Collapses win Matches

vs Elveden (home, 24th July ’21)

Finally, the first of two Saturdays that could well decide Earls Colne’s destiny for next season had arrived and we would be welcoming Elveden to the Rec. The skipper had a near-full squad of players to choose from, Covid-isolators had returned and we welcomed a 2nd NHS hero back for the 1st time this season, Chintesh Patel, who’d not played much since he used to walk off regularly with the annual batting trophy.

With the weather forecast decidedly iffy about when and where exactly the heavy showers might break out, it seemed as if our oppo were looking for that potential copout for some of the afternoon – with most of them languishing around at 1pm rather than taking to the field, we wondered if they saw something in the clouds we didn’t. As it was, Daryl and David G. took to the opening bowling with the usual relish, despatching anything short from the more pacy van Overmeire and less pacy but accurate Kent Sr.

David was undone sooner than he would have liked, caught behind off the former, which brought Chintesh to the wicket with his usual wristy style of playing most balls later than thought physically possible then unleashing powerful straight drives. With only one further wicket to fall for the next 25 overs, Colne would be left wondering (especially given what happened at the other end of the innings) why both opening bowlers went through almost all their allotted overs, not cheaply. When Chintesh was out for 25, Daryl & Pat resumed their old left-right partnership which invariably works out well for one or both. In this case it was both of them cashing in, Daryl powering on to score his third century of the season and his second against the same team – how they must love seeing him !

With the score on 188-2, & around 10 overs to go, all was looking rosy for Colne with their sights set on 260+. However, first Daryl was undone playing across the line to a slower one from the wily Firman, then in the same over Jack & Nick were bowled. Cue time for Pat & Sam to steady the ship which they did…for 2 overs only, before Pat tried to hoik one too many of Kent Jr.’s short balls and proffered up a simple catch to cover. Next ball, Connor took Pat’s advice of “he’s bowling short, just stand & deliver” too much to heart and was bowled by a full one; Dave M. lasted two balls before turning a catch around the corner before exhibiting a side to his temperament that only his brother was aware of due to a remark made to him by a fielder as he left the stage. His subsequent destruction of a line flag and “colourful” language would have made Javed Miandad blush.

When 4 runs later, younger bro Tom also departed ‘without troubling the scorers’ as the old cliche goes, Colne had lost 7 wickets for a mere 16 runs. However, we had high hopes for the last wicket as we had two recognised batsmen out there; at one end we had Sam who was beginning to wonder why none of his team-mates didn’t hang around long with him, whilst at the other, specialist-fielder, death-bowler, and re-born batsman Ben emerging with his running spikes on. Fresh from professing a love for umpiring “because no other *** will do it”, and fired up to make up for the antics of the previous 20 minutes, Ben soon had Sam turning dot balls into singles and singles into two’s. Unfortunately, when a brief fielding mishap persuaded Ben to call Sam through for a 2nd, the latter was still search for 3rd gear when the irate Kent Jr, threw down Sam’s destination stumps from 18 yards away. With Meady having stepped into the square leg umpiring shoes and busily studying the interesting cloud formations, the decision was never in doubt.

So all out for 216 and the proverbial psychological advantage lay with Elveden having seen the mighty Colne batting line laid waste and a few too many batsmen guilty of playing the wrong shot early on. However, with only 9 opposition wickets to take, we took to the field with a spring in our pork-pie-laden step, and cheered on the mighty Moon bro’s as they opened with their familiar numbers of left-arm demon pace and unplayable leggies. When Tom saw his first couple of deliveries deftly carted to the boundary, he might have let his head drop or even stuttered further in his run-up, but his determination would pay off later. Meanwhile, elder brother Dave’s devious dobblies did for opening bat Flack, undone by the superb spin imparted from the bowler’s well-used wrist.

Fellow opener and potential party-pooper Aldous soon followed, caught by keeper David G. off the bowling of Tom, although there was some debate as to whether the umpires might have called a waist-high no ball. They didn’t and when #3, Siriwardena followed the next ball, it would be the third time in the match that a bowler would be looking for a hat-trick. Kent Jr. came and stayed for a few before offering a catch to Jack at mid-wicket – we all held our breath when it was evident he’d come too far forward to take a simple catch, but then stuck out a high hand to make it look like a worldie !

Skipper Rodic joined van Overmeire at the crease with the score on 57-4 and the required rate rising. Their partnership caused a few concerns , but when the keeper-slip combo of David G. and Connor contrived to removed Rodic in Dave Moon’s final over, Colne knew they were approaching the final straight. What they didn’t expect was that straight to be a mere two yards long as Elveden’s own mini-collapse occurred in the blink of an eye with the last four wickets going for no runs. Although Chintesh took a wicket in his one and only over, Connor would no doubt claim all the glory for that collapse as his bowling figures of 5 balls, 3 wickets for 0 runs were reasonably impressive, but we won’t let him forget his batting performance and most of the team agreed it was only because his Mum was watching. It was all over, a win by 121 runs and a good all-round team performance; our bowlers who took most of the wickets had contrived to score no runs between them, nearly all the catches were taken, the Sleeman-Mason-Kerry catching axis went unused, Daryl passed 500 league runs for the season although that doesn’t let him off his fielding misses, and umpire Meady discovered yet another unknown rule.

