Chris Savory
Not so rusty Cartwright's efforts in vainPDFPrintE-mail
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 22:00
Written by Chris Savory
Sunday 24 September 2017

Washwell Lane, Wadhurst

Beechwood 126 all out (42 overs)

Wadhurst 127 for 5 (38.2 overs)

Wadhurst won by five wickets | Full scorecard

Among others, I didn't really fancy this fixture to be honest (some allowed their fancies to take them elsewhere), but I'm glad I played it, despite witnessing another Beechwood defeat. I've nothing against hosts Wadhurst and its players, club, quirky ground, town etc, it's simply that the fixture falls at the wrong time of the season and it's an hour and a half journey for more than one of our number.

Still, it often seems to be a pleasant fixture weather-wise and Sunday would be no exception with the ground basking in warm sunshine for the early part of the afternoon. Wadhurst has a spectacular view looking away from the boundary across The Weald, the view looking inward to watch Beechwood hasn't quite been so good of late, hopefully today would see some improvement there.

Several of the ten available Beechwoodians (and before we get too hot under the collar about this statistic let's remember, this is frequently the case of late) were assembled early enough to see a roped-off area that looked as though Time Team had filmed there during the week, which in fact was protecting a cricket table. Somehow our hosts, with a little bit of TLC and a magic broom were able to prepare something ready to play on. There was still a lot of excitable discussion about the prospects of using it with the usual cricketing metaphors (spitting cobras etc.) getting quoted but The DoC simply calmly and prophetically declared "it'll be slow and low" while Adrian proffered "bat second I reckon". We should listen to The DoC and Adie far more often.... As it was, victorious tosser Tony was kind of strong-armed by his charges into batting first just as the intrepid explorer Mark Leadon arrived, proving once again that when it comes to arriving for a cricket match, there's no time like just before the nick of it...

Adrian was reinstalled alongside Fraser to open up and they were faced with handy opposition bowlers Bell and Asad. Sure enough, slow and low it certainly was and neither opener quite got their timing right, and a couple of caught and bowled opportunities were shelled before Adrian snicked one from Asad apparently to safety before first slip nonchalantly thrust out his right hand and clung on to remove our in-form opener.

11-1 would soon be 11-2 when Fraser chipped one to a fielder and at 22-3 Ashley did likewise. Bradley joined the welcome-returning Russ, back in the ranks for this afternoon, and these two staged something of a mini recovery before Brad was cleaned up by new bowler Wagner. Ian, who'd been on scorebook duty through all this carnage was next in but he must have been enjoying his scoring a little bit too much as he was stood over my shoulder asking if I'd like him to resume scoring duties before I'd filled in the previous wicket's details! 44-5 was all too familiar territory for the visitors of late but at least our ranks were now swelled by the visiting Bosses.

Joe had been suffering from an influenza type bug but an effort to take in some fresh air ended up with him donning some loaned whites ready to bolster our ranks. Russ, meanwhile was going along nicely and although he declared himself at only about 65% strength it was strong enough to carry us along! Partnerships with Mark and more substantially Tony propelled us towards at least a possibly defendable total before he eventually succumbed on 59 with the visitors now sat on 117-7.

It was a heroic act just to pack his whites but this was a Herculean effort and there was plenty of warm applause as he trudged back in looking far more pasty-faced than when he first got on the pitch. Well done sir! We probably could have done with Tony going on to the innings' closure but he soon departed, but there was at least time for Joe to smite a glorious boundary through long-off before Beechwood would be dismissed for 126 from 42 overs. Probably a few shorter than was looking likely late on but from 44-5 you'd have to settle for that I suppose. Skipper Bell was pick of the bowlers with 4-28 from his nine overs and in fact all the Wadhurst bowlers returned some pretty decent figures. For the second week running there were murmurings that there should have been more runs from the tail; a distinct possibility granted, but a few more beforehand wouldn't go amiss either...

Wadhurst provided a particularly impressive spread for which they should be heartily applauded and with bellies full the visitors set about trying to defend their smallish total. Ashley opened up with a pretty frugal spell from the pavilion end but unfortunately without breaking through, and yours truly found bowling up the hill and against the slope a bit labouring to be honest and perhaps should have politely declined the invitation to do so.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and perhaps the skipper was ill-advised in this experiment but with only 120-odd on the board I thought it was perhaps worth a gamble. Unsuccessful though. Ian was introduced and after a shaky first over settled down and used the slope to its max and was unfortunate not to find the left-handed opener Wade's edges going to hand.

Wade was the main aggressor in Wadhurst's chase and showed Beechwood perhaps the way to have gone about their business perhaps with plenty of mows into the pretty stuff! His partner Evans was a little more circumspect in his approach and was eventually trapped in front by Fraser with the hosts on 37. The visitors didn't break through again though until the hosts had reached 102, effectively securing the result. Cookie clung on to the dangerous Wade off his own bowling having scored 62, but in spite of three late wickets falling and one of the Wadhurst batsmen departing early for work (!), the hosts achieved their target when Barrett sand-ironed over square-leg in the 39th over.

Difficult chances were shelled by Russ, Ian and Mark but the result was seldom in doubt after the second wicket partnership and the hosts were worthy winners. Hats off to stand-in keeper Bradley who literally stopped everything; vital here with such runaway boundary edges, and I've seldom been so inactive at fine-leg.

The slightly longer than usual grass in the outfield meant plenty of chases for the recovering Joe to retrieve and his rocket-arm was put to good use, one missile in particular almost made a hole in the skipper! Everyone at Beechwood wants Joe to enjoy whichever sport he plays in but if he ever falls out of love with playing football, none of us here would be too sad upon hearing the news (every chance following Palace this season I suppose!!), it was funny however to find his dad initially on the PlayCricket scorecard!

Man of the match had to be Russ though, even in normal circumstances, but this was above and beyond the call of duty today and it was a pleasure to see him back scoring runs in Beechwood colours. A pleasurable afternoon's cricket then and as I said, I'm glad I played the fixture after all and a much-improved team performance after the last couple of weeks' debacles. Wadhurst were a sociable bunch all afternoon, particularly in the bar later, and I'm sure the sun will shine upon us next year, whoever turns out.

It looks an iffy forecast for Sunday which could well mean the season's end but I hope not as we appear to have a stellar cast of guests available for Fordcombe. Still, be that the case, at least you'll have no more of this drivel to wade through... KHM out.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 September 2017 18:23

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Sun Sep 29, 2019 @12:30
Fordcombe (H) - Cancelled (rain)