U10s strength in depth too much for Ashtead
By Ben Abel
An excellent team performance secures a 24 run win over Ashtead CC
The first game of the NEC 2019 season saw our boys travel to Ashtead for a Division 1 clash against a club with a squad of 50 players including 11 boys in the Surrey county training programme. Fortunately for us a local school Saturday fixture took out five of their players and they arrived at their own ground in a state of disorganisation. We weren't without our own issues as one of our players turned up feeling under the weather and finding Gilbert's warm up drills too much at that time in the morning promptly threw up in the car park. Unable to continue and not wanting to potentially pass on bugs to the rest of the team, Will made the sensible decision to save himself for another occasion and left to spend the rest of the day in bed.
Onto the game itself and Captain Eddie Hemingway calling 'tails for Wales' at the toss called correctly and elected to field. George and Jack opened up with an accurate and speedy spell with no wides or no balls, but with 2 Surrey batsmen and with a short boundary Ashtead hurried onto 233 for 0 after their opening pair.
After 7 overs with the score on 246-0 and the rain falling, your scorer was thinking we would take an abandonment and a share of the points. We needed something special to get us back in the game and Harry Ejje provided it. Cleverly fumbling a ball keeping wicket, Harry then threw down the stumps as the Ashtead batsmen went for a bye. Sneaky, but we were happy to take anything we could get at this point.
This piece of fielding off the last ball of the 8th over turned out to be a bit of a game changer as the next Ashtead pair struggled to score. Sam Bream bowled a maiden and then Jack came back for a 3rd over and picked up a wicket well caught by Hugo DvH at mid off. With George also bowling a miserly 3rd over Ashtead only advanced to 247-2 after 12 overs.
The Ashtead fourth pair really had their work cut out against Leo's line & length and Pablo's pace! Leo took 3 wickets for 12 runs off his 2 overs, two bowled and the other caught & bowled. Pablo, encouraged by Dad's exhortations of 'rapido Pablo', sent down a hostile spell of fast bowling picking up 2 wickets (both bowled) for 11 runs off his 3 overs. Ashtead were now struggling on 238-8 with one pair to go.
The last pair were decent batsmen but up against four overs from Eddie and Hugo could only advance the total onto 243 with the loss of a further 3 wickets. Two to Eddie, one bowled and one caught by Leo and a run out off the last ball of the innings.
At the squash and biscuit break the team discussed how best to chase down the required runs as we worked out the rules for batting with 9 players. Turns out we only get to face 18 overs with the last batsman batting with a runner.
Jack and Hugo opened up against good accurate bowling, had a look for the first over and then went on the the attack. Both boys hit the boundary with Hugo scoring three 4's but both were also bowled by good straight deliveries. With one of these wickets following straight after a catch in the last over of the pair we temporarily slipped into negative territory but Hugo set the record straight with consecutive boundaries from the last 2 bowls of the pair to leave us well placed on 210-3.
Harry and Leo shared a net partnership of 17 runs, just losing one wicket to a catch and both finding the boundary as well as running well between the wickets to pick up singles. 227-4 after 8.
Isaac and Sam shared a net partnership of 13 runs losing one wicket to a slightly lazy run out that we will learn from and one bowled by a very good yorker. Again both boys hit the boundary and Isaac played one beautiful late cut purposefully guided down to 3rd man for 4. Demonstrating that we don't need to hit the cover off the ball to score runs - timing and placement are key!
At 240-6 off 12 overs things were looking good, but we still had to navigate three Surrey bowlers finishing off the innings. Pablo was out once, caught mistiming a drive off the leg spinner, but also hit him back over his head for a powerfully struck boundary. George started circumspectly, mindful of the score, with four dot balls but soon got into his stride hitting 15 off 11 balls without getting out, including a 6 over backward square leg that Ivor almost caught in the stands! He proudly said afterwards "now it's not just Harry Record who has hit a six in hardball cricket".
At 262 for 7 off 16 overs, Captain Eddie came out to face the last 2 overs with Hugo as a runner. Playing each ball on its merits, blocking when needed, Eddie hit a couple of lovely 4's and was only out once, bowled, when the leg spinner bowled a beautiful length and tempted him into a drive.
In the end we ran out comfortable winners by 24 runs. The boys stuck together as a team, supporting and encouraging each other, bowled and fielded really well and all contributed with the bat with every batsman hitting at least one boundary. A mention to Harry who only conceded 6 byes and started the fall of Ashtead wickets with his run out. As a team we only bowled 8 out of 120 balls as wides or no balls, so excellent accuracy, although the short straight boundaries meant those 8 balls cost us 30 runs. Still work to do in training!
Thanks to Gilbert for umpiring and for parental support from the sidelines. I'd still like to see all the squad using English Willow bats, Kashmir willow just doesn't cut it with a hard cricket ball!