A great win further backed up by the news that nearest rivals Stowmarket had lost their game, meaning that we regained our place at the top of the table by some margin, and no prizes for guessing which side are next to visit us on 31st July……it promises to be a cracker !

The Match that never was

vs Mildenhall (home, 17th July)

A glorious weekend of weather beckoned, all our Covid-isolation cases were returning and we even had some former players back in the team for this week or next, now they knew we were an unstoppable force (except for last week’s deviation). What could possibly be a fly in this perfect ointment ?

PINGDEMIC was the answer, meaning that Mildenhall were hit, as an entire club, with a mass of isolation requests and even 1 or 2 positive tests. Whilst we wish them all the best for speedy recoveries, putting our game on was not going to be practical so a cancellation was called on the Friday. No points awarded and a further justification of the average points system this season. Special thanks to Meady for putting out the scoreboard and some of the flags anyway – WhatsApp 1 vs Nokia 3310 0.

Onwards to next Saturday 24th and the home fixture against Elveden, followed by the traditional salmonella-fest BBQ, if the weather holds.

Blip on the Road to Immortality

vs Stradbroke (away, 10th July ’21)

Back on the road again, and an an early departure for most of the team to reach our furthest opposition, bar a couple who were relying on empty roads to get to the destination on time; their absence gave the skipper a dilemma when the toss was won, forcing the choice of batting first.

As the Colne opening pair searched through the gloomy drizzle for any approaching bowlers, the rest of the team huddled around the inverse-Tardis-like scorehut, a medium-sized dwelling with room for two, three at a push. Out on the pitch, Daryl & Pat were putting away anything over-pitched until the former was undone by a pearler from Owen Morgan that pitched on the green patch of the wicket & nipped back in to take his stumps. This would normally be a signal to the latter to get his head down, but sure enough, six balls later, he holed out to his favourite position of deepish mid-on.

The unfortunate early departure of the openers had the upside of ensuring everyone else could get their pads on. But could they kick on ? Sam & Jack got into double figures but were undone either by the deceptive bowling or astute field-placing. Alex made a few but followed next ball after Jack, Brommers was asked to run one too many, whilst Tom was undone by the spinning ball ricocheting down then back, from the suspiciously efficient-looking Liam Smith who had been parachuted in especially for this game. This left a last-wicket partnership of Colne’s pair of DM’s, Dave Moon & David Mead, with every run cheered on as the lowest total of the season (batting first) beckoned. They added a vital 8 further runs to take us to 114, before DM elder turned the ball around the corner for a sneaky single only to find that the fielder had been smartly placed just 20 yards back for that same shot. Those 8 runs might have been less had DM younger not ridden his luck somewhat through leaving anything aimed between his bat and pads, or stopped mid-run to allow the ball to pass by so that the keeper had a better chance to run him out, a chance that fortunately for him was fluffed.

Surely ‘Ripper’ Moon would soon put the oppo into a low-scoring predicament as he had done in the home fixture ? But today his luck was out and despite giving up only 15 runs from his 9 overs, he would go wicket-less. Down the other end, elder brother Dave also had to wait a while until his dobblers forced both openers to proffer up catches, one a straightforward number for Sam, the other a huge steepler; a lengthy silence ensued as 10 players realised this was heading directly for Meady – nails were bitten, prayers were offered up, whispered calls made to therapists – but the gods were looking on favourably as he took the catch and gave the now familiar one-armed Alan Shearer-style salute.

Further catches were taken to ensure Stradbroke had to fight all the way to the end, but when the skipper-to-skipper contest ended firmly with the home side, Colne were up against it. But ‘Never Say Die’ is one our motto’s (to go with the others of ‘Anywhere in 60 Minutes’, ‘This One’s Coming to You’, and ‘FFS!’) so the encouragement from cheerleader Brommers kept us going, as did the efforts from Jack and Alex to stop any boundaries over the rapidly-drying outfield.

Ultimately all to no avail as the home team ticked off the runs to pass our insufficient total and hand us our first league defeat of the season. Something for everyone to work on, as batsman or bowler or keeper, given that on paper we should have been clear favourites to win this one. With promotion limited to the winners of this division – unless there is another re-org due to teams joining or dropping out – we’ll have to ensure this is our one and only defeat. Three home games up next , starting with Mildenhall on 17th July. Look out also for the planned post-match BBQ on Sat 24th and fund-raising events for the new scoreboard.

More than a 2-man team, Bob !

vs Elveden (away, 3rd July ’21)

With several regulars absent for this game due to a variety of reasons (weddings, wedding dress-fitting, Covid-isolation, football-isolation), Colne were keeping a keen eye on the weather and any favours it might dish out as they made their way up to Thetford Forest. As it turned out, the weather played no part in an exciting match between 1st & 3rd in the league.

