Onwards & Upwards from the binary match !

vs Bury St. Edmunds, away 4th Sept ’21

After three weeks of no action, the Day of Destiny had arrived; win this match and Colne would be champions and gain automatic promotion; lose and ignominy beckoned ! All the efforts that had gone into winning all but one match so far, all those hard evenings in the nets, all those endless strategy planning sessions in the bar, all would be for nothing if we couldn’t muster just one more win…so not too much at stake !

Team selection was made easier by the ongoing wedding season, but with a never-ending supply of Sleeman family members standing by, the eventual XI was a perfect match of the new and the old – the core of the team of who brought Colne back into the league in 2018 (Daryl, Pat, Jack, Colin, Harry), the new players we’d welcomed since then (Brommers, Connor, David G., Dave & Tom Moon) plus the returning dynamo Ben. Russian oligarchs would look on impressed at how cheaply this team of superstars had been cobbled together, on exceedingly good terms ranging from free lifts all the way up to free Earl Grey, with the ongoing paradox that only one of the names above actually lives in Earls Colne. Calling all part-time & full-time cricketers in Earls Colne ! Again !

With strict instructions to be at the ground before the start, it was a pleasant surprise to see Colne ready and fired-up at the allotted time, with only one mild panic when Ben realised late on he was car-less and would need picking up from darkest Sudbury. For once, we’d be bowling first so the Moon bro’s would be summoned into action before 3pm, not part of their usual commitment: Tom would be tearing in from the top end, marking his run-up (& the pitch) with his unique brand of left-arm searing pace, whilst elder brother Dave would no doubt be consolidating his place at the top of the wicket-taking charts with a constant stream of unplayable dibbly-dobbly leg breaks.

Unlike the home fixture against these worthy opponents, someone hadn’t read the script and today, Colne would struggle to take any early wickets. The Bury opening partnership found the going easy-to-straightforward, despatching anything wide with ease over an outfield that was proving to be a quick as an empty A14 on a freezing December night. Colne’s usual ‘ring of steel’ on the off-side could only watch as cut after cut scythed past them before crossing the boundary and trundling away for a further 100m or so. When Tom hurried one of the batsmen into a nick which was well taken by David behind the stumps, the relief was palpable, the joy unbounded, and some of the language…a little, colourful ! The bowler would rightly claim it was frustration at his own inability to take a wicket until then, but for a few moments, it all went a little Kohli/Anderson.

The next partnership did little to calm the growing supporters’ club nerves, as the hosts passed 75. As Dave Moon racked up a 10th wicketless over, the skipper’s patience finally snapped and in a Mike Brierley-like moment of inspiration, he chose to ‘try another bowler’, a technique that has worked wonders throughout the cricketing ages. The bowler he turned to was Connor Oldrey, a man pinged more times recently than Google, with his Covid alerts, and a man NOT AT ALL obsessed with his stats. But the consistent thing you can always rely on Connor for is his consistency, so it was no surprise when with his 2nd ball of metronomic accuracy (some might say dull, but let’s not be envious of being able to pitch the ball in the same half of the pitch twice in a row – Ed.), he broke the burgeoning partnership.

What happened next will go down in Earls Colne CC folklore (or as long as this site is hosted, whichever is longer – Ed.) as Connor was joined at the other end by cheap-wicket-sensing Daryl and the two of them accounted for the last eight wickets for approximately 10 runs. Connor’s amazing eventual figures of 6-12 allowing him the honour of leading Colne off as Bury succumbed to 100 all out.

As Colne sensed a potential early finish, they wolfed down their DIY tea’s, then settled into the uneven benches to watch the Saturday mid-afternoon ‘Daryl & David Entertainment Show’, a weekly production that combines muscle with subtlety, strokeplay with big heaves, good looks with snarls….and that’s just David. Sure enough, they didn’t disappoint as the rapid outfield proved a continual ally to anything that could be pulled or cut. Having reached 37 and realising he wouldn’t score 249 today to make 1000 league runs for the season, Daryl selflessly sacrificed his wicket (or was that, ‘missed a straight one’ ? – Ed.) with 25 runs needed to win, so that the cultured middle order could get a look in. But barely had Pat taken guard and driven effortlessly past 2nd slip who wasn’t there, than David decided enough was enough, he really didn’t need a Boycott-style partner, the run rate needed vast improvement and so powered on to his 50 and the winning runs in only the 16th over.

