Chris Savory
Sunday bests and stuffed guestsPDFPrintE-mail
Thursday, 05 October 2017 22:00
Written by Chris Savory
Mark Leadon calls a beleagured Ian McCrea through for a quick single
Sunday 1 October 2017

Orchard Field, Otford

Fordcombe 116 all out (30 overs)

Beechwood 117 for 6 (28.3 overs)

Beechwood won by four wickets | Full scorecard

I'm sure if there were 31 days in September nobody would think too deeply about playing cricket on such a date but there's something not quite right about attempting to play once that tenth month arrives even if it is only on the first day of it. Previous attempts to play on such a date have personally been about as fruitful as fishing off a railway bridge with my own previous attempt coming to an abrupt halt once a hailstorm brought proceedings to a rather chilly and soggy end. Still, some decent recruiting on the playing front and the fact that the season simply can't end without a Fordcombe fixture to finish it off meant that there was a good vibe about playing in spite of some rather unpleasant weather accompanying a few journeys to Otford where Fordcombe needless to say, were warmly welcomed.

There was once again some doubt as to whether our landlords were expecting us for this fixture, with the whole place having a distinct 'put away for the winter' feel about it, especially the far end sight-screen which had sunk into the muddy far corner and proved immovable. Still, a pitch did appear to have been cut as indeed had the outfield but the cuttings formed tatty clumps and gave the ground something of a ploughed field look about it. Similarly, the changing rooms had their annual sprucing up on the morning of the match, giving the place more than a whiff of a swimming baths, but the CoCK was on hand for an early ground and pitch inspection and declared 'game on'!

There was something resembling a mild coup d'├ętat as Russ arrived fresh from his recent outing in the ranks and assumed his rightful place at the helm. Similarly, Dean was back to resume his rightful place at the top of the order and Ron returned to take his rightful place with the scorebook. Oh, and Keith had the gloves again as well. With the DoC slightly ailing and now unthreatened at the top of the bowling aggregates aided by Fraser's absence today, he also stood down to accommodate Bradley and assume his photographic duties. There was also a warm welcome to Ryan Carter and Steve Hirst for their Beechwood debuts following some canny recruiting from the returning captain. With the threat of some later heavier rain it was wisely decided to play a 30-overs match of which Fordcombe won the toss and elected to bat.

Fordcombe opened up with an O'Collins pairing but both would have varying fortunes with one (J) getting trapped lbw by Mark without a run on the board while the other (M) would go on to top-score. Things may have been different had our debutants combination been successful early on but Steve dropped the chance off Ryan and the opener made the most of his reprieve as he nicely accumulated 73 runs (and survived further drops) before his dismissal towards the innings' closure. I don't know Steve that well but I suspect he would've been disappointed with his spill but after watching us perform juggling acts for the next hour and a half he probably wouldn't have reflected on it too much.

After Mark weighed in with another early wicket (thanks to Brad's safe hands) leaving the visitors struggling on 3-2 there was a major recovery with the third-wicket partnership between the surviving O'Collins and Shackleton Sr. These two were going along nicely, propelling the visitors up to 96 when O'Collins called his partner through for a quick single. Considering the fielder they took on was yours truly, you would probably assume the run was successfully taken but no, I swooped, I gathered, I threw and I swear, I would have retired there and then had I effected a direct hit but such was the speed of my response that bowler Ian had time to take the ball in front of the stumps and make sure of Shackleton's dismissal himself...something like that anyway... Ian having changed ends was bowling very tidily and was eventually rewarded with two in two, the second of which was a spectacular effort from Tony at slip for which he leapt walrus-like and clung on to remove K.Exton.

"Hat-trick on" I hear you cry but no, fate would intervene as these were the last two permitted balls of his spell unfortunately. Still, Ian's work was nowhere near done for the day...

I've been somewhat (in jest) pithy towards Keith's glovework over the course of the season but in all seriousness I've probably got him to thank for about half of my wickets (not that many, I grant you) as once more he was on hand to effect the stumping of O'Collins to leave Fordcombe on 110-6. Then followed a procession of Worcesters and some further Extons and Shackletons plus the odd Howard but these were all powerless to stop the returning Carter from mopping up the tail, his first four wickets for the club coming in the space of two overs, the last of which, young Charlie who'd showed some defiance in the latter overs, unfortunately playing on off the last ball of the innings...

Fordcombe finished up on 116 from their 30 overs having recorded a somewhat Beechwoodian looking scorecard registering seven ducks! There were some handy bowling figures on display: Ryan 4-15, Mark 2-12 and Ian 2-19 from their allotted six overs and the DoC, normally only on hand to capture our batsmen getting cleaned up through his lenses, was also able to capture the aftermath of some of our previously alluded to drops...and some ungainly shapes were thrown for certain!

Well down to Tony and Russ for their catering efforts and I have to take my hat off to the whole Cartwright household for their preparation of the courgette cakes...couldn't imagine anything sounding more unappetising truth be told but what do you know...? Truly delicious morsels and produced from their own garden I'm told; impressive stuff!

