After a fortnight of watching rain fall on a Saturday, this scorer, after a tortuous bus journey, arrived at Foxgrove ready for the visit of Sevenoaks Vine and old friend Charles Hornsby, colleague for the day. With the area around the scorebox resembling a building site due to work on installing the glass backs to the squash courts, the two scorers awaited the start.
Vine skipper Luke Schlemmer won the toss and chose to bat first with Evert Bekker and Chris Vernon starting well against Stuart Binny and Will MacVicar. A useful partnership of 41 followed before Chris Vernon was bowled by MacVicar for 13. Next man Mike Barber didn’t last long when he was sent back by Binny in similar fashion. With MacVicar adding Schlemmer to his tally without scoring, Vine were in a spot of bother at 53-3 with worse to come when Kent’s Adam Rouse, centurion in the first-half encounter, shouldered arms to a Binny ‘nip-backer’ to be bowled for 2 – 62-4. Bekker, meanwhile, was batting exceptionally well at the other end and not looking in any serious trouble, reaching a splendid 50 from 69 deliveries. He now found a strong ally in keeper Ben Price and together the pair set about putting the innings back on track. Home skipper Alex Senn tried various combinations to no avail and, for once, the fielding was not quite as sharp as usual. With Price starting to force the pace and Bekker anchoring matters at the other end, the score mounted until, at 147, ‘Disco Dan’ Hardy took a splendid catch to dismiss Price (34) from Johan Malcolm’s off-spin. This was the signal for Beckenham to take control again as Stuart Binny returned from the pavilion end and, in his final three overs, swept away the Vine lower order at a cost of four runs. As the overs ticked away, Bekker surged to a magnificent century and was last out for 102 as Vine closed on 189. For Beckenham, Stuart Binny took the bowling award for his excellent 5-27 and he was well supported by MacVicar (3-34).
After tea, skipper Senn and ‘Disco Dan’ sallied forth to start the Beckenham reply. The hapless Tom Parsons experienced all sorts of problems in his early spell as the innings started brightly with Senn opening his account with three crisp boundaries. With Hardy batting more sedately, a useful stand of 45 was put together before Hardy failed to skip the light fandango and was sadly run out for 8. Senn soon followed as, no doubt affected by Hardy’s run out, struck Karl Pearson straight at Adam Rouse lurking ‘on the drive’. MacVicar and Malcolm combined to get the innings started again but, with the Vine fielding sharp and keen and Andrew Reid-Dick flighting his left-arm spin cleverly from the pavilion end, the Beckenham pair were unable to dominate the bowling. At 72, Malcolm got a faint edge to Price to depart for 8 before Finn Bryan helped push the score along in a useful 33-run partnership before being dismissed by Reid-Dick for 19. A rasping straight drive for four by Binny elicited thoughts that perhaps this would be the day the blue touch paper would be lit by the former IPL star who has had such a wretched season with the bat. It was not to be, however, as the crouching Rouse took another catch. MacVicar’s vigil ended shortly afterwards through Rouse’s third catch and Beckenham were falling behind on the required run rate. Mahi Mahfuzul and Rithik Hari had other ideas, however, and started to take the fight to the Vine. With the young Hari growing in stature with every appearance, the partnership started to flower. Both players used their feet and ran purposefully to give Beckenham an outside chance of victory. The promising stand was ended when Hari holed out to Tom Coldman on the boundary off Pearson and, with Clements following the same way, Mahfuzul was left defiant on 33 at the end with Vine the victors by the tantalising margin of 11 runs.
This had been a splendid performance by the visitors who bowled their middle overs miserly and backed it up with a tremendous fielding display with Reid-Dick the bowling star with his 4-27. In the most open Premier for some years with any one of five clubs in with a shout, a Beckenham member mentioned how nice it was to not have a club with a large wage bill waiting at the top to collect the trophy! How very true!