STONEWALL PARK AWAY – On a roll…

Coming off the back of the exhilarating win against Bidborough, we pitched up to the lovely ground at Stonewall Park looking to build some strong momentum going into the last couple of the first round of fixtures. The weather looked rather undecided and light but steady rain drops were soon falling as the team were gathering pre match, with no sign of any breaks in the cloud. An ominous sign perhaps, but skipper won the toss and decided to put the hosts in straight away.

 

With Guti S in to replace the absent PC, he and Wild went about the opening overs with a slippery ball, fast losing any shine or shape that might help with some conventional quick bowling. After 5 overs a piece without a breakthrough, Danny boy brought on the slow stuff – Weezy Crosby and the returning Weezy Junior (give those death sticks up now Miles) took to their tasks with the usual unrelenting accuracy. It wasn’t long before Stonewall were forced to give in to the Crosby twin magic, with one opener skewing a drive to Dan at cover – we’d made the breakthrough. Not entirely sure what happened for the next few overs but it was all a bit weird, culminating with their number 3 bat missing a ball from the senior Big Phil after walking at one, only for the ball to roll back toward Cribben who immediately pounced like a ferret to run out/stump (no one actually knows) the seemingly lost batsman. Then there seemed to be a collapse of sorts, with two consecutive batsmen chippy easy catches to fielders early on in their innings, all the while the other opener continued to play well at the other end. Then Sheridan turned back the years and rarely strayed from THE CASTLE with his bowling, and man after man they swung and they missed, bails flying all over the place (within 3 feet of the stumps, he’s not as quick as he used to be). Experience proved to be the deciding in our fielding innings, with Phil ending up with 6-23 off his 8, and Darren nabbing 2-17 off 6 overs – very tidy bowling chaps. The innings ended in the last over with Stonewall reaching a modest 147, finished off with the spell of the day – one ball, one wicket from the beard. Not as good as Sheridan’s bowling by any stretch, but a rare gem if ever there was one – Wild bowling a full straight ball first up. Tea went down well for all – a hallmark of Stonewall’s hosting now.

 

More opening experimentation this week, with John Okell returning to the side to take first ball alongside Wild. Last year Stonewall ran away with the league by virtue of a plethora of bowling options – this year we caught them at a good time it seemed, as they were missing much of their prized attack. However, this did not mean an easy task for the Sennocke line up, and the opening two got off to a steady start, with John doing much of the scoring early on, before falling for 31 a few overs before tea. At this stage, Wild had only just breached double figures and had faced a fair few balls – thoughts of a Tavare-style innings were circling. Joined by the other twin in the Okell clan, runs started to flow more freely for Sennocke, Wild keen to make up on lost time. Already comfortable using the sweep shot to their seam attack, Wild started to explore the other shots in the batting manual, with a brief foray into straight drives and cover drives, and a GLORIOUS six down the ground over the bowlers head. However this seemed to bore him and he soon returned to sweeping one and all. Then he was felled – not getting out, but hit in a poorly secured box, and had to spend the next few minutes gathering his thoughts and what remained of his manhood, before slapping his was to his first 50 of the year, moving on to 61 runs before edging another flaying drive behind to the keeper. At this point, Sennocke needed just 45 runs to win, and with Pete and Jules at the crease, and plenty of overs left, victory seemed a near certainty. A small wobble, with Jules and Pete falling before time, brought Dan and Miles together as the crease – these two cool young heads steered us to victory in the 37th over.

 

Overall a great performance, with bowling depth exhibited, fielding still on a really good level (despite shelling a few chances), and a good positive batting innings – we are out the drop zone. Bring on Chiddingstone at home next week – let’s rectify the horror show in that friendly a few years ago…

