Hardball team hold their nerve for another last ball win against Reigate Priory
Fourth U9's game of the season to go down to the final ball
Apologies for the delayed match report, Pitchero pinched the fixture for a few days and it's only just returned to my screen.
On a glorious evening for cricket down at Crockham Hill the U9 squad played their 3rd hardball match of the season handing out metaphorical new caps to Sam Bream and Sam Ward. Up against Reigate Priory for the second time after a 2 run victory at Priory Park in the first game of the season.
Reigate won the toss and elected to bat. Their openers got off to a busy start, dropping the ball and running a very cheeky single, we had a couple of overthrows and the boys knowledge of the rules was tested when Reigate ran an extra run after a throw had hit the stumps with the batsmen safely in his ground after a quick single. The ball cannoned off the stumps and our fielders sauntered after it thinking the ball was dead, but it wasn't! (To effect a run out when the bails are off, a stump has to be pulled from the ground with the ball in hand). Captain George Abel was not happy, especially as he was bowling the first over and gave the team a rocket. After that first over the fielding and concentration levels improved immeasurably.
With a couple of boundaries off the second over Reigate had motored onto 218-0, but were pegged back by a wicket maiden in George's second over and finished the pairing on 220-1.
Jack Kearns and Sam Bream bowled in tandem for the next four overs and kept things very tight. Reigate still managed to run several byes and leg byes but there were no boundaries and only singles off the bat. Jack struck in his first over bowling the new batsman and then in Sam's first over Jack ran back from slip after the ball wasn't taken cleanly by our wicketkeeper and threw the stumps down for a direct hit run out. (Particularly pleasing dismissal for the coach as that is why we have a slip fielder in place!) A good performance on debut from Sam Bream with his two overs just costing six runs in total with no wides or no balls and a catch to come in the thirteenth over! Reigate on 227-3 after 8 overs.
Eddie Hemingway and our second debutant Sam Ward kept the pressure on the 3rd pairing. No wides or no balls from either bowler, with just four and five runs conceded respectively. Reigate didn't lose a wicket either though and progressed to 237-3 after 12 overs. Honours fairly even at this stage.
Reigate's best batsman was in next alongside a debutant. Harry Ejje and Luke Hague both bowled accurately containing the better batsman and Harry twice dismissed the debutant, once bowled and once caught by Sam Bream fielding at silly mid-on. Luke just conceded 5 runs and Harry finished with the best figures of the innings, 2 wickets for 4 runs in his two overs. Reigate now on 235-5 after 16 overs.
As tends to be the case in pairs cricket the last pairing were strong batsmen, putting pressure on the bowlers and fielders with a couple of boundaries and well run singles. With a few no balls and wides creeping in the partnership put on 27 runs without losing a wicket to leave Reigate on 262-5 at the end of their innings. One more than they scored in the first match.
Jo Ward had prepared tea for the boys and introduced some fruit to the diet in the form of orange slices to go alongside the usual crisps and biscuits. The young cricketers decided that oranges were for footballers and that crisps and biscuits were the required fuel for a run chase. The parents were treated to a homemade banana cake, upping the ante for future tea providers! Thanks to Jo for providing tea especially with younger son Zac unwell. Thanks also to Sophie Kearns and Ro Hemingway for stepping in to serve the teas and wash up. I hope Eddie was suitably reprimanded for calling his mum the dinner lady!
Reigate kept their bowling pairs the same as their batting pairs with most of their stronger players bowling first and last pair. Reigate conceded just twelve runs in wides and no balls in the first and last pairings but thirty six runs in the middle three pairings.
Openers Jack Kearns and Leo Bines were up against some good straight bowling. The cheery Reigate bowler announced to me as he walked back to his mark, "gosh it's really swinging!". In reality it was seaming in to the batsmen off the pitch helped by the gentle left to right slope from the pavilion end. Leo found himself bowled through the gate (gap between bat and pad) a couple of times by balls that moved off the seam making them difficult to defend at any level of cricket. 193-2 after 2 overs compared to Reigate's 218-0. Gulp!