To Colin, Jack, Ben, Brommers, and Harry, none of whom had a look-in with bat nor ball…it could not have been done without you and being part of another excellent fielding unit on the day. Just when it looked like no outfielders would be involved in any of the wickets, Colin took his annual semi-worldie at gully for the final Bury wicket Safe to say though, such is the depth of this new-look Colne team, these five could have won it on their own. Ben used to open the bowling for Colne, Harry did so until this season, Brommers was top-wicket taker in the 2019 league season, Colin took a 4-fer not so long ago, and Jack’s banana-balls continue to befuzzle many good batsmen, if not endanger their stumps too much !

And the binary connection other than win/lose ….? How often do you see a scorebook that reads 100/10 followed by 101/1 ? Interesting, eh ? (No, you’re sacked again ! – Ed)

So that wrapped up the league and last game of our season as Champions. Finally, after inconsistency laid waste to our hopes in the last two league seasons, we can progress onto higher grounds where several of our players clearly belong (such modesty – Ed.). Next Saturday 11th will be our annual storing away of sightscreens, boards, etc, followed by the annual presentation of the batting trophy to the skipper….and many others !

Special thanks to :-

  • Bury St Edmunds CC for being excellent hosts despite having to field a weakened team, and for buying us a jug
  • Stowmarket CC for being amongst the first to congratulate us. Class. We hope in the re-jig that usually happens at this end of the league, they are also promoted.
  • All our supporters who made the journey to see our first success in eight years.
  • Rosemary Prestney for taking some great photos, which WILL end up on the website
  • Finally, our coach, Bryan ‘Merciless’ McManus, whose regular beastings and tongue-lashings took us all to some dark places before instilling in us all a belief that winning more than two games in a row is not against the rules, that staying in after you’ve hit one sumptuous shot actually makes sense, and that using your hands to field the ball saves your ankles. Bryan’s near-psychotic St. Osythian rants drove at least one player (Connor) to avoid Earls Colne on a Wednesday evening. This one’s for you, Bryan !

Highlights of the 4th Century AD (Anno Daryli)

vs Woolpit, @home 14th Aug ’21

The rain had subsided, the pitch rolled flatter than the former editor’s one-liners, and Colne were looking forward to welcoming Woolpit for the final home league match of the season. Whilst we couldn’t hope to match the quality of their pitch and facilities, we’d endeavour to entertain them with our witty onfield banter and post-match much-delayed BBQ.

For the nth time this season, Colne would be batting first, having lost the toss. In a neat symmetry to their lengthy partnership against the same opponents earlier in the season, Daryl & David set off in the usual rapid style taking advantage of some under-pitched bowling from one end and over-pitched from the other. When David finally fell for 69 with the score on 194, matters were looking peachy for the home side. By that time, Daryl had reached his 4th century of the season (placing him at the top of the entire league in ‘centuries scored’) and his 2nd against this same opposition. On the flipside, we are recommending that he really focus on converting his 120’s into ‘Big Daddies’, but so long as he’s scoring >90% of his runs in boundaries, there’s a bright future for ball manufacturers.

To give Woolpit some credit here though; this was a (mainly) young team who have a long cricketing future in front of them, and all watching were impressed with not only how they stuck to the task but didn’t let their heads go down when boundaries were flying ball after ball.

