And then there were none…left

So unfortunately our last planned T25 / little bash was scuppered by the weather on Sunday 27th Sep, and with it went the Chairman’s hopes of improving his bowling economy from 36.00 downwards, as well as what would have been an entertaining batting line-up drawn from a hat – no doubt the Skipper had a spare #1 hidden up his sleeve !

A massive thanks to everyone who has been involved this odd season, to all our opposition, to all our spectators, and especially to our legendary ‘Head’ groundsman Terry Prestney.

Stay safe, follow the advice, and fingers crossed, we’ll have a full fixture card of league games in 2021 combined with many planned Sunday friendlies……and who knows, even the much-awaited electronic scoreboard might make an appearance !

As they’d say in Peckham, “mange tout, les fromages frais!”

Play it again, Sam (&Tom) !

vs Abberton and District Cricket Club away 20th September ’20

(by Harry Porcher)

With the end of the season looming, Colne were looking to finish the season on a high, following their three successive victories of late. The victory against Maldon the previous week ensured the team had a result to be positive about going into the penultimate game against fellow division 9 side Boxted. With the fixture arrangement made, Colne were ready to march on towards their next opponent. With the pre-match tactics and analysis complete (consisting of direction instructions to the ground and whether everyone would go back to the recreation ground afterwards for a pint), Colne were ready to hit the pitch. Unfortunately, the pitch wasn’t ready to hit Earls Colne though, with Boxted having to cancel the fixture with just days to go. The reasoning was the pitch was unavailable, but I like to think it was a ploy to avoid being victim to another Colne victory. Nevertheless, the disruption did not deter the team’s enthusiasm, and within hours, a fixture against Abberton and District was confirmed. 

Having never played against Abberton, the fixture posed as an exciting prospect for myself. The reputation of opposition however suggested this wasn’t going to be an easy match (even for the in-form Colne) to play. With the heat rising on a lovely September morning, the team arrived (gradually) at the ground. Having never heard of Abberton prior to the fixture, Woodsy was soon given a tour of the village and the surrounding district (as mentioned in the club’s name) as I missed the turning to the ground and had to make de-tour around the surrounding villages of Peldon and Little Wigborough. Subsequently, we were a late arrival to the ground. Still, better late than never. With the toss decided, we were instructed to bat first by the skipper. With the batting order decided, Daryl and Dave were ready to begin another innings together, in what is looking to be a stalwart partnership for the Colne, for the 2021 season ahead. 

The Colne made a strong start with both the opening batsmen scoring quickly and efficiently, allowing the team to build healthy foundation, in order to score a respectable total for the opposition to follow. With the opening partnership settled, all was looking comfortable against a seemingly strong and consistent bowling attack. Earls Colne had a threatening run-rate, but like most good things, they must come to an end. This was the case when LBW was given against the skipper, meaning he departed for 36. Nevertheless, the team morale was high at this point, with the task of carrying the momentum being understood throughout. However, this is Earls Colne we’re talking about. Sure enough, the infamous collapse syndrome kicked in (albeit a smaller one this time) with Sam Beale and Tom Bosworth departing for ducks in reasonably quick succession. Colne had fight left in them though. Will Bosworth scored a handy 6 to steady the innings, and Dave continued to score quickly, until he was bowled out for 54. The innings was in the balance, we could either roll over and die, or continue the resurgence. Fortunately, Ben chose the latter and scored an impressive 48 in quick succession allowing the Colne to put the pressure back on the hosts, like a table of unsatisfied guests on ‘Come dine with me’.

With the innings nearing the end, Colne were not done scoring just yet. Connor scored runs too, with 33 against his former team mates in what would be part of an exciting battle to come between them. Trevor also added to the Colne total with 4 to allow the tail-end to walk out into the middle in a reasonable position. With just a few innings left the tail were summoned to play their part too. Abberton chose to put their pace bowlers on to wrap the innings up, and sure enough their plan paid dividend, with the wicket of Woodsy in the middle of the last over for yet another duck for Colne. Perhaps the excitement of the de-tour earlier proved too much for the wicket-keeper’s composure, and Colne were left with the unfortunate position of myself coming into bat for the final two balls. Having destroyed the previous two bats this season, I decided to give debut to the third, in the hope it would see better luck than the predecessors. On the final ball of the match, I made a lunge towards the ball, and somehow managed to drive it through cover (i think that’s the name) to get a couple of runs too. This brought to an end a run-drought that had gone on longer than a rain-drought in the Atacama desert. It also meant that myself and Paul had another ‘not-out’ in the stat book each. 226 was the final score, a total the Colne could be proud of.

Cricket is a game of two halves though, and the total had to be defended. The team was aware that we’d have to be in peak form against Abberton, of whom had a batting line up packed with youthful energy, yet with depth of skill too, unlike a batting line-up we aren’t used to seeing in familiar div 9. With myself and Ben opening, Abberton were able to defend the good balls, yet pounce on the not-so-good, and by end of our stints, they had built a healthy total without the loss of any wickets. It was clear that this opening partnership was not going to be easy to break.

