On a beautiful sunny evening Thursday evening we travelled to Stockport Georgians to play possibly the toughest side we will face this season. Their team was packed with strong batters and accurate bowlers but Heaton Mersey was not fazed.
Winning the coin toss our captain for the day, Tom Loveday, chose to field wanting to know the target to chase. We started off with some very tight bowling from Adam giving only 2 runs away from his first 2 over spell (a single off each over), superb effort. Jamie picked up a bowled wicked and ended with respectable figures of 2(o)-15(r)-1(w)*. Although Jamie and Adam had bowled a good tight line the opening pair had rushed Stockport to 31 run start to their innings. (If you are wondering how they reached 31 when the bowlers total runs came to 17 they were made up from byes which are runs scored where the bat was not used. These are not added to the bowlers statistics.)
Jasper bowled his best spell of the season taking his first wicked of the season, a lovely full pitched ball that drifted back across the batter on the breeze to hit the top of the off stump on the final ball of his first over. 2(o)-11(r)-1(w). Tom also picked up a bowled wicked from his one over 1(o)-7(r)-1(w) before taking the gloves behind the wicked for the second half off the Stockport innings.
Noah too picked up a bowled wicket at the end of his first over to end with figures of 2(o)-26(r)-1(w).
Danny and Oliver gave very disciplined blowing performances. Although wicketless, Danny gave a miserly 4 runs from his 2 overs, an outstanding performance. Oliver, coming off a Bob Willis-esque length run up, finished with figures of 2(o)-7(r)-1(w). He took one wicket by taking a catch off his own bowling, very satisfying, and he made a great run out (which doesn’t go down on his bowling figures) by hitting the stumps with a direct throw, during one of his overs.
The best figures for Heaton Mersey were from Adam who bowling his 3rd over claimed a wicket, guess what? Bowled, and ended with figures of 3(o)-7(r)-1(w). However, Owen, who had kept wicket the first half, bowled his first over against a good batting pair intent on scoring heavily and only gave 2 runs away. They were looking to really push the score on in the final balls of the innings but his consistently good length made task tricky. It’s a difficult job to bowl at the death of an innings and Owen showed good strength of character to bowl a consistent length and improved greatly on his previous performances which is why hew was awarded the coaches bowler of the match 2(o)-16(r)-0(w).
Heaton Mersey were generally very disciplined in the field, backing up throws and communicating with each other well. Especially so as it was a hot afternoon and concentration was difficult to keep after a long day at school. Square leg was particularly busy with Danny, Adam, Oliver and Jasper making many 4 run saving stops.
Jasper, who received our fielder of the match award, particularly stood out in the field. One effort saw him attack the ball at pace from mid wicket, he performed a clean two handed pickup and flat throw in one fluid motion from which he hit the stumps directly from an oblique angle. The batter was home but the act sent a strong message to the opposition to beware.
With a total of 300 to beat, our highest target this season, Jamie and Adam again paired up but this time with the bat. They faced 2 very good bowlers one of which was the fastest and straightest bowler we have seen this season. Bowling the second over of the match and with his first ball he bowled a perfect length delivery which turned away from Adam after pitching on the seam of the ball. If clipped the top of his off stump to take his wicket. The perfect delivery. Adam had been done by a ball that could get any batsman out. Adam however was not rocked by this setback and went on to score 10 valuable run for his team playing with a straight bat to protect his wicket. Jamie supported well and scored a watchful 4 runs but importantly did not loose his wicket. Against such strong bowling they did very well to only concede the one wicket and keep the score board ticking over.
