2nds Clinch Defeat From Jaws of Victory
Yorke 10-2-34-3, Hammond 8-4-6-2, Crispin 10-2-22-2, Beaney 6-2-19-2. , Extras 28*, Gordon 22
With Waring up in the 1sts, it was over to me to captain again and for about 3 ½ hours, everything went swimmingly. After some overnight rain, the pitch was a little moist on top and upon winning the toss, I predictably invited Springfield to have a bat.
I got us underway and despite some initial caginess regarding the dampness of the crease, I bowled a couple of peaches that did a bit off the pitch whilst at the other end, Sammy C found some prodigious movement away from the batsman. In my second over, the batsmen were already nervous about the lack of runs and so inevitably, the big shot followed as the opener chipped down the ground to Greeno who moved round well to catch at wide mid-off.
Sammy soon had the second, enticing the other opener into a swish outside off stump that Sappy took really impressively as the ball flew high towards 1st slip. We both continued to bowl really well on a pitch offering a lot of assistance for the bowlers and after 8 overs, they only had 11 runs. As a result of a particularly indulgent holiday, I began to tire in my 5th over and bowled 3 absolute pies. One was hit for 6, one for 4 and the 3rd one embarrassingly was top-edged to Sprulesy at midwicket to leave Springfield 23-3 after 9 and us completely on top.
To their credit, the Springfield skipper and number 4 dug in (something we should have learnt from later on) and they were content to leave anything they didn’t need to play and block out the rest, nudging singles as the score slowly increased. Nick replaced me from the top end and bowled some class deliveries that were too good to take the batsmen’s edge.
Sammy continued to probe, always finding natural movement away from the batsman and deserved another wicket as catches fell short of gully however he began to tire towards the end of his spell and bowled one Cyril-esque over where he just could not seem to keep the ball on the strip. Ignoring calls to end his spell early, I backed him to complete his last over and after 5 quality balls, he found the outside edge with his 6th to give him a deserved 2nd wicket. Credit where credit is due, Sam may not be the most willing bowler at times and I put him under a lot of pressure asking him to open the bowling but he delivered and was really impressive early on and again in his last over going for only 22 off his 10 overs, with 9 of those coming off his one dodgy over.
Chaz came on to replace him and took a few overs to settle in alongside Binnell as the Springfield batsmen patiently batted out the next 10 overs for 30 runs to take them to 87-4 off of 30 overs. In this time, we’d become a bit complacent in the field and a few lapses in concentration gave Springfield what would later turn out to be valuable runs.
Nozza came on though and immediately tied up an end which thankfully coincided with Springfield’s sudden decision to ‘get on with it’. As they tried to play more aggressively, Snell took a catch at cover off Nozza and then Chaz got the big wicket of their skipper as he top-edged a catch to Sappy. Wickets continued to tumble with Chaz being the main beneficiary of Springfield’s new boom boom approach, Manno first catching one at cover after everyone else put their heads down and then me taking a steepler at mid-on.
Nozza then had his second, caught well by Manno at Short Cover and Springfield had suddenly lost 5 wickets for 16 runs in true Bentley fashion. Loosening my arms up, I considered bringing myself on to replace Chaz after he had finished his 10, just in time to bag a cheap 3rd but I suddenly remembered Waring’s assertion that Nick was the new King of cleaning up the tail and so I went with him. One ball later, the innings was done, Sappy taking his 4th catch of the day behind the sticks and Springfield ended 104 all out with the pitch continuing to dry out in the afternoon sun.
After tea, Gunnar and Sappy set about knocking the runs off and whilst Sappy held up an end, Gunnar commenced the chase, pulling a couple behind square to get us well underway and then driving square of the wicket to take us to 40-0 in 9.4 overs. The ease with which we were knocking the runs off was obviously too good to be true, this is Bentley 2nds after all and as the spinner came on, the pitch suddenly looked a bit spicy.
Getting the ball to pop off a length, Gunnar was the first of his victims looping a catch to short cover. Next ball Nozza was rapped on the pads and was gone for a golden. 4 balls later, Sappy was undone by the impressive Pothen and we were suddenly 40-3 with the middle order scrambling to get their pads on after initially having their feet up.