With Abberton continuing to score at respectable rate, the skipper was forced to bring on a new bowling attack in Sam and Connor, in an attempt to break the deadlock. While both troubled the batsmen, particularly Connor against Sullivan with the outside-edge danger coming into play, neither were able to break what was becoming a seemingly an impossible feat. With the run rate still flowing, much like the sweat on the fielders on this hot September afternoon, the skipper brought himself on to break the long-standing partnership. Sure enough, within a few balls he did, removing Sullivan for an impressive 78. Magic. He gave the Colne a lift, that was perhaps needed to vent the frustration felt within the team. Daryl was not done there though, removing the prodigy opener in Schofield too for 65, with the help of Woodsy behind the stumps taking yet another catch for the Colne in his impressive debut season.

Two down, eight to go. The chances of winning were still unlikely, but the skipper had at least made a breakthrough, giving the team a sense of optimism heading into the final few overs. With the number three (McKim) scoring well, Earls Colne knew they had to make their breakthrough before the number four (Lingard) got settled too. Sure enough, Daryl was the man to deliver, yet again, removing Lingard for a duck. While the number four had been removed cheaply, the number three and new batsmen Austin were able to continue the run-chase with relative ease until the final stages when Daryl got the last of his four wickets, with the scalp of McKim for 22. The damage had been done however, with Abberton on 210-ish for the loss of just four wickets. The chase was completed soon afterwards, with the talented young batsmen in Austin, 47 not out.A good fight from Colne this match, forcing Abberton to toil in the heat all the way to the final stages of the second innings, in a game that perhaps looked easier for them on paper than in reality. However, like a few times this season against higher quality opposition, the depth of quality between the two sides was apparent, and the performances of just a couple of opposition players was normally the difference between us and them. Nevertheless, a positive 2020, with little embarrassment against teams that had the capability of inflicting it.

Next week’s match against Halstead High St. on Sunday is the final game of the season, albeit a shortened game of 25 overs each. With a batting line up set to be determined by the pulling names out of a hat, along with the promise of everyone having to bowl, it’s fair to say there will be entertainment.

David & the mini-Goliaths

vs Maldon away 12th Sept ‘20

What a difference a year makes !  In 2019, we came away from Maldon frustrated at the nature of our loss and the local ambiance; now, even with Covid-19, this was a great occasion, with the highlights being the host club’s amazing set of Colts and liquid generosity after the game.

The skipper’s form with the bat is clearly linked to his lack of it with the coin toss, with Maldon choosing to put Colne into bat.  They might have regretted that later as we were playing on a strip that had clearly seen better days with several low bounces and one particular spot that the Maldon opening bowler Baines found repeatedly to beat Daryl’s outside edge.  Meanwhile, David was taking advantage of some generous bowling at the other end and had reached 24 before his opening partner’s first run. He would go on to top score with an excellent 72.  Daryl though was undone by the type of ball batsmen dread; choosing to leave one just outside off when he hadn’t allowed for the 13-year old left-armer’s mastery of inswing and the bails flew.  Remember the name – Sophia Mitchell – she’s already represented Essex, and her figures of 1-18 from 7 overs showed what promise she has.

Colin entered the fray and kept the electronic scoreboard ticking over (wouldn’t it be great if we had one of those…oh, we do ? – Ed) until undone by a ‘touch-and-go’ run out decision.  Just when everyone was looking forward to the middle-order band getting together again, they displayed some of the disharmony seen in some of their stage performances from yesteryear, with Returning Russ, Petulant Pat, Clobber Connor, Biffer Brommers, and Tidy Trevor only contributing 8 runs between them.  When will they learn that patience and an ability to play their instruments in the same style as new and emerging acts might pay off better, rather than re-hashing old hits ? Frustrating for all was the unerring inability to keep the ball on the floor whilst also having laser-like accuracy in finding the fielders when doing so.

A late flash of the blade from Gary bought a valuable 30 runs, together with a good partnership with Tom Woods (you have to love the fact that three runs all run bring more cheers than a boundary !) ensured Colne reached 166-9.

Deprived of the bowling services of Ben and Sam, we knew we’d have to be on top of our game even if some of the opposition batsmen appeared youngish – one of the openers (Angus Beames) clearly had no fear of Harry & Connor and went to make a 50. Harry’s radar was slightly off today and wouldn’t be following up last week’s performance with any further wickets.  Connor ‘Didrey’ – as the scorebook recorded him – was getting payback for some of the bad luck he’s recently had, and his accuracy combined with a deteriorating bounce led to the three straight ‘bowled’ wickets.  Gary was unlucky not to take a wicket before his strategy of only bowling full tosses had adverse effects and he gave up the 30 runs he’d already scored, as Maldon pulled ahead of the asking rate.

Sure enough, mid-point drinks brought a wicket, with the excellent Beames departing bowled by Daryl, to join the other young teenagers uttering surprising profanities about the state of the normally Test-standard Drapers Farm pitch. With Russ on a one-match contract only for this season, Colne turned to him for a return on their investment, and sure enough the old dog didn’t fail to deliver.  With three wickets (all caught, including an excellent one by keeper Woodsy), Russ gave us all a reminder of what a loss he was when departing on a free transfer last season. With Daryl also having picked up three wickets but having run out of overs, we had a real match on our hands as Maldon inched closer to the target.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man though.  Fresh from accusing a Maldon batsman of having a wooden thigh pad (all in jest, we hope), David was strong-armed into sending down a full spell of his ‘bobby dazzlers’.  Eventually, just as the run rate was getting beyond them, the last Maldon batsman was bowled by our new man-of-the-hour, his status cemented by generous purchasing of a couple of jugs. 

So a great game with a close finish, three bowlers taking three wickets (oddly, two of them relying on their accuracy alone, and the other relying on the catching brilliance), and Colne’s winning streak extended to three games.

