Our second official tour to North Norfolk saw a plucky Grantchester XI beaten by a determined Stiffkey. Injuries and a brace of motorcycle breakdowns saw Grantchester robbed of both players and supporters and it was not until twenty minutes before 2 o’clock that the Grantchester team was confirmed.
Winning the toss Stiffkey decided to bat and made a steady, if somewhat slow, start. Disciplined bowling by Adam Potter (opening spell of three overs for 1 run) and Dave Crowther (four overs for 8 runs) restricted the scoring and the fall of the first wicket gave an early advantage to Grantchester. Both bowlers bowled a tight line and, on a wicket showing early signs of deterioration, demonstrated the importance of bowling a good length. After eight overs Stiffkey had reached 22 for the loss of 1 wicket.
As a cold wind blew in from the saltmarshes some of the fire went out of the Grantchester attack and the change bowlers were unable to maintain the early pressure. The Stiffkey middle order made steady progress and after twelve overs had reached 52 for 2. As in the previous match against Girton we gave away far too many extras (25 in all) and this despite the excellent wicket keeping of Callum, of whom more later. How we missed the control and experience that Dave Foster brings to our attack. Neil Woods (four overs no maidens none for 16) coming on as second change showed some early promise but later overs proved more expensive. Matt Chappell chipped in with two fine wickets, but he’ll be looking to improve his economy.
Cometh the hour cometh AP who treated an enthusiastic and expectant crowd to an eclectic mix of left arm seam, swing, orthodox SLA, leg spin, googlies, wobblies and deliveries as yet unnamed. The game was in the balance as Grantchester hit back. A wicket maiden from AP and an excellent spell of brisk left arm seam from Matt Jones (three overs for 9 runs and 1 wicket) saw Stiffkey tottering at 104 for 6.
As the Sea Ducks screeched above the pitch, could it now be advantage Grantchester? The travelling supporters certainly thought so and the corkscrews were working overtime.
After 28 of their allotted 35 overs Stiffkey were on the rack at 113 for 8 and it was a combination of some loose bowling and lower order hitting that saw them reach their final total of 141.
Refreshed and revitalised by the marvellous tea provided by our ever generous hosts, the Grantchester openers took the field. Dave Crowther taking guard outside his crease to counteract the increasingly irregular bounce was steadiness itself, working the ball around for singles whilst at the other end wickets tumbled. At the fall of the second wicket Adam joined his bowling partner and he and Dave steadied the ship, scoring slowly but giving few chances. Stiffkey’s opening pair took a rest and were replaced by a promising young spinner, Joe Hunter, who bowled tightly turning the ball both ways and was unlucky not to take a wicket.
Twelve overs into their innings Grantchester’s score stood at 42 for 5 and AP was out for 15 to a ball that many thought bounced twice before hitting the stumps. Enter Callum! Starting slowly on a pitch of uncertain bounce he began to time the ball and played some beautiful shots including five 4s and a 6 on his way to a lovely 35. Norfolk’s a funny place and the entry “caught Goose bowled Fish” next to Callum’s name in the scorebook does nothing to dispel these rumours.
A single here, a boundary there and the Grantchester score advanced. Plenty of overs in hand but at 84 for 7 the smart money was on Stiffkey. Some late order slogging and dogged defence by Matt J raised the hopes of the Grantchester faithful but the candle flickered but briefly and the innings closed at, bearing in mind our location, an entirely appropriate “Nelson”.
All that was left was to tuck into some venison burgers before retiring to the Red Lion for drinks and post match “analysis”.
Thanks first of all to Stiffkey for their hospitality and we look forward to a return fixture when “our” pitch is ready. Thanks also to our “WAGS”, umpires, scorer, Struan (without whom etc etc) and, of course, our President.
(And if anyone from Stiffkey’s reading this then, yes, it was a 6 !!!)
Date of fixture: Sunday 5th June 2011; Venue: Stiffkey CG, Norfolk
Stiffkey won by 30 runs. Stiffkey 141, Grantchester 111
Author: Neil Woods
Opposition Match Report can no longer be found here: http://stiffkey.play-cricket.com/content/view.asp?id=10337067&cid=218.