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.