Forget the Ashes, and the NZ / England one day series, if you want exciting cricket then Bushy Park on a Tuesday night is where it is at, as the HHCC U11s took on their counterparts from Staines and Laleham.
In the absence of normal skipper Sam, Alex Bush won the toss and immediately asked the oppo to bat. It was a very warm day and a lightning quick outfield and he hoped that his opening bowlers will tie the batters up before they tired in the scorching sun.
Adam and Ellie, a fine opening bowling partnership in the making, duly obliged and with 4 overs gone only 11 runs were on the board, although the batsmen looked untroubled.
Archie replaced Adam and struggled slightly with his line and allowed a couple of leg side shots to race to the boundary, despite fielders being placed in the right positions a few balls before. I am guessing the fielders were solar powered and the Sun made them wander from their set positions.
Tommo came on and suffered similar trouble with a couple of boundaries, including a 5 in overthrows from a wild throw. But the fielding was mostly excellent and a fine piece of backing up from Archie and a quick direct throw ran out the opener. When the team finally appealed (Note to Warren, teach this team how to appeal). At 26/1 off 6 HHCC seemed to be on top, but the batsmen then took full advantage of the conditions and started to score quite freely, with Will “ Blondie” Aust also suffering at their hands, although unlucky not to pick up a wicket when a catch coming directly out of the sun was put down.
Jamie Hiller then bowled tidily and economically and was joined by Oliver Bragg. Max Ratcliffe was also introduced, but again was the victim of some fine batting. But he did get the last word by claiming a wicket with a nice straight one.
With 4 overs to go, and 87 on the board, Ryan and Alex joined the fray. Ryan was composed and full of restraint and his fine efforts were rewarded with his first wicket of the season , again bowled , but could not add to this as the batters continued to attack. As they became more adventurous, some fine fielding by Archie again ensured another run out, delayed by the umpire waiting for an appeal.
With 110 on the board, Adam was recalled to the attack to bowl the final over and his fine line and length ensured that only 2 were added, thanks to another fine piece of fielding by Ryan this time to run yet another out
The break gave the boys and girl a chance to re hydrate after a long hot effort in the field. Overall a great effort and their ground fielding were complimented on by the opposition coach. It was the second week in a row for excellent fielding with three more run outs to go with last week’s 4 against Kew. The coaching is definitely paying off.
With the absence of top run scorer Sam, this looked a tall task for this fledgling side, but Skipper Alex set the tone from the very first ball, striking through wide mid on for four. With Jamie supporting they set about the run chase with real zest, putting on 31 in 5 overs with some fine running between the wickets, before Jamie was bowled trying to play across the line. Ryan was at 3, fresh from his lovely innings last week, and looked to build on that. Alas his first attacking shot, though sweetly struck, was superbly caught at short mid-wicket and HHCC were now 38/2 off 8. Archie was no4 and immediately followed the lead of his skipper hitting a powerful shot to the ropes. The running was good as well and they were pressurising the fielders into mistakes, before a miscommunication meant Archie was stranded, run out for 7. 53/3 off 10. Tommo Webb then joined Alex and the runs continued before Alex finally fell to a ball that was very close to a no ball, bouncing a third time just past him and hitting the base of the stumps. 63/4 off 12. His 34 was a wonderful knock full of strong shots, great running and good calling, and it set the foundations for the rest of the team to really push on and attack the large total. Max then joined Tommo and together they set about the bowling with a determination not seen from them before. Max benefitting from the bowlers feeding him his favourite shot was hitting the boundaries, where Tommo was pushing the singles and keeping the scoreboard and Coach Gav’s fingers moving.
The opposition coach was now panicking even more and changing the field at least once if not twice every ball, but the flow was with the home side. He then bought his best bowlers on to bowl the last 4 overs, with 23 needed and suddenly the ball was missing the bat. The boundaries dried up and only singles were run. It came down to the last over with a gettable 9 needed. The first ball was wayward (polite, as it did not even land on the Astro turf), but the umpire was unmoved. No wide. Now it was all time to hit out, but Tommo missed a straight one and was out for a fine 16. Adam Mackinney now had four balls to get 9 runs, but could only manage a leg bye after not being able to reach the first ball he faced, much to the home fan’s frustration. Max then hit a 2, so with 2 balls left, 6 were needed. Max was hit on the pads and the boys run to try and sneak another run, but unfortunately Adam was short of his crease, leaving Oliver Bragg to face the last ball and try and hit a 6 to win. He made good contact, but the ball was stopped by the boundary and he was run out with the score on 108, with Max stranded on 20 not out.
An exhausted but entertained crowd could now get their breath back and applaud both teams off after a great game.
A valiant effort by the boys in hot conditions to get that close. They were mightily impressed with the performance and attitude of the players throughout the game, and remarked on how far this side has come in just 9 games to put in a performance like that, without their top batsmen.
All to play for in the final game against Ashford next Monday and HHCC aim to end the league season on a high with a win.