Next week’s match at Boxted on Saturday has now been cancelled, as the opposition have been stymied by their football colleagues.  Keep a lookout on WhatsApp, as we have a few alternatives now lined up for Sunday 20th instead.

The Sleeman Show

vs Boreham @home 5th Sept ‘20

First Saturday of the September ‘run-in’ and a new opposition – we welcomed Boreham CC to the Rec ground.  The date also coincided with the grand opening of the nearby allweather pitch, so our groundsmen had cheekily cut a strip relatively close to that fine new edifice, so that visiting dignitaries and others would soon hear the familiar refrain of “can we have our ball back please ?”

The skipper won the toss and elected to bat.  With only one change from last week’s team, and a new, new opening partnership now established of Daryl & David, the seven non batting or umpiring players settled down to watch the runfest whilst playing with phones/scorebook intricacies/wasps, and moaning about September temperature fluctuations playing havoc with their fashion choices for the day.

David got word that the boundary-line bantz was clearly the place to be, so soon departed lbw, allowing him to light up the pitchside discourse with a rant about amateur umpires.  Meanwhile, Mr Consistent (Colin) took the stage with a mission – keep Daryl from hogging the strike, a task he took to with gusto.

With 85 on the board at the halfway stage, there were nervous faces all round during drinks about whether Colne would reach a sufficiently-challenging total (oh OK, apparently it was just me – Ed) but Daryl started to motor through the gears, until after numerous questions to Harry the scorer of “what’s he on?”, a quick random 3rd party check revealed he’d just struck his 100th run.  Cue applause and a panicked re-checking.

Colin was soon out for 39, which opened up the middle order for examination, and the results ranged from B+ down to U.  Pat was out 2nd ball to a worldie catch (although later downgraded to a simple regulation catch by the team); Jack benefited from overthrows to make up 40% of his total before sending a steepler in the pursuit of quick runs, and Nick played the Ernie Wise straight man role to Daryl’s Eric Morecambe, er, genius, over the final couple of overs. 

So with a late flurry, all that remained was to tot up the scorebook and the total would be revealed.  Harry had done a fantastic job scoring for 40 overs, but had inadvertently left 11 runs off the batsmen’s totals (see end result!).  Boreham sportingly acknowledged this was likely the case as the bowler totals gave Colne 222, with Daryl the fortunate recipient of 11 ‘new’ runs (let’s face it, he probably did score them – Ed) and ending up on a reasonable 139 not out, a 2nd century in consecutive weeks.  What made the Colne total all the more satisfying was that all the so-called batsmen got a knock, whilst the so-called bowlers did not, so in theory (Woodsy the keeper apart) everyone would be contributing with bat and ball.

After the rapid consumption of the new-normal BYO tea, it was up to the bowlers to defend the total.  One of the older fielders took this attitude too literally and regretted seeing a couple of balls flash by him to the boundary (own up, it was you ! – Ed).  Just like last week, it was the opening partnership of Harry & Ben that wore the opening batsmen down, the latter with his metronomic accuracy but no reward, whilst Harry was relying on metronomic inaccuracy catching batsmen of their guard with lbw’s.  His final figures of 2-41 were the pick of the bunch, although we’ll graciously acknowledge that all the bowlers chipped in, especially Sam after he’d got through his customary two overs of wide long hops.

Boreham’s #3 & #4 (Kempster & Gamat) had other ideas however, so by the time they had both passed 50, Colne’s shoulders were dropping a wee bit and some of our gun fielders were contriving to turn singles into 2’s (no names, Jack!). Even the skipper was getting muddled up when putting Harry on to bowl for what would have been an illegal 9th over, but at least it gave David the chance to send down an over of his twizzlers – only giving away a single fully justified his reluctant role, albeit a little late when the result was in the balance.

Ulitmately though, the Boreham batsmen at the crease (Ling & Greenaway) couldn’t find the boundary enough and the asking rate crept up to over 12 an over. With Connor not  doing his 2021 contract negotiations any favours (that’s a joke everyone…he’s only on £400/game), it was left to Ben to bowl a final tidy over and not give away 20+ runs.  The Chairman contrived to make that a possibility with another fielding ‘senior moment’, but it wasn’t to be – Colne had won the match by 10 runs, an interesting quirk given Harry’s earlier scorebook miss !

Onwards & upwards, or south-eastwards in this case, to Maldon next Saturday !

Colne win against the Colne

vs Chappel and Wakes Colne Cricket Club @away 29th August 2020

(by Harry Porcher)

The Chappel and Wakes Colne ground is somewhere I’ve always had mixed emotions about. Having played at the ground before for Colts and Adults several times, I’ve always likened it to England in Australia. A nice ground, but a nice result doesn’t normally follow. After all, this is the ground I managed to bowl a 10-ball over on before, as well as having a few golden ducks too for good measure. Despite my initial negativity towards the fixture, I was pleasantly surprised when arriving at the ground that the rain wasn’t present (at least at the start) and a game was still on the cards. Keen to make amends for the loss against fellow rivals Halstead and Gosfield the previous week, there was a sense of energy and enthusiasm towards the game that would make any opposition fearful. 

