Odiham & Greywell III vs Bentworth – 16th July 2018

On yet another one of those endlessly hot summer days with which English cricket has been graced this summer, the good men of Bentworth turned up at the dustbowl of Crondall to face league pace setters O&G.  As much as they fanced their chances based off recent form, we had a decent team including our returning Kiwi star and what looked like just about our strongest possible batting line up.

Skip strolled out into the desert and returned already in a light sweat and telling us that we were in the field, having lost another toss. But we’d have fielded anyway apparently! Early intel from their square leg umpire suggested they were long batting, short bowling.

Without our metronomic Mr Thomas and the mercurial OB we perhaps looked a tadge light in the bowling department and needed our pace twins of H and Ali to make early in roads otherwise it was going to be a looooong day out there under the blazing sun. But we had prepared for the long game, fully slipped, slopped and slapped (sun protection that is, not a reference to Trev’s extra curricular activities). We quickly discovered the track was a bit of a belter although offering plenty of pace which H had in spades. Their batsman were generally okay with the pitched up ball but couldnt lay a bat, or more importantly an edge, on anything back of a length. Meanwhile Ali roared like the Welsh dragon he is down the hill and after a few overs of sighters produced his customary beauty to bowl their opener neck and crop. Around 30/1 off perhap 8 so honours even.

Skip decided to switch it around and brought on our wicketkeeper/bowler Mr B Smith.  Yes, that role exists at BCC! And he also bats a bit as you’ll hear later. A couple of overs into his spell a lovely wide-ish long hop to their other opener was smashed to Mr Blake (or it could have been Ali) but either way it was safely pouched. We were now into the meat of their batting although their no 4 was ominously starting to time the ball beautifully and was a bit severe of anything vaguely off line. 92/2 at drinks, honours still evenish and worth adding the fantastic fielding from everyone and tidy work from young Robbie behind the sticks, especially as the relentless sun did its best to turn us into something of which Paul Hollywood would have been proud.

In the all important post drinks session skip again made a few changes to the bowling attack, turning a few ferociously himself before Doc and Chairman were asked to give it a go.  Doc produced a wonderfully controlled spell off his shorter run up, 3 paces being on the generous side, including a magnificent caught and bowled a full foot or two off the deck. The Flying Doctor strikes. At the other end Chairman, having fully lubricated his dodgy shoulder with all manner of liniments, looked a tadge nervous bowling to their gun batter. However with the field set deep was able to float his cheeky tweakers was up a bit to see what turn could be extracted from a track that resembled more Kolkuta (Calcutta in old money) than Crondall. And what a joy for the old boy as their main man decided not to try to smash the first couple of deliveries into the wedding party at the adjacent church but adopted a more circumspect approach. Perhaps he’d heard about these non spinning spinners? Either way third up he lunged forward with an expansive defensive shot only to bowled through the gate by a flighted delivery that turned (or hit a crack) enough to peg his middle stick back. No idea who was more surprised, their bat, me or the merry men of the visiting team.  Advantage Bentworth!

From then on, with only the exception of a couple of their youngsters who batted well, wickets fell at regular intervals as tight bowling still backed by super fielding saw O&G subside to 166 a/o. Good pace from H saw him make his case for re-selection with a late wicket, well taken by Doc at first slip. Skip bowled well with little reward but kept it nice and tight in the important middle overs.

Special mention to Stevie Blake with three great catches, literally putting his body on the line for one of them (hope the blood washes out!), Ali for his usual excellence and Robbie behind the sticks. In fact my highlight of the day was Doc’s attempted hat trick ball which claimed his own keeper as its victim, leaving a nice cherry on his ribs to boot.

Off to tea in good spirits and heads held high. Grand effort and perhaps the tea didn’t quite match these, with the personal highlight being the cheese and coleslaw sarnies.

So perhaps left hungry after tea, BCC’s opening pair of Doc and New Ben set about the O&G bowlers with relish. Or maybe it was pickle. Either way after about 10 or so overs the game was all but done as our boys rattled along at 7-8 an over. Some lapses in the field assisted but bad balls,and even better balls, were smashed to all parts as Doc continued his imperious form with the willow and Benny settled back into 2017 mode.

We sailed past the 100 opening partnership before their main batter, who had been bowling little cutters, went off his full run and started to bang it in a bit eventually bowled Doc for a well made 52. Lovely to see H stroll out at 3 and in true village spirit take a great wipe at one of the first balls he faced. In even truer village spirit he missed it by a good few inches. It was remarked that based off previous form, he had his eye on sconimg one of the bridesmaids from the wedding party which was now straying dangerously close to the boundary… Ben continued to smash it and ended up 80 no as we cruised home by 9 wickets with plenty of overs in hand. Game, set and match to Bentworth!

Off to the Plume of Feathers for one of the best tasting drinks we’ve had all season. And a couple of the tastier barmaids as well. Such was the joy in the team that no one was particularly surprised to see Trev and Jezza celebrate victory with a manful embrace and little kiss as we parted company for the evening. Until we do it all again!

Rich H