Pat came and departed rapidly, falling a tantalising 92 runs short of an equally entertaining century, to be followed by Sam. Here was a man on a mission, to stop the rot on his recent low scores, invariably bowled on the back foot, and sure enough, 30 minutes later, his confidence was restored with a rapid 60*. He partook in an electric partnership of 87 with Connor who scored 35, and then we saw Ben enter the fray for the final ball of the innings. As ever, Ben was keen on turning the inevitable single into a two, and then attempt to make that three. It wasn’t to be though, but Colne could be satisfied with a final score of 327-4, and all batsmen scoring at over 100% (with the exception of one who saw out a particularly accurate spell – own up Ed !, Ed) with plenty of respect due for a young Woolpit bowling attack.

After a team huddle to remind ourselves not to get carried away and start dreaming of the sumptuous BBQ offerings, but instead to focus on taking 10 wickets, Colne took to the pitch with their habitual opening bowling pair of T. Moon & D.Moon raring to go. The latter was soon into his swing, bowling yet another innocent batsman around his legs, and when a difficult fielding stop for Harry at square leg caused the ball to ricochet to Ben who then threw back to the bowler’s end, a simple run-out gave us the 2nd wicket with just 11 runs on the board; cue over-celebration on the part of Ben as he added to his lengthy list of ‘Total Victims’ in the fielding stakes.

Wickets began to fall regularly, bar a 53-run 6th wicket partnership. When the catch was smartly taken at slip by Connor to end that partnership, D.Moon had picked up 3 wickets & younger bro Tom 2. An eighth wicket partnership of 69 between young Loft & skipper Holmes had some of the many spectators concerned but Woolpit were never really up with the required rate to threaten. This partnership also gave Chairman Pat the opportunity to put down or just completely miss some relatively easy catches in the deep – depth perception training may be required.

When Sam caught out the dangerous Holmes, the game was nearly up. There was still time for skipper Sleeman to take 2-2 from 15 balls, for Connor to pick up 2 wickets of his own less economically, and for Harry to display some disturbing symptoms connected to his ‘nettus allergicus’ condition …or maybe it was just because he wasn’t used to the uphill climb when bowling from the lower end. Eventually, the game was won and all could feel they had participated; Gav had taken a smart catch, Brommers had taken some smart tumbles, and it was great to see so many non-playing players supporting from the sidelines; well, we think it was support, maybe it was the cheap drink !

One more league game to go, against the erratic Bury St E. (big winners one week, big losers the next, but more of the former recently) on 4th Sept. We’ll take no notice of the result when they visited the Rec Club ground earlier in the season, but a win will ensure we win the league !

Next week meanwhile, a return friendly fixture over at Halstead, and a chance to gain revenge for the remarkable result we saw at Colne on 5th June.


Rampant Rain Ruins Roughhouse Rematch

vs Stowupland (away 7th Aug ’21)

August had arrived and with it came dodgy weather, so when the skies over Colne were bucketing down @7am and forecast to continue for three hours whilst moving north in the direction of our planned match, we waited for the call to cancel from Stowupland.

Practical to the last, the oppo tried to get the game on, but by 11.00 they had to admit defeat and it was called off. Shame for all as we were looking forward to ‘The Umpire Strikes Back II’, but it means our average points stayed the same whilst nearest rivals Stowmarket improved theirs with a walloping of our next opponents, Woolpit.

That match on Sat 14th will be our last home league game of the season, so with the weather set fair from Tuesday onwards, let’s get behind the team as they look to all-but-confirm winning the title !

It never rains in Earls Colne…..

vs Stowmarket (@home, 31st July ’21)

As the dawn mists rose above the verdant pitch, as the groundsman marked out the crease lines one final time, and as 11 men good and true rolled out of the pub , the day of reckoning was finally with us; top of the table Colne would be playing their nearest challengers Stowmarket for that most elusive and prestiguous title, the one that eluded the greats such as Botham, Border, Kallis, and Ryan ten Doeschate – Champions of the Two Counties Division 9, Group 2 !

It would be in the words of the opponents, a Cup Final-like game, a winner-takes-all, a never-to-be-repeated (in 2021) meeting of 1st vs 2nd that would likely decide the fate of the prized trophy, so long as there were no further trip-ups in August…..Stowmarket had to win, Colne just had to show up and rely on the depth of their batting, a Moon-dog or two to take a five-fer, and the brilliance of their fielders who could still touch their toes (whilst keeping their legs straight).