As the skipper and the chairman padded up, ready for the off at 1pm, debutant Reece Hayns showed he had minimal faith in the nine provisioned batters before him by also donning his pads, but given we were still waiting for the arrival of Harry P. (who’d flagged he’d be very late) and David G. (who hadn’t), he might have had a point. Those worries were soon put to bed as our intrepid right-and left-handed openers fended off the opening 10 overs of regulation line-and-length from one end and allsorts from the other. When the latter was replaced by Elveden’s alleged ‘danger man’, the watching crowds sensed a change in the wind – which there soon was as Daryl & Pat tucked into some short and wayward semi-pace. However, Pat failed to get over one drive too many and was caught at mid-off just before drinks, rapidly followed by David G. who was unfortunate to receive a good yorker early on.

This could have been the moment when Colne capitulated (& many of us over the age of 11 can remember when it was the norm, Ed.) but this is 2021 and we just cannot seem to manage it anymore. With one 80+ partnership in the bag, the next one with Nick Richardson at the crease really ensured a good total would be on the cards. Anything short was punished by Nick, whilst Daryl was grinding through the usual gears giving the opposition limited chances only when he knew the fielder wasn’t interested in catching the ball, content with a personal scoring rate of 40% early on before moving up to 400% later. Only when Nick was out for an excellent 37 with the score on 169, did the skipper realise that the incoming batsman (Ben Mason) might require him to run 6 three’s each over, so it was time for boundaries only.

Ably and briefly supported first by Ben and then by Dave M., the score shot up to 216 in the last four overs. With Daryl’s 2nd century of the season (127*), the rest of the team were all smiling as they clapped him off and put away their wallets away for any post-match drinks. The only small teeny-weeny fly in the ointment of the innings was that down here in Div 9 of the Two Counties, Nick’s ‘Mankad’ dismissal raised some questions about how far some opposition teams will go to beat us (see David “magic hands” Griffith’s many stumpings not given out, from previous reports).

Having regaled us with how, from his previous ‘dark years’ playing for Cornard, Elveden were a one-man team, Ben started his bowling stint clearly intent on making good batsmen out of all the other 10. With his first 3 overs going for close on 45 and an admission from the bowler that he was throwing the game away, the skipper was forced to bring himself on for the first time in several matches. Given our paucity in bowlers due to all the aforementioned reasons, would it be Colne showing ourselves up as a one-man team ?

Fortunately not, as this year, we can always rely on a Moon. Whether it’s ‘P. Moon’, as stated in the scorebook (I don’t think he’s playing this year, Ed.), ‘T. Moon’, as stated on Play Cricket later that evening (definitely extremely pissed at a wedding 20 miles south at this moment, Ed.) or D. Moon (that’s the one ! Ed.), there’s always a Moon handy in a crisis. Today, it would be Dave whose venomous spitters soon tempted a couple of batsmen into offering up catches and surprising batsman #1, Aldous, who’d earlier dined out extensively on Ben’s buffet, with a straight one. With Ben taking the catch off Daryl’s bowling to despatch the ‘alleged danger-man’, the oppo’s run rate suddenly dried up, from ca. 70 off the first 8 overs to 100 off 24, which was largely thanks to Messrs Moon & Sleeman getting through their dot-ball-ridden overs at electrifying pace.

Meanwhile for those not bowling, the ongoing support from all the fielding participants remained vocal; with ringmaster Brommers keeping up a steady encouragement line as well a precocious talent for calling out the fielder to whom the next catch was coming, which it invariably did; with Reece doing a great job jogging from long-leg to long-leg each over he’ll be thanking us for his fitness improvement; with Trevor stopping anything that came square leg’s way…well, nearly all !; and with David M. keeping up a steady stream of “C’mon ECC” until it was pointed out he was inadvertently supporting the wrong team, the spirit in the team never dropped.

Just like a Shakespeare play, the witty banter and rapid progress were matched with a couple of comedy fielding moments (Nick’s attempt at a catch with the fielders both behind him and in front of him calling for it could be forgiven, plus Dave M.’s running drop) and a near-tragedy when a nick from the batsmen flew straight in ‘keeper David G’s nose. As the pitch turned scarlet with our star man on his haunches and several players turning green, David sprang rapidly back to life when he heard that Pat had gone off to put his pads and gloves on, stating he’d rather play through the pain and crimson than see the byes column debited whilst he was the official ‘keeper.

With the 4th and final recognised bowler Harry flagging on his way to seven economical overs with one wicket, the skipper was looking to Brommers to make a return for the first time since he was 2019’s ‘Bowler of the Year’. However, Ben, back on at the other end, had clearly given himself a strong talking-to, and was an absolute revelation in his 2nd spell. Safe in the knowledge that any jug-purchasing was going to be monopolised by the skipper’s earlier run-making, Ben proceeded to bowl us to victory as Elveden’s lower batting order faded away rapidly and he was as pleased as the rest of us that somehow despite his earlier overs, he’d picked up a 5-fer. Brommers’ imminent return would have to be postponed.

Victory by 41 runs then, and relief all round that our choice to postpone this match to this date when so many players were unavailable was a great one, given the depth and positive attitude pervasive across the squad. Onwards and upwards next week, to the fixture that’s as far as we have to travel this season, Stradbroke…c’mon ECCC !

2 Fast 2 Spurious

vs Bury St. Edmunds (home 26th June ’21)

Another dodgy week of weather but enough drying out overnight and perfect Saturday conditions meant that the Colne ground staff could stay in bed an extra hour before cutting the moss and laying down a strip for all occasions.

