1st XI v Locksbottom
For the umpeenth time this season we were a man short in the field but, having won the toss and chosen to bowl, we discovered the pitch to have more life than any we had encountered all season. Harry Dunmall’s first over brought murmurs of displeasure from the home side as the ball repeatedly flew through to keeper Ed Wesson at head height from back of a length. All the Locksbottom batsmen looked uneasy at the crease and full balls soon brought reckless drives. Three batsmen quickly inside edged onto their stumps whilst another was brilliantly caught one handed at (second) gully by Ollie Crees. By the time Harry (4-15) and Mike Jeffreys (2-20) had finished their quotas, the home side were 34-7 and their hopes of survival in tatters. Despite some more controlled batting from the tail, Nick Coffin (3-13) and Jo Price (1-7) ensured there would be no substantial recovery and we were left to chase only 79.
However we were conscious that the pitch would be no easier for our batters and we were fielding a team without any sort of batting depth. To lose one of our mainstays (Ollie Crees) to the first ball of the innings was therefore not ideal but a disciplined innings from the stand-in skipper, Muddy Waters (48 not out) assisted by some patient defence from Mssrs Wesson and Jeffreys ensured that we tiptoed to our target in the 26th over for the loss of 5 wickets. Locksbottom were crestfallen as news of other results filtered through but for Speldhurst it was a satisfying end to a challenging campaign. To finish fifth (out of 10) in the top division with a side that so rarely consisted of 11 men is an achievement worth cherishing!
2nd XI v Bidborough
Here it was: the final-week showdown with Bidborough. Unfortunately, we had only our blushes to save having been mathematically relegated the previous weekend. Furthermore, Bidborough still had a very slim chance of survival so whilst availability dictated we had just the 10 players, Bidborough had (understandably) done some shuffling around of their player pool to field a very strong 11.
Batting first seemed like a good option and Tristan Price and James Roche repelled a very good opening pair. Unfortunately a lack of communication stranded both in the middle of the pitch trying to steal a run – James was the unfortunate soul to trudge (very slowly) back to the changing room. The going was slow throughout. Resistance came in the form of Skipper Harrison (39) and Adam Nash (19), but we were eventually bowled out for 109.
With wickets needed quickly, unconventional field setting was the sensible (and most entertaining) option. Having got to 30 very quickly, exemplary bowling and fielding grabbed us 3 wickets for 3 runs. The cat was then firmly amongst the Bidborough pigeons. But after weathering a challenging 10 overs, the batsman cut loose and got to 109 relatively quickly. Top opening spells from Nash and Roche were the highlights, and did what every 2nd XI player has done all season: made their Skipper proud.
Friendly XI v Falconhurst
Now the league season is over, it is only right that the weather is now perfect for cricket – and Saturday was no exception as we hosted Falconhurst. We bowled first, spearheaded by the excellent Owen Fowler (2-25 from 8 overs) and Will Plunkett (1-26 from 6). Whilst only one wicket fell in their opening spells, both bowled admirably and proved very difficult to get away. Jo Price then bowled fast and tidily; Nick Fowler, who dropped a catch off his son earlier, had one caught by his son; and we were treated to dual leg spin from Tom Hinton and Ollie Crees (or O. Priest, as their scorebook noted) – Hinton’s economy of 4.14 runs/over much better than Crees’ 12.5! In the end, they reached 149.
In response, Hinton fluently got himself to 28 with no alarm before falling, followed quickly by Arthur Plunkett – beaten by a good one. The third-wicket partnership of 62 between O Priest (50) and T Price (30) made victory seem inevitable, but losing two Prices in three balls made Ollie’s belligerent fifty even more valuable. In the end, we were treated to some good biffing from Mike James (17) and a sumptuous cover drive from Will Plunkett to get us over the line. A win with 2.3 overs and 3 wickets remaining. Perfect.