v Drovers CC
Sunday 14th August 2011
Maladroits won by 3 wickets
James Horton reports
On a fair mid-August Sunday, Maladroits once again inflicted a crushing victory over the Drovers, casually knocking off the required 223 with 8 balls and two wickets to spare.
The result was only ever really in doubt when Boozer strode confidently back from the toss and announced that he'd lost and that we were fielding. But we swallowed our doubts and having fended off Boozer's offers of new kit, we took the field for some relaxed catching practice. The attack began fiercely from the Park End with Ryder rumbling in to pepper the opening pair with a series of unplayable balls and Dom delivering the more of the same from the Plough End. Drovers capitalised on the extras that these deliveries had gifted them, took advantage of some lapses in concentration behind the stumps and built a troubling opening stand. It was time for a rethink.
With Dom retired to a bench at deep backward square/deep extra cover and Ryder lounging in the slips, Matty and Charlie took up the reigns and restored order. Sweepers were deployed, traps set at cow and the wickets began to fall. The openers fell in quick succession and the middle order failed to make the most of a commanding position. We agreed afterwards that this may well have been caused by the deployment of some seriously vintage equipment: not for some time has Sheen Cricket Club been graced with a pre-Hick DF, a GN Elite and the suspicion of buckle-up pads. Yearnings for a Gooch-esque white helmet and a SS 333 sadly went unsatisfied but we all enjoyed the trip down memory lane.
Perhaps it was the hint of moisture in the pitch following overnight rain, perhaps the short leg side boundary or perhaps our inability to come up with new fish-related puns, but whatever it was, the Maladroits' spinners took some fairly serious tap in the overs around the drinks interval. The field dropped as a result (Dom moved benches), Drovers piled on the runs and a challenging chase began to look likely. But heads didn't drop and some good fielding ensured that the target remained manageable: Chad's cat-like reflexes bagged him a truly remarkable one-handed caught and bowled that he made look sickeningly easy, and James H held a ball skied so high that passing jumbos were diverted. Such was the confidence at the end of the innings that Brenner called upon to put the finishing touches to an otherwise solid performance.
Tea was stunning. Home-made sandwiches with a dizzying variety of fillings, combined with crisps, sausage rolls and other snacks to whet appetites for dangerously good rocky road and brownies. The opposition shook their heads in helpless admiration and were heard remarking that the Maladroits could always be relied upon to put on a good tea.
The innings got off to a shakey start with Matty bowled going ugly early and James H walking for nicking a off cutter; the pitch had evidently livened up during the tea interval. Cool heads but contrasting styles shored things up, with Brenner yielding his club like a rioter outside Curries and Ryder carelessly stroking ball after ball to the boundary. Chad went for an unlucky duck and was replaced by an irrepressible JC, who followed a strong bowling spell with a match-winning 69 not out. When Ryder finally fell for 57 (apparently because of a low sun, Dom walking in front of the sight-screen with his tea and the keeper breaking wind), Charlie picked up the baton and added a priceless 27.
By the thirtieth over, we were confident that victory was in our grasp, especially when Matty refused to be bullied into dismissing JC at a critical point. Umpire Brenner finished his phone calls in time to see the winning runs dispatched through extra cover and the day was ours.
The Drovers took it well and over a drink in the Plough it was agreed that overall, honours were about even.
Man of the Match - JC and Ryder for match-winning all around performances
Fielder of the Day - Chad and James H for two lucky catches
Dick of the Day - Dom, for sleeping on benches (and taking advantage of drunk pikeys).
Teas - A strong 75%, which goes only some way to represent the extremely positive all-round experience.