In an unusually difficult start to the League season, availability wise, HHCC were still able to field 3 league sides,albeit each one only having 10 men, including a retired president in the 1s and a colts parent in the 3s.
The 1s were away to Horley, one of their main challengers this year. Skipper Tom Hampton was in his usual upbeat mood, despite only having 3 of last year’s 1st team playing.After losing the toss and being put in, Tom and Paul Ricketts looked quite comfortable until Ricko was out LBW for 10. This brought Ollie Hampton to the crease to join his brother,but any hope of a large brotherly partnership were dashed when Tom succumbed for 23 leaving HHCC 36/2. Tish then joined the party and was also looking good until he fell to the last ball before the dreaded drinks break. James Everett fell after a nice couple of shots and when Ollie fell to a harsh LBW decision HHCC were 84/5. Enter Warren Carr ,promoted to 6 after his marvellous double hundred against Merton ( 30 years ago , but Skipper Tom remembers it , despite not being born). After being dropped second ball Warren decided to counter with a full array of attacking shots , and with the assistance of “ Back foot” Jimmy Joyce , they set about building a decent partnership of 43 with Jimmy producing his own unique array of shots , all off the back foot . Then Warren’s judgement failed him and he attempted a suicidal single and was comfortably run out for 38. The other 2 Toms, Poulter and Rose, briefly supported Jimmy until it was down to the last man, the previously retired President, playing his first innings for 3 years. Alas he fell just short of his 50, being 0 not out when Jimmy’s fine innings came to a close on 35. Horley required a target of 170 to win.
The Toms, Rose and Hampton, opened the bowling with pace and venom, but a quick outfield and the lack of an 11th man allowed the openers to reach 82 quite comfortably. Ollie was introduced to the attack but it was James Everett, in only his second game for the club, that made the breakthrough,bowling the opener, and now it was game on. Ollie then produced a run-up with more swear words than steps that confused the Horley No 3 and he skied to mid-off where Tom Rose took a fine catch. 85/2 became 85/3 as Everett produced another beauty to dismiss the No 4 and raise HHCC’s hopes. Horley reached 3 figures until Jimmy Everett was in action again, running out the NO5 going for a risky second.
Now it was time for the Tom Poulter show , with Warren Carr holding down one end , he produced a spell of 5 overs of varying quality that included 3 wickets , all caught behind by Ricko , part of a keeper / slip cordon triumvirate that totalled over 150 years.
With the score at 142/7 HHCC felt they were in with a real chance of a surprise victory, but despite the best efforts of Rose, Hampton and Carr , the Horley opener steered his team to their target with only 7 down , remaining unbeaten on 79.
The disappointment of defeat was tempered by the performance of the makeshift HHCC side , in almost snatching an unlikely victory. It left them wondering what might have been with improved availability and a full team .