The opposition today would be Bury St. Edmunds, and as the church clock (somewhere) struck 12.45, we wondered where they might be. Eventually, they all turned up and the decision was taken they would bat first. If only they’d known that ‘Ripper’ Moon was that very moment being unleashed from his strait-jacket in the changing room, having spent 48 hours moving house and in the mood for further destruction, just as he had with the Stradbroke top order seven days before.

As Moon senior worriedly prowled the boundary on a direct line to Ladbroke’s, hedging the habitual jug-purchasing that he’s become accustomed to from one of his boys delivering big-time, ‘Ripper’ started the inevitable. In his first over, he had batsmen #1 & #3 caught, the first one a smart catch at 2nd slip by Sam, the second a regulation leading edge plopping up to Pat. After taking two more wickets (both bowled) and celebrated in with his deft Ronaldo demi-turn, his figures for the past two matches were looking impressive; 21 overs, 9-33. How fortunate that the wedding he was due to go to next week has been cancelled ! With elder brother Dave opening at the other end, we expected the floodgate of relief to surge through the oppo batsmen as they mastered the dastardly dibbly-dobblers from the Prince of Spain. But not today ! Only occasionally was he carted off to deep extra cover or over square leg to go with his two wickets, so that after 15 overs, the scoreboard had a distinctly lop-sided look of about 35-7. When David ‘Jonty’ Mead calmly threw to the right end for a run out, and then took a smart catch at square leg, Colne sensed this was a day when everything would come together.

Fresh from pulling off a worldie catch last week that somehow escaped the reporter’s notice (will this do ? Ed.) Brommers contrived to put down a ‘villagie’ at gully this week (that’s the price ! Ed.) but we’ll forget about that one…soonish. With Connor going wicketless at one end – and then having the cheek to ask if he could forfeit his match fee through lack of contribution – it was left to Ben “I’m never bowling again” Mason to find the form he’s been showing in the nets but not on recent matchdays, to pick up the final wickets and take home impressive figures of 3-3 from 11 balls. Special mention must go to all the fielders who made the offside an impenetrable ring, such as Alex, Sam, and Daryl (except that one that got through!). Credit also must go to new stand-in ‘keeper, David G. for the usual tidy service, a neat catch, and even standing so far back as to take some deliveries behind the stumps. New friendships were established with the square-leg umpire whose knowledge of the rules was clearly on a par with some of our appeals !

When Pat pouched a steepler for the final wicket (TV Umpire check complete, ‘steepler’ = at least 40m up, Ed.) Bury St.E. were done for 53 within 25 overs, and the gourmands amongst the Colne team, all 11 of them, were left wondering “is this a late lunch or an early tea?”

The Colne innings started briskly as always with the skipper finding the boundary, then David G. looking incredulous as he was given out lbw yet again. This gave the chairman the perfect opportunity to play the ‘Chris Tavare’ innings with 35 needed from 35 overs, and for a short while it looked like that might be the case, but then Daryl spoilt that equation further with some lavish hitting, before ‘walking’ almost before he’d nicked one down the leg side. In came Sam, and before you could say “Nar then!” he’d smitten a boundary and the game was up.

Victory by 8 wickets and the slightly guilty feeling of a first pint at 4pm, the post-match analysis and interviews done by 5pm, and moving onto weightier topics such as reminiscing about the good ‘ole days when we never used to scored 20 points, or when we were bowled out for 34 not so long ago, or how had David Mead planned to start work at 5pm, or where exactly is the line between positive team spirit in the field versus being over-exhuberant pains in the derriere….the list goes on.

As do our fixtures; next week back to West Suffolk (constituency of a naughty ex-Health Secretary) and a visit to the lovely ground at Elvedon. With this run of form and the Moon brothers making our batsmen redundant, you can almost write it all up in advance !

Little Moon steps up

vs Stradbroke (home, 19th June ’21)

As the covers were rolled off after the heavy Friday showers, the Colne ground staff were a little perplexed to discover the source of the new River Colnette, right where the match was due to take place. Against all odds though, they managed to ‘vanish’ away the water away and breathe some life into the spongey underlay , thereby ensuring a pitch that would offer something for everyone…unless you were a batsman.

Having promised he would opt to bowl if he won the toss, given the wet outfield as well, skipper Sleeman naturally lost the toss and we would be batting first. How many of our batsmen could get their head down and not be tempted into wafty shots giving catches or playing across the line ? This would be the test of man against pitch !

Daryl and David G. started solidly enough against a surprisingly strong Stradbroke bowling attack that had depth beyond just the openers. It was soon evident that boundaries would be at a premium. and that Colne’s policy of having quite a few players who might euphemistically be said to be ‘carrying some extra baggage’ would be thoroughly tested. Having reached 26 and given some warning of the catching practice he likes to entertain opposition sides with, Daryl duly sacrificed his wicket with a catch in the same old place. This allowed Pat to come in, get his eye in for the first 25-odd balls, then complain about a dodgy contact lens – as nearly all of his 25 runs came from streaky edges, there must have been something in what he was moaning about. He hung around long enough to see David’s fine innings come to an end for 31 (or 33 as he prefers to call it), as well as see the departure of not-so-fine ones from Nick and Sam. With bowler-turned-batsman Ben entering the fray on the back of an excellent 50 last week, and soon partnered with Brommers, it was a relief to hear that scorer-turned-paramedic David Mead was on hand with the defibrillator should it be needed.

