The 1st XI ended June embedded in the top three of the top division of the KCVL. Gone are the days of clinging on for dear life until young talent return from university to swat the ball to all corners of the ground. No, we now have a team of mature high quality all-rounders (with actual jobs) whatever the month: Jeffreys, Hanson, Crees and er, Waters. The top order has misfired somewhat but the middle order has played with swashbuckling panache and as a result Penshurst, Shipbourne and Withyham have been swept away. Youth is flourishing: the bowling has been powerful, with Dunmall and Waterman making a big difference. As a result Linton Park were crushed by a mere 9 wickets, Roche Junior making his mark with the bat, with one or two shots worthy of the maestro Pierre himself.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Sissinghurst were too good on the day and asJuly got underway and the return fixtures began, Bidborough continued to be too tough a nut to crack, structural damage to the Pavilion furniture notwithstanding. But make no mistake: Speldhurst’s 1st XI is here to stay. And with a suitable sense of ambition the transfer window has seen the return of one D. Booth, classy with the bat and as canny a medium pacer as there is in the league. If we can squeeze Pat Green into the side it promises to be a high summer indeed, (until of course everyone disappears for Danby’s wedding).
Due to the abnormal fixture card, both our games against Outwood will be away this year and circumstances conspired to mean we only had nine players travelling there, but it was good to have Tristan Price and to welcome back Philip Harrison for his first game in several years.
We won the toss and batted first, and were rewarded with a strong opening stand of 52 between Bomber and Iqbal, the latter scoring 47. Unfortunately, no-one else, with the exception of Philip, got into double figures, and in the end we were all out for 95.
With a young or inexperienced bowling attack, Skipper gave the three overs each to Ben, Ed, Jo and Max. Ed bowled tightly, giving away a measly 13 runs from his three overs, but the highlight was an excellent running catch by Philip off the bowling of his son, Max. Philip then bowled the final over with Outwood winning by nine wickets. Unfortunately, we failed to score a single point, but seeing some old and new faces on the field is more important to me.
Next was Hadlow, whom we welcomed to the sweltering St Mary’s cauldron – once again we won the toss and batted first. Despite losing M Flem early, a few reasonable scores got us to 201-6. Iqbal again chipped in with 36, Calypso 44, Chairman 37, Nick Fowler 14 and Jo finishing the innings off stylishly with 41*. As with Outwood, we were graced with an old face – Louis Waterman is back, and was playing his first game since 2016 and whilst not scoring many, he bowled excellently taking 1-37 (9). Owen bowled tightly to get 1-46, but the star performance was Jo taking 3-27 off his nine, two of which were maidens. Nick kept wicket well and overall the fielding was excellent, with all the wickets being caught, two for Owen and one each for Nick F, Calypso and Jo. We narrowly failed to contain them, and they reached our total in the last over with five wickets remaining.
Our away game to Bidborough 4th XI (who play at Plaxtol) provided the opportunity to sample one of the most unloved teas I have come across in recent cricketing memory. We won the toss and batted first, posting a very good 215-8 with Iqbal 32, James Flemington a nice 60. Nick Fowler and Ben R had a good late flourish to finish the innings with a target set of 216 to win. After an interlude, some good, tight bowling form J Flem (4-24) and Jo P (2-34) meant the wickets fell at regular intervals as the pressure built. Owen F and Ben R both made useful contributions and BCC finished 197 all out in the final over. This was an excellent game to be involved in and showed what we can achieve as a team. Our next match versus West Farleigh was conceded.
The 2s then travelled to Shoreham where we posted what we felt was a competitive total on a very hot day. Noted performances included a fine 69* from the ever-reliable Mark Flemington and 43 from our new recruit Siraj. Tea was good and most enjoyed the freshly made scones which took the edge of our bowling attack. We then encountered the opening bat from Horton Kirby CC, who, with his opening Shoreham partner knocked off the required runs for no loss in not a lot of overs.
The 2018 season is drawing to a close as our young cricketers and their parents prepare for the school holidays.
This year was another successful year, with over 40 new youngsters joining the Club (mainly in the All Stars group but at other ages too). The success of the All Stars (66 registrants in 2018, 53 in 2017), started to flow into the Under 9s who now number over 30, a stupendous improvement on previous years. We hope our Under 11 and Under 13 groups will be benefitting from this influx of talent for many years to come!
Almost as encouraging has been the fact that another 10 parents joined the ranks of our Junior Cricket coaching team. In total 29 coaches helped make Saturday mornings a slick and enjoyable experience for both young cricketers and parents. Not to forget the other essential of a summer Saturday morning, the Bacon Station which was once again brilliantly organised by Jo Roberts and a large band of willing helpers.
A highlight of the social season for the whole club is on the evening of Friday 13 July starting at 5.30pm, featuring Larkins, Prosecco and Nick Coffin’s famous paella. For the youngsters, there is the pleasure of receiving awards for their efforts during the season. Let’s hope the warm, dry weather continues long enough for a great evening.