BIDBOROUGH AT HOME – Phoenix from the flames

The Sennocke Scribe returns after a two week absence, brought on by a lack of literary inspiration provided by two poor defeats. The less said, the better.
This week we hosted Bidborough, who on paper (aka the league table) were a better side than the previous two we lost to. But the team went into the game with a renewed positivity thanks in part to the chirpy leadership team, watching too many Brendon McCullum interviews and way too much pre match sugar.
Losing the toss as standard, we were sent into bat, with Wild retaining his opening slot alongside the returning Lee Hinton-Dilkes. Some short pitched bowling up front was dealt with pretty easily, the pitch taking the sting out of any deliveries dug in halfway and allowing the batsmen to play the ball down to 3rd man or just leave at rubbish alone. Lairy Lee, as he will undoubtedly become to be known, held his ground steadily until he lashed out at the perfect drive ball, which the bowler stuck a hand out to deflect and somehow pouched. Pokell then ambled out to the middle and obviously hadn’t had much of a warm up as he loosened up at the crease by swinging at almost everything. Wild’s innings was peppered with the usual sweeps and glides to 3rd man, but it was brought to a premature end when he went after a ball with a bit too much enthusiasm, over balancing and getting stumped with some very tidy work behind the stumps by the Bidborough keeper. Pete and Jules took the mantle on from that point and Pete had finally got his eye in with some enormous blows over long on (cow corner really), before he too fell, with Julian soon to follow. Dan and Al Stuart consolidated at that point and built a good foundation for a big finish. At this point, things seemed to slow dramatically as we posted just 60 runs in the last 15 overs, despite Le Grand Ginge having a big old swing at it. Final total was more than a tad short of par at 156, story of the day being too many starts and not enough scores (we are becoming the World Cup England ODI side basically).

With the four frontline bowlers in the team, we still had a good chance of defending if we bowled well and back that up in the field. We opened with Wild and PC as expected, with the ginger’un held back for short sharp bursts a la Mitchell Johnson. The bearded one bowled remarkably accurately, conceding just one wide in his 9 over spell, all the while removing 3 of the Bidborough top 4, including a rather classical nick behind. This had Bidborough worried, as they found themselves 4 down early than they would have liked. However a partnership thwarted the Sennocke forward charge for some time, until the excellent bowling of Sheridan, Crosby and Chapman (plus PC in his brief jaunts) started to build up the pressure and the wickets returned. They were shared all around the team, with all 5 bowlers contributing. This was largely in part to our drastically improved catching (fielding overall was noticeably sharper) as nearly every wicket was taken via a catch – brief mention for Pete for what must be drop of the season, shelling a dolly at third man (the plan was brilliant but for the choice of fielder Dan). Soon we had them 9 down with the last of PC’s overs whistled by and removed another batsmen. Their set batsmen had dug in deep while picking off the stray balls and frustrating us all until the penultimate over when, with just 10 runs needed to win, he went for the big one over Brian’s head into the wind with Callingham lurking at long on. It was a low flat bullet but there would only be one winner in that clash, the skipper taking it comfortably and sealing a huge win for the lads lads lads.
Whispers of a massive celebratory rave started circulating, causing many of the team to flee post match, but a hardened few carried on the festivities in the Raj Bari. Dan showed off his feminine side with a curry so girly, it could have been made of roses and rainbows. Let’s hope he steps up his game in weeks to come.

Next week – Stonewall Park away. Come on the boys.

 

PS – I was asked to include some detail on the previous matches. The only thing worth noting was when Paul Tapper commented that Wild was “whipping balls from off stump into the leg side like a certain Sir Viv Richards” at Halstead. Never a truer word spoken.

PENSHURST PARK AWAY – Resounding win on the board

The dreaded fixture. Penshurst away. Not once have we ever left here with a win. Yet we arrived on Saturday with what must be at least close to our strongest team – batting deep and with all three quicks in the same attack for the first time this season.

After a strong run of form at the toss, Dan finally lost one, but was surprised and delighted to be asked to bat first on a pitch that we have bad history on batting second.
He opened up with Al B once more, with some early stroke play seeming to dispatch any doubts over the quality of the surface. However one dodgy ball was enough to cause problems in the captains mind and he was unlucky to play on and walk early. This only served to bring Sennocke’s in form batsmen Pete Okell (sporting a rather stylish new haircut) to the crease. Any fears over a Samson-esque loss of powers were swiftly removed as Pete began to lay waste to the Penshurst bowling, sending them to all parts in a glorious knock of 61. It’s worth mentioning that there were a few golf shots that failed to connect with anything at all, but we all know that’s how he gets loose for the heave over mid wicket.
Bromley, John, Phil and Darren fell whilst trying to push the rate on with Pete, before he also fell, while Jules seemed to be free any concern as he went through his lovely repertoire of shot making. Wild came in down the order with the license to go all guns blazing and push the total up above 200. Some interesting shots and good running saw a decent partnership build and get the team near that target, however Jules fell in the penultimate over. This brought the converted 100m sprinter Cribben to the crease, and between the two batsmen, a few boundaries and another few scampered ones and twos pushed the total up to a handsome 207.