Fortunately it wasn’t needed, but when Brommers ran a three, it was good to know that all hands were available and that the recent purchase of a new First Aid Kit was a wise decision. When Brommers was run out by a direct hit (like David G. before him), it only remained for Connor to do his usual with the limited time left, ‘spank, spank, out’ (similes and metaphors are available, but this is for family-reading, Ed.), whilst Dave Moon was given one ball to make an impression on the final score which he did. 159-7 therefore, not a huge score but a good psychological advantage to have broken past 150 on a difficult wicket.

Colne took to the field with yet another new-ball combo; this time it would the left-arm terrorizer of former wicket-keepers, Tom Moon, together with brother Dave, tormentor of batsmen with his vicious, spitting leg-breaks. Cricket being the entertaining game it is though, ‘Hero’ Dave from a fortnight ago (he took 6-11,zzzzz, Ed.) would find the going ‘hard to tough’ today whilst younger brother Tom, from the top end, had both openers back in the pavilion and changed back into their civvies before Harry P. had remembered where long leg was. David G,, behind the stumps, was the willing accomplice for both those two wickets, the first one being an amusing juggling act, the second more regulation ‘snick and even the umpire heard it’ type.

Today though, two wasn’t enough for Tom; he wanted the full jug. So he was helped by further catches from Daryl – taking it cleanly in the unmentionables low down at mid off; Pat – calling for it in a most un-Colne manner, and even surprising himself for a caught & bowled. Five wickets achieved, even more remarkable given that he went through his full 11 overs straight for only 20 runs.

The oppo were in trouble at 36-5, but surely this would be where we let them off the hook and fail to take all 10 wickets ? It wasn’t to be though today; Harry came on and bowled an economical four overs, taking one wicket, another fine catch by Ben in the covers (he does moan if his catches aren’t mentioned!, Ed.), whilst Connor held up any progress with his spell of 2-42. There should have been more wickets in those figures, but today Connor was the beneficiary of some dodgy catching; no names, no pack drill, but regulation snaffles were put down by the same person who had taken a catch in the covers, by our point fielder who runs his own excellent window-cleaning business…and by the bowler himself. As each of these catches went down, it did give the rest of us the chance to see Connor adopt his new “bowler in foetal position”, as he vented his frustration.

With only one Stradbroke batsman (James Gilbee) offering any real resistance, the Chairman found new ways of frustrating the skipper and team-mates through his greater insights and knowledge: (1) revealing he knew the code to the all-weather pitch where the ball had been deposited only after one of his team-mates returned from the bar with the same info, & (2) requesting that all fielders retire to the leg-side boundary as that seemed to be the destination of every shot played by the above-mentioned batsman. After Ben had narrowly missed (again!) taking a great catch at mid-wicket, but instead succeed in parrying the ball over the line for six, suggestions that we put someone taller over there were flatly ignored.

But concerns of an excessively close finish were soon forgotten, as Daryl bowled the dangerous batsman, and elder Moon returned to pick up a wicket, smartly stumped by David G. (“I got six other stumpings today, but the umpire’s only just woken up!”) So victory by 43 runs and several reasons to be cheerful: back to the top of the table, at last we took all 10 wickets, we took seven catches, all the bowlers picked up wickets, we have a keeper who can keep (whilst we solve the mystery of the disappearing Woods), we have batting in depth, a scorer who can almost score…and every week, Connor is getting closer to taking a catch !

Next week, in his season of geographical oddities, we welcome our new nearest-rivals… Bury St Edmunds !

Don’t blame yourself, Connor !

vs Sudbury (friendly @ home) 12th June ’21

Cricket month at the Rec continued last Saturday with a friendly fixture against our nearest Suffolk rivals, Sudbury. With their three league sides all in action & Colne scratching around to field a completely non-league side, this had the making of a one-sided affair.

With the star bowler from the previous week, Dave Moon, nursing a poorly finger from a dropped midweek catch but still able to just about turn his arm, we looked forward to the return of our star drinker bowler, Connor Oldrey – here was someone we could rely on taking the wickets ! Surely our one-off defeat against Halstead would be just that.

The skipper was tinkering with the batting order, sending players to where they should be based on recent form, David G. down to #3, and Pat to #11, whilst bringing Nick in to open alongside him, and promoting ‘Dasher’ Mason to #6 and Harry “1 not out will do for me” Porcher to #7. After hitting one six over the fence and against (not named for legal reasons), Daryl then decided it wouldn’t be fair to continue in the same manner and holed out to let some one else use his bat. David G. suffered the ignominy of a duck, whilst Connor set off in the usual rapid fashion but was then bowled for 14. At which point, he regaled anyone who would listen with how this was the worst thing that had even happened to him.

