On the day England won the Ashes back from the Aussies at the Oval, the Cavaliers themselves came close to securing a draw in the beautiful setting of Budleigh Salterton. In the end, we got a tonking, but most Cavaliers who played will be surprised to learn that it was our heaviest defeat to date. The wonderful setting, the friendliness and good humour of the opposition and everyone at the club, and the performance of one Cavalier in particular meant that nobody minded getting beaten so heavily. We’ve certainly lost by fewer runs and had worse days, and I think Budleigh genuinely wanted to give us a good day out. They certainly gave us a great welcome.
The format was ‘timed’ and it was our first experience of this form of the game. We had to field until tea, then afterwards we’d have to bat up to six o’clock, and then another 20 overs. This all meant that we could, in theory, get a draw, and it soon became apparent that this would be our best chance of a result.
The Fathers and Sons of Budleigh Salterton took an over or two to size us up, then started hitting us all over the park. Of our seamers, only James managed to exert any sort of control, and the score was approaching 90 before P Conway decided to retire on 52. Relief was followed by jubilation when Kev had Richardson trapped lbw for 43 and Si bowled E Neilson for 6 – 120 for 3. Could be keep the score down a bit after all?
Erm, no. Rice and England were in it for the long haul, and eventually we let every one of our side have a bowl in the hope one of them would miss a straight one from laughing too much. It didn’t work; both batted to retirement at 50, and the only remaining wicket to fall was that of Hayes, brilliantly caught on the boundary by Chris Hubbard off Sam Conway’s bowling.
I should mention Sam at this point. We were a man short and Sam, who plays for Budleigh’s under-15s, offered to make up the numbers. Small boys often give us a hard time, and we were delighted to have one on our side for a change.
After a marvellous tea, we headed out to bat. We knew we wouldn’t get 253 for a win, even if we batted twice. All we could hope for was to see out the 35 or so overs that would give us an honourable draw.
It was made for me. The shots at my disposal are limited, so in limited-overs matches I struggle, because you have to actually hit some boundaries and try to score runs off good balls. Now, I wouldn’t need to. If there was a bad ball, I could try to put it away, but there was no pressing need to. For the most part I could leave deliveries and get behind the good ones.
I went out with St Geoffrey’s words ringing in my ears: ‘Don’t do anything daft. Drop anchor. Don’t get out. Bed and breakfast’ etc etc.
At first it went well; I felt confident even in the face of some good bowling, and I could almost hear the boys in the pavilion marvelling at my ability to avoid hitting the ball at all costs. I even hit a lovely on-drive that went to the rope. A dozen dot-balls later, though, I tried to repeat the trick through the covers; except the ball was slower, and I spooned it up to mid-off. Out for eight, and I haven’t even used up 200 balls getting it.
Things threatened to fall apart then as Matt, Chip and Dion all went quickly afterwards. There was to be one Cavalier performance to remember, though.
We’ve always know Chalky is the most talented batsman in the team, and this would be the day when he really showed it. He and Si managed to get the score past our first target, 28 (our lowest ever score), and looked comfortable, relaxed and confident at the crease. Moreover, he was controlled; no rash shots and looking for safe singles rather than risking big hits to the boundary. After Si was out he batted well with young Sam Conway, and it looked as if Chalky might just be able to keep long enough for the light to fail us.
Then disaster, as Chalky called Sam through for a quick single, Sam turned it down, and the stumps were broken with both stranded at the non-striker’s end. Sam had barely left his ground, and if it had been me I’d have told him to bugger off back to the pavilion, but being a small boy Sam walk disconsolately off.
Next man Chris made just one run, and Chalky was fast running out of partners. However, James – a much improved batsman this year – came in and intelligently gave Chalky much of the strike, and Chalky’s score gradually nudged up through the forties. There was only one scare as a short delivery hit high on Chalky’s bat, but the ball lopped safely into no-man’s-land in front of short cover. A couple of balls later and he was there; the first Cavalier to score 50, and done in style and against some excellent bowling too.
Unfortunately, even an on-form Chalky couldn’t save the game for us; he was bowled shortly afterwards, and Kev and Andy both departed for ducks, leaving James with 10 not out – our second highest score of the days.
So well done, Mr Chalk! Even if you did have to run out a small boy to get there.
Let’s hope we get the chance to repeat those sorts of heroics next year – Budleigh is a place I’d love to return to.
|A Richardson||lbw Johns||43|
|E Neilson||b Cahill||6|
|A Conway||not out||23|
|B Hayes||c Hubbard b S Conway||0|
|B Neilson||not out||5|
|Extras||(19w, 3b, 1lb)||23|
|TOTAL||252 for 6 (39 overs)|
|Rich Blagden||c Hayes b Neilson||8|
|Dion Manners||b Hayes||6|
|Ian Chalk||b Neilson||50|
|Matt Lissenden||b Neilson||0|
|Charles Ryder||b Conway||0|
|Si Cahill||b England||7|
|Sam Conway||run out (Conway)||8|
|Chris Hubbard||b Rice||1|
|James Ryder||not out||10|
|Kevin Johns||b P Hayes||0|
|Andy Ryder||c B Hayes b P Hayes||0|
|Extras||(7nb, 2w, 1b)||10|
|TOTAL||100 all out (27 overs)|