Beaconsfield U9s Smash vs The Lee Monday 25th June
Smash smashed it!
An absolutely scorching evening, and a sizzling pitch 3 at BCC was the setting for Smash’s final match of the 2018 season. Having won the league by beating Great Kingshill 3 days earlier, tonight’s match offered the chance to end the season unbeaten – and what 9-year-old cricketer wouldn’t want those bragging rights?
Nathan, one of our most improved players this season, was delighted to take on the role of captain for this important game. His father, Graham, was rather less excited to find himself umpiring, having made the mistake of not running away when I approached him. Nathan won the toss, and in a surprise to no-one who has watched a Smash match this season, opted to bowl first.
Leading from the front, Nathan went out with Harry to bowl the first overs, and took a wicket with his first ball, due to a stunning catch by Josh, then followed it up with economical, on-target bowling. Harry didn’t always get his line, but gave the batters little to hit, and the first pair left the crease with the score on 220. Next in were U8s Josh and Curran, playing up for the evening as we were short of players. Both were fast and accurate, and the batters struggled to time their shots correctly. In his first over, Curran bowled out both batters, and Josh executed a superb run out in his second over: precision throwing to the keeper’s end to beat the running batter. The rather disappointed batters returned to the shade with the score still on 220. Max and Miles took the middle overs and the wickets continued to tumble. Miles bowled out the batter with his second ball, and took a further two wickets in his second over due to some superb catching by Joe in the field, and Charlie at slip (the boys continuing in their campaign to prove that slip is a useful fielding position in U9s, plastic ball, astroturf cricket). Max, with a lengthy run up that made the manager feel hot just watching him, bowled economically, giving the batters nothing to hit, and aided by Miles and Charlie, got a run out in his second over. The Lee’s tired, hot batters left the pitch with the score down to 208 after 12 overs. Their manager seemed confident that they had their best batting yet to come, so Charlie and Joe went out to bowl trying to make sure Smash gave little away. The batters set off hitting big, and Charlie found his first over going for 10 – not what he had planned. He bowled a much better line in his second, taking a wicket with his first ball, due to a great catch by keeper Joe, and restricting the batters to singles. Joe was economical from the outset, with lots of dot balls, and ended his spell with a wicket when the batter, swooshing for a 6, whacked it straight to Hector who was fielding in the deep. Score 215 after 16 overs. Final bowling pair, George and Hector, knew they were likely to be bowling to the best batters but felt they were up to the challenge. A comedy moment arose when Joe, thirsty from his bowling spell, asked if he could leave the pitch to get a drink. The manager said he could, quickly, but joked that he would have to answer to bowler George, if the next ball went for 4 due to his absence. The next ball duly went for 4, being driven straight through the gap where Joe had been standing, quintupling the score for the over – sorry George. Apart from this, the batters scored little off George's bowling. Hector, clearly flagging after an hour in the field, bowled some of the slowest deliveries I’ve seen (if only he’d bowl those at me in the garden) before switching to spin bowling to confuse the batters and conserve energy (no run up required). The batters could only add singles and the occasional 2, and brought The Lee’s innings to a close on 233.
A melting team of Smash boys came into the shade to drink their own body weight in squash, and refuel with Jaffa Cakes. They agreed the total would be pretty easy to chase down, but they also showed insight into their own tendency to keep other teams in the game by giving wickets away – great for learning, but often tough to watch. For anyone who has watched any Beaconsfield games this season, you’ll have observed my management style is decidedly hands off, and this is for two main reasons – 1) our bunch of excitable young cricketers take in very little of what I say, even when I have their undivided attention. Instructions from the boundary when their attention is on playing a game are mostly a waste of breath, and 2) the boys learn so much more effectively by making mistakes and correcting them, than by being told what to do, and this is evident in the huge improvements over the season, particularly in fielding, catching and running between the wickets. Suffice to say, this was not the approach taken by the opposition manager, who rivalled Great Kingshill’s wickie in the volume and vehemence of his on-field instructions, to the general bewilderment of his (and our) players.
Kicking off our chase, and our unnecessary giving away of wickets, Harry and Nathan, frustrated by an over of wides decided to take a run that wasn’t there and were, unsurprisingly, run out. Chastened by this, they batted sensibly for two overs taking 2s and singles, before Nathan was stumped at the end of the third over. A push to score in their last over took them to 217. Next to the crease were Josh and Curran who finding themselves facing a lot of wide balls, ran increasingly long distances to get bat to ball, with Josh somehow retaining the strike for most of their partnership. Their determined batting took Beaconsfield to 245, and the excited Smash boys around the scoreboard started to declare the game won. However, the manager reminded them that in Barrington the score can go down as well as up. Max and Miles, in next, had two overs of accurate bowling to defend, followed by an over of wides, but they stayed patient, and ran beautifully in their final over, taking the score to a more comfortable 269 after 12 overs. Charlie and Joe were the fourth pair to bat, and in a bid to not reduce the score, Charlie played some rarely seen defensive shots, before waiting for an easier bowler to score off. Joe had little of the strike but played a good defensive game, until he tried to finish with a 6 and picked out a rather hard to see fielder in the deep. Score 293 after 16 overs, and Smash were using all their fingers to work out how many times the final pair would have to get out to lose. Hector, who had been warming up with George, came in to bat having not seen the previous over, and with his first shot did an action replay of Joe’s shot to the same delighted (and still hard to see) fielder. Batting rather more sensibly after that, he and George defended, took runs and a few boundaries to make sure they did not leave the pitch with the score lower than when they arrived, even after Hector was bowled by a lovely delivery in the final over. Smash ended their innings with the score on 310, and were rightfully proud of their efforts with bat and ball on a boiling hot evening.
Thanks to Graham for his first (and hopefully not last) stint as an umpire. Thanks to Natalie for once again helping out with the match tea, and mobilising family members to help put everything away at the end. Thanks also to parents for supporting the boys for this game and throughout the season, and helping them believe they can win, regardless of the strength of the opposition.
So, Smash smashed it! Fielding a mixed ability side for every match, they have remained unbeaten throughout the season. A phenomenal achievement – well done boys. Looking forward to next season…..