U9s NEC softball defeat Trinity Mid-Whits by 27 runs
Grasshoppers win the battle of the extras!
Having beaten Trinity by 49 runs at home earlier in the season, the boys were confident of another win today. Half the team were exhausted from a school residential trip though and we didn't have things all our own way this time.
Captain Will Blackborough won the toss and sent the opposition in on a breezy and cloudy day with the sun only making fleeting appearances to warm up the spectators. Umpire Gilbert Kearns was spotted doing star jumps to keep warm and possibly even joined in the floss with square leg at one point.
Opening bowler George Abel bowled two tidy overs taking a wicket and conceding just four runs. With good support from William Blackborough's accurate bowling, Trinity were limited to 205-1 in their first pair.
Ollie Kelvin and Jamie Harmer bowled next and no runs were scored off the bat, testament to some mostly good accurate bowling accompanied by some careful batting from the Trinity pairing. The wide and no ball count was creeping up though, so it was a timely wicket for Jamie Harmer off the penultimate ball of the pairing, that pegged Trinity back to 211-2.
Laurence Lewis bowling a mixture of pace and spin and Liam McElligott were the next bowlers for the Grasshoppers. They both bowled a lot of good balls and runs were only scored in extras. A run out from a strong throw at fine leg deflected onto the stumps by Oliver Gilham certainly helped our cause. 219-3 after 12 overs.
Now the moment we'd all been waiting for as our new overseas player, making his debut after joining the club midway through the season, came on to bowl. Credit to the Oxted & Limpsfield scouts who looked past the established global cricketing nations in favour of a Spanish gem. Pablo Portillo was one of only three bowlers in the entire match not to bowl a wide or no ball. Coming in off a long run he bowled at a lively pace and took a beautiful wicket with a fast length ball that clipped the top of middle stump. One wicket for six runs off Pablo's two overs. At the other end Oliver Gilham bowled some really good balls, especially when he carried on running down the pitch after release. Coaches can't stress enough how this continued momentum through the crease at and after the point of delivery makes such a difference to accuracy and pace. With just one pair to go Trinity were on 235-4.
The last pair proved to be decent batsmen, with the eye and timing to hit the boundary. Tough work for our bowlers and with the slope taking the ball towards the leg side anyway Trinity cashed in with 3 fours and 1 six in their partnership and were on 267-4 with an over to go. Jack Kearns bowled a superb final over taking two wickets clean bowled with fast yorkers to limit Trinity to 259-6. What might easily have been 280 to win became a much more manageable 260 thanks to Jack's efforts at the end.
George Abel and William Blackborough opened our innings as we experimented with the same order as the bowling. Both boys hit a boundary and ran lots of singles and two's. Twenty seven runs scored in the partnership but Trinity were right on their game in the field as they effected two run outs. One was a brilliant direct hit with only one stump to aim at, the other was a risky single as the ball was hit straight to the fielder who picked up and threw smartly to the bowler who whipped off the bails to leave William just short of his ground. One of those we are working on where it might be better to call 'wait' when the ball goes straight to a good fielder, especially when the risk is minus six to a potential reward of just one. George was also caught on the boundary by a great catch from Whyteleafe footballer Zac Konopka to leave us on 209-3 after the first pairing. Not our usual electric start to the innings, but still a positive contribution.
Jamie Harmer and Oliver Kelvin were next in and survived some good bowling. Just a couple of runs off the bat but they picked up the extras in wides and no balls and crucially didn't lose a wicket. 217-3 after 8 overs.
The next pairing of Laurence Lewis and Liam McElligott turned the match in our favour. Liam supported well with three singles off his eight balls faced and some excellent running of tight singles to put pressure on the field. It was great to see the bat being run in so professionally which definitely prevented a run out. Laurence used his excellent hand eye coordination to hit a couple of boundaries and was well caught off another powerful shot that would have crossed the ropes were it not taken by Trinity's best player. A net twenty nine run partnership saw us progress to 246-4 after 12 overs, now just thirteen behind the Trinity total.
Pablo Portillo and Oliver Gilham saw us even closer to our target. It was quite quiet out in the middle for the first three overs before the boys got into the calling and running action having played themselves in sensibly. 252-5 with one pair to go.
Jack Kearns and James Wiseman were up against some good bowlers to finish things off. After an initial wobble when James was bowled by a fast yorker, they both struck the ball powerfully and scored quickly. James helped himself to 3 fours and Jack hit a six as we closed our innings comfortably ahead on 286-6. No last ball finish to the match this time!
A slightly scrappy win with not many runs being scored off the bat until the final pair of each innings. The difference between the two teams being our slightly more accurate bowling, conceding 'just' forty seven runs in no balls and wides to Trinity's sixty four.
Thanks to Gilbert for scoring and Barry and John for warming up the batsmen before they came in. Thanks also to the other parents for staying to spectate and support the boys on one of our cooler mornings this summer.
Man of the match goes to Jack Kearns for his excellent last over, figures of 2 for 12 against good batsmen and a top net score of 9 when we batted.