Greeno and Sprulesy restored some calm, running better than ever before as they eased us back into calmer waters, Greeno nudging 1s and 2s wherever possible and Sprulesy despacitoing anything loose to the boundary with typical aplomb. Sprulesy however was then undone again by the spinner as another ball popped off the pitch and offered the close fielders at catch and we were 72-4, only 33 runs from victory.
Now I know what you’re thinking, how could we possibly lose from this position after Sprulesy had just put us back in control? Well what followed was a collective brain fade from the Bentley batsman, who though not known as ‘thinking cricketers’, somehow managed to outdo themselves and inexplicably self-implode in new and more inexcusable ways than ever before.
Firstly, Greeno, a man notorious for his ability to work the gaps and turn 1s into 2s, something that was perfect for this scenario decided instead to try and biff one down the ground, later claiming ‘I thought I’d got it past him, I was trying to aim wide of mid-on but I didn’t quite get enough on it’. This is village cricket champ, none of us are good enough to pick the gaps otherwise we’d be playing a better standard, you don’t need to pretend!
Next up, Manno came to the crease at 7 (at this rate, he’ll be 11 before the season is done) and was promptly offered a delicious half-tracker down the legside. With only one man in front of square to beat, Manno pulled the ball straight into his mitts with almost comedic timing and we were now 81-6 now needing only 25 to win.
Charlie strolled out and momentarily steadied things with Snelly who looked calm and collected at the other end despite the carnage until one leapt off the pitch and Charlie gloved to silly point to bring me to the crease. Having watched Bairstow successfully execute the counter-attacking approach a few times this season, I decided that attack was the best form of defence. After all we only now needed 24 runs!
Playing and missing at my first ball, I then managed to play (edge) one down to 3rd man for 4 and then carve (edge) one over gully for another 4. Add in a couple of wides and we quickly had 10 off the over with me 8* from 4 balls. Suddenly the momentum had shifted back to us and Springfield looked beaten. ‘Can’t be any batting behind him if he’s playing shots like this boys’ one of them crowed.
*Shoulder Angel*: “Just pat this one back to the bowler, the spinner at the other end will offer a couple of bad balls, you can take advantage of them and see your team home to victory!”
*Shoulder Devil*: “Stuff that, time to bomb this bloke downtown”
I think you can all guess which option I chose, it looked very similar to this: https://twitter.com/gradecricketer/status/863897820142620673
We were now 92-8 needing only 13 to win. Snelly looked comfortable, of course he was, he’d been there and done this a few years ago against Hornchurch and he patiently played out a couple of maidens. Shortly after, he was undone by one that seamed off the pitch offering a simple catch to 2nd slip. To everyone’s relief, he shelled it but our relief quickly returned to sheer terror as Sam sprinted to the danger end for an ill-advised single and was run out by a couple of yards leaving only Nick to come.
Snelly again looked calm and composed and he slowly farmed the strike to get us up to 94-9 though Nick easily saw out the balls he was required to face. Eventually, Springfield bowled a couple of wider balls which Snelly expertly crunched to the boundary and we were 103-9 needing only 2 to win.
The atmosphere was as tense as I think I’ve ever been involved in. Springfield bought their pacey opener back on and Nick saw out his first ball. Sadly his second ball absolutely took off from the pitch and Nick did well to get a glove on it before it took his head off and the ball looped up to the keeper to send Springfield into delirium.
We looked absolutely shell-shocked, unable to comprehend how we had lost from that position. Nick and Snelly were understandably gutted but Nick was blameless for the defeat, there was nothing he could have done differently other than wear one in the face, the fault was with those who had come before him. Snelly showed a lot of character and deserved to be on the winning team, if only more of us had approached our innings like him we would have won comfortably.
Post-game it really was laugh or cry and after some initial summarising and soul-searching, the team quickly commenced the ridiculing of teammates for their dismissals and the practice of ‘seeking the positives’ from this collective s*** show such as:
‘but didn’t we field really well!’
‘our catching was top drawer today!’
‘it was a good game for the neutrals’
‘it was played in a fantastic spirit’
‘Greeno is the best-looking bloke in the league!’
‘At least Waring wasn’t here to see this!’
‘yeah but we had a laugh didn’t we’
2 days later, I’m still struggling to find the words to sum up my dismissal, it was the epitome of village and I take full responsibility for the subsequent defeat, I should have seen it home from that position. But MY GOD, we really are the ultimate bottle jobs aren’t we… when is it going to change!