Beaconsfield U9s Smash vs Great Kingshill Friday 22nd June
By Viki Sullivan
Smash in 'defending not chasing' shocker...
A sunny Friday evening saw the Smash boys heading to Great Kingshill for their penultimate game of the season. Whilst not wishing to create any pressure, the manager did share with the boys that winning this game would make it very hard for anyone but us to win the league. Responses from the team to this information varied, from ‘alright, we can win’ to ‘really?’ to “I’m not good at cricket so I shouldn’t play!’ Clearly it’s sometimes better to not know the importance of a match….
Joe was captain, and unluckily lost the toss, and Great Kingshill put us in to bat. Smash have mostly batted second, this being a team preference, and often a necessity whilst waiting for the opposition’s full team to arrive, so we were interested to see how they would fare defending a total rather than chasing one. It was also one of the biggest boundaries we’ve seen this season, so it looked like we’d have to do a lot of running if we were to post a decent score.
First to the crease were Henry and Guy. Great Kingshill opted to change their bowler every over, so the boys found themselves facing a wide variety of bowling. They ran confidently for singles in the first over, and defended a killer over in the second (from a bowler who later picked up 2 wickets). The third over dented their confidence rather, due to being run out and bowled on consecutive balls, but they rallied and finished their spell on a positive score. Next in were Harry and Lucas, both looking to prove they could find the gaps in the field and score runs. Unfortunately their challenge for the first two overs was finding a ball on the crease as they faced wide ball after wide ball. The third over gave them a few balls to hit and they ran well, and the fourth was a chance to practice their defensive shots to some fast, accurate bowling. Probably not the most fun they’ve had at the crease, but their spell took us up to 230 after 8 overs, and to their credit they achieved this whilst listening to the loudest wicket keeper in Bucks rallying his team (and possibly teams on Mars given the volume) before and after every ball.
A last minute change to the batting order, as we waited for our final team member to arrive, saw Joe and Tom batting together. The boundary proved to be every bit as far away as it had appeared so the determined boys ran 1s, 2s and 3s for three overs, followed by a great defensive over from Joe, up against Great Kingshill’s best bowler. Score 248 after their overs. Arriving just in time, Panshul went out to bat with Ben. The first over was not great, Ben managing to chop on with his first ball, and then get caught out on the second ball he faced. However, Ben likes a challenge (often seemingly creating them in games, just for sport) so set off to post a positive score, ably assisted by Panshul’s intelligent hitting. They ran a 3 and a 4, and rotated the strike beautifully for singles – on their third over they ran on every ball - and left the crease with the score on 259. Last to bat were Ian and Hector, knowing they were probably going to be facing the second overs of the best bowlers. The world’s loudest wickie had removed his gloves in order to have a bowl, but this had not affected his volume, so the auditory assault continued. The first over was bowled well, so the boys just ran singles, whereas a combination of less accurate bowling and more agricultural strokes allowed them to add 21 in their next two overs. As anticipated, the best bowler took the final over, so the boys defended well and took safe singles, taking Smash’s total to 288.
A quick break for squash and biscuits, and yet another reminder about overthrows. The boys were confident they could defend 288, especially given the size of the boundary, but they were also aware that given the standard of bowling, there were likely to be some good batters in the Great Kingshill team, so they knew it was going to be tough.
Henry and Guy were our first bowling pair. Up against batters who were clearly desperate to hit big and score runs, both boys kept adjusting their deliveries to limit the scoring opportunities. It’s clearly more stressful bowling second so there were more wides than usual, but not the boundaries the batters clearly wanted, so the score after 4 overs was 226. Next to bowl were Harry and Lucas, both showing marked improvement across the season, and keeping the batters under pressure. Harry bowled beautifully to take a wicket in his first over, and the batter was stumped in Lucas’s first over. A stunning catch by wickie Ben (breaking in our new team wickie gloves) gave Harry a second wicket, and the batters left the crease with the score on 237. Tom and Panshul came to bowl next. Panshul, finding it tricky to turn a plastic ball on astroturf, was unlucky not to get the wicket he’s been waiting for. Tom’s bowling continues to improve, getting more accurate each game, and giving the batters few opportunities for big hits. After 12 overs Great Kingshill were on 260 – not out of reach, but the manager was starting to feel rather jittery about defending 288 with 8 overs to go.
Ben and Joe lolloped out to the crease, confident that they had it in the bag, and that was certainly the message they gave to the batters, Joe bowling the same batter out twice in the first over, and Ben bowling him out again in the second (the other batter doing a marvellous job of repeatedly getting himself off strike during this onslaught!) A quick chat between the batters and they stopped trying to hit big and treated the bowling with the respect it deserved, playing defensively to make 4 runs across the second two overs. The score was down to 250 with 4 overs to go. Not necessarily a comfortable margin with big hitting batters, and fast bowlers heading to the crease, but hopefully ok. In went Ian and Hector, Ian bowling a calm, accurate first over, only going for 4 runs. Hector’s first over was defended nicely by the batters, almost as if they’d forgotten the need to amass lots of runs quickly, if they wanted to win. Umpire Andrew had a quick word with his son, Ian, before he bowled his second over. Not sure what was said but the next over went for 11, so probably best not repeated! Score 270 with one over to go. Hector set off with a fast ball that pinged off the bat into the air and was beautifully caught by Ben diving sideways at slip (a position the manager has spent the whole season arguing is unnecessary). The Great Kingshill batters tried frantically to run what they could off the few remaining balls, but couldn’t catch up, ending the innings on 270, and seeming surprised to find that they’d lost.
Smash were delighted to find they could defend a score rather than just chase, and shrugged off the manager’s assertion that it had been difficult (what do I know?) Thanks very much to our patient umpire Andrew for managing not to tell the oppo’s wickie to shut up, and thanks to all the parents for getting your boys there and supporting them. It’s great to see them all improving across the season, and obviously having lots of fun. One more match for Smash this season – let’s see if we can go out with a bang!