Played 17 Won 12 Drawn 3 Lost 2
Sunday 4 September
SCCC 165-8 (40 overs)
Ottershaw 150 all out (39 overs)
Won by 15 runs
SCCC won the toss, 40 over match
With only seven players on the ground at the scheduled start time, none of whom could keep wicket, the decision to bat first was easy. On a beautiful day, with a respectably long batting line up and a pitch that looked full of runs, the Cryptic plan was to score 240 in style, then play festival cricket after tea, use 10 or 11 bowlers and Jingle Bell our way to Malta. It wasn’t quite that easy.
Ed Dyson became Pippa’s 437th opening partner and, like so many before him, outscored the veteran at the first attempt. Their solid foundation was made to look better by the relative shambles that followed as the Cryptics tried in vain to get that big score. Truth was that the bowling was better and the pitch more tricky than first thought. At 102-6 after 29 overs the skipper was having kittens. The Aussies, Geraint Cupit and Shane Skarott took the innings by the scuff of the neck. Cupit scored four and watched Skarott biff a farrier’s 38*. The Andrew twins – separated by 40 years and 8 stone – held out for long enough to prevent any humiliation for Seeckts, listed to go in number 11.
The perceived lack of serious Cryptic bowling options (there are always plenty of comic ones) saw Grindrod and the captain open. The former was the more successful by a distance as a score of 30-3 after 10 overs showed. Greenhough had an off day, Peter Andrew performed stoutly with the ball but crucially dropped A. Summers on about 15. Summers went on to get 72 and, but for the dreary accuracy of Scott and improbable turn from Skarott, would probably have won the match for Ottershaw. Modesty prevents your correspondent from describing a brilliant run out. Grindrod took the final wicket with one over to spare and the season ended with a 10th victory in 15 games.
Headley apparently came into this game on the back of some high scoring matches. Again the Cryptics fielded a team containing little recognised bowling and managed to rise to the challenge, using five bowlers with a combined weight of around 80 stone, (thanks to Tommy H-D’s recent fitness campaign).
Headley batted like millionaires, but the real millionaires weren’t playing and mostly they got themselves out. Nevertheless there was some top notch Cryptic catching from Wright, Hogben and debutant James Mawson. Skarott’s figures, 6-3-9-3 flatter the big Queenslander and his day got worse as he watched the climax of the Trent Bridge Test Match.
The chase looked easier than England’s parallel persuit of a similar score, but was no less nerve jangling while Chapman, Headley’s best batsman, best bowler and captain was on. The game finished early enough for the usual merry post match banter to be prolonged, which was hard work for Cupit who had made his first Primary Club contribution for the club. The run scoring had been shared around.
20th August is not a bad date for the first match of the season to finish without victory or tension, or both. The draw was tame in the end and had there been a full Cryptic team the chase would have continued for longer. With only Mark McLoughlin to bat and 77 required from eight overs, the Cryptic skipper decided (for the first time in years) to save a game that could no longer be won. It was baffling that the Tappers made no effort to take the last two wickets. Their defensive field included a longstop and betrayed a team that had lost interest in a game they could easily have won.
The roots of the problem were the Cryptics fielding only nine players and the Tappers’ late declaration. Pre-determining a time to stop without regard for a rapidly mounting score or the fielding side’s lack of bowling options is somewhat unsophisticated, and setting nine men a target of 6 an over from the start against decent bowling is unlikely to produce a thrilling finish. That said, the Cryptic chase was off to a fine start. Wright and Andrell took advantage of the three overs of joke bowling offered, and debutant Cameron Matthews hit an impressive 27. Matthews’ brother Fraser looked the part before chipping one to midwicket and the final 20 overs began with 120 needed.
Andrell scratched around but could not find his usual form. He and Seeckts got the Cryptics to 159 but the skipper was quickly followed to the pavilion by Cupit and Ware, leaving Skarott to partner Andrell quietly through the final overs. Andrell had been on 49 for eight overs when he was told his score with one ball remaining. Suddenly he found his form.
The early part of the game had seen Mark McLoughlin bowl 14 fine overs for no reward. Three years after retirement he was by far the best Cryptic bowler on show. The body that persuaded Mark to retire is now in much better shape than three (or even 10) years ago, but the head is wise enough to make every comeback game his “last”. The rest is best described as enthusiastic dross, but the lack of bowling is attributable not to those who turned up, rather those who didn’t. Messrs Skarott, Ware, Cupit and Seeckts were all happy to get among the wickets, however far away the catches were taken.
The Cryptics have enjoyed a very successful summer chasing totals in every game before this, and probably would have won this game batting second too, but the skipper called wrong again and the usual mid August runfest at Claygate was soon under way. Wright and Hogben cruised to the highest opening stand of the year, 72, in 16 overs before Hoggers managed to be both caught behind and stumped off the same ball. It was as if the Claygate ‘keeper knew something about Cryptic umpiring. Pippa went on to score 71 in fine style and rescue his otherwise poor summer.
Yet another unconventional batting order allowed us a strong tail, but Cryptic cricket never was a meritocracy and guests and the less talented always have their opportunities. So it was of no concern that wickets kept tumbling in pursuit of our par Claygate score of 250. With Grindrod (32) and Scott (25*) doing their bit, we were never short of runs. Scott had talked himself up to such an extent that even he was disappointed with the performance, but a chance at the top of the order will have to wait until he arrives before the game starts.
