2nd May 2009 - Match Reports.

Barnards Green 4th XI vs Canon Frome 2nd XI

Barnards Green 2nd XI vs Redditch

A number of late fitness-test failures and other commitments meant that, following a string of phone calls , the Green side that took to the field against Canon Frome for their first match of the season was packed with experience, and included two players forced to delay their retirement plans and another who last picked up a bat over 20 years ago.

The Green bowled first on a spongy but well–prepared wicket which promised to offer assistance to their opening pair of 15 year old Jack Cullity and Ian Alley who bowled a mixture of balls, some unplayable, others unreachable.

Cullity struck first having D Child caught for 2.

This brought Frost to the wicket, returning to the side after a lengthy absence and the Green bowlers struggled to find the correct line, feeding the left-hander and handing out a succession of free hits which were despatched to all parts. Frost moved swiftly to his 50, ably supported by the stubborn Morris who was granted a runner early in his innings having apparently tweaked a fetlock going for another quick single.

With Cullity limited by age in the number of overs he could bowl, Dick Brown introduced Dominic Horne to the attack and the run rate slowed as he bowled a good length and the visitors worked hard to keep the free-scoring Frost away from the strike.

Deciding to take all pace out of the bowling attack, Dave Price and Phil Spencer were called upon to try and break the partnership but with Frost now in full flow anything other than a perfect delivery was sent to the very short Canon Frome boundary. Veteran Keith Middleton joined the attack, tempted Frost with a huge free-hit for six and then had him caught on the square-leg boundary. Frost exited on 133, a career best.

Henry Coleman came to the crease and quickly showed that he too was capable of hitting the ball a long way as well as playing correctly and he looks to be an excellent young player. He progressed quickly to 36 before being bowled to become the second of Cullity’s five victims and following his departure the home team who had looked at one stage to be capable of amassing a huge total were restricted to 236 off their 45 overs. Cullity was the pick of the bowlers celebrating his first 5 wicket haul in senior cricket.

An unfamiliar opening pair of Keith Middleton and Dave Price took to the field, confident that the required total of 237 was achievable but when Middleton hammered the ball to point only to find the outstretched hand of Calvin Cottrell and be dismissed for 4 the Green’s plan looked shaky. Dave Price, now joined by Cyril Dean found the medium paced bowling of youngsters Henry Coleman and another excellent prospect Ben Child to his liking and sent anything loose to the boundary. Dean, despite exhibiting some early-season lack of timing showed excellent shot selection and the Green quickly raced ahead of the run rate.

The introduction of Cottrell with a bowling styling ideally suited to the Canon Frome conditions eventually accounted for both Price (38) and Dean (41).

Captain Dick Brown struck a long hop to Coleman and had to accept that the ball had been caught cleanly as he departed for 2, quickly followed by Rich Wall (1) who missed a straight delivery from Frost thus this bringing the raw power of Dave Smith and Phil Spencer to the middle.

Spencer (23), deciding that finesse was not the order of the day, started to hit out scoring freely at first with two huge sixes but he too perished to a great catch from Frost who clearly had too many shredded wheat for breakfast. Dave Smith offered stubborn support before being LBW to Cottrell for 7.

Jack Cullity and Graham Gledenning came together needing to find another 100 or so runs for victory and both players batted superbly mixing boundaries with, (in Glendenning’s opinion), far too many singles. Cullity finished on 26 and Glendenning on 28 leaving the Green with Horne and Alley to try for the win.

Horne showed just how much his batting has improved through the winter as he accompanied first Glendenning and then Alley to force the total to 220 before being bowled by Frost for 28 which included two enormous sixes.

The Green lost this match narrowly by 16 runs as a result of some five dropped catches and 27 extras but were once again delighted with the performance of their youngsters.

Canon Frome 236 for 8 off 45 overs   -   BGCC 220 all out

Yesterday morning, hidden under piles of the Beano and Dandy comics I found a copy of the now legendary text ‘The Art of Captaincy’ by Mike Brearley. Thumbing through the pages I found  reference to dealing with pressure, managing young players and trying to turn draws into wins. Nothing in the book prepared me, however, for the thrilling climax of Saturday’s fixture against Redditich CC.

After winning my second successive toss I asked the Redditch skipper to bat first on what looked a good, surprisingly dry wicket considering the recent rain we have had. Yet again Sam Spencer bowled with metronomic accuracy without once sacrificing his pace and nip. Indeed one player who shall remain nameless, remarked that Sam was ‘like Harmison but betterer (sic)’. His two early wickets kept Redditch in check despite the 35 yard boundary on one side of the wicket. At the other end Tom Clack bowled with good pace and found a little nip but as humidity rose found the extra swing on offer tricky to control. The first change bowlers of James Scullian and Tom Banks bowled excellently well and both could have picked up wickets given a slice more luck, especially as Eley (114*) opted for the aerial route more and more frequently.    

