Beaconsfield U9s Smash vs Chalfont St Peter Monday 18th June
By Viki Sullivan
Smash stroll home in time for a goal!
A grey and windswept Pitch 3 at Beaconsfield Cricket Club was the setting for Smash’s first match for two weeks. In an attempt to speed up proceedings, and allow the boys with an interest in sports other than cricket to get home and watch the end of some football game, we decided to bowl all the overs from the same end. This meant that all bowlers were equally impeded by the strong, ever-changing wind gusts, so it was fair, if not ideal. Chalfont were struggling for team members, having already drafted in a reluctant older sibling (who spent much of the game upside down), so captain Henry allowed them to start batting while their remaining team members arrived. Our hopes that the wind would subside in time for the game were quickly dashed as scoresheets and scoreboard took flight, and Smash were swept onto the field with cricket whites billowing, and the manager’s advice on avoiding overthrows ringing in their ears.
First to bowl into the wall of wind, were Henry and Tom. Henry, looking to replicate his last 4-fer found himself really up against it, with the wind in his first over depositing his perfect length balls off the crease, in front of umpiring dad, Charles. However, he adjusted well for his second over and only went for one run. Tom bowled confidently and was accurate from the outset, conceding only 6 runs from his two overs, helped by effective keeping from Joe behind the stumps. Harrison and Ryan were the next to bowl. Harrison was denied a wicket by millimetres on more than one occasion – we’ll certainly see those wickets fall in calmer conditions. Ryan bowled valiantly, but struggled to get the length in the howling wind. Tough conditions for any bowler and Chalfont were pleased to find themselves on 243 after 8 overs. Next to bowl were Harry and Nathan facing one of the best batting pairs, who were intent on adding substantially to the score. They both bowled a good line and length, in spite of the wind, and Nathan took a wicket with the final ball of his first over. The batters ran confidently but only managed to add 12 across their 4 overs taking Chalfont to 255.
Max and Hector were the fourth pair to bowl, and were determined to reduce Chalfont's score. Max bowled aggressively with lots of dots, and only the odd high ball to keep the batters on their toes (must have been the wind). Hector claimed the gusting head-on wind took the pace off his bowling in the first over, so it was only a maiden, and he had to wait for his second over with wind behind for a two wicket maiden. From the scorer’s table (and certainly from the quaking batters’ perspective) none of the balls looked slow, so huge thanks to keeper Nathan for putting his body on the line to stop these ‘slow balls’ rocketing away for byes. Chalfont were down to 250 as Charlie and Joe took on the final overs. Chalfont had only found 8 players so we randomly selected two batters to bat twice, and rather unluckily I thought, ended up with the two big hitters in again for the final overs. Charlie found himself on the receiving end of their push for runs, with his first over going for 9, but he changed his line in the second over, and got a lovely caught and bowled – lightning reactions Charlie – to limit the damage. Joe bowled calmly for a wicket maiden in his first over, and a run out on the first ball of the second. Some last minute comedy fielding, to the obvious delight of bowler Joe, allowed the batters to run 4 on the final ball, but the hard work had paid off, and Chalfont had only 252 on the board when they took on the challenge of bowling in a wind tunnel.
A quick break for yummy flapjack, juice, and crisps, kindly provided by Alex, and a chance to check our umpire Charles hadn’t frozen to death, and a confident Smash felt victory was only a few overs away. They were reminded that we were playing 20 overs anyway, so not to needlessly do reckless things that would take the chase to the final over (again), especially if they wanted to get home in time to see any football.
First to be blown to the crease were Henry and Tom, who immediately discovered the opposition bowlers were finding the wind just as tough as they had, with few balls landing close enough for them to hit. However, they ran singles when they could, and Tom tried repeatedly to execute a ramp shot – ambitious in the circumstances, and certainly not on the manager’s list of preferred shots – and they finished their overs on 219. Harrison and Ryan, in next, faced much more accurate bowling but defended their wickets well. They ran, at times rather risky, singles to rotate the strike in every over and finished their partnership with the score on 230. In came Harry and Nathan, raring to score runs. So determined was non-striker Nathan, that he was halfway down the crease before the bowler had released the ball, and was Mankaded by the bowler. Fortunately, in the spirit of cricket, he was given a warning and thereafter remained in his ground until the ball was well on its way. Harry struck the ball with power and intent, but failed to find the gap, so some cracking shots went straight back to the bowler, nearly running his partner out on a number of occasions. Amidst all this drama, a couple of unlucky wickets cancelled out the huge efforts the boys made to get runs, and the score after 12 overs was still 230. Max and Hector, came in wanting to get the job done. Although Max was unlucky to be stumped in the first over, that didn’t deter them. They defended the accurate balls and clubbed anything that wasn’t on middle stump, running 1s, 2s and 3s with ease. When the wind stopped a lofty shot going over the boundary, they ran 4 anyway, and left the crease with the score on 257, five runs ahead of Chalfont. With the bizarre situation in Barrington rules of having won, but still being able to lose, Charlie and Joe went out to bat. The excited Smash boys clustered round the scoreboard trying to guess how high the eventual score would be, and were asked not to put the batters off. The manager assumed with our team’s taste for final over drama it was not a case of if, but when, a wicket would be lost, especially with our demon catcher, Max, on fielding duty for Chalfont, but Joe and Charlie racked up the runs, and batted confidently through to the final over. Just as I started to feel guilty for doubting them, Charlie picked out a fielder with the third ball of the final over, but Joe then defended the next two balls before running a jubilant 2 on the final ball to take our innings total to 272. A comfortable margin of victory given the playing conditions.
Thanks to our frozen umpire, Charles, for your hard work in the field, and for sensibly bringing 6 coins this time (much more reliable than fingers) and to Alex for both providing the match tea, and somehow managing to keep it on the table in the gale that was blowing down the ground. Thanks to the parents who hung around to watch in the cold – better weather is just round the corner I’m sure. Finally thanks to Harry Kane for overseeing (I’m told) a fairly lacklustre second half of the game, and hanging on until all our players were safely home from their match to see him head in England’s winning goal in injury time. Couldn’t have planned it better!