Sissinghurst 1st XI
4th June 2022
In a match that may prove significant at the end of the season, the 1st XI overcame bottom team Sissinghurst last Saturday by 32 runs. Asked to bat first after midweek rain, we once again threatened to waste a solid platform when we collapsed from 88-2 to 122-7 and then to 142-9. However a crucial last wicket stand between Harry Dunmall and the indefatigable Paul Eames (making his Speldhurst first team debut!) added a crucial 25 runs and gave us a serviceable total of 167 to defend.
Harry then hit the stumps twice in his opening spell and, with Jo Price proving too fiery for the Sissinghurst number 3, we were suddenly well on top at 12-3. The visitors then rallied effectively and took the score up to 78-3 at a decent rate before stand-in skipper Pat Green enticed a sharp caught-and-bowled from their number 4. A tight nine overs from Mike Hanson (playing his first game in two seasons) helped stem the run rate and Pat, switching from leg spin to seam, picked up two more important wickets to good catches in the middle order.
The coup de grace was provided by Jo Price who cleaned up the tail with three wickets – all bowled – to finish with 4-18 and seal what was in the end a comfortable victory. Seven of the 10 Sissinghurst wickets were clean bowled. The 20 points moves us up to the sanctuary of 6th place but with a number of tougher games looming over the next month.
Bearsted 1st XI
11th June 2022
The 1st XI travelled to league champions Bearsted hoping to repeat their victory at the same ground the last time we played. The sun was out, the pitch looked green but firm and we chose to bowl first. Bearsted’s captain opened the batting in pinch-hitter fashion – long levers and big sixes – and the new ball disappeared to the leg side boundary and into local gardens with Bairstow-ish regularity. One such strike also saw off our premier ‘spinner’ as Nick Coffin clicked his knee out of joint en route to retrieving the ball from under a parked car. Harry Fitzgerald picked up one opener in an impressive spell but the scoreboard was still rattling along at 7 an over. More out of desperation than design the skipper brought himself on at 88-1 and somehow lured the two set batsmen into hari-kari. Both well caught by Andy Eames at long on.
Bearsted continued to play a shot a ball however and two more wickets fell to reckless strokes before drinks. 123-5. Could go either way. Unfortunately the next pair managed to put on 97 without ever looking remotely convincing as our 10 men struggled in the heat. Our fielding was frantic at times and at least 10 runs came in overthrows The final total set was 248 and it looked a lot.
When three wickets fell before we’d reached 50 it didn’t look promising but Ollie Crees then formed a belligerent partnership with Harry Fitzgerald and the tide began to turn. Ollie was the prime aggressor initially, playing with both power and finesse off the seamers whilst Harry bided his time before unveiling a brace of gorgeous reverse sweeps against their leg spinner. Between the 27th and 31st overs the score raced from 134 to 179 and the fielders were being run ragged. Simple catches were dropped, stumpings were missed and we were starting to feel mildly confident when Ollie was adjudged lbw for a magnificent 92. Harry then continued the onslaught – some of his straight drives were brutal – Mark Utting offered vital support and another 35 runs came in five overs. Then Mark was run out by the first good bit of fielding all innings and, with the score on 221, Harry’s nine lives ran out soon after. The dam had burst and we were quickly bowled out for 231 with 2 overs left. A shame to lose but it was a cracking game with no little drama.
Marden 1st XI
18th June 2022
Short report this week: We batted first on a good track and a lovely ground with a rapid outfield. Due to late changes we had only 10 players (nothing new there) and despite putting on 40-0 in the first 10 overs we faded to 148 all out – probably about 80 below par. Extras was top score with 25!
In reply Marden blasted from the start and although Harry Dunmall picked up both openers in a decent nine-over spell they reached their target without further loss in just 20 overs. Spare a thought for Pat Green who travelled three hours by train to get to the game, was given out lbw first ball and then wasn’t able to complete his first over due to a pulled hamstring! Not a good day!
We play the top two teams next…
Outwood 1st XI
25th June 2022
After the hammering we received at Marden the previous weekend the Speldhurst 1st XI turned up to face Division One leaders Outwood with understandable trepidation. For once, however, it seemed that the opposition had almost as many notable absentees as we did and we were also buoyed by winning the toss and getting to bowl first after the previous day’s downpour.
Outwood’s young openers looked as green as the pitch and both were soon dispatched by the excellent Dunmall/Price new ball pairing. Harry then claimed the key wicket of the Outwood number 4 just as he was starting to blossom and their middle order then became oddly becalmed by nine overs of Waters slow drift.
A great boundary catch from Tom Hinton off Adam Nash’s sole over proved a key moment and despite some good shots from their number 6 and a generous supply of wides, Outwood were bowled out for 129. Muddy snared four and Will Plunkett picked up the last two wickets – both with full tosses!
In pursuit of the target, James Roche stroked two superb boundaries in the first over and, with Ollie Crees being equally (even more?) destructive at the other end, Outwood seemed to lose hope very quickly. There was no let up as boundaries continued to flow. Ollie brought up his fifty in the 16th over; then came the 100 partnership. Although both openers fell just before the end we managed to mirror the same emphatic margin and timing of victory that had been inflicted on us the previous week: by eight wickets and with almost 20 overs remaining. A fine win!
Despite defeat, Outwood remain top of the league whilst we are now up to 6th, at the head of a tightly-bunched lower half of the table.