After the drinks break, as the innings wore on the introduction of the veteran Drinkwater combined with, for the second game in succession, excellent ground fielding by the whole team and confident wicket-keeping by Ash Brewer, kept the Redditch innings in check. The experimentation of Lewis Hooper (0-30) and Judd Doughty (2-36), the latter bowling off-spin for the first time in a game since he was 13, partially paid off as the skipper took two quick wickets but both soon suffered as a result of Eley’s  forceful hitting in combination with the short legside boundary. The Redditch innings closed on 226-7 of their allocation of 50 overs, just short of what the BGCC players thought was a par score for the wicket.  

The BGCC innings got off to a solid start with Jon Lewis in particular punching the ball through the gaps in the in-field. The loss of Lewis to one which nipped back off the seam brought Drinkwater to the crease to partner Doughty. Together the batsmen began to steadily compile a solid base mixing stout defence will cautious attack against a good opposing pace attack who swung the ball deftly and with control. The loss of Doughty (58) followed shortly by Drinkwater (49) an issue which the team had discussed prior to the start of play – once you are in – stay in and finish the job! James Curtis and Hooper both came to the wicket but soon departed as the Green suffered a partial middle-order collapse. Louis Loader played some delightful shots before he too perished in the middle overs of the innings.

Having secured the 75% total to pick-up extra bonus points in the event of a draw Doughty signalled to his young charges to play cautiously and not to attempt anything extravagant – the risk of losing weighing heavily on his mind. With that signal Scullian swept the leg-spinner for six onto the patio, much to the joy of the large crowd of partisan supporters. Again the skipper urged caution and again Scullian swept the spinner for six, the equation had gone from 28 runs off 3 overs needed to win to 11 off the last over. Banks, who had driven the ball with style and precision fell as he played a selflessly expansive shot. This wicket brought the relaxed figure of Spencer to the crease who biffed his first ball for four down the ground and then nudged the ball to bring Scullian onto strike. The equation was now simple: Two runs to win and one ball in which to do it. It must be noted at this time that the bowler, Amhed (4-55) a chinaman bowler, was spinning the prodigiously and the field had been set, unsurprisingly, with defence in mind. Scullian, with all of the confidence in the world skipped down the wicket and chipped the ball over the in-field for four to win the game for BGCC and to kick-start a mass celebration by the spectators on the patio.

The ‘Youth Club’ as they have been christened, played fantastically well again and the momentum from back-to-back wins must be harnessed and taken up the M5 to Belbroughton next Saturday. The players have all worked hard for each other in the opening two fixtures and we know we have strength in depth with our batting but as captain I’d like to see a higher value put on our wickets, especially by the more senior players, as we can’t rely on acts of heroism by the young ‘uns week-in week-out to win matches. I’m afraid to say that hard work is the way in which leagues are won and that has to be our season long aim, 20’s must be turned into 40’s and 40’s and 50’s must be turned into 100’s.

The excellent competition provided by Redditch CC must be noted here, they played very well in all departments of the game and were unlucky not to win, let alone lose, a very well fought cricket match played in good nature throughout.           

Well done team – games like this will live long in the memory of all who were there.


Redditch 1st XI vs Barnards Green CC 1st XI

Following a hard fought losing draw against Worcester Nomads the Green travelled North to face Redditch in the 2nd round of matches in the WCL.On a pitch with more than a hint of green to go with its plasticine texture visiting skipper Tim Williams had no hesitation in inserting the home side upon winning the toss.A probing opening spell from both Willams and Calgorie’s Nick Murphy provided almost immediate dividends when opener Hill, frustrated by a lack of scoring opportunities was caught as he skied a good length ball to the safe hands of Liam Paddock for a duck and he was quickly followed by the wicket of Gailey for 22 adjudged LBW to Murphy.Southwick and Protherough looked to rebuild the innings with Southwick the aggressor to Protherough’s stodgy defense. The introduction of spin at both ends slowed the pace on the ball and Protherough struggling to force the issue was excellently caught by Clarke at slip to give Ford the first of his 4 wickets. Southwick ploughed a lonely furrow as wickets tumbled around him as new batsman struggled to get in on a difficult wicket. Two ill disciplined run outs and an injudicious shot from Redditch’s Australian import Friedrich contrubuted to Redditch’s struggle with Ford the major benefactor finishing with the excellent figures of 4-32When Southwick was well stumped by Binks off Smedley to leave the home side 114-5 it was left to the Redditch tail to try and accelerate the rate. Fortunately for the visitors the tail barely wagged adding just 34 runs to leave a testing total of 152.After losing Golder for just 3 the Green suffered a further early setback with Rhodes offering a comfortable catch to Davis off veteran Merry to leave the visitors 31-2. Luckily Paddock and Rich Williams put together an important partnership with Williams particularly harsh on Merry crashing several boundaries including a massive pulled six over the vacant mid on region.When Williams was the victim of 2 difficult LBW decisions for a well composed 33 Smedley and Ford both contributed valuable runs scoring 17 and 15 respectively to edge the visitors ever closer to the total required.With Paddock the mainstay scoring a watchful 59 not out it was left to the swashbuckling Jez Clarke to see the visitors home with a valuable brace of clubbed boundaries. Mason finished with 3-34 for the home side but it was the excellent bowling performance of Ford, Murphy, Williams and Smedley which allowed the talented Paddock to guide the Green to their first victory of the season.This weekend North End Lane plays host to Herefordshire rivals Bromyard with admission free to all.