Phil and Seb opened up, with Seb bowling impressively quick, as well as getting some good shape on the ball – so much so that we managed to swing one round the back of the openers’ legs and clip leg stump, getting that early wicket that we usually seem to struggle for. A solid partnership was then struck up, with the remaining opener being the aggressor for their entire innings, until a LBW decision removed their captain – safe to say a decision he wasn’t entirely thrilled with. Another rebuild required, we were certain we had our man, as Cribben whipped off the bails with the opening batsman’s foot almost a foot off the ground, only for the junior player umpiring at square leg to give a horrendous not out decision, and we all know how that makes Al feel…
A couple more wickets fell before the Penshurst opening bowler came to the crease to join the non-removable opening bat, and both started swinging the willow in an attempt to bring them back into the contest with quick runs. Wild shelled a tough chance at extra cover but made up for it with a run out via direct hit soon after – something Dan had failed to accomplish with multiple early attempts.
And then came what surely must be a contender for catch of the season already. Chapman bowling, opening bat on the attack once more. A high and handsome shot towards long off, where Big Phil Clayton was posted. He ran in, eager to take the chance, before realising there had been no need to move. Emergency brakes were employed, and as the ball went to sail over him, a lanky arm reached skyward to put his big mitt in the way. Somehow on his descent back to earth, pulled along by the pure force of the ball, Phil managed to cling on, and we finally had the wicket we wanted. And that Phil, is the last we need to hear of it.
From that point on, Penshurst provided little resistance, and we wrapped up their innings with a few overs to spare and the score at 144. A resounding win by a margin of 63 runs, and the first at Penshurst Park in living memory.
Great way to kick our season into gear, and we look forward to having Bidborough up at Knole next week in pursuit of a follow up win.

 

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN ITS ENTIRETY DURING THE LUNCH BREAK AT LORDS, DAY 5 OF THE TEST, INSPIRED BY THE GLORIOUS PERFORMANCE OF THE ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM.

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Captain Callingham explains the strapping technique to his team.

 

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Strike bowler Clayton shows how it’s done.
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Leicester Arms Hotel, Penshurst

 

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Excellent hospitality from the Leicester Arms.

OTFORD AWAY – Balls slipping through fingers so the early on in the season…

Day one of the 2015 league season and we travel (although not far) to Otford, to play a team we had not expected to meet anytime soon at the end of last season. What was even more surprising was that Otford was somehow managed to convince England test prospect Nicholas Baker back down to village level cricket for the season, and he lined up to face us on what turned out to be a stormer of a day (weather wise). Greeted by the greenest of green tops, skipper won the toss (or so he said) and chose to bowl first, with the dynamic duo of quicks back together again. No, not Sheridan and Crosby – Big Phil Clayton and The Bearded Wonder.

The two set off tentatively, Wild struggling to adapt to a left hander early on before settling into a good rhythm and bowled well throughout a full 9 over spell (let’s ignore the attempted inswingers…), while Big PC showed all the signs of a complete lack of preparation with some uncharacteristically short pitch bowling that was dispatched all over. He did however make the breakthrough, managing to pin the leftie for an LBW decision. This only succeeded in bringing the heir to KP’s throne as England’s most dominant batsmen to the crease (yep, you guessed it – that man Baker). He somehow contrived to only gather 7 runs, something about this standard of cricket that doesn’t suit him apparently.

However we made an almost instantaneous return to the crease as a runner for the new batsmen. “RUNNER?!” I hear you yell furiously at your screen – I know, what controversy in a village cricket match. Otford’s interpretations of the latest ICC rules were brought forth and discussed amongst themselves, causing a fuss and further delay (they’d forgotten to bring the balls for the game, great start to the season lads) whilst our skip was happen for them to just get on with it. Upon reflection, it might have served us better if we had just said no, as the two batsmen pushed Otford up to a total of 223 runs.

The bowling in all wasn’t of a bad standard apart from some rusty balls (phrasing and ginger joke) from PC and some aggressive batting against Bromley from the set batsmen – it was our inability to take the chances we created which again hurt our attempts to restrict a team to a lower score. After mentioning quite a few last year, I’m struggling to think of innovative new ways to describe the fashion in which Brian Crosby (aka Fizzer) manages to drop every caught and bowled opportunity laid before him – needless to say, it was a shocker.