Now it was the turn of Colne’s emerging middle-order to hold the fort, and with Nick gone for 12, and matters looking precarious at 63-4, that’s exactly what Dave M. and Ben did. With one young-ish ultra-fit stylish batsman at one end and Dave at the other, their partnership of 53 calmed the nerves before Dave departed for a respectable 23. What happened next will be told years from now as Harry strode to the wicket in the uncharted territory (for him) of Colne 5 down. Five minutes later as his first boundary crossed the line and symbolically entered the bar to order a Bud, the crowd started buzzing. When the same shot was repeated next ball with the same results, grown men were pinching themselves whilst Connor hid behind a chair.

Harry was eventually out for a staggering 22 after a partnership of 64 with Ben, who himself would go on to make an excellent 56 – although that wouldn’t stop him moaning about the missed century opportunity he’d passed up ! Brommers entered the fray for the first time this season, having been fine-tuning his physique more recently through bowls (the sporting variety, not the kitchen ones) and soon showed us what we’ve been missing with a rapid-fire 30 – he was even more pleased with his crowd-pleasing scoring rate of 125.00 – no hanging around for Brommers !

With David Mead scoring a boundary, it was a day of firsts all round as Colne ended up on 254-9, a score that had to be enough ? Tom Moon opened the bowling and rapidly sent D. Shropshire’s timbers flying in a Suffolk direction – his eventual figures of 1-9 from 6 overs with 4 maidens showed us what else we’d been missing last week. There followed a lengthy partnership, which although stylish did not concern Colne too much as the skipper tinkered further with the bowlers, holding back the real go-to men – Mason B., Bromley P., & Kerry P. The unfortunate Dave Moon discovered that today’s banquet is tomorrow’s dog’s dinner – or maybe it was the watching Moon Sr. who had bribed him to avoid another jug purchase – and was seen off wicketless.

Harry also discovered the cruel side of the all-rounder business; his highest score since records began would not be matched by any wickets today, but he did distinguish himself with a remarkable catch. Nick was brought on to bowl and helped himself to his first ‘senior’ wickets, the skipper brought himself on for average-improving opportunities, and then there was Connor. Having led the encouragement and supporting cliches from the relatively safe position of gully, his unplayable spin (his words, not mine – Ed.) accounted for both long-established batsmen plus two more, giving final figures of 4-38 and a begrudging acknowledgement of ‘bowler of the day’ (again, his words, not mine – Ed.)

With limited comedy fielding moments on display this week apart from the obligatory moment of two fielders leaving a catch to each other, it was left to David “I’m more of a bowler than a batsman” Mead to justify that sobriquet having impressed in the nets – a challenge he took on valiantly, albeit unsuccessfully. But when batsman #11 came in with 1 ball to go and 100 to win, Colne could breathe a collective sigh of relief – back onto a new winning streak !

Cricket month continues next week with the re-start of the league programme; Colne have been knocked off top spot by Stowmarket’s slightly superior net run rate despite us having beaten them and having a better win/loss record, an anomaly explained by our reluctance to take more than 5 opposition wickets on average. Stradbroke are our opposition on the 19th and will be setting off at sparrow-fart to make the lengthy journey south. For those not aware, plans for the midsummer BBQ have been put on hold given the table restrictions we have to observe in a public place.

Loss takes the Gloss off the Moon Shine

vs Halstead (friendly, at home) 5th June ’21

So it came to pass; a loss finally after a winning streak stretching all the way back to 2020, it had to happen, but the manner of how it all unfolded left everyone contemplating what they might have done differently.

Our opposition was Halstead III’s, a mixture of former 1st team players, retired PE teachers, and young lads – some of whom had not been strong-armed into leaving Colne when they were barely out of short trousers for the bright lights of the Star Stile ground in Halstead. A local derby then, without the extra spice of it being a league fixture, but plenty of family and former school rivalries.

Colne were put into bat first on a pitch that was playing true but had taken a sufficient soaking the day before to give opening bowler Morgan Whymark a little extra pep, whilst at the other end the skipper found himself facing his uncle with his metronomic accuracy. David G.’s patience didn’t last long, while Daryl was unfortunate after scoring 28, to be given out lbw to that same uncle by the Halstead umpire – part 1 of how to beat Colne was going to plan !

Colin was joined at the wicket by Pat, and the two of them put on a 50-partnership, albeit at record slow pace. Excuses could be listed here, but they would be utter trite. Maybe it was Colin’s deodorant, but his partners started arriving and leaving quicker than an Amazon delivery driver; one by one, the Colne middle order displayed their fondness for the sound of leather on stumps as all of them were bowled without adding too much. Eventually, in strode a man on a mission, Dave Moon, with not many overs left to push the score up to a respectable level. Between him & Colin, they destroyed Alan Elsbury’s canny bowling, saw off the returning Whymark’s chin music, and added sufficient boundaries to end up with a score of 151-6, with Colin on an excellent 47* and Dave on 21*.

An apprehensive Colne took the field then for the Halstead innings, partly because of what they perceived as their own low total, partly because some of the Halstead batters had actually reached double figures in the past, and partly because our own umpire David Mead had only narrowly scraped through his teatime umpiring examination, losing points on ‘one short’ and ‘hits pad, raise finger’ questions. This was more than redeemed however by the sight of yet another aspirant taking the wicketkeeper gloves – David Griffith. From the way his gloves actually fitted to the the way he crouched down for each ball, things were looking good.

