Chris Savory
Beechwood pull off a spectacular victoryPDFPrintE-mail
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 09:01
Written by Chris Savory


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Beechwood pulled off a spectacular victory last weekend, chasing down a score of 200 plus against some strong opposition and aided by some truly inspirational performances and instances.

In the build-up to the weekend we had to rearrange the fixture after intended oppo Carshalton CC were forced to pull out, hence some new opposition in the form of Bexleyheath 2nd XI were welcomed to Otford. It's never a good sign as you drive up the track alongside the old sheep field on a warm day and spy unfamiliar faces kicking a football around on the outfield as it generally means there'll be more than a sprinkling of youthfulness among your new opponents. Youthfulness, which often means batsmen taking the aerial route, batsmen taking quick singles, fleet-footed fielders restricting our own singles and more importantly, hardly any cakes left when you go up for tea...

Anyway, there's no substitute for experience, or so they tell us, and there did actually appear to be a selection of more experienced bodies within their ranks upon closer inspection, and so it was that a confident Bexleyheath, who having won the toss, elected to bat first, meaning Beechwood having to bowl first up for the first time this season.

An earlier start time of 13.30 was requested and so it was that play started at 13.24, much to the surprise of The Goose who at this time was still undertaking his pre-match ritual! Fraser and Rob (having eventually got onto the field of play) opened up and any fears about the aerial route were soon allayed as Bexleyheath's openers - a right/left hand combination - drove anything pitched-up exquisitely down the ground. Allayed fears or not, this obviously wasn't an ideal sight to say the least, and it looked like a long hard afternoon in the field was ahead of us.

Rob would settle down the quickest and was unfortunate when the skipper spilled an early chance in the slips which certainly looked like it could prove costly. Fraser meanwhile, was not particularly enjoying the sight of these drives speeding past him along the carpet, especially when the occasional mis-timed stroke also snuck away for runs, and there was more than the occasional expletive to be heard from his end, (all self-aimed, I hasten to add) to the point that if we had a swear-box in operation on Sunday, we almost certainly could have covered the cost of the fuel on tour!

Rob was into his stride though, and was producing some unplayable stuff by the time I had the unenviable task of replacing Fraser, and was duly rewarded when Tony this time clung onto the next one that came his way immediately after the fifty stand was brought up. Rob had pretty much dried the runs up from his end at this point which was just as well because yours truly, after an encouraging first over, was unable to stop the 'one boundary per over' syndrome, and undid a lot of the good work from the other end.

Skipper Montgomery was next man in and he was certainly not averse to the aerial route and pretty much dominated the partnership with his left-handed team mate and another fifty stand was looming when a truly inspirational piece of cricket turned the innings on its head. Montgomery made the sweetest of contacts with a leggie which was flatly hurtling towards the practice nets on the cow-corner boundary like a tracer bullet (this side’s boundary was fairly short this week). It looked a maximum all the way until I noticed it was Hamish patrolling the boundary and although it's barely more than a second's thinking time, the thought certainly occurred to me that if anybody could.... Anyway, just a few paces taken to his right, he leapt full-length and plucked it head high and astonishingly clung on one-handed as he crashed to the ground. After some gleeful team-mates rushed to hi-ten him, yours truly rather sheepishly offered my congratulations (you guessed it - the bowler was me!). It wasn't so impressive to our chairman however who in a rather non-effusive manner declared "it's what he does, no need to go overboard"... Yeah, right. I for one certainly can't recall a better catch from a team-mate anyway.

Back to the match and Ian was on at Rob's end after his impressive shift was over. Ian bowled much the same way as he's done all season; some unplayable stuff interspersed with the occasional one that may not quite reach its intended destination. This is a man unaccustomed to length issues normally, but these deliveries seem to be having the desired effect however with the next batsman tamely returning a catch after reaching to connect with its second bounce! Ian took a smarter one above his head shortly after to finally dislodge the leftie, but batsman Sultankhil kept the momentum going Bexleyheath's way with the help of some lower middle-order partners and swung his way to a half-century and propelled his team over the 200 mark before he was cleaned up by The DoC.

Steve has been impressively prolific thus far with ball in hand and this week was no exception, leading the way with three wickets, one courtesy of a KHM stumping - "it's what he does"...etc. - and indeed Fraser returned, still F-word fuelled, and was certainly in no celebratory mood when KHM effected a stumping (!!) off the last ball of the innings resulting in Bexleyheath closing their innings on 203-9 off 41 overs.

