How close do you like it ?

vs Stowmarket (away) 15th May ‘21

Three weeks of no match cricket, and the Colne were more than chomping at the bit; they were caged tigers not fed for a week, greyhounds waiting for the trap to open, punters outside a pub after lockdown.  Even the sight of many puddles on the road and ominous black clouds couldn’t put a damper on this bunch of intrepid explorers as they made their various ways up to Stowmarket in 11 separate cars.

The decision was taken to wait until 13.30 before starting, so sure enough, as the covers were rolled off at the start time, the drizzle started in earnest delaying us for a further 20 minutes. As the seven of us not batting or umpiring huddled together in the scorehut in a new “2cm social distancing” rule, we did our best to avoid Harry who had covered himself in Suffolk mud through his avid fielding practice.

Meanwhile, out where the real action was taking place, Daryl & David were dealing with a damp pitch and opening bowlers with a little more pace than normally seen in Div 9.  But the quicker it comes down, the quicker it flies to the boundary, so our experienced openers soon found their range.  Unfortunately, David “let his ego get the better of him”- whatever that means – and saw his stumps rearranged for 11.  Soon after, Daryl’s casual flick to the leg side was easily pouched, and Colne were facing a big challenge – two gun batsmen gone without a big score.  The form book pointed to an imminent collapse and when Jack was dismissed bizarrely, bowled through the gate and the bail dislodged with barely a sound, the watching crowds thought they were in with a chance of catching the whole FA Cup Final.

But this is the new Colne, and where there used to be a backbone limper than a wet egg sandwich, now we stand strong !  With Tom Moon dashing for every single going, Connor doing his “stand & deliver” batting, Ben turning 1’s into 3’s, and Pat purring along, there was hope.  The only downside for nearly all our batsmen was the large number who were bowled; Pat having made a 50, was out next ball to a new bowler as per normal; Connor improved the scoring rate no end with his rapid 46; Sam got in and then out, surprised by the bowler releasing the ball just as he looked up; Woodsy played on 1st ball.  Then it was all down to Harry, facing the hat-trick ball in the last over….but not only did he fend that off, but also scored his first run since in 436 matches and then had to be talked out of short-term retirement with a season’s average of infinity.

So a total of 180-9 (with only 7 of us clean bowled!) from the reduced number of 35 overs and plenty to be confident about.  If we could put a lid on the oppo’s early scoring, this was in the bag. We would be without Demon Dave, deliverer of devious dibbly-dobblies, but no matter, we still had plenty of bowling.  What could possibly go wrong ?  Even Connor had promised to cease sending keepers diving down the leg side by bowling spin only.

After a rapid tea, we took to the field with Pat having convinced the skipper that with the size of the outfield, our usual keeper should be out there roaming those plains so that Pat could himself try out his new gloves. After fielding one hard drive with his knee, Woodsy was soon cursing that decision. Our first three bowlers (Ben, Harry, & Sam) had a few problems finding the strip let alone the batsmen at the far end, but any width or short balls that were offered up were rapidly dispatched.  We’d have to find a smarter way to get these chaps out…

David Griffith recently graduated from the school of Norf London cricket, where subtle sledging is an art form, no comment considered too OTT, and direct comments to batsmen about their ability, eyesight, parentage, eating habits all acceptable.  As the Chairman endeavoured to help David make the difficult transition from Middlesex all-out insults to Suffolk farming-related banter, the latter hit upon calling one of the opening batsmen “Captain Block” (neither offensive nor too personal, you’ll agree) which had an immediate effect of that batsmen returning a drive straight back into Ben’s hands.  Pat soon learned to leave the art form to the experts as he tried out the indirect approach, “this kid hasn’t got a cover drive” producing one of the shots of the match…through the covers.

Unfortunately, Colne were soon wishing Captain Block could return as the 2nd wicket partnership developed.  However, Connor’s new accurate form of bowling finally brought it’s reward as he bowled the dangerous Richard Baxter for 54.  The skipper took the courageous decision to bring himself on and we all thought “game over with Connor at the other end, the run rate will dry up”.  However, having bought his B-game to his batting, Daryl bought his C-game to his bowling, but being the canny operator he is, mixed up random full tosses with balls that were hit skywards, Ben (twice) and Jack being the fielders to cash in.  This made up for our fielding display early in the innings when balls driven hard in the air somehow found a way through!

Although wickets were falling regularly (although Jack still finds new ways of beating the batsmen ends-up as well as the stumps), the required run rate still wasn’t looking too tricky and it all came down to the last over with seven runs required and two wickets in hand, with the ever-energetic Ben switching ends to take responsibility.  When the second ball was sent to the boundary by the established batsman, it wasn’t looking good.  When it came down to the last ball with one run required for the tie and two for the victory, you could hear a pin drop amongst both spectators.  Ben pinged it down in just the right spot for the batsmen to swipe and miss, then stand his ground whilst his batting partner was run out. Victory by one run !