Colne were soon put to work on the field, assisting with the lifting and moving of the sightscreens. Perhaps you could argue myself and Woodsy didn’t do much lifting, but I like to think we were more suitable for the health and safety supervising role instead. Once this task had been completed, we were then waiting for the skippers call on whether we would bat or bowl first. I can’t remember who won the toss, but judging by our previous toss record, I’ll assume we lost. Bat first was the call by captain Daryl, whom was ready as usual to lead the Colne by example and open the batting with newly-found opening partner, Dave.

The tense and passionate derby-day atmosphere was visible, much like the rainwater on the scorer’s chair and table I was about to occupy, with fellow teammate Jack. I knew this was going to be a difficult game on and off the field, but without further ado, Tom Bosworth and Gary Pushman cracked open a can of Carlsberg each, and myself a cup of tea, and we were all ready for the action to begin.A strong start was needed if Colne were to put themselves in a good position to win the match, and that was exactly what was delivered by Daryl and David as they put on solid partnership that Burns and Sibley would be inspired by. Like most good things though, they must come to an end with David departing the field with a solid score of 25.

What the Colne needed was a steady innings from the number 3, to ensure the run rate momentum of 7 an over continues. Yet again, that requirement was met, with a great innings from Colin that saw him hit 8 boundaries to make sure that Earls Colne were in the driving seat of the match. Having been out there from the start, Daryl was on course for another high scoring performance. With an innings consisting of ones, twos, fours and sixes, 100 was soon brought up, leaving Darryl to leave the field under the pre-made agreement that centurions must retire. Following this departure, the next batsmen was required. In at four was Jack, who had just completed his pre-match analysing and preparation schedule, consisting of watching the Oasis Supersonic documentary on his phone and debating with David over who the greatest British band is – the Beatles or Queen. With an exciting first few overs, Jack continued the Holdgate momentum, hitting plenty of fours and sixes, as well as handy ones and twos as well.

With the father and son combo going strong, Colne had ensured they would have a healthy target for the opposition to follow. Unfortunately, like David’s innings earlier, good things must come to an end. My scoring tenure ended as I went to the car to grab my flask for yet another cuppa, and Colin’s high scoring innings ended too, being trapped LBW on 60. With 4 overs to go, there was a chance for debutant Nick to experience what its like out at the crease, where many greats (and not so great) have occupied before. With a boundary, a couple of twos and even a rare three for the team, he ensured that he started his playing career with a good score of 12 not out. Jack also reached his half-century too, with another good performance for him and the Holdgate family, to ensure Earls Colne posted a healthy total of 292…well, from what I counted anyway. 

With a great tptal on the board, it was now up to the bowlers and fielders to defend this total. To begin the innings, myself, Alex and Ben were tasked to keep momentum of ECCC going. With the score at 30-1 after 10 overs, the bowlers made a tidy and efficient start. The one wicket to fall was a ball from myself to just outside off-stump, of which needed an acrobatic effort from someone in the slips to catch. As they say, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. That’s exactly what happened when Colin made a very unlikely wicket seem easy. Following this wicket, I made a rare celebration by simply shouting “Yes” followed by a face that must have been similar to a face Stuart Broad often makes when he gets a wicket too. With the number three in now, the tails were up and the team were determined to continue the breakthrough into the top order. Recently-returned Ben then continued the breakthrough by taking two wickets in one over to ensure that ECCC were in a good position to win the match.

Positivity was high within the team at this point, despite the rain beginning to soak everyone once again. The aim was clear to the bowlers and fielders, continue to take wickets so we could get inside sooner and have a pint (or in my case a cuppa). The number three continued despite the wickets falling around him, making a helpful 23 to help his team’s pursuit of our total. Entering my final over, with Jack reminding me I was 2-1 down to Ben in match wickets, it was clear the team were still hungry for more. With a rather underwhelming ball by myself being caught with the safe hands of Darryl behind the umpire, I acknowledged the key match wicket of the number three with a shake of the head rather like a grumpy James Anderson this time than Stuart Broad. Nevertheless, four wickets down and the Colne were in unfamiliar position this season of actually being able to wrap up a match. Chappel and Wakes Colne opted to play their youthful side this game, all of whom showed positive intent on still wanting to score runs, with more technique than I could ever dream of having with the bat.

Unfortunately, despite the positive intent, a few wickets fell in quick succession thanks to the bowling of Ben and new bowler Sam Beale to give ourselves a good position in the final stages of the match. With the rain becoming heavier again, the innings needed the bowlers to take wickets ASAP to ensure we wouldn’t see a familiar sight this summer of ‘Rain or Bad Light Stops Play’. However, Chappel and Wakes Colne still had unfinished business to do, with their youthful number nine scoring a quick-fire 21 to test the patience of the fielding team. Captain Daryl decided to go with his spin option to try and take the last couple of wickets in the match. With Connor bowling one end with his dangerous Ashley Giles-esque bowling, and wicket-taking Sam bowling from the other, Earls Colne had the right men for the job. On the last ball of his first over, Connor took the wicket of the number eight, with an outside edge being caught by the now stalwart wicket-keeper, that is Woodsy. Following this wicket, fellow teammates David and Jack recognised and acknowledged the great bowling effort from Connor, by affectionately giving him the nicknames of either Ashley or Rahkeem, although, it remains to be seen whether the recipient appreciates the comparison to the fellow spinners.    

Finally, with one wicket needed to win and the covers being prepared, the end was imminent. The skipper brought himself onto bowl, and after just a couple of overs, he was the man to take the final wicket to ensure a second win of the season for the Colne (first against a cricket club) and leave us in a good position to face Boreham at the Rec next week. Up the Colne!