Jack and Leo managed to settle the ship after this difficult start, defending well and picking up singles and the odd bye to still return a positive partnership as we ended the pair on 201-2.
Hugo De Vere Hunt and Sam Ward batted together in the second pair. Sam was run out by an almost international level of wicketkeeping. Running a bye that was definitely on, their keeper ran back whipping off his glove as he did so, picked up, turned and threw down the stumps from about 10 yards to leave Sam just short of his crease. Reigate dropped a catch as Hugo looked to go aerial but another wicket in the 7th over had us on 203-4. Wides were now keeping us in the game as we moved onto 209-4 at the end of the pairing.
At the start of the innings the umpires were concerned about the setting sun, but our openers said they were fine. When we changed back to the pavilion end for the third pair the sun had sunk lower in the sky and was now causing difficulties for our batsmen. Harry Ejje had had his hair in his eyes in the last game, this issue was now solved with a stylish headband, but now he had sun in his eyes to contend with. The situation was made worse by some loopy bowling cunningly getting the ball above the eyeline, so Harry and Sam Bream did really well not to lose a wicket (which had been my plea as they walked in). 223-4 after 12 overs (14 runs behind Reigate at the same stage).
George Abel and William Blackborough came out 4th pair, facing bowling from the Kent Hatch Road end and so not having the sun to contend with. I gave them the slightly conflicting and desperate message of needing to score runs but not lose wickets and to see if they could get a twenty partnership to give the last pair a chance of victory. They both did the team proud putting on 34 without losing a wicket to leave us on 257-4 and just five behind Reigate's total.
Reigate had paired their strongest player (now out from behind the stumps) with a new player who was having one of those days. George is getting used to facing left arm pace and played very technically, defending the straight balls solidly and guiding wider ones down to 3rd man for ones and two. William also saw off three dot balls from the same bowler. George hit a boundary in the next over and there were three wides. The next over highlighted the problem for a fielding side of having a fast bowler as he got increasingly frustrated with his team mates as four byes were conceded on two occasions. William didn't get much chance to score any runs off the bat in the last over as he faced four balls that were all wides. Reigate had obviously heard about his five boundaries in consecutive balls earlier in the season and were playing safe!
As the 5th pair of Luke Hague and Eddie Hemingway walked out for the final overs the sun was now very low and the Reigate umpire sportingly agreed to keep bowling from the Kent Hatch Road end to the last pair. The nerves were palpable with some accurate bowlers back on and the boys having that tricky balance between not losing a wicket and scoring runs to get us well ahead of the Reigate total should we lose wickets later on. We had just got level with the Reigate total in the 18th over when we lost a wicket, Eddie bowled leaving a ball he thought was missing the stumps. Reigate celebrated knowing they were back in the game and pushed for another wicket that would have seen them back in charge of proceedings. A wide then a single from Luke put us just three behind with two overs to go and when Luke hit the first ball of the 19th over to the boundary we were back ahead. Four dot balls and a wide put Eddie back on strike for the last over with the boys now three runs ahead. Four more dots and a single left Luke facing the last ball of the match. It took a while to settle the fielders down as they knew that a wicket off the last ball would win them the game. The tension, the drama!
The Reigate bowler ran in and bowled a ball on Luke's pads that he nonchalantly flicked round the corner for four down to fine leg! Another last ball victory against Reigate - well done boys! Innings closed on 270-5.
It was another great game of cricket. We bowled really well with a lot of accurate and quite fast bowling, only conceding fifteen runs in wides and no balls and twenty nine extras in total. Reigate did bat well though, only losing five wickets compared to eight last time around so it was really crucial that we kept the extras down (we bowled forty four extras in the previous match against Reigate).
When we batted we found it harder to get the ball away to the boundary as there was less pace on the ball from the bowlers, but the boys did really well to recover from a tricky start and only lose one wicket in the final three pairings to give us the chance to win the game.
Well done to all the boys, another great team effort.
Thanks again to Jo, Sophie and Ro for teas, Gilbert for scoring and parents for watching, supporting and helping warm the batsmen up.