A great, confidence-boosting win therefore that sends us, albeit early in the season, to the top of the table, and a great example of what can happen when we all pull together, get through early setbacks in both innings and encourage each other. Next week is our 1st home match against Stowupland, followed by a Sunday T20 against the formidable Halstead Templars Rugby Club (will we see Paul Bromley emerge for this one, and on whose side?).  With the pitch having been lovingly nurtured since early-March, paving slabs found for the Prestney Stand, bar now open full-time, electronic scoreboard almost ready, it should be a cracking weekend !

Jug Avoidance Alert

Vs Mildenhall 24th April ’21

So finally we had a league fixture to get stuck into; no retiring at 50, no giving the Chairman a chance to bowl his dross, and limited friendly banter with the opposition. That oppo would be Mildenhall, a new direction for us and definitely a new distance – leaving home shortly after waking up was something we’d only have to do once we reach the East Anglia Premier League in 2030 !

Talking of the EAPL, what a treat lay in store for the Mildenhall vs Horsfield match that was already underway on the next door pitch when we arrived: those lucky players would get to see the mighty undefeated Colne no doubt steamroller their 5th XI. From counting the number of times our ball transgressed onto their pitch versus theirs onto ours, Colne are now considering a ‘Rapid Bypass Application’ straight to the top.

Having won the toss with his trick coin yet again, Daryl set out to bat with Pat against a steady calypso beat of Jack knocking his bat in, which everyone agreed made for a pleasant backing track to the early afternoon proceedings. The Moon brothers chose instead to distance themselves in a crash course of umpiring, whilst Moon Sr. (who just happened to be passing by, not there in any capacity as a spectator of course) started a course of sadism, emerging from the early-open bar with a pint.

With both opening bowlers barely out of short trousers, but with a canny accuracy, the Colne openers had to be patient for that elusive ‘bad ball’. Having despatched a few of them, Pat decided to leave a ‘good ball’ and was bowled through the gate. This did then provide him the chance to pursue the new 2021 prizes of ‘Most Annoying Spectator’ then followed by ‘Umpire who shouldn’t really be a Coach’….both awards for which he’s currently on a shortlist of 1.

Pat’s departure at least meant the arrival of a real batsman – Colin H., who soon found the boundary with regularity. Daryl was going though his gears as well, seeking out the short boundary to one side with his cultured thrashing of any ball within his ever-increasing arc of clobberdom.

Colin was bowled when well set on 22, by yet another youngster who wasn’t around when Spurs last won anything, allowing pad & bat-thwacker Jack to come in, play sensibly to some accurate bowling but then give a simple return catch to the bowler. It had all looked so good in the nets!

Our league debutants then proceeded in: Nick came and stayed for a good few yet again, Tom Moon played the way only he and the unfortunate bowlers know, whilst Sam had somewhere else to be. The elder Moon was his usual busy self, until he was bowled by a 9-year old, and at the risk of sounding sexist…the bowler was not a boy. Daryl eventually departed for a jug-avoidance 97, giving a soft catch to mid-off, although he admitted he thought he was a lbw goner much earlier in his innings. Don’t tell our future opposition this, but all you need is a bowler and 10 players stationed around that mid-off area – you’ll get him sooner rather than later.

With just an over or so left to get much further north of 200, it was left to Connor and Trevor. The former brought his net form for once and hit some tasty boundaries, including getting off the mark with a six, whilst the latter wrote himself into Colne legend by achieving that most elusive of scores – a 3 ! Trevor was highly satisfied having rushed through for a risky 2 and had started removing his pads and unwrapping the Ginsters when a panicked call from his partner (in a batting sense only) asked him to return for a 3rd due to an overthrow.

With Trevor’s stretcher bearers taking a well-earned rest, Colne could be satisfied with 227-8 and our key bowler, Harry P., not even asked to exert himself in search of that first elusive run in 2 years.

Harry was to play a key role though, and his form with the ball is clearly linked to excess driving around the North Essex and Suffolk countryside. Last week, it was down to taking migraine-affected Woodsy home mid-match; this week, his choice of satnav options including ‘avoid Sudbury’ taking him via Ipswich meant he was late and fired up. No longer entrusted with the new ball, he is on the money from the off as 1st change and his miserly figures were the pick of Colne’s attack.