In all honesty, Beechwood actually put in a highly disciplined performance where everybody put a shift in. For sure, the spinners went at around the six-an-over mark, but understandable given the oppo's battery, the seamers ensured that the threatened initial onslaught never materialised and Rob in particular could be immensely proud of only conceding 20 runs from his nine overs. The fielding however would prove to be the crucial icing on the cake however; Keith, joking aside, kept tidily throughout the afternoon and skippered well also... (!!)

Adrian, despite dropping a difficult one, got something in the way of everything that was drilled in his direction, and Hamish, following his earlier tour de force, effected a run-out with what looked little more than an optimistic lob; - when it's your day... The unsung hero though was Mark, called up again, he flung himself left and right in the covers and saved what must have amounted to nigh on twenty-five runs (and himself a lot of chasing!); some full-length stops to his left hand being particularly outstanding and outrageous, and indeed our whole ground-fielding effort was to be applauded...except one over where the wheels well and truly came off...

After a hearty tea, Beechwood set about chasing their opponent's total down. Tony plumped for Hamish and Adrian as openers with Fraser held back at three and Brad reverting to four. Although the batting went deep it was vital that these four needed to be the ones to give the innings impetus before we got down to the nudgers and nurdlers, as indeed we assumed we would have to... It was by no means plain sailing early on as the openers were faced with some disciplined enough bowling, but everything was looking fairly comfortable and Beechwood were going at around four an over when with the score on 40, Hamish having drilled out to long-on, briefly hesitated while calling Adrian through for a third and found himself narrowly ran out courtesy of a direct hit from Sultankhil in the deep. It was a great piece of fielding but moreover a great pity for Beechwood, having such a solid start end in such a way. It was still good however to see this pair getting some time in the middle and looking so comfortable, and it's a great shame we can't call upon them more regularly.

The DoC had taken plenty of footage of dot balls and singles at this stage so when Adrian launched into our innings' only six, he typically had his lens trained on some vintage aircraft flying overhead! Fraser joined Ade in the middle and this pair continued with our relatively untroubled reply. As the innings progressed, it was looking increasingly unlikely that Beechwood would lose this match, but as the scoreboard steadily ticked over, could Beechwood actually do the unthinkable and chase down a score this size?

A spanner was truly thrown into the works though, when Adrian received an absolute Jaffa from skipper Montgomery, his quicker leg-cutter doing just enough to clip his off bail. 113-2 then, and Ade had contributed a solid 43 of these. Next to the wicket was Bradley, the last of our heavy artillery. The total was getting tantalisingly realistic as he and Fraser pressed on and Beechwood stayed relatively up with the run rate. There was an occasional possibility of a run out here and there (one in the penultimate over almost accounted for Fraser, ambling back towards what he considered to be the safe end) and a couple of stumping appeals were declined, but these were the only chances Beechwood offered to be fair and these two were looking more and more likely to get the job done with each passing over.

With one over left on the countdown and Fraser well past his half-century by now, Beechwood were sitting pretty, but by no means home and hosed, on 194. A tight first couple of balls would all but make Beechwood's task pretty unlikely but fortunately Bradley powered the first of these through mid-wicket for a boundary and when a mis-field allowed us to take a second run from the following ball the job was all but done, Beechwood getting home with two balls to spare courtesy of a Bradley drill down the ground or another four; Fraser finishing undefeated on 76, Bradley on 43, both guys playing brilliantly unflappable knocks.

I don't know about our critics but we certainly confounded ourselves with such a display. There was definitely a pessimistic air as we went in at the interval but certainly a rather satisfying one at the finish, and this was without doubt one of the more joyous victories in Beechwood colours that I have played in and everyone involved could hold their heads up high. And just how important were all those saved runs?! It would be very remiss of me not to mention our opponents who naturally became a little quieter as the game started to slip away from them but kept their dignity throughout, with very few recriminations and no hint of anything unseemly aimed towards the batsman, and played the game in the right spirit throughout, but for once, I'm gonna finish by heaping all the plaudits on the Beechwood boys after such a fantastic performance...

As The CoCK may have said - "Bloody marvellous!" - or indeed as The Unit on the day might have put it - "F#%#%#g Brilliant!!"

More tea vicar?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 09:07

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