Chris Savory
Bruised but staved off a batteringPDFPrintE-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 07:30
Written by Chris Savory
Warner got Beechwood off to a great start

Full scorecard | Photos

Sunday, 31st July 2016
Tonbridge, Kent

Tonbridge 232-2 (38 overs)

Beechwood 168 for 5 (38 overs)

So! For our last game in July we headed down to Tonbridge, scene of last season's improbable victory, brought about by some heroics from our departed Blaster as you may recall. Plenty of other absentees on the register this week but Beechwood still managed to assemble a more than half decent XI to take on Tonbridge C.C. of whom, if they possessed long memories might just have been keen to subject us to a long afternoon. Although a pretty setting, it's also a pretty massive ground and for some reason the outfield was roped off into an area the size of Crete, coupled with a road for a deck and a token toss which would always mean Beechwood fielding first, it was certainly looking like that long afternoon was ever more than likely.

When opening batsman Evans carved Rob's none too shabby first delivery through point and beyond the distant boundary rope, those fears were more realistic than ever, and it would be a fiery introduction for both he and Larry, playing his first domestic fixture this summer. It wasn't all one-way traffic however, (see later) and initially fellow opening bat Rossiter was actually looking a little less assured than his partner against these two, so it was a welcome surprise when Rob produced an absolute pearler to castle the dangerous looking Evans in the fifth over. 27-1 after five overs with Evans back in the hutch would have been a scenario that Beechwood would have bitten the proverbial arm off to have achieved, but it would be a considerable time before Beechwood would make their next breakthrough. Rossiter launched Larry into some impenetrable brambles in the tenth over resulting in what looked like last week's ball being tossed out for use, and that effectively meant the end of the pace attack for the afternoon. Mark's allsorts were initially used in tandem with spin and this initially at least appeared to dry up the boundary count although the vast playing area meant that twos were relatively easy to come by for the rest of the afternoon. New bat Topham was immediately just as assertive as his predecessor and Rossiter was now pretty well set and was starting to dispatch anything slightly loose (of which there was very little throughout the Tonbridge innings) out towards the deep. Both batsmen passed their fifties and had relatively effortlessly propelled Tonbridge up to 153 when Topham, who was starting to open his shoulders by now, failed in his attempt to smash me into the Medway.

153-2 from 27 overs then and the remainder of the afternoon was literally spent much the same way as the previous 26 with fielders haring around the outfield and trotting back to their distant fielding positions and trudging towards their other outposts at the end of each over which wasn't playing out to the accompaniment of "quick as you can boys!" for some reason this week.... Everyone was subjected to this although The Goose and Ade seemed to be covering more ground than most, and all this was considerably made worse when our resident bundle of energy Dave Lockey tweaked a hamstring rendering him only capable of half-speed for half of the session (Beechwood's elder fielders especially wish him a speedy recovery). New bat Batley came out and scored at practically a run a ball and was able to chaperone Rossiter through the to his ton (his maiden so I gather, but could've heard wrong but double congratulations if this proves to be true) and upon this Tonbridge promptly declared at the end of the 38th over setting Beechwood a more than challenging 233 to win.

Challenging but still sporting as batting through to the proposed tea time would've effectively killed the game. Okay, now it's time for "Fieldwatch", something that's worryingly becoming a feature of late. To be fair, the bowlers couldn't have done a lot more and while we can all mull over missing Fraser's pace we'll never know if that was a key missing ingredient. There was a particularly heroic effort on the ground-fielding front with Ade, Ian and The DoC frequently putting their bodies on the line close in, Larry and Tony forming an impressive barrier at long on/off and Rob, Mark and Sean hurtling around the boundary ropes like greyhounds chasing hares in their efforts to successfully save twos and threes. As for the catching though; well, shall we say not quite so heroic, and lately it's been the safer hands that's starting to put them down with a regulation snick going in and out the gloves early on and Mark and Sean (twice!) untypically shelling ones when they'd done the hard work getting underneath them. Indeed, The Guerinator spent almost as much time on all fours as he did in his Tooting days! One of those days I suppose, and I'm sure I'm going to be dropping an easier one than these any time soon but the paid-up members of the bowlers' union among us certainly could've done with some of these sticking today, looking at their figures, and being so far from the action I couldn't actually tell who was who being dropped, so identically were they all kitted out! Oh, and a quick glance through the scorecard (bypassing the bowling figures!) reveals that a David Blaine was one of those who didn't get to bat today...a bit of a shame he never got to the middle as he may have been able to make the outfield appear smaller......

Tonbridge certainly pulled out all the stops on the catering front with a fine spread with some particularly quirky confectionary items finding their way onto Keith's plate, but with our bellies now full it was time to set about our run chase. With Tonbridge's early declaration this would effectively pan out as a 38-over game and it would be interesting to see how the scoring rates would compare as our innings progressed. Sean and Adrian opened up for the away side and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that our hosts may gave spared us some of their heavier artillery throughout the afternoon, but as I'm frequently told in these instances, usually by the batsmen, you simply don't know. Anyway, Adrian was able to tuck into some early freebies which he duly put away with aplomb while Sean initially faced the more testing stuff first up! It mattered little though as both were composed and scoring quickly and gave Beechwood the start they would have craved and indeed, at the ten and twenty over marks, Beechwood were neck and neck with their opponent’s scoring rate. Unfortunately, the key factor would be that at the twenty over mark, Beechwood had been recently reduced to two wickets down and without a Bradley or a Fraser or even a Burgers to keep up a similar tempo it was always going to be tough for the next guys in to play roles that they aren't accustomed to. Sean and Ade both deserved half-centuries but would fall just short with Adrian's strike rate being particularly impressive.

Larry perished early in an attempt to keep up the scoring rate and Rob, Ian and Mark all played with an urgency they wouldn't normally be required to display but with the boundary ropes in different postcodes it would mean scampering as many runs as possible in the afternoon heat (None of that seemed to matter to super-fit Mark who ran four threes in his innings). All three tried to keep the scoreboard ticking over as best they could before Rob was taken smartly at point and Ian perished looking for quick runs. The scoring rate was dropping off by now and the arrival of KHM certainly didn't address this, quite the opposite in fact, as the match viewing was reduced to that of watching a test match and ultimately a test card. He may well point to the fact that he would eventually overtake Mark but this was down to getting nearly all the strike and receiving almost as many consecutive dot balls as Mark's entire innings. Still, hard to be too picky as he along with Mark survived to the end and meant Beechwood were able to play out a draw and remarkably keep up their unbeaten record against Tonbridge! For the record, Beechwood finished up 168-5, a fair distance behind but a few more overs received with our openers still out there may have changed things appreciably but again, who knows?

Tonbridge were a very friendly and sociable crowd and while they're probably fed up with us by now it'd be nice to see this fixture continue, for the short term at least... I'll happily come along to watch... not by train obviously!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2016 07:54

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