Winning Streak comes to an End

vs Halstead High Street @home 23rd Aug ‘20

As much as they sounded more of a Saturday night venue than an opposition team name, our local opposition read like a Who’s Who of local cricket legends past and further past. A combination of ex/current Halstead and Gosfield players intent on a good game and messing up the Rec bar replenishment plans.

Colne too were intent on a good performance and maintaining their winning streak that stretched all the way back to 24 hours earlier when they’d met the might of the Templars head-on. With an eye on 2021, the skipper was tinkering with the line-up to ensure as many players got a game all weekend, hence we would see the return of some of the big guns – Oldrey, Hill, & Beal as well as some of the smaller ones – Pushman & Kerry.

Losing the toss for the 475th time this season meant Colne would be batting first, but no big deal, it would mean an early treat for the dozens of travelling spectators, as they could feast on the alternative delights of technique and brawn that Daryl and James brought to the game versus the accuracy of allround slow bowling.  With more singles on view than a University’s fresher’s week, it was a pleasant change from the norm to see the scoreboard ticking over with an opening partnership worth over 120.  Unfortunately, scorer Harry never fully recovered from the trauma of leaving his thermos of Earl Grey at home so didn’t record EXACTLY what that partnership was.

As ever with cricket, disaster is never too far away. The away team umpire had become so distracted by the serenity of the ever-flourishing partnership, that when cheekily asked for an lbw decision against Daryl he immediately exercised his index finger, despite all three stumps being on view.  It’s never easy having to walk when you’ve scored 94 and the keeper is muttering apologies…. With James also having fallen to a low one-handed catch on 69, it was time for the middle order to back up the good foundations.  But with a limited number of overs in which to achieve a solid 200+ score, the game was on !

David Griffith, fresh from a breezy 50 the day before, was settling in for a more ‘bed & breakfast’ sedate style of innings, whereas his partners were coming and going in a flash, until with one ball to go, Connor Oldrey walked out for that wonderful no-lose moment  – “hit out or get out, you did your best”.  He duly flashed a boundary and the Colne total had reached 207, not as many as some had wanted on this reasonably sound pitch, but confidence was high given that little of the bowling had caused any trouble, ergo the batting must be the same, correct ?

The start of the oppo’s inning was trauma and delight in equal measures.  Trauma in the 1st over for Connor who discovered that his back-of-a-length deliveries were a delight for left-hander Andy Rose.  Delight soon followed when James’ 1st ball splayed the stumps of the other opener.  The next ball will be played out in Gary Pushman’s mind for many years and will no doubt be exaggerated each time !  Playing a somewhat tenuous push to extra cover, #3 batsman set off for what looked a tad risky run.  Little did he know that Gary had planned for this moment all his life; in a flash, he was on the ball and thrown down the stumps with little more than one stump to aim for.  Cue euphoria and delight for Colne; trauma for the High Street with two batsmen out first ball.

But as with the Colne innings, the reverse of fortune is never far away and there followed a lengthy partnership between two experienced batsman – one of whom hadn’t played much in recent years apparently, but must have crammed a lot in at some stage.   This was the partnership that regrettably would take the game away from Colne.  Unfortunately, history didn’t record how large this partnership was but it was big and it was scored at such a rate that even when it was ended by the skipper bowling the unfortunate Rose on 99, the asking rate was down to well under three from circa 20 overs.  History does however record which bowlers coughed up this large run-rate, whilst we discovered more about our bowlers that we ought to remember – James will never be given an lbw no matter how obvious, Sam becomes more economical through his spell, Gary does the opposite in exponentially large quantities, and Connor is a good batsman.

As ever though, bowlers rely on good fielding and some notable fielding mishaps were caused by the Over-50’s present.  It’s a shame you can’t hide all of them at third man, and social media caught one or two of the more glaring cock-ups – that phone-wielding member is up for severe disciplinary measures !

Anyway, winning streaks cannot last forever, so we can head over to Chappel & Wales Colne next weekend confident that we have more players capable of contributing and that team spirit remains high.

Dumbslog Millionaires

T20 vs Halstead Templars @home 22nd Aug ‘20

Great excitement surrounded the arrival of the local rugby club to play the shortened version of the game on a late Saturday afternoon.  Would their eye for the oval ball translate to the cricket pitch ? Which versions would we see – Courtney Lawes or Courtney Walsh ?  Stuart Hogg or Rodney Hogg?  Matt Dawson or Liam Dawson? Gareth Edwards or Charlotte Edwards ? Bill Beaumont or Tammie Beaumont ? (we get the picture, that’s enough pointless comparisons – Ed)

With the Templars opting to bat first, it was a chance for our tea-guzzling champion Harry Porcher to grab the opportunity as opening bowler.  And he wasted no time, sending star batsman Ed Merry’s stumps cartwheeling down to the football pitch, & in a fit of unpredictability he didn’t rest on just one wicket but took two more.  Batsmen came and went as if they’d just discovered the remarkably large range of beers and spirits on offer at reasonable prices within the Rec bar (although, ahem, some saw fit to bring their own!) so that the Templars score 45 minutes in made for disturbing viewing – 32 for 8.  With Alex Chamberlain’s bowling figures of 3-6 from two overs and Tom Bosworth bowling the first maiden over of our season, no wonder certain Colne fans were wondering if we could enter this parallel universe every Saturday.  Mention should also go to Colin Holdgate who snaffled another 3 wickets for, er, not too many !

