vs Bury St. Edmunds, away 4th Sept ’21
After three weeks of no action, the Day of Destiny had arrived; win this match and Colne would be champions and gain automatic promotion; lose and ignominy beckoned ! All the efforts that had gone into winning all but one match so far, all those hard evenings in the nets, all those endless strategy planning sessions in the bar, all would be for nothing if we couldn’t muster just one more win…so not too much at stake !
Team selection was made easier by the ongoing wedding season, but with a never-ending supply of Sleeman family members standing by, the eventual XI was a perfect match of the new and the old – the core of the team of who brought Colne back into the league in 2018 (Daryl, Pat, Jack, Colin, Harry), the new players we’d welcomed since then (Brommers, Connor, David G., Dave & Tom Moon) plus the returning dynamo Ben. Russian oligarchs would look on impressed at how cheaply this team of superstars had been cobbled together, on exceedingly good terms ranging from free lifts all the way up to free Earl Grey, with the ongoing paradox that only one of the names above actually lives in Earls Colne. Calling all part-time & full-time cricketers in Earls Colne ! Again !
With strict instructions to be at the ground before the start, it was a pleasant surprise to see Colne ready and fired-up at the allotted time, with only one mild panic when Ben realised late on he was car-less and would need picking up from darkest Sudbury. For once, we’d be bowling first so the Moon bro’s would be summoned into action before 3pm, not part of their usual commitment: Tom would be tearing in from the top end, marking his run-up (& the pitch) with his unique brand of left-arm searing pace, whilst elder brother Dave would no doubt be consolidating his place at the top of the wicket-taking charts with a constant stream of unplayable dibbly-dobbly leg breaks.
Unlike the home fixture against these worthy opponents, someone hadn’t read the script and today, Colne would struggle to take any early wickets. The Bury opening partnership found the going easy-to-straightforward, despatching anything wide with ease over an outfield that was proving to be a quick as an empty A14 on a freezing December night. Colne’s usual ‘ring of steel’ on the off-side could only watch as cut after cut scythed past them before crossing the boundary and trundling away for a further 100m or so. When Tom hurried one of the batsmen into a nick which was well taken by David behind the stumps, the relief was palpable, the joy unbounded, and some of the language…a little, colourful ! The bowler would rightly claim it was frustration at his own inability to take a wicket until then, but for a few moments, it all went a little Kohli/Anderson.
The next partnership did little to calm the growing supporters’ club nerves, as the hosts passed 75. As Dave Moon racked up a 10th wicketless over, the skipper’s patience finally snapped and in a Mike Brierley-like moment of inspiration, he chose to ‘try another bowler’, a technique that has worked wonders throughout the cricketing ages. The bowler he turned to was Connor Oldrey, a man pinged more times recently than Google, with his Covid alerts, and a man NOT AT ALL obsessed with his stats. But the consistent thing you can always rely on Connor for is his consistency, so it was no surprise when with his 2nd ball of metronomic accuracy (some might say dull, but let’s not be envious of being able to pitch the ball in the same half of the pitch twice in a row – Ed.), he broke the burgeoning partnership.
What happened next will go down in Earls Colne CC folklore (or as long as this site is hosted, whichever is longer – Ed.) as Connor was joined at the other end by cheap-wicket-sensing Daryl and the two of them accounted for the last eight wickets for approximately 10 runs. Connor’s amazing eventual figures of 6-12 allowing him the honour of leading Colne off as Bury succumbed to 100 all out.
As Colne sensed a potential early finish, they wolfed down their DIY tea’s, then settled into the uneven benches to watch the Saturday mid-afternoon ‘Daryl & David Entertainment Show’, a weekly production that combines muscle with subtlety, strokeplay with big heaves, good looks with snarls….and that’s just David. Sure enough, they didn’t disappoint as the rapid outfield proved a continual ally to anything that could be pulled or cut. Having reached 37 and realising he wouldn’t score 249 today to make 1000 league runs for the season, Daryl selflessly sacrificed his wicket (or was that, ‘missed a straight one’ ? – Ed.) with 25 runs needed to win, so that the cultured middle order could get a look in. But barely had Pat taken guard and driven effortlessly past 2nd slip who wasn’t there, than David decided enough was enough, he really didn’t need a Boycott-style partner, the run rate needed vast improvement and so powered on to his 50 and the winning runs in only the 16th over.
To Colin, Jack, Ben, Brommers, and Harry, none of whom had a look-in with bat nor ball…it could not have been done without you and being part of another excellent fielding unit on the day. Just when it looked like no outfielders would be involved in any of the wickets, Colin took his annual semi-worldie at gully for the final Bury wicket Safe to say though, such is the depth of this new-look Colne team, these five could have won it on their own. Ben used to open the bowling for Colne, Harry did so until this season, Brommers was top-wicket taker in the 2019 league season, Colin took a 4-fer not so long ago, and Jack’s banana-balls continue to befuzzle many good batsmen, if not endanger their stumps too much !
And the binary connection other than win/lose ….? How often do you see a scorebook that reads 100/10 followed by 101/1 ? Interesting, eh ? (No, you’re sacked again ! – Ed)
So that wrapped up the league and last game of our season as Champions. Finally, after inconsistency laid waste to our hopes in the last two league seasons, we can progress onto higher grounds where several of our players clearly belong (such modesty – Ed.). Next Saturday 11th will be our annual storing away of sightscreens, boards, etc, followed by the annual presentation of the batting trophy to the skipper….and many others !
Special thanks to :-
- Bury St Edmunds CC for being excellent hosts despite having to field a weakened team, and for buying us a jug
- Stowmarket CC for being amongst the first to congratulate us. Class. We hope in the re-jig that usually happens at this end of the league, they are also promoted.
- All our supporters who made the journey to see our first success in eight years.
- Rosemary Prestney for taking some great photos, which WILL end up on the website
- Finally, our coach, Bryan ‘Merciless’ McManus, whose regular beastings and tongue-lashings took us all to some dark places before instilling in us all a belief that winning more than two games in a row is not against the rules, that staying in after you’ve hit one sumptuous shot actually makes sense, and that using your hands to field the ball saves your ankles. Bryan’s near-psychotic St. Osythian rants drove at least one player (Connor) to avoid Earls Colne on a Wednesday evening. This one’s for you, Bryan !