Harry opened from the White Sightscreen End and soon constricted the batsmen with a tight line, but was soon replaced by Ben “I’m only here for the fielding” Mason who rediscovered his Saturday yips. We all prayed that Dave Moon at the other end wouldn’t repeat the dross from his last outing. Suffice to say, HE DID NOT ! …..11 consecutive overs later, with oxygen on standby, and his dad reaching for the jug money, Dave could take a bow after bamboozling with practically every ball. His figures of 6-11 from 66 deliveries had to be some of the best seen at the Rec since former Colner Joe Smith used to open the bowling at both ends and come on first & third change.

So the game was in the bag at 45-7 with another 107 needed, and with Harry picking up the other wicket, tails were high. Fortunately this was a friendly and no points were on offer, for what happened for the remainder of the game was best forgotten. Sam came on and took two wickets, but somehow Colne contrived to let batsman David Rawlinson escape to a well-deserved century. With the 2nd top score of the Halstead innings standing at 8, David’s final score of 109* did rather stand out, but he would likely confess that some of Colne’s catching made it easier for him – two in particular that tested the legendary “all-in-this-together” team spirit: the one that bobbled out of (no names here) hands at point, and the one where substitute fielder (no names here) took a few paces forward to pouch a catch in the deep…then a few paces back to let it bounce first. But hey-ho, that’s what practice is for, so we can only get better, and credit to Ben for taking two catches well.

A loss by 1 wicket to our close neighbours, and a match where the scorecard made it appear like a contest between our bowler and their batsman, although 20 others (and a 12th man) all played a part to some extent. To those in our team that didn’t get a chance to bat or bowl, we thank you and you emerged with credit ! Thanks as well to Rosemary Prestney for taking some great photos of the event, which will soon find a way onto this site, and also to Daryl & Alex for fixing the mobile net 24 hours later – net practice just won’t be the same when your cover drive no longer actually reaches the boundary !

Pit of Wolves – for the bowlers

vs Woolpit (away) 29th May ’21

As the first stragglers turned up at the oppo ground, and pondered the etymological derivation of Woolpit, it turns out we were wrong ! ‘Pit of Wolves’ from the 10th century, would you believe it ?

Meanwhile, back in the real world those same early arrivers wondered at how a village of 2,000 people had ended up with two bowling green-like pitches, five fixed nets, two movable ones, multiple Adult, Women’s, & Junior teams, and a pavilion that, er, didn’t quite match the splendour of the surroundings. (get on with it, you’re not Kevin McCloud ! – Ed)

Onto the match itself, and Colne were looking for a 4th consecutive league victory that would put them back on top of the table. The skipper won the toss again and chose wisely to bat, given the late arrival of three players. With new player David Mead set up with the online scoring app and Pat taking the place of late arrival David as an opener, everyone settled down for a carefree snooze or to play the game of “what avoid options did Harry put in his satnav today?” Ipswich, Bury, places ending in “-ham”, roads, etc.

Soon enough though troubles arose as Pat having reached a chanceless 4*, missed a straight one, and David M’s problems trebled. Daryl & David G. embarked on a lengthy partnership that would ultimately be match-winning, whilst our plucky scorer was having trouble telling them apart…or was the iPad playing games of it’s own ? We may never know, but when David G. was finally stumped having scored an excellent 56 (4 of which he had to run between the wickets for), the skipper at the other end was starting to motor through the gears, calming the Chairman’s constant run-rate concerns by hitting many consecutive boundaries. He was joined by Sam, promoted up the order and under strict instruction to play positively on the front foot, instructions that were not needed as he smote several leg-side over-pitched balls off his legs with consummate ease. His six that disappeared over the trees in this manner will be long remembered.

Daryl’s century came with the usual yawns from the under-appreciative Colne spectators – “we’ve waited five matches for this, I want my money back!”, followed by a further flurry of boundaries before offering up a catch to depart for a superb 120. With Jack joining Sam, five overs to go, and plenty of heavy-hitters to come, it was time for the fireworks ! Sure enough, these two pushed the scoring rate on well, so that when Connor came in with two balls to go, the bowlers were under such pressure that four wides and four byes later, our VC was wondering what he’d have to do to get a ball he could hit. A final score of 271-4, including a generous helping of 40 extras meant that Colne could tuck into their Ready Salted / mini Chicken Kev’s / Pasta Surprise well satisfied that they were well on their way.

Nothing is straightforward with Colne though, and just as we hoped we would knock the oppo over as easily as we had batted, have a drink, then be back on the road in good time for the start of the footie to see one team in blue beat the other team in blue, it all went a little pear-shaped. Our bowling attack, considerably strengthened over the past year, suffered an attack of the collective yips. Only Connor was able to escape the curse of the wides, but even he couldn’t get a wicket, but by only giving away 24 runs from his allotted 11 overs it did at least put the scoring pressure on the home side. Harry was the next pick of the bowlers with 1-33 from 7 overs, whilst Jack’s banana deliveries paid off, twice hitting the stumps. Alex discovered that Friday-evening-in-the-nets form couldn’t be replicated directly but picked up the only other wicket to fall, Ben had troubles with his line, Tom & Daryl went for a few, whilst David G. & Pat (as the only players old enough to remember) were startled to see that former Aussie skipper Kim Hughes had made a quiet comeback in the lower leagues of Suffolk, scoring 62* as Woolpit picked up a lot of cheap batting points in an ultimately fruitless chase. Some good fielding by David M. was rather spoilt by some not-so-good by various others, including one catch that Sam will have replayed all night.

