Eynsford 1st XI
7th May 2022
Our first league game of the season started very similarly to last year’s, with 10 men. Clouds were in the air, a smattering of rain lurking but the pitch looking in relatively good nick, albeit very green.
Having lost the toss we were rapidly put into bat, and due to some very wayward bowling from the Eynsford bowlers being effectively punished by Crees and Muddy we found ourselves in an unfamiliar position: 54-0 off 5 overs, with nothing but extras and boundaries.
Unfortunately it didn’t last, with a short ball bouncing higher than expected and Creef lobbing one up in the air, Hughesy was brought to the crease. Some prudent batting meant we were 80-1 off 10, and the skipper being very happy he lost the toss. However the change bowlers from Eynsford bowled very effectively, not giving much away and it resulted in a few wickets falling to leave us still in a healthy position of 123-3 off 20 at drinks, with muddy scoring a fluent 50 but sadly falling.
This was probably the last point we felt on top of the game, as Hughes, Utting and myself all fell having got started, and sadly after this we rather capitulated to 159 all out, a true Speldhurst collapse!
Without MJ this year, Dunmall took the opportunity for the pavillion end, and produced a very decent opening spell of bowling, trapping their captain lbw and nearly picking up another few wickets. Unfortunately this was the last wicket we took, as their other opener racked up the score consistently and quickly, striking pretty cleanly, though very much helped by being dropped twice in four balls, and we also dropped the no.3. Not our finest fielding display…
We ended up losing by 9 wickets, with Eynsford in cruise mode, but there were definitely some positives to take from the game. Dunmall’s opening spell, the Crees-Hughes-Waters top 3 scoring quickly and looking comfortable. Let’s hope for a better result next week and maybe even 11 players??
Linton Park 1st XI
14th May 2022
After some very late-in-the-day negotiations, the 1st XI travelled to Linton Park with a rare full complement of 11 players (although naturally we had only nine at the start of the match). With the home side forced to forfeit the toss due to an absent umpire we were glad to be batting first in the sunshine on another firm track.
Although our top order built a solid foundation at a steady pace, the Linton bowlers showed consistent discipline and never allowed anyone to gain control. Each of our top four got a start but then fell trying to push the run rate. After further consolidation there were some late innings boundaries and some particularly fine biffing from Nick Fowler but that momentum was tarnished by a bad ankle sprain to skipper Ben Brandt who had to be virtually winched off the pitch. Fingers crossed it will not bring an extended absence. It was a testament to the quality of the home attack that nobody reached 30 on a good surface and our total of 160-8 looked a good 40 runs light.
The Linton batsmen tried to be aggressive from the start, initially with mixed success. Their captain timed every drive and pull sublimely and was unfortunately given plenty of opportunities, whilst their other opener flailed away unsuccessfully at the other end. Almost all their early runs came in boundaries and it was telling that there were no singles in the first 10 overs yet the scoreboard was still rattling along. Dave Booth, playing for the first time in almost a year, was our stand out bowler and was rewarded with the first wicket to a juggled catch that deflected off keeper onto 1st slip and was caught by 2nd slip. None of our other bowlers looked remotely threatening until young Will Plunkett, in gleaming new spikes, claimed two wickets in two balls to give us momentary hope at halfway (90-3). Sadly that was our last success, The remaining runs flowed without too much fuss in less than 10 overs as we sought to attack rather than contain.
Their captain finished 77 not out from 88 balls – a finely composed innings and the second game in a row we had allowed an opposition opener to dominate our attack. The only bright spots were seeing Dave back in the fold for the first time in a while and Will’s two wickets – we were all surprised when he revealed they were his first league wickets for Speldhurst. It must be said that Linton Park away is always a tough fixture (we have never won there!) and they are likely to be genuine challengers for the title this year, so we should not be downhearted. But there is undoubtedly much work to do, Finally a big thank you to Nick ‘the new JC’ Fowler for agreeing to join the first team at such short notice – not to mention his fine batting at the end of the innings.
Meopham 1st XI
21st May 2022
Having accrued a miserly four points from our first two league matches, the 1st XI desperately needed a strong performance at home to Meopham last Saturday. And we got just that!
After the heavy downpours of the previous day, the pitch was rather spongy on top so we were happy to win the toss and bowl. The two Harrys – Dunmall and Fitzgerald – bowled 10 impressively tight overs which brought just one wicket but, with only 25 runs on the board, also brought a sense of growing desperation to the Meopham batsmen.
They snapped. In the next 14 overs nine wickets fell for 56 runs with Mark Utting the unlikely destroyer taking 6-22. Nick Coffin tied down the other end expertly and Will Plunkett polished off the last two batsmen spectacularly in his only over. The final wicket also provided a fourth catch of the innings for Ed Wesson – diving one handed across slip – to cap another tidy display behind the stumps.
Chasing just 81 we eased home for the loss of three wickets. Ollie Crees top scored with 27 including some typically powerful strokes and the winning runs came in fewer than 16 overs. A job well done, 20 points to the good, and onto Bidborough next week.