U9s ESCL Cup Winners in a 37 run victory over Lingfield
By Ben Abel
No horrors on Friday 13th as U9s maintain club's 6 year hold on the ESCL Cup.
Match report by cricket correspondent Gilbert Kearns:
Having all arrived promptly to a dry and dusty Crockham hill pitch, ably setup earlier by Ben we could focus on our warm up and preparation which was a great way to get a cup final underway.
With Pip safely ensconced in the scorers chair and Tim resplendent in pink scurrying around in the kitchen, Hugo strode out for the toss. Lingfield won and chose to bowl, which given the failing light under an overcast sky suited us just fine.
Jack Kearns and Pablo Portillo strode out to bat and opened up the innings with aplomb! The first over consisted of a few well taken singles through the covers and then Pablo unfurled a gorgeous drive along the ground straight back past the bowler hit with enough ferocity to ensure the field spread and Lingfield knew it was game time!
Likely Lingfield’s best bowler (Max) came on next and was fast and accurate, conceding just one no-ball for an overstep and then popped one on a length which Jack belted high and handsome over cow corner for the only 6 of our innings! (At the toss, the opposition coach had requested 30 metre boundaries as he thought our setup was too small and had promptly made himself at home and gone around extending it……)
The next two overs produced some more good running and a couple more well placed fours, ending the first pair on a very healthy 236-0. [The highest partnership of the match Ed.]
Harry Ejje and Leo Virley were next in and set about their innings industriously. More quick singles and a four from Harry off the first over were a great start. Leo unfortunately skied one to mid-on which was well held by the fielder. The next two overs were a good display of quick unselfish running and with Harry hitting the boundary on a further two occasions the score was ripping along. Harry was bowled by a quicker one in the last over and Leo unfortunately hit wicket whilst chasing a wide which placed us on 254-3 after the second pair.
Luke Hague and James Wiseman marched out in earnest and began watchfully before Luke accelerated in the second over with three boundaries in a row, some glorious drives, cuts and flicks for the watching parents (well into happy hour at this stage) to cheer.
James is deserving of special mention as his calling and running was not only extremely determined and productive but most importantly very unselfish in their delivery. He truly didn’t care who faced as long as the team got runs which was admirable. He is also always very encouraging to his team mates which is a great trait many of the boys are starting to display. Credit to their parents and the club ethos.
Only one wicket was lost in the pair and our score moved onto 277-4.
Given progress had been swift to this point, George Abel and Henry McCall took a cautious and watchful approach to some tight and disciplined bowling during their pairing. George got a ball away for four in the first over and after that the pair defended determinedly until the last over where Henry was caught attempting a more expansive shot. 285-5 with one pair to go and the innings well set for a competitive total in excess of 300.
Hugo De Vere Hunt and Freddie Scutt came out well briefed to finish the innings with a bang and duly did just that. Their running was industrious and they racked up the highest number of two’s in the innings by running the first one fast, putting pressure on the fielder and taking their chances with the throws which hadn’t proved dangerous to this point and duly didn’t trouble them until the last over where, probably buoyed by their success to date, Hugo drilled one to mid-on called the run and then thought better of it. Freddie who had gamely followed his captain’s instruction was sadly run out, however we’ve all had to take one for the captain at some point in our cricketing careers! (Worse things happen at sea so the Navy say). To address the loss of four runs Hugo promptly smashed the next one for four over the bowlers head and we ended on 312-6 an excellent effort given the pressure of batting first in a cup final. 101 runs scored off the bat with only 35 extras by the Lingfield bowlers. Special mentions to Harry with 21 runs once out, Luke with 19 once out and Hugo 19 not out.
Given it was apparently “chucking it down in Lingfield” we took a shortened tea and got back to the action.
Jack and Pablo opened up the bowling and it was hostile stuff. Barring one boundary in the third over there were as many byes and leg byes as there were singles as the Lingfield openers took some body blows, Harry’s keeping was exceptional to keep the extras down. The pressure told and in his second over Pablo clean bowled both openers as Lingfield ended the first pair on 211-2.
Harry and Leo V bowled next to a pair who were intent on hitting out to get the Lingfield chase back on track. Given they were swinging for the hills (a big six into the crowd), George was bought on to see if we could take advantage of the situation and he duly nipped one out in the last over of the pair. 233-3.
Luke and James were up next against one of the better batting pairs who had the bit between their teeth. Despite some good intent our fielding did suffer a little bit of a mid-innings malaise and we didn’t support the bowlers as well as we should have. Five well run twos highlights how easily they found quick runs and Lingfield ended the pair on 265-3. (twelve runs behind where we had been at the same stage)
This necessitated a quick team talk during the change of batting pair, where the significance of the occasion and the latent potential of the group was highlighted as engagingly and positively as only an U9 coach can…….
Looking for a breakthrough, the captain for the day Hugo came onto bowl and was tasked to deliver quick wickets. This he duly did in his first over which kept Lingfield behind the rate. Henry was up next and can be very satisfied with getting a catch (well taken by Jack) and a runout (direct hit by George) off his bowling which had the Lingfield pair on the ropes. Back came Hugo for another wicket maiden and then Freddie finished off the spell. 273 – 7 had the game exactly where we wanted it going into the last pair, with Lingfield still twelve runs behind our total at the same stage.
Arguably Lingfield’s best batting pair came to the crease now needing ten an over for victory. However, they were not prepared for the broadside coming their way. With Hugo picking up another two clean bowled scalps in his last over the pair were on the back foot. George applied the coupe de grace to the innings with a further two clean bowled wickets including one off the last ball of the innings. The Oxted parents who had manfully seen their way through picnic hampers and cooler boxes of refreshments burst into spontaneous applause and the flash photography lit up a darkening sky. Innings closed on 275 - 11 and a winning margin of 37 runs. Special mentions to Hugo who finished with figures of 4 for 3 off 3 overs and George with 3 for 13 off 3 overs. All seven of their wickets clean bowled.
The League Chairman handed out the trophy and medals with all the formality and tradition one would expect of our ancient sport. The Grasshoppers took off for a victory lap around the field and the parents thanked all and sundry for the brief but joyful respite from Brexit , World cup disappointment and a Trump visit.
Thanks to Simon for keeping the fielding focussed, to Steve and Ed for getting incoming batters as prepared as possible, oh and the “tea-lady” as the ESCL Chairman put it… nice work Tim!
A great squad effort ultimately resulted in a great team effort on the day.