So victory by 42 runs, and a lot of cliched lessons learned / discussed: “winners keep winning”, “25 wides is 25 too many”, “the records state 3 byes only, how can you sack the ‘keeper !”, “HOW much for a small bottle of beer?”, “maybe a trial run with the online scoring system would have worked better”…. etc etc

Next week back home to the Himalayan undulations of Earls Colne compared to the finest fescue bowling green of Woolpit, and a local derby with Halstead. This will be the match that would have been a league game, had our oppo not pulled out of the league …..when they saw we were in it. As a footnote, Colne fans will be disappointed that this season will not see the unveiling of the much-anticipated 30x15m electronic scoreboard, planned for blotting out the view of the shed, not as thought initially through a lack of welders, but through an abundance of mice feasting on the vital innards. Other plans are afoot…..

The umpire strikes back

Vs Stowupland (home) 22nd May ‘21

The day had finally arrived; league cricket was returning to Fortress Rec Club after almost two years.  The sightscreens were gingerly pushed back into place, the advertising boards were plonked into position willy-nilly, and even the changing rooms had been freshly ralgexed for a socially-distanced return.

With yet more new opposition in the form of Stowupland, at least this time there was no setting the satnav to somewhere 60 minutes north.  This time though, we’d have to get all those nasty jobs done in advance that make a cricket club tick, so although some players took the easy option of a late arrival or wearing their best clothes so as to avoid any manual efforts, all was ready to go on time.  Special mention must go to new member David Mead who not only helped out with all the ground tasks when he wasn’t even in the playing XI, but also stuck around to do the scoring all afternoon.

Meanwhile, Daryl won the toss yet again and given the recent weather conditions and wet outfield chose to bowl first. Initially, it looked like a good call as the opening batsmen struggled to put the ball away, but were helped by a number of wides and pies tossed up by our openers.  In this new era of #MeToo, we won’t name the offenders, but their surnames rhyme with Jason & Boon. When one of the batters decided however to turn a two into a one, opportunity knocked and Connor ruthlessly threw down the stumps from 18 inches away with the unfortunate batsman well short.  This brought together the Blanchard father and son combo, whereupon Colne in generous fashion gave them every opportunity to stick around for longer than should have been allowed.  Having focused at the previous Wednesday’s training session on our fielding and catching practice, the litany of dropped catches suggested our time might have been better spent in the bar; drops came thick and fast from some of the young gun fielders  – Sleeman & Richardson – as well as from the old peashooter ones, Holdgate sr. & Kerry.  With the younger Blanchard going on to make 65* and two other batsmen making >35, Colne would eventually be frustrated at only taking four wickets in total, with the other three coming from the one catch taken by Ben off Harry’s bowling and two straight bowled by Connor.  A notable highlight was that wides were the only extras. (who was that keeper, I hear you asking, Mr Doyle …?)  

So a target of 170 to win couldn’t be beyond the new power-batting outfit we’ve put together, could it ?  With the oppo providing one bowler who couldn’t stop bowling long hops, David was soon eyeing up which particular target beyond the shed was a realistic range-finder, and an escalating run rate sent batsmen #3-11 into peaceful slumber. They were rudely awoken though when the same bowler started to bowl waist-high no balls; on calling a 3rd one in conjunction with his fellow umpire’s signal, Tom then had to politely ask the opposition team captain to mind his P’s & Q’s and kindly not direct them in his direction when he made the ‘no ball’ call….or something like that.

Having hit a rapid-fire 36 from just 23 balls, David swivelled in front of his stumps one time too many, failed to connect and was rightly given out lbw by ‘Honest Ben’. Daryl too, was soon on his way caught between leaving and playing at one that ricocheted onto his stumps.  This bought together the more peaceful partnership of Pat & Colin, safe in the knowledge that they could move along at a far more sedate pace given the fireworks of the opening 10 overs.  Pat was soon bowled by one that should have been despatched to the tennis courts, bringing the Holdgate’s together to play their much loved game of ‘rock back – take a swipe – miss – repeat’.  But to give them credit, they also put away plenty of bad balls, so that by the time Jack had added 19 and Colin was out for 17, only a further 7 was required with time still on our side.  In between, Connor had also entertained with his own brand of ‘Tile Replacement’ batting that had unaware spectators cowering under the shelling, adding 24 in rapid time.

As ever with Colne, where there is hope there is fear.  When Nick also departed with the score on 163 having added 9, the Moon brothers came together to ensure those fears were put to bed.  Tom saw out an over carefully to save Ben & Harry putting their pads on, leaving Dave to summon all his strength to hit the promising young off-spinner for an enormous match-winning six… least it would have been had it not landed four inches inside the boundary line.

Another win, but knocked off the top spot this week by another club playing their first match and so having a simple average that’s better than ours, but surely we’ll reclaim that position next week over at Woolpit ?  We can only hope that these dropped catches and bowling points don’t hurt us later in the season !