Wars of attrition or “anti-cricket”? Declaration games at our level have been called worse. This match – played in perishing cold on a sluggish track – had elements of both. Patience with the ball and a vintage Woodhouse batting performance, 86 not out, saw us record a six-wicket win over an underpowered Kings side missing such doughty foes as Pipe and Tighe.
The format was sprung on the stand-in skipper, Dan de Jesus, when Kings revealed they only had 10 players (one a lady fine leg, who proved among their most reliable fielders) and four bowlers. Our game plan didn’t change. Under blanket cloud and with eight bowlers of our own – four of them southpaws: Cunners, Jared, Greg and debutant Charlie Mercer – we always aimed to bowl first. As at Lord’s, it proved too cold for very much swing.
Kings were cagey: 12-0 after 12 overs. Cunners and Rob probed without luck. The test-like tempo continued: 46-0 at 20, 97-0 at 30. Greg, Jared, Fatty and Dan all bowled tidily, but it was Clayders who made the breakthrough, bowling Wright with his second ball. The Kings captain, Rich Warne, raised the scoring rate with characteristic clouts square off either flank. Two pick-ups for six spoiled Nick’s figures. After lamping Clayders over long-on, Warne was beaten outside off and Will C (Claydinho?) whipped off the bails in a flash: please leave the crease – your session has been Shermanated (148-2 at 40 overs).
Earlier, Charlie had bowled two overs almost as entertaining as his whites, but alas not seamed with gold. They were more fun than the last four of the innings, as the clock ticked beyond 4.30pm and Kings searched for a competitive score. Kings settled for 176-2 dec.
Tea included hot pasta, which was welcome. Eschewing the sleeveless sweater, David needed no warming up. He eased his third ball faced through the covers. A cut in front of square, superbly on top of the bounce, confirmed he had the pace of the pitch. With Fatty textbook in defence and pulling with discretion, the pair moved serenely to 55-0 off 10, then 110-0 off 20. Taking in last season, this was the third game in a row that Woodhouse and Aked had opened together. Their partnership of 126 was as unruffled as a royal progress.
Jared, keen to maintain his season’s average of four poles a match, got in on the act as an umpire. Dom and Will C followed Fatty (46) in a trio of lbws – three more than we were ever going to get when bowling. Charlie can tell his grandchildren that he was stumped giving Warne the heave. Trevor Warne, that is. Jarapova raised the finger from square leg.
David visibly tightened in the thigh region: fans thought it might be Hammy Time, but U Can’t Touch This man for resilience when we need him most. Dan arrived after the mini-collapse at 157-4 to stroke one through extra and smite another in the direction of cow. A frantic leg-bye took us over the line, David diving for home in the 32nd over. He dusted himself down to receive his deserved acclaim. RC
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Matt Aked (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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