So with 15 runs on the board our next pair of Danny and Jasper came out. It took one over for Danny to get his eye in but then he was off. As our 2nd highest scorer of the match his 19 runs came largely from 4 boundary shots. Two sumptuous cover drives and two expertly converted pulls to the leg side which left the square leg fielder unable to move before the ball has crossed the boundary rope. Jasper, unusually quite scoring only 2, supported Danny well calling him through for quick singles helping the pair to take the score on by 16 runs. Danny, on his final ball, switched off. After missing the ball he didn’t return to his crease. Before I called over the keeper spotted this and stumped him. He was given out by the square leg umpire. A lesson learned the hard way, hopefully. Always get back into your ground after playing your shot especially if you miss it. (As a coincidental aside, I played in a cup match last night, which we won :), and our first wicket came from exactly the same situation. The opening batter never returned to his crease after an innocuous dot ball. We all agreed that even if he had dabbed his bat down after the ball flew through to the keeper then that would have been ok but as he never returned to his crease, our Captain and first slip**, felt obliged to stump him out of his crease. In the bar after the match my recounting of Danny’s tale didn’t seem to help realise the error of his ways.)
Next Noah and Tom took the score on by a further 20 runs. Each match I remind the players that I want them to play a tip and run style of game. Always looking to push for singles, even off good balls. This pair did just that. Noah, scoring 15, scored a great 4 to the square leg boundary and pushed 6 singles into open spaces. Tom whose shot making was the best on both sides scored 14 hitting one 4 to the mid wicket boundary. He crafted singles by pushing the ball simply into gaps. He showed finess by glancing 2 singles passed the keeper to 3rd man***. All the while setting off on his run as the ball was leaving his bat. A pairing that we will be seeing again.
With the score on 51 and a further 50 required our final pair of Owen and Oliver came out to bat. In what was the most entertaining part of the match we were treated to firework display of batting where 37 runs were scored. Again similar to Jasper, Owen was quite with the bat this week, scoring 2 runs but he supported Oliver well on the run chase nudging singles to keep the strike rotating.
Oliver facing 14 balls and scored 30 runs. Only 2 of the balls he faced did he not score off giving him a strike rate (runs per 100 balls) of 214. His total score and the 5 struck boundaries were the highest by a batter in the match. One of his fours was only 5 feet from being a six on the deep mid wicket boundary. When he wasn’t scoring boundaries he was pushing singles. It should also be mentioned that their coach had held back their best fast bowler for the final over, something Oliver was clearly 'whatever' about. It wasn’t that he bowled worse second time round. He was unerringly straight again with every ball going on to hit the stumps but Oliver was picking them up early and sending the fielders off to retrieve from over the boundary rope. His tennis clearly plays a large part in the way he bats. I am guessing he sees the ball much as he would when playing ground strokes. After hitting him for 2 consecutive 4s to balls that were going on to hit middle stump I asked the bowler what he thought he should do next? He said that trying to get him out wasn’t working so he bowled the next outside the off stump **** so he couldn’t hit him on the leg side.***** Oliver spotting it early, ran around the ball and hit it through the leg side anyway. Oliver was the highest scoring batsman in the match and no surprise he was awarded the coaches Batter of the Match.
If it hadn’t been for the 3 run outs and the catch they conceded the score would have been much closer (Final score 72) but this did not take away from the shear entertainment of the batting performance. The Stockport Coach came up to us after the handshakes and told the players that all the Stockport players had all agreed that we had been the best batting side they had faced this season, no small praise.
Stockports discipline in the field at times let them down. On two occasions giving away 4 overthrows by needlessly throwing at the stumps for a run out that wasn’t on with no one backing up the throw. I’m please to say that Heaton Mersey won the contest in the field displaying great discipline and skills to restrict a good batting side to only 100 runs.
(o) = Overs
(w) = wickets
(r) = runs
First slip is a fielding position. Standing close to the Wicket keeper the 1st slip catcher is their to take catches that are just outside of the wicket keepers range.
*** 3rd Man is a fielding position. Normally positioned close to the boundary this fielder is tasked with collecting shots that have got through the slip fielding area and it is their job to prevent the ball from leaking to the boundary. Against very fast bowlers they can also take catches.
The Off Stump
This is the stump on the off side of the wicket.
The leg side, or on side, is defined as a particular half of the field