Chris Savory
No slip-ups from the Bananaman but The Ashes still come homePDFPrintE-mail
Thursday, 08 June 2017 20:00
Written by Chris Savory

Saturday scorecard

Sunday scorecard

Saturday 3 June 2017

Orchard Field, Otford

"The Ashes" (40 over game)

Beechwood 229 for 5 (40 overs)

Velden 180 for 7 (40 overs)

Beechwood won by 49 runs

Sunday 4 June 2017

Orchard Field, Otford

Beechwood 213 for 4 dec (38 overs)

Velden 138 all out (33.3 overs)

Beechwood won by 75 runs

Timing is everything and fortunately our touring friends timed their visit perfectly as we've endured some pretty putrid weather in The UK since their departure. Yes, after years of trying, Beechwood finally and successfully hosted our friends from Velden CC for a tour of their own. Whilst it was far from tropical over the weekend it was more than pleasant enough for cricket, and the sun shone on The Otford Hills creating a vista equal to any European mountain range...ok, perhaps not!

Our guests' weekend started Thursday evening when a reception committee of Bradley and Keith introduced our friends to the delights of English country lane driving and real ale; in fact one or two, I'm talking Eric and Stefan in particular, developed quite a taste for Harvey's over the weekend; expat Dave Farrell had already developed his! After doing the touristy things uptown on Friday, (including taking in four balls at Lords before the heavens unfortunately opened) it was time for Ashes Saturday!

My first encounter with our oppo was in The Bricklayers Arms in the morning where I was delighted to encounter a full Velden XI tucking into a full English breakfast and it was great to see so many familiar faces again. At the table's far end sat the familiar face of Eric who was now sporting some unfamiliar flowing looks, looking more Van Halen than Velden CC if anything, and I was kind of hoping he'd been concentrating on his band of late rather than his cricket but future developments would soon dash these hopes... 

Saturday's game was a traditional 40-over affair and Beechwood were invited to bat first on a damp but drying central deck. Franzi settled into a nice early rhythm, frequently dropping it onto a nagging length and Gerd started as he meant to go on, pulling off some athletic stops in the ring, but it was young Oliver who took Velden's first wicket, Keith top-edging to Khartik at square-leg. Brad had a quick flurry before falling to Gerd and then Beechwood's pair of Ian and Hamish compiled half-centuries before retiring 'hurt' allowing Adrian to hit a quickfire 47 and Fraser an undefeated 36. Gerd almost bagged a hat-trick in the last over before Beechwood's innings closed on 229-7 from their 40.

Velden stuck to their task manfully in their unusual surroundings but without their heavy artillery that will no doubt pepper us next month, it was always going to be a tough ask and they could hold their heads high after keeping Beechwood's total within their reach. In reply, Gerd showed just what he thought of the notion that batting on grass would be tricky by smashing Fraser's first ball to the long-on boundary! Sadly, we were denied any further entertainment from him when he perished a few balls later. Dave and Stefan compiled a handy if watchful partnership, Dave, initially cautious, becoming more and more inventive as his innings developed before Keith's juggling act eventually accounted for him.

After Stefan's departure Eric walked out to the middle and toughed out some early tight bowling and survived a chance when on eight, before spending the rest of the weekend turning the screws on Beechwood. One may have assumed he'd have been wary of batting on grass but it seems he was warier of umpiring on it, such was his application over the weekend, the first of two centuries being scored off the last ball of the innings. Velden closed their innings on 180, a little short of their target but could take comfort by not being bowled out and achieving a score that Beechwood have struggled to reach on occasions this season. Felix showed that he could develop into a handy batsmen in the future, Much played some nice strokes in his cameo and Khartik was a good foil for Eric at the end but The DoC could consider himself unfortunate that in a match with 8-over limits for bowlers, his ninth went for 14!! Still, Beechwood had regained The Ashes and we look forward to those five weeks with them in our possession!

Sunday was an opportunity for us to show the tourists the delightful quirks of a timed cricket match. Beechwood again batted first and when Stefan pulled up lame after an early chase in the outfield they probably contemplated on carrying on a man short when they saw me hobble out in the role of substitute fielder. Better for Velden was to come though in the shape of The DoC who would eventually replace me, pulling off a smart catch to dismiss a rather bemused Adrian! Fortunately Adrian had already reached a score of 55 and another undefeated 70 from Hamish plus some handy runs from Mark, Brad and Dean ensured Beechwood would again post a challenging total, declaring fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled on 213.

It was fitting that Deano was able to squeeze a game in for the Sunday as if memory serves, I'm pretty certain he received our first ever delivery in Austria all those years back. Wolfi will probably dine out on the fact that he dismissed Fraser for a duck, Gerd again fielded and caught well and Oliver picked up his third wicket for the tour and Velden on the whole once again fielded well, that's in spite of being sidled with a Beechwood fielder for most of our innings!

On resumption it was time for part two of The Eric Show after an experimental Velden top-order didn't quite come off. Eric was a little more brutal in this instalment, putting anything short or too full away for boundaries but unfortunately with Stefan unable to bat, support was a little thin when it came to chasing down Beechwood's total and Much with 10 was the only Velden batter to reach double figures although Keith was keen to pick out Dave for special praise after his effort of 31 dot balls from 33 received! Eric brought up his century in the game's closing overs before Mark eventually cleaned him up, at least giving him an average for the tour. In the nicest possible way, I was rather sick of the sight of him by then! It really was a truly incredible performance though, and put to bed any myths about the grass factor. For Beechwood, it was good to see Ian get some rhythm back with his bowling as indeed it was with Brad in the first game.

Mark and Fraser did most damage with the ball however, sharing eight wickets. Myself and Tony had a race to retrieve one that stopped just inside the long-stop boundary...I think they ran six...   In spite of Beechwood racking up two wins and regaining the urn in the process, and Eric's incredible efforts to stave us off along the way, they won't be what Beechwood will be dwelling on from the weekend.
The event itself was the winner... From Tony's hard work and persistence at this end to Eric and the guys' similar efforts over there, and the efforts of Lyn and all the WaGS in the kitchen, especially Cat who supplied some truly fantastic cakes for the weekend and Russ, who got off his sick-bed to fulfil his catering duties on Sunday. Similarly thanks to Ron for two consecutive days of scoring, Scott for helping us out on Saturday, all the other caterers at Otford PLUS The Bricklayers Arms for all their hospitality. Also hats off to Brad and The C.o.C.K. for their two-man social committee for the weekend, indeed I gather another session was had at The Brickie after Sunday's game which hopefully didn't end too messily for anybody! (Franzi's desperate efforts to keep the bar open Saturday night were priceless!).

Most gratitude however would be saved for the Velden boys themselves for taking the plunge and visiting these shores. Needless to say, the games were played very sportingly; I don't imagine Beechwood being afforded four lbw's for the season's remainder let alone in a single innings, and in spite of the results everyone at Beechwood hopes their time here, especially on the field has been an enjoyable one. We look forward to our Ashes defence next month (it'll be a pity that so many faces from both sides can't be on parade for it) and hopefully the possibility of you all returning sometime soon.

Now for us it's back to domestic drudgery...

Last Updated on Friday, 09 June 2017 09:06

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