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Report: First XI Beat Billingshurst by One Wicket!

By James Howgate

Umpire: Jim Gee

Scorer: Peter Harding

It was a strange start to the day, no sunshine about and totally different feel from the previous week playing at the rec.

Another young side selected for the away day at local division 2 side Billingshurst CC.

As we arrived at 11am we see that the covers are still on with a sprinkling of rain which never really got started, getting closer to the start time and having warmed up effectively and no rain in the air, the covers were still on as the captain and umpires suggested that we take the toss, a little strange to make a decision without knowing what the wicket looked like that we were due to play on within the next 20 minutes. So the toss was delayed until these were taken off with around 8 minutes to spare.

Looking at the surroundings, with the weather coming today, we were looking to bowl for the first time this year. up goes the coin and comes down with a Tail, Billingshurst won the toss and decided to Bat.

Opening Pair Reuben Taylor 6-2-15-1 & Lyle Aichroth 3-0-28-1 both managed early breakthroughs with the new ball. Reuben’s experience with the new ball was more controlled than the youthful Lyle, who struggled with wides and no balls, but learning is the key for him this year & when he gets it right, he can cause trouble for any batsmen that we will play against.

A little partnership started to form with Thorneley & Hollander putting on 46 before 2 quick wickets by Machan reduced Billingshurst 61-4, which left Burroughs & Osborne to the crease, a few spilled chances of both batsmen and we were unlucky not to get breakthroughs more consistently throughout the innings, with dropped catches, balls falling just out of reach and on another day, they could have gone to hand. Still our young side pressed for wickets and played an attacking style of cricket. Hugo Gillespie came into the attack to bowl in tandem with Machan getting Osborne trapped in front for his 38 leaving Billy 131-6. Gillespie & Machan both bowling their full amount of overs Machan finishing with 8-1-27-2 and Gillespie 8-0-27-1 almost identical figures. Allowed Lucking the death specialist to come on pick up 8-1-28-2 must be something in these spinners competing against themselves for best economy. Davies bowled well and managed to pick up 2 quick wickets 4-0-21-2 allowing us to give Toby Witham a little run out, coming up the hill. We didn’t know at this point what the day had in store for him, as captain worried about his TFC & LVP fines. He is also learning his trade and development is much more important than winning at this stage in their careers. Bowling at the death is a skill and he is working hard at his game and good to see that he managed to pick up the final wicket of Billingshurst leaving them on 175 all out from 38.4 overs.

Possibly 8 balls left out on the field could have been the deciding factor of winning and losing a game of cricket.

After the break, we have changed the batting order again for the 3rd week running. Working on everyone getting game experience at different points of the innings. Each player steps into the side will be asked to play pivotal roles at different times throughout the season. After having a chat we started the innings with Davies (up from 7 the week before) with Gillespie. What was to follow was outstanding, it has been a long time since we have been subject to such a style of cricket, which was interesting and a huge learning curve for what is essentially an under 20s team playing against a team in Division 2 of Sussex League. So much so, that I walked on to the pitch after the first 6 overs to see if the opening pair were okay. Only to be told, stop daddying them it’s an adult game of cricket and to take myself off the field. Game On…. We could have changed up the order to allow the more mature players to spearhead the attack, but as is our way, development is always in the back of our minds.

Davies & Gillespie started off very nicely needing just 4.4 an over on what was a very interesting wicket, but if you played watchful cricket, could be handled. We were 31-1 when Davies was adjudged to be out LBW and took it with good grace and left the field to an almighty send off. Next out of the locker was Josh Taylor, moving up to 3 to try his hand out at another position being well earned from his previous weeks a decent delivery got him back in the hutch in the same over. Hugo was also out in quick succession in the next over, leaving us at 31-3 and Billingshurst were on the up and going very well. Pressure and hostility does have its part in cricket and making it difficult for the opposition can indeed earn wickets. The temperature was high out in the middle when keeper Tear joined Taylor who played out the was yet to face any cricket deliveries had seen 4 wickets fall for 5 runs which were all extras. 36-4 allowed again Ollie van Noort promoted up the order at 6 from his exceptional calm batting display from last week, continued on much the same way and dealing with the batting conditions that were thrust upon him Reuben and Oli put on 74 runs for the next wicket, with some excellent shots and skilful running as all of a sudden Taylor was on 46 and no one knew how. Commentators curse and a ball that sticks in the wicket Taylor gets caught at extra cover for 46. Now being 110-5 the game is on a knife edge again with Machan, Howgate still in the locker room allowing the youngsters to chase a decent total, under pressure from good bowling and fierce competitors. Lucko wanders out to the crease wondering if it is time for another pastry, time to play cricket, but mainly showing off his new socks. A quick fire 15 get the run rate down and we are ahead of the rate just as the cloud darkens and a few droplets appear. In comes Machan down the order with only 40 needed, on comes the opening bowler to ramp it up a little bit, bowls a half volley which Machan drags on to leg stump. Billingshurst possibly back on top, with Barr having 8 deliveries left, experienced Osborne still having 3 to bowl, with only Aichroth, Witham, Howgate left to bat. Van Noort, still at the crease on 20*. Lyle with this exciting style was trying his best to get the ball away and put 20 valuable run partnership with Oli who finished with 33 being caught from Osborne. Lyle was out the next over for 0. Just shows how sticking around at the end of an innings can be, scoring 0, but putting on 20 runs. In comes Dad, as I was so kindly reminded. I think I like my new nickname for reasons I will get into afterwards. Asking the players to concentrate on me in my ever so quiet style, I tried my best to get Billingshurst the win, with what turned out to be a crazy 2, where Witham slipped over, still took on the two, full length flying dive to get home, but would and should have been out. So…. Whoops-a-daisy…. Now down to the last 2 overs, what was in store allowed Toby Witham to stand up and be counted again. Needing 9-10 off the last two overs, He hits the best shot of the afternoon, back over long off for 6 in the penultimate over, after a discussion of 1s will be okay let’s get it down to the last over. In the middle after the shot, he stated, well, it was too good not to hit. Machan Coaching comes to the front of every discussion. A few more singles, a little bit more chat in the middle. Toby faces up for the final over, we were tied with one over to spare, the thoughts of Bognor two weeks earlier comes to mind. Do they have a Reuben to bowl it. they get their field sorted and in comes the delivery. I wish I had asked Toby if he was nervous at the end of the previous over. As first ball hits the ball back over the bowlers head and calls two. I reject the call and say One will Do.

With that a Covid ‘shake’ of the hands and we are still unbeaten including, 2 Division 2 Sides, one Local Derby completed.

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