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First XI beat Chichester in the Cup

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

The perfect blend of youth and experience made the scenic journey west to play Chichester Cricket Club this weekend in the 1st round of the Sussex League Twenty20 Cup. With rain threatening all week, it was great to be greeted with very fair conditions on arrival at the stunning Goodwood House. Playing at what can only be described as one of the most picturesque grounds on the circuit, the Windmills were very much looking forward to an enjoyable afternoon.

The initial overhead conditions were matched by the well-prepared pitch and outfield. With games being played at this beautiful location dating back to the early 1700s, you couldn’t help but feel privileged to be contributing to this rich history.

After reviewing the pitch and with some experience of previous matches at this ground, skipper James Howgate was keen to put Chichester into bat if won the toss but in typical fashion, he lost the toss and we were asked to bat first.

A well delivered and received team talk, led by skipper James (Howgate) and club coach Matthew Machan, ensured the youthful XI were engaged from the outset and throughout. There was a key emphasis on not only making sure we batted all 20 overs but to run hard between the wickets. Limit dot balls, turns 1’s into 2’s and wait for the bad ball. There would be small margins for the bowlers, so bad balls would be put away. It was nice to give special mentions to Alex Tatchell and Tom Saunders who made their 1st XI debuts for the Windmills on Saturday but more about them later on. For now, at least, it was time for two of the club’s front line spin bowlers to star in a different facet of the game.

With the bell ringing from the Georgian pavilion, our two openers Charlie Woodage and Ben Lucking departed for the middle. The Chichester bowling attack started strongly and opener Matthew Geffen picked up an early wicket in the first over, unfortunately young Charlie’s afternoon was over for now. This early wicket brought to the crease Charlie Davies. Fresh back from University I couldn’t help sensing the feeling he was suffering from vertigo with his promotion from number 9 to number 3. The early dismissal did not phase the two lads at the crease. Ben Lucking immediately went on the counterattack, hitting successive boundaries to end the first over.

This early intent set the way for the power play and the score reached 40-1 after the first 6 overs. Some excellent stroke play and running between the wickets – just what the coach had asked for – was on display from the two set batsmen. Ben’s (Lucking) work on the golf course has clearly been paying off as he then hit two rather large sixes in the 8th over. On one occasion the umpire questioned whether the ball had crossed the boundary, I’m fairly sure one of the fielders responded with “yes, I think the ball’s landed in the next County.”

Again, with the two lads well set, the game was still well set and a wicket at this stage could have caused some issues. That’s nearly what happened in the 10th over – with the score on 64-1 Ben Lucking was then dismissed off a no-ball. The subsequent free hit then went for four. A further no ball in the same over, which was again equally punished, meant the score began to creep up. Some further amazing ball-striking from both Charlie and Ben helped race the score on to 144-1 off 15 overs. In this time both batsmen brought up their 50’s, their first for the season and respectfully congratulated by the rest of the team watching from the side-lines. None of which had moved from their sitting or standing position since the 1st over, fearing that moving would cause a dismissal. An old superstition that proved to be the downfall for Ben (Lucking) and Charlie (Davies).

Whilst coach Matt (Machan) was dashing back from an impromptu toilet break both batsmen fell in successive balls. Ben was run out for an impressive 76 (53) including 7 fours and 3 sixes, the 10KM charity runs he took part in during April had finally caught up with him. Charlie was then dismissed with a good catch off the bowling of Ajit Shambi. Brining to the end a very well put together 63 (53) consisting of 6 fours and 2 sixes.

The score was 160-3 with just over two overs left to bat. With all this commission brought some frantic padding up from skipper Howgate and all-rounder Martyn Swift – ultimately not need – much to the amusement of the rest of the team. The two new batsmen now at the crease Reuben Taylor and Josh Taylor spent no time hanging around. Reuben crashed his first two deliveries to the boundary and Josh would join the party an over later, individually taking 16 runs from the penultimate over. The two Taylor’s added some real momentum to the innings with a further 14 runs being added in the last. This took the team total to 198-3. Reuben finishing on 22* (10) and Josh on 16* (6).

A very well put together innings by the team had the bowlers licking their lips with these runs on the board as the team prepared for the second innings. The 10th over of our innings proved to be a critical point, a wicket then and we could have been looking at 130 or 140 but luck(ing) was on our side. With the team getting ready, it was a shame that the heavens then opened. A short downfall or clearing up shower as some might describe it came through. It did not spoil however the overall aesthetics of the scenery and Goodwood House in all its might still over-looking the ground and brighter skies on their way. Resident weatherman Adrian Swift back in Worthing was on hand to provide an update over the phone to son Martyn, confidently saying the shower would stop in 10 minutes time. He was out by about 90 seconds – better luck next time.

With the shower now cleared, the covers removed, and the outfield give a few moments to dry, the team were ready to rock and roll again. The interruption had reduced the second innings to 16 overs and the score Chichester was now chasing had been revised to 159. We were expecting Chichester to come out firing but both James (Howgate) and Matthew (Machan) told the team to focus on their skills. Concentrate of hitting the top of off stump and work hard in the field to save runs where we could.

As expected, Chichester did start with some intent and were 28-0 off of the first 3 overs. Opening bowlers Matthew Machan and Martyn Swift had some work to do. The first wicket came though in the fourth over as new signing, all-rounder and generally great bloke; Martyn Swift dismissed Chichester opener Bennison for 21, a good catch from Alex Tatchell at backward point. The over finished as a maiden and the pressure was back on Chichester.

The ever-reliable Reuben Taylor was then introduced into the attack and he picked up a wicket in his first over. Matthew Machan making hard work of a regulation catch at fine leg. Both openers for Chichester now back in the pavilion (or just outside it I should say).

Debutant Tom Saunders was then brought into the attack and with just his second ball picked up his first 1st XI wicket. Much to the delight of the rest of the team. The hosts were still scoring well and were on 57 after the 7th over but for the loss of 3 wickets. Reuben would then pick up his second of the day an over later, Charlie Davies taking a good catch out at deep mid-wicket. A classic seamers dismissal.

Tom (Saunders) continued to impress and was rewarded with his second wicket in the 11th over. Beating the batsmen all ends up with the only clean bowled dismissal of the day. Chichester were now struggling with the score on 78-5 after the 11th.

The 12th over then saw the introduction of second debutant Alex Tatchell, bowling some excellent right arm leg breaks, a very smooth and repeatable action. Having great viewing at deep cover, it was a joy to watch. Oli Van Noort was also brought into the attack an excellent pairing which provided a real squeeze on the Chichester batsmen. Neither bowler conceded a boundary for the next four overs and due to this build-up of pressure something was bound to give. Some smart work for first time wicket-keeper Josh Taylor assisted in a brilliant run-out leaving OVN to whip the bails off at the bowler’s end. With an over to go the hosts had reached 98-6.

This left the final over to be bowled by our very own James Howgate. I’m not sure anyone playing, officiating or scoring had any idea what he was going to bowl – and in truth I’m not sure he did either – but he finished the game off nicely and Chichester finished their revised innings on 106-6 off of their 16 overs. Chilt completing a strong 53 run win. Notable figures from the bowling innings come from Reuben Taylor (2-26) and Tom Saunders (2-19).

Overall a very impressive day out and team performance with all involved making a contribution. Both captain and coach were very pleased but now all attention and preparation turns to next Saturday’s first league of the season against Slinfold (away).

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