Basingstoke and North Hants V vs Bentworth

Not before senior pros had called in a few favours (and suitably bribed young family members) did Bentworth assemble a fine fleet of XI men to sail north of Basingstoke to a land known as Sherfield on Loddon. As usual this season, another few debutants graced our club; first appearances on the teamsheet this week for “Alex the Knight of Bentworth”, “JK the Mani of London” and “Chris of Cyderland”, all of whom made valuable contributions to what was to be a tight game…

Also assuming a new role was New Ben, who was standing in as skipper for an absent Nick, immediately setting to work in creating a moment that will no doubt be spoken about by their skipper for many years to come…

NB: “Anyone got a coin?” – This was duly produced.

Their Skipper: “I’ll toss and you call”

**Flip coin**

NB (with the coin still airborne): “We’ll bat”

Their Skipper: “Ermm….” (Cue look of sheer bewilderment) “You need to decide which way the coin is coming down first… let’s have another go”

After resolving this technicality and having another go, NB did a fantastic job of choosing the face-down side of the coin, resulting in us assuming the field…

So off we set, heading into yet another desert wasteland masquerading as a cricket pitch on a beltingly hot day. And all that without Trev who’d fed his horse some dodgy fuel (bloody BMWs) and turned up some 25 overs into their innings in a rather snug looking top and in one of his other fleet cars.

To summarise their innings – Sam T opened the bowling and immediately set about resembling his father’s accuracy with the new ball, although with a good few extra yards. Sam grabbed a couple of nice wickets, including their opener in the first over courtesy of some ugly juggling by the author. But out is out! At the other end, still getting over India’s loss in Brum, Vijay produced nice wheels and inswing – after a few early sighters,  picking up three wickets with some nippy seam.

JK came on first change and treated us to a display of off spin bowling bowling of which Bishen Bedi or the great Vengkataravan, not to mention Mr Ashwin, would have been delighted and ended up with 2/28.

Little Max bowled his spell well and was unlucky to see a couple of catches spilled, Alex (who took a fine catch earlier in the innings!) found his line and length for one ball at least and got a well-earned wicket with the “plummest of plum” LBWs, whilst Chairman did a fine job of drying up the runs, ending up on 2/26.

Mr E.Xtra, who added 52 to the home side’s score courtesy of a lot of very wide balls and a slightly uneven bounce, took the B&NHV’s score far beyond what we felt they should have obtained, with them eventually folding for 226.

Special mention to Robbie however, who did a great job behind the sticks on a very difficult day and took a nice catch. Also huge credit to newbies, Alex whose fielding was in Ali’s class and also our cider man Chris who stopped everything smashed his way, and always with a lovely smile on his face. Well done gents.

So 227 to win. After a satisfactory tea, excellent sandwiches courtesy of Birlies (but a bit light on the cakes imho), we set off in pursuit of their tally. Robbie was unfortunate to be on the receiving end of an absolute cracker early on, but Chairman and Trev settled things and pushed on – both getting 50s before getting out.

Skip came in and knocked up a quick 20 or so, before providing long-on with some catching practice. At 150/4 ish off 30 overs, the game felt like it was swinging their way…

The B&NH youth were bowling very well, supported by some of their older boys, but we still had Jezza, his eyes twinkling with intent amidst an otherwise red mass. And lo, our own youth in the shape of Mssrs Thomas and Knight also came out and added much needed impetus to again bring the match back into our grasp.

Jez continued to smash anything in his area but with 30 needed off 3 overs it still looked too tight to call. At this stage, one JK manifully strode to the wicket in his generous tee shirt smashing 12 off over 38, with both Jez and JK finding the boundary.

“18 off two” came the helpful reminder from beyond the boundary, “it would be nice if you could do it off one” came the equally helpful comment from the square leg umpire…..

As they say, the rest is history. 5 balls later, JK had smashed one over square for six to finish it off as he and Jez strode off the pitch, mission accomplished!

Great win and even greater effort from a quasi-scratch team with everyone playing their part. The journey continues…..

JK recreates the final “hoof” which got the ball (and Bentworth) over the line