Though my time for actually writing match reports has decreased over the last year or so, the pleasure I get from writing them has increased as our performances have got better. This evening’s game against regular tourers The Pearmen was perhaps the best game we have ever been involved in, with either side being capable of winning the game right up until the penultimate ball.
The toss was contrived so that we would bat first, in the hope that we would have one or two more players arrive late. We had only eight players plus Chris from the Pearmen, who didn’t actually bat for us and nearly won the game for them. More of which later. Chalky and I opened the batting as usual and we had one of those evenings when we both clicked. Everything straight was defended or knocked back past the bowler, everything too wide on the off-side pummeled to the boundary. By the time I was out in the 7th over we had comfortably passed 50. Aaron came out next on a (by his standards) poor run of form but looked in no mood to give his wicket away. For once the first wicket didn’t bring two or three and AB and Chalky batted really well, with both getting among the boundaries. Chalky reached his 50 and retired and we then had a brief lull while Steve O and Chris came and went, but Si and Karl came in late and hit some mighty blows to keep the innings going. AB was out trying to hit the boundary that would have brought him his first fifty in over two years, but even so we finished on 146 – our highest T20 score.
It was a good and competitive score but the Pearmen have some good clean hitters and with just nine fielders the pressure would be on us. Fortunately everyone in the field was ready to go and in determined mood. We used the right bowlers at the right times, Aaron in particular coming on and taking some important wickets, and slowly the pressure started to crank up on the Pearmen’s batsmen as the rate began to rise. Without the scoreboard being in use we couldn’t be exactly sure, but after ten overs we heard only 50 runs had been scored and we knew if we kept it tight the win would be ours. We gambled a bit by using up Aaron and Si’s overs early, but Steve came back after a mediocre start with some great spin bowling and our opponents never quite managed to drag it back. 50 runs were needed off the last five overs and our nerves started to jangle. We missed an easy run-out, I dropped an easy stumping chance, and our ringer Chris started to find the boundary often enough to be a concern. It was getting tense and our fielders were shying at the stumps, desperately trying to get the decisive blow, when calmer heads might have kept the singles as singles instead of risking overthrows. But when Chris hammered one hard into the hands of Karl at mid-off with 14 balls left and 26 still needed we felt it was ours to lose. The Pearmen kept coming at us with a couple of boundaries and some scampered twos off the penultimate over and it came down to the last over – 12 needed from it. It was all in Kev’s hands… there was a single then a wide but then a dot ball, after which Chalky held on to another catch (chipped gently into his hands off a very wide ball) and now the game really was up. Kev held his nerve superbly and with ten needed off the last two just calmly bowled two tidy line and length deliveries and victory was ours.
It was a remarkable game and a great victory, and we very much hope for a repeat of both fixture and result next year!