The Mildenhall openers displayed characteristics that most of the Colne team can barely remember: youth and patience. Whilst their shot selection and execution was admirable, it did provide us with a dilemma of ‘they stay in, we definitely win, but we get bored’. At the midway point with barely 55 on the board, the match had clearly become less of a result chase, so much as could the oppo pick up batting points whilst we chased the bowling points that come with a victory?

The skipper decided shortly after the break we’d had enough faffing around, so ended the U-14s partnership with a direct hit run-out from 20 yards or so, the big bully ! Not to be outdone in the intimidation stakes, Jack was trying all types of delivery in his search for a wicket; after two beamers (the 2nd of which even produced an apology…. of sorts), he found the perfect delivery – a long hop which was dutifully sent straight to a fielder.

Connor was also searching for that elusive 1st wicket of the season and learned that sure enough, pace to a youngster is water off a duck’s back whereas a full toss from his other variety of dobblies brought results. With Dave ‘not-to-be-associated-with-Pies’ Moon picking up another wicket to stay top of the charts, Colne had to be satisfied with just 2 bowling points from taking 4 wickets as Mildenhall struck some late boundaries for their own consolation points.

So, victory by 61 runs and an immediate entry to 2nd in the table – we’re in the promotion zone already ! Next weekend, no game, so a chance for a breather before every weekend until September is consumed.

Marathon season gets underway !

vs Hockerill away 17th April ‘21

After the long winter wait, finally the first game of the season and off to the leafy ‘burbs of Bishops Stortford for a friendly with Hockerill and a chance for plane-spotters to count the Ryanair jets coming in overhead.

Having summoned the team for arrival a good 45 minutes before the start (always a great sporting psychological ploy over the oppo!) skipper Sleeman confounded usual form and won the toss, choosing to bat. With two debutants in Tom Moon and Rob Scott, and a well-balanced side with depth in batting and bowling strength, but shallowness aplenty in the wicket-keeping domain, we had little to fear.

Daryl and opening partner Pat set about the bowling attack with relish, soon finding the boundary regularly and also frustratingly, the spots where the ball could be lost for a long, drawn-out search, viz the bowling green next door, the brambles, the field over the hedge, etc. Just before the drinks break, Daryl retired with his 50 reached, and one ball after it, Pat did the same with the score on 121.

Now it was down to the middle order to keep the pace going as the opposition gamely rotated the bowling attack.  Jack came and went for a few, Rob likewise, Nick came and stayed quite a while, Connor probably should have saved himself the walk to the middle, Tom  attacked from the off, as did Ben, whilst Dave and Woodsy wrapped up the innings with a lot of singles. Walking off the pitch at 14.55 with ECB instructions not to play between 3-4pm (due to the Royal funeral, if you’re reading this way in the future) with two overs of the quota left and all the spectators shouting “get back and finish it off!”, the teams agreed that a 38-over innings each was a novelty we’d live with, so we closed on 197-6.   Special mentions to Ben for a scoring rate over 250%, and Nick for scoring the only 2 in the entire innings – some work on backing up and ‘running the first one quick’ probably needed for all !

But just as the Royal family were mourning their loss, so came ours during the longer enforced tea break.  Woodsy the wicketkeeper developed one of his severe migraine attacks and we were forced to re-shuffle the pack.  Having just been denied the opportunity to extend his remarkable run of zero not outs, Earl Grey guzzler Harry stepped in to drive Woodsy home with promises that he’d return (note to skipper – shall we send Harry for a 1-hour drive before bowling every week if it has the results we saw ?) Up stepped former ‘keeper Pat with only minor complaints about the state of the gloves, whilst two ‘willing’ oppo players were coerced into fielding for us.

The Colne opening bowlers took a little while to sort out their radar, with Connor sending the stand-in keeper (did I mention he was ‘stand-in’?- Ed) scuttling down the leg side, and Dave offering up some lovely pies, before both settled down to containing the batsmen and snaffling an early wicket each, with Dave determined not to be outdone by his swashbuckling younger brother so taking a further two.  Ben & Jack were both unlucky not to be rewarded, with the latter’s swing foxing the stand-in keeper ever further.  Tom came on and delivered more left-arm pace with ever-increasing menace, before Harry, fresh from a sedate drive to and fro along the A120, came back and picked up three wickets.

With overs running out, it was clear Hockerill were not chasing a win, but defeat with honours as their own pitch became a minefield of uneven bounce.  Sensing some cheap wickets, Daryl brought himself on and whilst his economy was remarkable (1-1 from 3 overs) the ‘keeper was just grateful for his accuracy.  As the clock edged closer to 6.30pm victory was secured for the men in white & green by 66 runs, everyone contributed, and a great occasion to get the team spirit out of the bag again.  Next week, onto Mildenhall as the first of our many forays into deepest Suffolk, and our first league action in almost 20 months !

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.