In retrospect the signs were ominous. A seemingly strong team………..no last minute absences………..everyone had enough kit…………even fielding practice went well. Surely all was set for Grantchester to revenge last year’s heavy defeat. And yet? Ugly rumours were circulating. Had our keeper really been punting down the Cam dressed only in his boxers? Did one of our opening batsmen spend his Saturday “on the lash”? Did your correspondent really drink the BB out of Hendrick’s? Would Conington & Elsworth introduce yet more bizarre local rules?
The “Jones Boys” opened the bowling and Matt took the first wicket (caught AP): 17 for 1. At what can only be described as “the pavilion end” Jake was bowling with pace and accuracy allowing only 9 runs from his first 3 overs. Dave Crowther replaced Jake and maintained the pressure. Twelve overs gone and Conington & Elsworth were 61 for 3 but Grantchester couldn’t seize the initiative.
Some loose bowling and dropped catches gave the middle order the opportunity to accelerate and this they did; numbers 4,5 and 6 all retiring having reached 30. Heads dropped and shouts of encouragement were replaced by dark mutterings…….from “Good nut big man” to “F*ck me Nouveau!” just about sums it up. Extras mounted (thanks in part to the aforementioned “local rules” with wides and no balls each counting for 2 runs) and 4 overthrows didn’t help.
As a previous correspondent has written; in times of crisis one turns to experience,and few have more experience than Dave Foster. Early signs were promising and then……….disaster. Half way through that easy amble to the crease he stopped, clutched his knee and that was it. Damaged meniscus and another man off to Addenbrooke’s.
Tim stepped in and took a valuable wicket (TK’s second catch) but Elsworth still had 3 not out batsmen in reserve. Two late run outs slowed the scoring rate and at the close of their innings C&E had reached 179. Tea (thanks to our hosts and The Poacher) and 180 to win at 6 an over.
Manageable but by no means a foregone conclusion and a good start was essential. AP got things moving with a 6 off the first ball and things were ticking along nicely; 31 for 0 after 5 and we were up with the rate, AP scoring freely (retired 31 n.o.) and TK looked like he could bat all afternoon (or did it just seem like that?). Sam scored a quick 15, Tim came (and went 4 runs later) then Elsworth played their trump card(s) bringing on a succession of accurate slow-medium and (very) slow bowlers who severely restricted the scoring.
At 109 for 5 after 20 overs we had fallen slightly behind the required rate and swing as they might the “experienced” middle order (Woods and Wilson S) couldn’t accelerate. Woods out for 13 (clean bowled by the excellent Nick Oborne) and Wizz for a plucky 29. At 132 for 7 and 6 overs to go it was all down to the tail.
In the end, and despite a valiant rearguard action from Ferg and Matt it proved too much and we fell 13 short. As the skipper said in the pub later, “It’s difficult to point the finger at anyone……we were all rubbish”. Never mind, we have an enthusiastic and growing pool of players to call upon and morale remains high. Next stop Conington Hall.
Author: Neil Woods