Back to the cricket then, and Dean was to have a new opening partner in Mr Hirst. We all remember his innings against us earlier in the season when he was fortunate not to receive a damages bill from the equestrian school, and he set about playing in a similar fashion this afternoon. Dean, having sussed this and seemingly hopeful of an early finish was keen to get his partner on strike as often as possible but after some rather hectic singles his partner advised him not to continue down this road as it was bound to end disastrously. Guess how it ended?! With Beechwood quickly reaching 37 another quick single was attempted accompanied by some "yes! no! wait! yes! oops!" type dialogue and Steve was left stranded after Dean's calling which would have been better aimed at a sheepdog rather than your batting partner. Exit one guest we won't be able to call on again...

Dean didn't quite regain his composure after all this although he was still there after the skipper and a swinging Dave Lockey had quickly departed and still looked likely to hopefully see things through to the end. Unfortunately his own end wasn't long in coming however when Worcester cleaned him up having scored 20 and Beechwood were pegged back on 58-4, but it has still been a successful comeback season for the returning opener...batting wise anyway!

Brad and new boy Ryan were now at the crease and were edging the hosts closer to their total and after having hit some mighty blows, Ryan was on the receiving end of a full toss from the other Worcester which he was only able to top-edge into the safe hands of the fielder in the deep. From 50 or so yards away it looked tight to say the least but Tony at standing umpire kept his arm down and both he and Ryan looked towards square leg umpire for guidance/mercy. Stood at square leg umpire by now was a certain D. Kelly and he also kept his hands firmly by his side meaning a slow trudge off for Ryan, who would express his thoughts that he believed it above waist-high. Exit a second guest unlikely to play for us again! It's a little-known fact, but a fact all the same that Dean actually has his own YouTube channel (The Chameleon) which is dedicated to his impersonation skills, some of which are admittedly worse than others but after his treatment of today's guests I'd proffer that perhaps Basil Fawlty is his most accurate impression yet! I should quickly point out that both of our guests took their dismissals with good grace and were very quickly laughing about their own modes of dismissal, not always the case with everyone donning The Beechwood whites down the years...

There was still a match on here to be lost or won but when Brad fell almost immediately after Ryan's wicket it was starting to look like an uphill climb for the hosts. With eight or so overs remaining and a run-a-ball required on a large, slow outfield which was now starting to get damp as some light rain was falling, I could almost feel Ian inwardly wince as Mark Leadon, now bedecked in spikes allowing for quicker turns for those threes, strode out to join him. I've enjoyed watching Ian's role as our finisher over the last couple of years but as next man in, I've never wanted him to stay out there until the end more than on this occasion! Mark got his head down, bellowed his war cries of "Yes! Two!" which resounded around Kent and found a willing responder in Ian who thankfully didn't have to call for oxygen or glucose as the total drew ever closer.

Mark survived a close run-out call of which, thanks to The DoC's excellent photographic skills showed him to be actually a fraction short of his ground when the wicket was broken but it would have been a very tight call to have adjudged it so in real-time...certainly for our square-leg umpires!

With the rain now falling heavier and the finishing line within touching distance, our two notorious red-inkers weren't about to throw this one away although it was a tough call on young Charlie to be called for a wide delivery with the scores level but umpire Russ showed some Jardine-like intent as he presided over his maiden victory as Beechwood captain following his stop-start season with nine balls remaining. Ashley Worcester was the pick of the Fordcombe attack with 3-17 and Ian and Mark were 20* and 15* respectively. Well done to both sides for conjuring up an entertaining game on a dull October afternoon and we look forward to our return visit to Fordcombe next autumn.

A word of thanks to our special guests today for helping us out and for their telling contributions in the match and thanks also to The Bosses, who've turned out on many an occasion including today, for lending their considerable vocal support to the cause and occasionally donning the whites when we're (usually) short. Nice to see Hamish and Andrea briefly pop in today as well. End of term thanks also to Lyn and her unstinting efforts in the kitchen as well as behind the scenes and to Ron for his scoring through all weathers and everybody was truly grateful for his large round of drinks to round off the season. Cheers Ronald!

As for these scribblings, I simply have no choice but to grimace through (especially) my own and others' 'efforts' in the field so I hope that explains some of the lopsided detail regarding the halves of our matches and I'm truly sorry if any batsman feels his efforts may have occasionally gone unheralded or have been somewhat glossed over at any given time but to be brutally honest, I simply can't face watching us bat for most of the time...sorry!

It's been a long season, occasionally historic (Velden touring) but (for once) seldom histrionic fortunately, despite occasionally bordering on chaotic. For the most part though, it's often been an enjoyable one and at least it was nice to finish with a win (and congratulations Russ!) but probably even nicer just to finish and with that in mind, is that The Ashes looming on the horizon?!

Good grief, the torment never stops...enjoy the hibernation!

Last Updated on Friday, 06 October 2017 17:20

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Latest result

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