Onto our batting, and Dan opened up our reply with Bromley once more. Try as he might to play some of the glorious shots of the previous week, the pitch was not playing along and had engineered a remarkably rapid death over tea. What started the match as a decent paced green top quickly turned into a two paced, variable bouncing track that was quite frankly a bit of a nightmare to play on. Dan tried to stick around and valiantly hung about for 58 balls for his 21, whilst a mini collapse reminiscent of Sennocke in years gone by brought the old boys club to the middle (Chapman and Weekes). These two made the score look at least respectable, before falling in quick succession. The Blacksmith (POkell) came to the crease with a backwards cap on, bringing in a new style era for wicketkeeper batsmen everywhere. Bludgeoning a quickfire 18, his short innings was bettered only by Fizzer’s cheeky 19 included another amusing debacle. Firstly by creaming a beautiful four through mid off, and then decided to show everyone his rendition of Stevie Wonder at the crease by going completely blind and staring down the bowler as the ball struck him on the pads (luckily nowhere near leg before), and following it up with another crisply struck boundary. Alas it was never meant to last long, a classic full and straight ball cleaned him up, with it our hopes of kicking of the season with a win.

Next week we return to Knole Park to face Plaxtol – let’s hope we learn from the last two weeks, albeit with severely restricted resources available. Could we see a return to opening the bowling for John Okell…?! Tune in next week to find out.

2015 SEASON KICKS OFF WITH A…DAMP SQUIB

And we return for another season of self inflicted pain, that no one of would live without. What a weird bunch we are.

What started as a sunny enough afternoon in ‘lovely’ North Kent soon turned into a near sub zero gale force experience against a decent side called Blue Stars on a lovely ground with a great track. Shame about the weather really.

After a brief scuffle for the captaincy, Wild took a leaf out of the Sennocke captaincy manual and promptly lost the toss, with the oppo skipper choose to bat first. With just ten men on the pitch at this stage, we kicked off as the sun died a painful death behind an Armageddon style cloud invasion. Seb managed to turn up in time for the second over, dressed more for a casual spot of tennis rather than a cricket match but never mind. On a pitch that offered enough pace, bounce and nip to the seamers, it was disappointing to not make any early inroads into the batting lineup, with both quicks struggling to find consistency in their efforts.

A wicket was eventually picked up off the bowling of P Sheridan with poppadom fingers himself, Mr Julian Weekes, taking what seemed to be a surprisingly clean catch. This only resulted on Blue Stars’ overseas players joining forces at the wicket and going about in dispatching our bowling to all parts with a rather outstanding array of shots, not all of them originating from cricket however. One ponders whether these chaps had been watching a few IPL highlight montages before the match, such was the ‘originality’ and ‘creativity’ on display. Alex Bromley also unveiled his credentials as another of the team’s all-rounders by picking up 3 handy wickets, something we were glad to see with limited bowling stock on offer this year, thanks to the departures of Miles and Mikey (seriously guys, this uni thing is becoming a joke now).

In the end, Sennocke lived up to last seasons’ habits of leaking too many runs and supplementing the opposition with a veritable bounty of extras – we were set 214 to win.

At this point, the conditions took a turn for the Arctic, with the winds hitting icy new heights and frostbite had begun to bare its evil menace for the Sennocke team confined to the seats on the boundary. We were however warmed up almost instantly by some delightful batting by skipper Callingham, hitting sixes and fours almost for fun thanks to some rather tepid bowling on a true pitch. Mr Bromley fared somewhat differently at the other end, with some cautious batting providing the foil to the gung ho attack going on at the other end. So differently paced were the two innings that we clapped Dan’s 50 with only 54 on the board! He stuck around to accumulate 85 wonderful runs in the end, whilst almost everyone else struggled around him with early season rust. All but the ever-present Jules, who accumulated a tidy 48 not out in pursuit of the heady total, taking us to 196-7 from our set of 40 overs.

To be honest, in most league matches, we would be fairly chuffed with 196 runs on the board, but it was the inability to stem the flow of runs from the attacking Blue Stars top of order along with the wastefulness of the bowlers from an extras standpoint. All in all though, it was a pretty good way to prepare for the start of the season, and we played a good game of cricket against a decent group of gents that were in truth a fair match for us as a club, and we may find ourselves playing them again soon and coming out on the other side of the result.