Gerrards Cross Dragons vs BCC Lightning
By Viki Sullivan
A tough first hardball match for Lightning....
A sunny but cold evening at Gerrards Cross CC was the setting for Beaconsfield CC Lightning’s first game of the season, and first official hardball league match. Having won the hardball friendly against GX at the end of last season, the boys were confident, though we knew a number of the team were a bit rusty, and it took us a while to warm up last season.
Captain Hector won the toss. Although Beaconsfield usually prefer a chase, the prospect of the second innings taking place in the dark, meant the boys opted to bat first. Lukasz, having just arrived, found himself padded up and at the crease before he’d even greeted his team mates, joined by Tom S who sensibly opted to get the batting out of the way by going first.
Often when playing Barrington rules the batters bat for four overs and face only two bowlers. However, GX decided to change the bowler each over so Tom and Lukasz found themselves facing 4 different bowlers – a bit of a baptism of fire for a first game. Good bowling, interspersed with wides limited the scoring opportunities, but Tom managed a couple of big hits that were unlucky to be cut off before the boundary, and Lukasz played defensively. The boys left the crease relieved to have only lost one wicket and added 10 to the score. Ian and Harry were next in, and up against another good selection of bowlers. Their good work on hitting and running was unfortunately undone by the loss of 3 wickets (2 bowled and 1 run out) and they left the crease rather crestfallen to discover their efforts had only increased the score by 1 run. Deducting 6 runs for a wicket can seem harsh at times!
Max and Joe set out to put the pressure back on GX by running on absolutely everything (hits, misses, overthrows, fielders looking the wrong way...). The strategy worked (and the boys had a good work out) and they added 18 in their 4 overs in spite of losing a couple of wickets taking us to 229. George and Thomas found themselves up against a fierce bowling attack as all the best bowlers returned for their second over. George played more defensively than we’ve ever seen him, barely moving his bat, while Thomas looked for opportunities to go big. Some great bowling saw them lose two wickets, but they still added 8 to the score, leaving us on 237 runs with four overs to go. Ben and Hector aimed to get the score to a defendable total, seemingly without breaking a sweat. A few boundaries each (one that nearly decapitated the bowler) and some strolling between the wickets added 41, and we ended the innings on 278 for 8. Not a huge total, but anticipating unfavourable (ideally dark) conditions for the GX innings the boys remained hopeful.
After a quick break for refreshments, GX headed to the crease. Beaconsfield had decided to change bowler each over to keep GX on their toes, totally confuse themselves, and make it really hard for the manager to write about! Joe kicked off proceedings with a maiden, Ben and Harry each had 4 dot balls, and Max, bowling with newfound speed, pinned the batter to the spot for his first over. Still GX’s first pair posted a respectable 24. Hector took the next over – a wicket maiden with a run out as well – and George’s over was almost a maiden. Tom had a few wides trying to keep the ball out of reach of the frustrated batters, and Thomas bowled accurately and economically so the score was 241 after 8 overs – more than we would have liked, but a few wickets could reduce it significantly.
Another economical over from Joe before he took over keeping duties, was followed by accurate overs from Lukasz and Harry. They were up against GX’s biggest hitter so while it was tempting to bowl all wides to keep the score down, the boys played fairly. Ian bowled the last over at this pair, taking a wicket with his first ball to help limit the score. GX were 260 after 12 overs, and our 278 was looking slightly less defendable. Wickets were needed, and with some accurate bowling, Beaconsfield knew they could get them. Unfortunately, one of the next GX batters chose to stand in front of his stumps for the best part of 3 overs. The boys made appeal after appeal, but in a world with no LBW, the umpire was unmoved, and the score was not coming down. Ben bowled a maiden over and Lukasz, Ian and Thomas bowled well, but went wicketless, GX were up to 283 after 16 overs. The final overs were against a tactical GX pair with county experience so wickets were unlikely. Tom and George tried to tempt the batters to play reckless shots, but they stood firm and even stole a couple of boundaries. As Hector and Max took the final overs, a win was beyond reach. Hector is a big fan of bowling at the death, but with GX already on 306, it was rather more like bowling at the wake. The batter stood firm and blocked out Hector’s over, and Max, showing steely determination finished with a maiden and a final ball wicket, to leave GX on 304 for 4, winning by 26 runs.
Sadly not the result we were hoping for, but there was really very little difference between the teams. We gave a bit more away on byes (22 compared to GX’s 16), our wides/no balls totals were almost identical (46 vs 45) and we actually scored more runs than GX (65 compared to 60) and could have significantly increased this with more confident running. The obvious difference was us losing 8 wickets compared to GX’s 4 – a difference of 24 runs. So, winning is just round the corner if we tighten up the fielding, practice running between the wickets and calling, and remember to walk in for each delivery, and to back up when throws are coming in. We’ll hopefully get chance to work on these at training on Sunday. The following weekend we’ll be in the nets again so can look at blocking the unplayable balls, and scoring off the others.
Thanks to Andrew for umpiring on a fairly chilly evening, and to all the parents who stood in the cold as hopes for a win faded (unlike the light which held on to help the GX batters right to the end!) Looking forward to the next game….