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.