Fortunately, those canny rugby players had not just two, but three aces to play; firstly their last four batsmen (Culley, Matt, Seb, & Stubbs) knew which end of the bat to hold and added 60-odd between them; secondly, they’d made a cunning pact with our own skipper to allow them to bat through all the overs – re-enter stage right Ed Merry, suitably chastened.  This time, he wasn’t going to be denied the chance to send the ball to all corners, and he was aided in this feat by their 3rd ace; one of their own bowling just one over.  None other than our own 2019 star bowler Brommers whose loyalties were clearly being tested, and at the latter end of the cricket season had one eye on where he might be spending  the winter months.  20 runs from 6 pies later, and the Templars could be well satisfied with an odd-looking but respectable final total of 151-12.

With skipper Sleeman throwing caution to the wind and opting not to open the batting himself, but cunningly planning a 1st wicket entrance, it was left to the combination of experience and youth, of the near future and the distant future, of wicket-keeper batsmen past and present (Enough!! Ed) David Griffith and Tom Woods to kick off the Colne response.  As the Templars were opting for a remarkably democratic system of allowing all their outfield players to bowl two overs each, there could be opportunities galore for Colne batsmen to ‘score a few’ and for the scorer to work out how to fit a 15-ball over into the book with a blunt pencil.

Tom Woods took off like he had somewhere else to be, one particular flat six bringing ‘ooohs & aaahs’ from the ever-expanding and noisy crowd who were clearly appreciating the reasonable range and large prices available locally (are you sure of that ? – Ed) .  David meanwhile had his eyes on the big prize – a free drink from the Chairman for a first 50 – a prize that our erstwhile vice-captain and cricket correspondent Ian Doyle never saw fit to claim, and even at this very moment was busy scoring yet another 49 for his new club (Congrats where they’re due – Ed).

Having reached his milestone, David scarpered off in search of his prize.  Daryl also decided he ought to allow better batsmen in so retired early.  Unfortunately, Will, Jack, and Harry also took the same short-term view, all being bowled for not too many.  It was time for the traditional jitters that has prefaced another Colne collapse, but astonishingly the pairing of Alex and Brommers saw Colne over the line to kick-start a winning streak.  With Brommers doing all he could to avoid facing his erstwhile rugby colleagues bowling at speeds in excess of 30mph, Alex handled the pressure manfully, or was it so Brommers could add another useful ‘not out’ to his tally ? We’ll never know once both teams repaired to the bar – a pint of Jager and a double Carlsberg available for only tuppence ha’penny  (you’re fired – Ed).

So a great game played in good spirit just before the sun went down, and a sincere hope that the Templars will return to play again in 2021.

West Bergholt Side Story

vs West Bergholt away 8th Aug ‘20

With the thermometer touching 35, and the dead brown grass of the pitch denoting another potential boundary-fest, the Colne players faced up to their first challenge of the day @ West Bergholt – how to park your car as far away as possible from the inevitable pounding.  That done, we awaited the arrival of the home opposition who clearly subscribed to the social conditions of last minute arrival and keeping chat to a minimum !

Skipper Sleeman continued his great form of losing the toss away from home and we would be fielding first.  “Hurrah” we all cried, a chance to work on the tan whilst our well-drilled bowling unit kept skitty batsmen down to the occasional nervous single.  However, we faced an opening batsman whose front-foot driving kept mid-off and cover on high alert, and even after he generously retired at 50, we were encountering another quality batting outfit.

When the other opening bat opted to send up a skier, we literally had a chance to draw lots as to whom was best-placed to make the catch.  Just as the pop-up betting stand was having it’s final coat of paint, Ben the bowler shouted his strong claim, safely took the catch, then realised that he might have outbid the stronger claims of eight or nine team-mates.  We like your confidence in us, Ben !

Just like last week though, wickets would not come cheap.  Connor & Sam – on his birthday – bowled their full complement without any reward, Jack ‘game-changer’ Holdgate returned economical figures for the first time in quite a while as well as taking a wicket, Alex deciding that after putting down some tricky chances and one less so, his future participation with ECCC depended on taking a catch.  His ability to throw himself around also earned him some lovely grass burns, and as we saw later, his utter remorselessness in no longer wishing only to score binary numbers (0,1) increased his batting average way up towards 2.

It’s not often that we yearn for a missing player, but as WB pushed on towards 200, where was our tricky leg-spinner, our handsome, muscle-rippling superstar Dave Moon (is this sufficient to make up for last week ?  Ed)  We needed someone to tie down the increasingly attack-minded hosts, with a simple tap towards the road end bringing many of the 45 boundaries scored, and plenty of 3’s on offer in the opposite direction; Colin and then Daryl taking some tap in the final 6-7 overs, the former subscribing to the mantra often used by other over-50 part-time snafflers of “I might be expensive but look who took most wickets !”

So with a final total of 256-4, Colne could be reasonably pleased; only 8 extras and the return of the Mason-ator bowling machine ! On this pitch and the strong batting lineup assembled we would be playing the annual game of “Where the heck is the nearest open pub to WB’s ground?” by 6.30.

