On the final day of the Premier season and with an autumnal nip in the air, the loyal Beckenham scorer skipped the light fandango across from the scorebox for a cursory glance at the pitch. Hmm, he mused, touch of green but firm enough. Bat first and bowl them out to get the four points needed before tea was his judgement. After moving building materials in order to access the scorebox, the umpires were greeted and the arrival of Sandwich Town awaited as they were held up on their inward journey. Today’s colleague Claire arrived safely and the result of the toss awaited which wasn’t quite as predicted as the visitors won the toss and opted to bat first so the result was the same anyway!
Zack Fagg came out with all guns blazing as he has done before but lost his partner Finn Beaman who had his off stump pinned back from Mahi Mahfuzul’s first ball. Academy star Jordan Cox then immediately dropped anchor, content to let his partner flay the home attack to all parts. With 50 up in 8 overs, this was definitely not in the script and the introduction of Shojib Ali for MacVicar stemmed the flow somewhat with Alex Blake doing the same from the pavilion end. It was Kent’s T20 specialist who made the next breakthrough with a superb return catch to send back Cox and then he obliged with the much-wanted wicket of Fagg leg before for a splendid 66, his fifty coming up in 37 balls. One point, three to go! Grant Stewart looked in good form from the outset and a useful stand with keeper Cameron Fletcher was ended with Mahfuzul getting in on the caught and bowled act to dismiss Fletcher and then trapping Alex Smith in front at 118. Two points, two to go.
With Stewart still batting well and looking set for a big score, it was the turn of Johan Malcolm, who has had such a fine vintage season, to enter the attack from the pavilion end. From his last ball of his first over, he hung on to an absolutely brilliant return catch from Stewart that happened in but the blink of an eye. Mobbed by his delighted team mates, although he didn’t exactly turn cartwheels ‘cross the floor, Malcolm was clearly pleased with his brilliant effort! Inspired, the former Danish international struck again when he lured Ashleigh Cox to his doom to give James Balmforth, who has been such an excellent replacement for Ollie Robinson, his third stumping in as many weeks. One point to go! Malcolm then added another wicket in this splendid spell by having Dan Evans playing on. The final point needed was delivered in spectacular fashion by the return of Will MacVicar who produced an absolute beauty that Craig Spanton offered no shot to and it knocked back the off stump to give Beckenham the championship. Jan Gray, who had battled away to make 14, then holed out to Alex Senn in MacVicar’s next over as the visitors were dismissed for 155. This had been an excellent effort from Beckenham who rode the storm of Zack Fagg’s explosive batting to take control with all the bowlers playing their part.
After tea, the Beckenham innings commenced as League champions with skipper Senn looking to continue his excellent recent form and fairly laying into Kent’s Grant Stewart, even having the effrontery to deposit him unceremoniously for six in his first over. The runs flowed at a fine rate but then Rithik Hari was unfortunately run out to be followed by Senn, edging Ashleigh Cox behind for a fine 30. As Will MacVicar eased smoothly into form, the party mode seemed to start early as ‘Disco Dan’ and Malcolm were sent back to the pavilion in quick succession by Cox and Stewart respectively. Alex Blake the trod on the gas, smashing three savage boundaries off Cox before unfortunately playing on to Dan Evans for 13, 67-5 and a little bit wobbly! Help was at hand with the arrival of Ross Piller and, together with MacVicar, the pair added 56 in good time before Jan Gray’s leg-spin accounted for Piller for a valuable 22. After Mahi Mahfuzul had struck a big six, he became another Gray victim to make the score 133-7. Shojib Ali, promoted to try and get his first runs of the season, then batted solidly while MacVicar reached a splendid fifty in 67 balls before being trapped in front by that fine Town servant Craig Spanton. As Ali duly scored his first runs to the great delight of the crowd, it was the calmness of veteran Jason Bilimoria who struck an imperious boundary to bring the target closer and it seemed fitting that, with the scores level, it was Ali with another excellent four to seal the match as he finished unbeaten on 13.
This had been a most enjoyable game of cricket much enjoyed by players, umpires and scorers alike and, with Julien presiding over the BBQ, a packed clubhouse partied well into the night. It is a privilege to be considered part of the team for so many years and, with Alex Blake presenting this scorer with his commemorative T-shirt, it was a fitting end to a wonderful season masterminded by the brilliant Alex Senn who surely has few peers as a captain.