The match report from another thriller at West Chilts.
Tailenders – much maligned for their batting. But the Martlets’ epic with West Chilts (again) demonstrated the value of the tail. Here follows the tale of the eighth wicket partnership.
A young Martlets XI descended on the beautiful setting of West Chilts CC on a sunny-ish Thursday morning – remarkably for a Martlets team, 10 of the 11 arrived at the agreed meet time. As skipper Hector Loughton strode out for the toss, there was only one thing on his mind – win the toss, have a bat and put the feet up in preparation for the wine at lunch. But this is Martlets’ cricket – so rarely does it go to plan.
Having said that, the first part was a success. Having won the toss and opting to bat within 0.5 seconds, openers Sammy Hart and Luke Forster strode to the middle hoping to take advantage of a fine, albeit dry, looking pitch and glass outfield. Hart unfortunately fell early – LBW to Toby Witham. No matter, Forster, now joined by youngster Noah Langham (playing his 40th game of the season already – oh to be young!) channelled his inner Zak Crawley, striking 3 fine boundaries within his first 5 balls. Sadly, the 6th would be his final, falling to a fine catch in the slips, to leave the Martlets reeling on 19-2. Nick Beechey and Langham sought about rebuilding, soaking up some fine seam bowling and taking advantage of the rare bad balls – Langham in particular punitive off the back foot. But both were to fall in quick succession – Beechey to Jaffer, Langham to another fine catch in the cordon. At 64-4, the skipper strolled in to join David Pugh, playing his first game of red ball cricket in the season (Pugh didn’t consider an appearance on Elie Beach (Google it – it’s phenomenal) a suitable warm up to West Chilts), in an effort to rebuild the innings. Sadly, the skipper could not oblige, falling to a very fine delivery by Sam Collyer for just 12 (I would say this!) Ben Whelpton also fell soon after, leaving the Martlets at 120ish for 6 at lunch.
We were once again treated to a spread at lunch, with several members of the top 7 taking to the wine to contemplate their mornings’ work. Rob Burgh, on debut, who had stuck around nicely in the tricky 15 minutes before lunch, was dismissed straight after lunch by Adam Trees. Trees then picked up Jack Allen (another debutant) straight away, leading the Martlets in deep trouble at 134-8.
For the next phase of the report, I will place blame and praise equally on Jordan Rory Shaw. Jordan had withdrawn from my team a few days prior (boo), but had sourced a replacement in Archie Durrant. In informing me about Durrant, Jordan kindly said “he is a quality bowler” – excellent, I was short of seamers, so his addition was very welcome. But Jordan failed to mention was that Durrant could also hold a bat. Strolling in at number 10, Durrant preceded to bludgeon a flawless 104* off 60 balls, an innings containing 13 fours, and 3 sixes. This fails to tell half the story – when Durrant came to the crease Pugh, who had been the glue flawlessly and elegantly holding the innings together, was on 40. Durrant preceded to not only beat Pugh to his half century, he also brought up his three figures before Pugh had reached his own half century. A truly destructive and vital innings that made the skipper look a bit of a fool. Pugh’s elegance and Durrant’s brutality enabled the Martlets to declare on 250 for 8 after 54 overs, a total that looked completely unattainable at 134-8!
Suffering from a bit of pad rash, and perhaps a touch of annoyance of being dropped to the engine room of number 11 (“I’ve been batting at 6 all season, skipper”), Daniel James took the new ball, instantly settling into a nice rhythm. From the other end, Allen bowled with good pace but was punished when straying too short. But, adopting his best Mitchell Starc impression, Allen was able to hurry Hugo Gillespie, finding the batters’ top edge, to be caught well by Hart. Allen then bounced out the other opener, leaving West Chilts 37-2. This became 65-3 when James got a very deserved breakthrough – figures of 7-1-26-1 don’t do justice to how well he bowled.
Whelpton replaced Allen, instantly finding sharp turn. This led to the skipper getting very exciting, imaging himself to be Ben Stokes and able to set funky fields – Whelpton found himself bowling with a 6-3 leg side field, with 2 leg slips and a silly mid on at one point! Durrant, fresh from his batting exploits, had replaced James – Durrant bowled with good pace, with the occasional beamer keeping the batsman honest! A beauty from Durrant found the outside edge of West Chilts’ number 4, flying to Pugh at second slip. Pugh subsequently provided a wonderful assist for first slip Beechey, who eventually took the catch following a bit of juggling! 77-4 became 115-5 when Whelpton took his sole wicket (again the figures don’t do justice), with Alex Tatchell chipping up to silly mid on (this made the skipper very pleased, fully justifying the funky fields!).
Rob Burgh had replaced Durrant at the top end, and was rewarded with a wicket within a few overs. At 119-6, and the expectation that the West Chilts overseas was unable to bat through injury, the Martlets were fully expecting a victory. This wicket brought Witham to the crease – some clean striking brought West Chilts back into the game. But a run out (well affected by Burgh), and the wicket of Witham for 49 – well bowled by Allen – swung the game back in the Martlets’ favour.
187-8 – surely the curse of the eighth wicket couldn’t strike again, particularly with the expectation of it being the last partnership? Skipper Jake Hodgson and Hugh Warmisham set about reducing the required ask through some sensible but aggressive batting, dispatching the bad balls and keeping out the good ones. 40 to win; 30 to win; 25 to win. At this point, Andrew Young, the injured (?) overseas had decided his competitive instincts could not allow West Chilts to come up short, and had stuck the pads on. With 15 needed for victory, Durrant bowled Warmisham, bring Young to the crease to join his skipper for the final wicket. Despite some tight bowling from Durrant, Allen and Hart, the pair proceeded to knock off the remaining runs required, a fine straight drive by Hodgson sealing victory for the hosts by 1 wicket and around 3 overs left to play.
The West Chilts match always seems to produce a thriller, with both sides coming out on top in past years. As ever, a huge thanks to the umpires and scorers; and to all involved at West Chilts for being such hospitable hosts as always. And a big thanks to my team for stepping up to play and being involved in another thriller. Bring on next year!
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