With the weather set fair, Colne would be batting first, so out strode skipper Sleeman and David Griffith . The latter’s recent improved form at turning up on time for the matches would not be matched by his batting prowess and after a patient 18-ball innings he was caught behind off the relatively quick pace of Finbow. Next up, Chintesh Patel likewise lasted 18 balls before seeing his timbers clattered.

The skipper meanwhile was pushing through the 30’s and 40’s unnoticed, until he was tempted by the metronomic accuracy of Codd to send up a simple catch, out for 54. At 90-3, this would have meant disaster in former times, but Colne’s stern pre-match talking-to would pay off, as nearly all the batsmen then chipped in, led first by Pat with 19 and Jack with 10 (both undone by the slow bowling of Watling) but most critically by Ben and Connor coming together for a essential 7th wicket partnership of 64. Fresh from being amongst the gaggle of golden ducks last week, Connor was keen to put that behind him and get a rapid move on, so took an immediate liking to the short stuff, whilst Ben was his usual energetic self, tempting fielders into giving away overthrows and happy to take on any throw from the deep to pursue an extra run. When Ben was eventually caught for 26, and Connor bowled for 44, the scoreboard was looking more respectable, but it didn’t stop there.

Those of us with longer memories cannot actually remember the last time Colne’s #9 & #10 stroked the last 12 balls of an inning around with such ease, even if the boundary was a little too far; Alex and Dave M. made some of the batsmen who’d gone before look ultra-cautious with the strokeplay and urgency with which they picked off the 1’s and 2’s, so that with a final total of 198-8, Colne could be reasonably content that they’d dug ourselves out of a little hole.

With all comments on the looming dark clouds tending to be of the nature of “it’ll stay in the valley, never rains here” (how come it’s so ‘verdant’ then? – Ed.) the players took to the field for Stowmarket’s innings…40 overs to establish which side would have one foot on the steps of eternal glory. With Tom Moon serving up some appetising hors’d’oeuvres for the openers to gorge on, there were some nervous moments before elder brother Dave offered some unplayable pies from the bottom end: first Baxter was perplexed by one that jagged back from well outside leg, then Mayhew edged one to Sam in the gully spot.. This brought together the oppo skipper Griffiths, and Spreadbury (bored with life in the Stowmarket 1st team where opportunities to bat are limited – unfortunate then that a batting collapse was taking place simultaneously for that team).

These two set about the Moons with relish, until at approx 4.30 pm, the first spots of rain turned into an excessive downpour. As all 22 players and spectators huddled under the pavilion cover or settled down to conveniently watch the British Lions rugby, some of the Colne players were seen already changing into their evening wear of choice (black tie for Alex, tasteful salmon-coloured polo for Pat, stab vest for Dave M.) A succession of interested groups then ventured out to the middle to assess whether cricket could resume amongst the puddles; Colne not too bothered, Stowmarket urgently seeking signs of drying dampness and sunshine.

As the biblical deluge faded to a distant memory, the two teams resumed at 17.45 with promises of further rain meaning a complete stop, our ‘Elf & Safety Officer predicting dire outcomes for any bowler, and uncertainty over whether we were picking up from the shallow end or the diving board end. Spreadbury soon put paid to any belief that the outfield would be an impassable swamp with some heavy hitting, but just as the Colne skipper bought himself on to advance the scoring rate even further, the weather intervened for one final time with more rain, bringing on an agreed abandonment.

Honours even therefore with no points awarded in this season where average points determine the table positions; who can say what might have happened had the match run its full course ? What it means is that Colne’s destiny remains in their own hands with three games to go. Next week, off up to Stowupland, and meanwhile look out for revised BBQ and end-of-season plans plus (the Chairman having done some in-depth libatious research with West Mersea CC last week on their West Country tour) some tour ideas and commitment requests for July ’22.


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 !