As the ‘Bash Bus’ pulled into the Polo Farm car park, it was apparent that the weathermen had got the forecast absolutely spot on. The sun was out and clouds were scudding furiously across a broken sky but it was the power of the wind, howling diagonally across the ground that was the real talking point.
Having helped friend and colleague Chris Rawson try to find the key to the scorebox, entry was gained and the ‘office’ set up. With the wind whistling around the box and having established that Chris’ rudder control was as unreliable as this scorer’s in the event of a ‘take off’, we were given the news that Beckenham skipper Alex Senn had called correctly and had opted to field first. And so, with plenty of animated discussion on the legendary big bands of Ellington, Basie, Herman and Rich, battle commenced. And what a start it was for the visitors as Will MacVicar roared in, brought the ball back, hit the stumps and Justin MacVicar was on his way. Later, the popular, long-serving Canterbury all-rounder admitted that it was the best ball he’d ever faced! Brad Goldsack and Ben Rutherford repaired the breach briefly before that man MacVicar was at it again, disturbing the stumps of Goldsack. At the other end, Stuart Binny was bowling steadily but strangely unable to make a breakthrough of his own. There was no stopping MacVicar though, as he struck again, bowling his normal wicket-to-wicket line, trapping Rahman dead in front. As the score stood at 29-3, Beckenham tails were up and Canterbury faced another fight to repair the damage and get their innings back on track. This was progressing nicely through Rutherford and Gordon until Shojib Ali, replacing MacVicar, nailed Gordon leg before for 19. Anchorman Rutherford was now joined by the young skipper, Isaac Dilkes who impressed with his class and composure. In Ali’s sixth over, Rutherford went for a quick single from the final ball, only to be sent back and an off-balance Senn somehow got the ball accurately to keeper James Balmforth who completed the run out and Rutherford was gone for a fine 40.
Despite this unfortunate event, the home innings was given fine momentum on the arrival of keeper Sam Burt. The two home batsmen got the run rate moving nicely as the visitors eased up somewhat in the field. With their stand just shy of fifty, Dilkes (36) was neatly held by Jason Bilimoria from Mahi Mahfuzul, back for a second spell having replaced Ali. Burt found a staunch ally in Elliot Lewis with the pair taking the score to 174 before the left-arm spin of Rob Clements, bowling a fine spell, trapped Burt in front for 30. Clements struck again almost immediately to have Alex Beck holing out to young Rithik Hari. MacVicar now returned to bowl out and dismissed Jamel Cabey in his final over, Mahfuzul administering the last rites by ending Lewis’ promising knock of 33. The Canterbury total of 199 was an excellent effort and would need sensible batting to reach it. For Beckenham, MacVicar took the bowling award for his 4-38 with Mahfuzul and Clements both bagging a brace each.
The reply started badly for the visitors with both Senn and Finn Bryan sent back in Cabey’s first two overs without scoring. The ship was steadied on the arrival of Will MacVicar who batted imperiously right from the start and was helped by Rithik Hari who grows in stature with every match and who now assumed the anchorman role. The run rate grew in momentum with MacVicar in no trouble and Hari gaining confidence all the time. However, the introduction of Lewis saw the dismissal of MacVicar for 32 and Mahfuzul to put the home side back in control. Enter Stuart Binny who has not come to terms with English club pitches since his arrival but who was told by this scorer the previous week, that he might find Polo Farm more to his liking! With Hari well set, the former Indian Test and IPL star gradually got on top of the bowling and a substantial partnership began to develop. As his young partner began to open up, so too did Binny and his maiden Beckenham fifty came up in 56 balls. Hari’s came up shortly afterwards as the century stand came and went. The return of MacVicar ended Hari’s splendid knock with a catch being accepted by Ben Rutherford. The home skipper Dilkes, in the middle of an excellent spell of off-spin, then clung on to a fierce drive from Binny to take a brilliant return catch low down and Beckenham were now on the ropes again at 139-6 in the 39th over. Ollie Barnes flickered briefly before becoming MacVicar’s second victim and, with the overs ticking away and two further wickets falling while 17 crucial runs were eked out, the visitors entered the penultimate over on 198-9. Shojib Ali steadfastly blocked the first three balls from Dilkes before a wide brought the scores level. Three more dead-batted dot balls sent the match into the final over with keeper Balmforth on strike. Two dot balls from Rutherford and then a tickle to leg sent the batsmen scurrying through for a single which brought victory for Beckenham in what had been a magnificent game of cricket, much enjoyed by the scorers and umpires and, hopefully, the players! Canterbury had put up a splendid performance and this scorer would certainly like to see them stay up as they have some very promising young players coming through.