Assumptions always get the better of you though, and at West Bergholt they have Joe Smith.  Discarded by Colne four years ago on a free transfer, Smithy has perfected the art of sending scorers to sleep with his dot-joining, and Colne were soon under the cosh, only 26 on the board after 10 overs and 55 after 18.  It was always going to be a hard chase from there. There were highlights though; Daryl again top-scoring with 44, Daryl being caught out YET AGAIN, Daryl giving Pat out lbw (as revenge for the same fixture last year), almost every other batsman making a start and finding the boundary regularly and two of them (Alex & Sam) enjoying a free-flowing fully-consensual partnership at the end with nothing to lose. Special mention as well to David G., who on also being given out lbw, admitted he would have walked if the finger hadn’t been raised

With Harry on the sidelines doing a sterling job on the scoring (up to the point where you have to add up the totals, Harry!) there was no disgrace in falling 80-odd runs short.  We faced a team capable of bowling back-of-a-length consistently where we had offered up too many full or short deliveries.  However, the skipper is confident that with this group of players, and the improvements made since last year, we will be strong contenders in our league next year.

Next week, it’s the Colne derby, the one-train track only village – Chappel & Wakes Colne, at the Rec ground.

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Vs Coggeshall @ home 1st Aug ‘20

Hobbs & Sutcliffe, Haynes & Greenidge, Hayden & Langer, Ganguly & Tendulkar….to this list we can now add another opening pair that have written themselves into the history books – Sleeman & Bromley .  Finally, an opening partnership, that unless this is the kiss of death, will see Colne through for many years to come.  One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but a 100+ opening partnership does for this club ! 

Shielding their eyes from the brilliant white glare of the new sightscreens, Colne strode out to bat first yet again, despite the opposition being four players short at the agreed midday start time.  Fortunately, our ‘gun’ substitute fielders were not called into action before being hoiked off, with Tom Woods stating to the home umpire “I’m dreading what to do if a catch comes my way!” Just as well the oppo hadn’t read up on these reports then….

With the Coggeshall attack varying from 14-year old medium pace dobblers all the way through to 16 year-old rocket launchers, our intrepid opening duo saw off the first 20 overs with barely a raised eyebrow.  Unless you count Brommers being floored by one particular ball zeroing in on two of his own – our man took it very well and despite his claims that boxes make little difference, he’ll definitely not be standing in the Bass section when the Club Choir reforms.

Skipper Sleeman eventually got bored as usual and departed for 69 after battering the tennis court fence with the score on 116 in the 23rd over – a great platform from which we could stage our habitual collapse no doubt, but not today.  We had batting & mental reserves in bucketloads. In came Sam Beal, with his eyes on a Tavarean 100, but within 5 overs he was gone for 10, and so too finally, Brommers for an excellent 38.  This bought together the partnership that everyone (well, maybe just the two of them) had been waiting for since they starred at Chappel & Wakes Colne many years ago – Holdgate jnr & Kerry.  With the latter’s bat having been warmed up for him by Brommers – his own having sounded odd from the very off – and Jack whacking his pads with the usual gusto, it would surely only be a short time before the spectators took cover from the barrage. In an evil attempt to get his own back on their delays affecting our own pitch, Pat put his 6’s as close to the contractors beavering away on double-time getting the all-weather pitch completed.  With the run rate safely back where he wanted it , Pat departed for 23 from 10 balls, caught in a manner totally unexpected, whilst Jack went for 13 attempting one back-foot cut too many.

Much was expected of Dave Moon after his last innings was tragically cut short by an innovative ‘cumulative lbw’ decision. Unfortunately, this one was also cut short by being asked to go for an unexpected 2nd run thanks to an overthrow.  Today’s modern policeman might be superfit, but Dave was already halfway to inspecting the new sightscreen when asked to apply the brakes and proceed back in an uphill southerly direction.  Run out for 10 still represented progress, and as he would say “I’m only here for my bowling”…..but not his catching, more later.

David Griffith at the other end meanwhile, was wearing the biggest smile seen at Earls Colne CC since our erstwhile reporter Ian Doyle once scored 2 singles in an over.  Not diminished at all because he had called his batting partner through for an easy 2nd run, David was just very happy to be making his long overdue debut for us.  Not so happy was the Chairman moments later as he ran to check the Club’s insurance cover when our new middle order destroyer hit a maximum that went somewhere that cannot be named here for legal reasons. In comparative terms, if at Lords, this would have cleared the Mound Stand and still be rolling down St John’s Wood Road towards Baker St.

He was joined in the middle for a final flourish by Connor.  Here was a man with a point to prove, that all that spectacular hitting in the nets when it doesn’t matter could be replicated in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a real game. He duly delivered several boundaries and Colne’s final total was a respectable 217.  For the loss of only 6 wickets and contributions from all who batted, it was a massive improvement on the debacle of Eight Ash Green !

The tea interval gave us a chance to reflect on the great work done on preparing the pitch by the skipper and Terry, but would it’s clear batting advantages prove too easy for the youth of Coggeshall?

To save the suspense, the answer was yes, it did prove too easy for them.  They chased down the target in 32 overs, despite Colne using the full force of their bowling attack, but this was clearly not a pitch where wickets came cheaply.  Moonie celebrated his double-digit batting score by dropping a relatively straightforward caught and bowled chance (relative to say, putting your shoes on), but fortunately that batsman only went on to score a few more runs….89 of them.  He did pick up a lbw wicket, though the volume of his appeal was thought to have cancelled out the echoing sound of bat on ball before pad.  Sam decided he’d had enough of dropping dollies to give the skipper a wicket, and the newly-returned Ben Mason scored a superb direct run out, underarm from 30 yards out.

