31st August 2009 - Match Reports.

Hagley vs BGCC 2nd XI  

On the Bank Holiday Monday a much changed side travelled to the picturesque Hagley Hall ground to face relegation scrappers Hagley in the penultimate game of the league season. With only 5 players in the side from Saturday Doughty yet again won the toss and asked the home side to bat on a damp, green wicket. The home batsmen initially struggled with Spencer’s (7-1-34-1) pace and bounce, exaggerated by the wet conditions. Scullion (9-1-26-1), taking the new cherry for the first time this year did a splendid job with a number of half chances created before the breakthrough finally came. The home side went from 16-1 to 53-2, and from 89-4 to 148-5 as the wicket got dryer and dryer. The youngsters of Ryan Scullion (9-3-37-2) and Loader (5-1-15-0) bowled magnificently despite their inexperience, making life difficult for the home batsmen. Spencer, having bowled 190 overs this year, could barely walk and hobbled bravely after the ball in the field during the second half of the innings. With the home side beginning to find the boundary and the key bowlers from Saturday missing Doughty (4-0-15-1) brought himself on for some off spin which picked up a wicket before he twisted his ankle in the outfield whilst attempting a catch off Brown. Doughty had to leave the field to ice his injury and Dean had to take the reigns just as the pressure began to mount. Hagley kindly lent one of their players to field despite it being a must win game for them and Dean had to marshal the troops, some injured, some missing in action, as best he could in very difficult circumstances. Whilst all of the chaos was happening Brown, in only his second game of the season for the two’s, bowled unchanged into a stiff wind for 16 overs, finishing finally with figures of (16-1-80-1). His effort and hard graft was excellent.

 

With 222 set by Hagley, Doughty and Yorke set about recovering a potential banana skin into a league winning innings. Yorke (0), mis-cueing a full toss to mid-wicket in the second over sent the home side into jubilant celebrations and dented the Green’s confidence. Lewis came to the crease and with Doughty set about rebuilding the innings. The ball occasionally misbehaved off a length and both batsmen were hit on the hands a number of times. Doughty, hopping and hobbling between the wickets after his earlier injury fell to one of the best catches seen in league cricket for 20 very painful (metaphorically and physically) runs bringing James Scullion to the wicket. Lewis (45 off 69 balls), batting with maturity and increasing confidence took the game by the scruff of its neck putting on 74 runs with his junior partner before finally succumbing. Scullion (36 off 77) dug in with vice captain Dean (10 off 37) as the team focused in on the losing draw target of 167 runs. The home side, buoyed by the fact they had the unbeaten, league leaders reeling fielded with exuberance and passion putting more and more pressure on the Green. A couple of wickets fell which put further pressure on the younger element of the team. Ashlea Brewer, batting at 6, made a neat looking 14 off 24 balls before perishing. Brown, fatigued from his bowling stint looked good for 4 before being castled before Dom Horne came to the crease. Horne, having fielded with vigour, batted with gusto surviving for 14 vital balls taking time out of the game before being caught by one that ‘popped’ off the wicket. With the Green re-adjusting their target from a losing draw to simply not losing, Loader played some classy strokes before falling in similarly unlucky fashion to Horne for 4. The last pair of Spencer and Ryan Scullion had the tough task of surviving the last five overs with the Hagley fielders sensing an unlikely victory. 14 year old Scullion faced 17 balls for his 3 and Spencer, batting with a runner due to his groin injury survived a heroic 15 balls for his 0 not out.

 

Whilst initially very disappointed not to secure a win against one of the lower placed sides in the league the Green players can, with hindsight, be proud of the fact that they have reached the final game of the season unbeaten and level on points with Astwood Bank who have been able to complete two more games than the Green. In most other seasons the points tally the Green have reached would have been enough to secure the title, despite losing four games to rain. Hagley, despite their league position were no lightweights and it would seem unjust for them to be relegated from Division One on account of the two games we have played against them. Furthermore, as a captain it is encouraging to know that the players who are making their way in the third and fourth teams such as Jon Lewis, Rich Brown, Ryan Scullion, Louis Loader and Dom Horne can, when required, step up to the level of second team cricket and perform more than admirably – some of the senior players had better watch out for next season!