
Newbie semi-quick Aqeel was soon forced off the pitch when realising that spikes were needed to enable those 90mph unplayable deliveries full lift-off, which left Colne with just eight players on the pitch. 15 minutes later, with Ben’s mum having made the mad dash from Halstead to the ground, and Aqeel having welded new spikes on, we were up to ten, and when a hungover Danny Saffer wandered by to watch the proceedings halfway through the Melford innings, he was rapidly bought on.
However, this Melford team would be no pushover for Colne’s re-vitalised bowling attack, and if it hadn’t been for Alex Chamberlain’s antics on the boundary, diving fearlessly in the mud to stop countless boundaries (though he did let a catch go past!) then the score would have passed 100 without the loss of any wicket. The captain turned to the chairman for inspiration & he duly delivered, forcing one of the openers to fend off a full toss so as to offer a simple catch.
The introduction of Colne’s perpetual #2 bowler, Dave Moon, caused some mild panic for the Melford batsmen before they started depositing his balls over the hedge and onto the nearby football pitch. After a few close lbw calls though, Moonie found his old radar and picked up two lbw’s and one bowled. At the other end, captain Mason was inducing batsmen into catches, each one memorable in it’s own right – the skier that no-one was allowed near except the bowler himself, the one where David G. sprinted five yards from his wicket-keeping position in under a minute, and the one where Danny T. forgot to drop the ball.
With Ismail picking up the other wicket and the skipper regaling us with how reasonably happy he was with his own 12 wickets and 15 catches, Colne could be fairly content to keep the opposition to 215-8 off their 45 overs. A small surprise awaited us in that Long Melford had provided a sumptuous tea despite the ongoing accepted view that ‘teas shall be provided as an exception’, so having hastily gobbled down their Ginsters & Monster Munch, the Colne players then feasted themselves on what appeared to have escaped the closure of a ‘Cheese & Cooked Meats’ emporium.
Weighted down with this extra baggage, opening batsmen David G. and new partner Pat K. set off to knock the runs over asap. The latter found that a little late swing did for him 4th ball (although former opener DS was just at the very same moment taking only one extra ball for his duck, at another ground !). David soon found that the pickings were not be as lavish as September ’22, but he laboured manfully on into the 20’s. Aqeel showed us why Colne’s gain is Mumbai’s loss with nearly all of his shots actually recognisable from the coaching manual, but by the time he & Alex C. were bowled, Colne were in trouble at 60-odd for 4 and not many overs to play with. Melford’s bowling was tighter than erstwhile seamer Harry Porcher after two cans of Stella – we were facing a bowling attack that not only bowled nine maidens, but was using a radio-controlled ball that was automatically sent to the nearest fielder whenever stuck with any force.
So whilst those on the boundary wondered when the Colne batting fireworks were going to start to enable a rapid countdown to the winning runs and tucking into the local selection of Nethergate’s finest, Mason & Moon were faced with an ongoing dilemma and personal thoughts that went something like this :-
a) “I couldn’t attack that ball, it was pitched up & swinging in/out, better off defended”
b) “same with that one”
c) ….”& that one”
d) “oh, what a shot, crikey I’m good, but where the heck did that fielder come from?”
e) “actually, this could do wonders for my average…”
If it hadn’t been for Melford’s generous use of a part-time bowler near the end, those averages might have stayed lower than they might have been, so whilst there was ample opportunity for Moonie to turn two’s into one’s, and park his slim frame whilst missing out on errant boundary throws, our intrepid pair pushed Colne’s final score onto 154-4. Not quite enough, but respectable….just.
So, onwards & sideways, next week sees the first home game, a scheduling oddity that will see us play at the Recreation Club in April on the relative sponge of our pitch against the massed youth of local rivals Coggeshall.