Having been hit for over 10 an over (as were a few others) Jack declined to bowl at the death, deciding instead that his ‘return to full fitness’ would not stand the mental anguish of being slogged for the winning runs.  So that privilege was passed to Pat, the skipper apologising profusely that he was turning to the game-changer 30 overs too late.  One delivery later and the ball was being retrieved from the tennis courts and no-one was listening to the excuse of “that would have been another Shane Warne-esque ball of the century, had it pitched”.

So another game where the result went against us, but in this friendly season and against opposition from a higher division, there should still be plenty of encouragement from this.  Every batsmen got in and contributed, the ground fielding has improved, Harry has discovered Earl Grey lager, and our luck has deteriorated as far as short aerial shots not landing near our fielders.  But we can console ourselves with knowing that had we been standing in the right spot, we would have dropped them anyway.

Onto next week, and a return fixture at West Bergholt.

Debutant stars in the foothills of Eight Ash Green

vs Eight Ash Green away on 26th July ’20

A first Sunday fixture of the season and clearly most of the team had skipped church early, as the sight of the team warming up doing fielding drills long before the coin-toss meant that Colne had travelled over to Eight Ash Green not wanting to forget all those vital skills they’d picked up from the coach during the week. We welcomed back into the team several players not seen for a while, Will Bosworth, Gary Pushman, Alex Chamberlain, and one debutant who would have a match to remember – Tom Woods. The other Tom (Bosworth-variety) graciously ceded to a non-playing position, although many suspected it was a silent protest at the host club’s position that “beer would only be served after the match” – an approach totally opposite to our man’s view of how the game is best played.

A quick glance at the pitch before starting rang some alarm bells – we’d be using the same strip from the day before and it had been battered not only by some heavy crease-marking but a lot of rain.  The outfield too still bore the scars of EAG’s uninvited visitors from a couple of years back.

Daryl duly lost the toss, and yet again we would bat first.  Opposition just never learn that we are at our mightiest, our most lethal, our most threatening when we bat first – many are the opposition skippers who have been harangued by their teams after yet another Colne boundary-bashing, century-ridden pasting of an innings, “why the heck did you put them into bat first?”

Today though, we chose to be merciful to the bowlers, to give them those confidence-boosting figures, and to give some young aspiring cricketers the chance to tell their grandchildren “I once played in a team that bowled Earls Colne out for less than 300”.  In fact, it was significantly less than that, as one after the other, batsmen saw their stumps ripped out of the ground, cartwheeling past the slips, as the benefits of line and length bore significant fruit.  A few could claim they were unfortunate – Colin run out by yet another of those fielders who can throw 50 yards to within 2 inches of there they want, Daryl by a ball that jumped up off a genuine hole in the pitch, and most unfortunately, Brommers who having top-scored with 19, found the light rain was playing havoc with his glasses.

But it was Brommers’ partnership with Tom Woods that had the socially-distanced crowd in raptures, as they found the boundary where others had failed and took the Colne total through the sunny pastures of the 50’s, up past the foothills of the 60’s, to the snow-ridden summit of 78 all out. Yes, unfortunately Colne had folded quicker than a nun’s deck-chair at a nudist beach.  Not since we had plumbed new shallows on 18th May 2019 in scoring 34 all out had the team succumbed for a scoreline that read like an U-10’s match. But fair play to the opposition, they bowled consistently where we don’t like it and fielded well, whilst our main batsmen failed to take off leaving it to the lower order to pick up the pieces.  Special mention must also go to the oppo wicketkeeper, who having earlier been outraged that a certain vice-captain didn’t walk when he thought he’d caught him then chose not to stump Tom when he wandered down the pitch !

After a sumptuous banquet of tea – personally, I think this DIY approach should stay, no more last-minute panicking over the lack of milk or whether 75 teabags is enough for the large teapot – we took to the field with a determined spring in our step.  We could do this ! The skipper was so confident that he was trying a 3rd wicketkeeper in as many matches, so after the new incumbent (Tom) had been kitted out and cannily pointed out he’d been given two right-handed inners, we knew we had our man ! 

And a couple of overs in, that decision was justified.  As the former glovemen languished in no-man’s land – deep mid-off and Wiltshire respectively – Tom took a catch off Brommers’ bowling to put us back on the path of certain victory. With Harry stopping anything that came his way and chasing lost causes down like Benny Hill, this was an unrecognizable fielding display from a team who had been starting to gain local notoriety with our version of the old bowling motto “you hit it, we’ll miss it”.  When the first outfield catch of the season was pouched off Connor’s bowling, seasoned watchers of the game were heard muttering “summat not right here, that bain’t be Earls Colne!”

But as we had feared, 78 was always going to be a challenge to defend, so despite Gary’s first twelve balls giving figures of just 1 for 2, he was clearly starting to think about how he’d celebrate winning this years bowling trophy.  The next 12 went for 32.  The unthinkable started to take shape – we might not win this game.

So another oddity of a game, finishing well before it’s planned time, but a chance to clean out the EAG bar as a team.  Cliché’s aside about lessons learned etc, there were some positives that we can build on (Brommers’ batting, Tom’s all-round game, the Editor’s teatime quiche) and we know all these games will make us stronger.  As a one-team club, playing friendlies against clubs with much deeper playing resources inevitably means we will face some far better cricketers than we’re used to in league cricket, but we’re already a greater collective force than last year.

Onwards next week at home to Coggeshall, with new sightscreens in place, 12.00 start