After tea we played our trump card, ringer Colin Day who plays real cricket on Saturdays and is just a tad quicker than Jimmy. Figures of 9.4-4-9-4 tell the story, although three of the wickets were tailenders in his second spell. At the other end Goss was accurate and faster than ever, betraying a little competition with his (faster) mate, and restricting Claygate to 16-2 from 14 overs. Scotty had performed a marvellous run out only made possible by his misfield at shortish leg. The buffet trolley was wheeled out before 6 o’clock, gaping holes were left in the field and the score grew to respectability at the beginning of the last 20 overs.
Sadly for Claygate, their wickets were being bought at summer sales prices with dobbers from Skarott, Craig-Wood, Cupit and Seeckts. They fell into the traps and unwisely heeded advice from behind the wicket on how to play the bowling. The wicketless Goss was doing his nut at the injustice of it all, and with nine overs remaining Day was recalled to hasten us all to the bar. As ever the warm welcome, hospitality and excellent tea made it a thoroughly enjoyable day and Corinne stayed off the port this time.
As the cricketing world absorbed Australia’s noble, but ultimately doomed, attempt to overcome England at Edgbaston, the Cryptics were involved in an equally tense finish in New Malden. Trouble was that with two Aussies, Cupit and Goss, at the crease come the moment of reckoning, we were probably doomed as well. That is not to condemn two of the individuals who do so much more for the club than many others, just to observe that if a match is there to be won, a few Poms seem to be what are required these days.
Six an over from the last 20 overs with six wickets in hand is not a daunting task for 21st century Cryptics, and so it proved as we needed only nine from the last over. But it was not to be, and an honourable draw was reached at 8 pm after Kingstonian had bowled the last 20 overs in record slow time.
The chase had been a mixed affair as Scotty biffed his second consecutive 50 in quick time after Hope-Dunbar had wacked 40 even quicker. Glen Skarott batted 80 minutes for his 25 which was both solid and vital, but the cuddly Queenslander is built for hitting boundaries, and running between the wickets is not his natural way. Wright, Hogben and Seeckts did what long serving Cryptics are entitled to do, got a few and left the glory for others.
Kingstonian elected to bat first and slumped to 54-5 at the hands of Goss and David Grindrod, who were then generously removed from the attack. What followed was a masterclass in rebuilding an innings as Sirimanne constructed a patient but classy century. The Cryptic change bowlers were luckless, Hope-Dunbar in particular taking punishment, and both openers had to be brought back before the declaration. Cupit kept wicket beautifully, taking three catches including a leg side strangle off the first ball of the match.
As happens after close games, several incidents were highlighted as moments when the ‘vital’ two runs were missed. None, however, stood out like the moment when T H-D hit his first six and umpire Scotty signalled four.
The Cryptics eased to an impressive win to brighten up a dark and wet evening in Crondall. The rain that had threatened all day arrived with 31 runs needed from five overs, and three wickets in hand. It was dark enough for fielders to move the wrong way, wet enough for bowlers and batsmen to be sliding around the crease, but still good enough David Grindrod and Peter Andrew to complete a victory that had looked unlikely for most of the day. Credit to the Crondall team for staying out in foul conditions, and members of the Cryptic side who were instructed to stay outside to give the impression that the torrents were no more than drizzle.
Victory had looked impossible at six o’clock with the board showing 60-5. Glen Skarott opened with Wright for the first time (on the back of offering the skipper a ticket to the Oval Test) but edged a hook to the ‘keeper. Hogben capped a miserable day in the field with a first baller, Wright and Nick Benham got starts but got out and 14 year old Nick Andrew played a fine shot to deep cover and ran himself out deciding against an impossible third. The lad’s undoubted ability to bat will soon overcome the inexperience that showed this time. Cupit and Seeckts all but put up the shutters for a while with eight chirping fielders around the bat. Occupation led to a few runs, then a few big blows before the captain perished to the glaring trap that was Crondall’s best catcher posted on the cow shot boundary. Enter Scotty who confidently pulled and cut his way to a fine 52. Cupit continued his solid form from Shackleford and built a patient 61, the pair adding 93 in 14 overs. The fielders were now scattered and the chirps had been silenced. Scotty didn’t fancy batting in the rain so let Grindrod come in and smack 22 of the last 30. Cupit narrowly failed to get the not out he covets and when PAJA carved the second ball of the last over past cover, soggy bells began to jingle. This was the third consecutive 2 wicket win, each time Jimmy Greenhough being the padded but untested last man.
The earlier part of the day had been far less dramatic. David Grindrod bowled well for 13-5-34-3 but the others were freely milked. The 65 runs Scotty conceded from eight overs may have been a spur for his later heroics with the bat. Father and son Andrew both took good catches with one hand when two would have made more sense, and a hatful of others were dropped. Three stumping appeals probably resulted in three bad umpiring decisions (2-1 against us) but that was all long forgotten by the time the smallest jugs of ale on the circuit were being drained in The Plume of Feathers. Even Tommy H-D might have bought one of them.
As wins over decent teams go, this was not one that will live long in the memory. The Old Cranleighan team was brim-full of batting but contained only one recognised bowler, Henry Watkinson, who was saving himself for the greater rigours of a Brewers Cup match next day. Chasing 196 was made to look easy by Simon Parrish (46), Andrew McLoughlin (48) and Tom Ware (28). Greg Andrell and Paul Goss finished the job with a flurry of boundaries. Three fine catches on the boundary was as good as the OC’s got in the field.
Earlier Goss and McLoughlin had put in excellent bowling spells, only Watkinson (55) getting the better of them. Johnson fell to a fabulous legside catch by Andrell, and Ware held on to two skied catches – one right out of the sun and against all expectation. 196 was a respectable recovery from 114-7 but the wicket was good, the outfield bone dry and the lack of OC bowling options was quickly exposed.
A beautiful day at the charming Shackleford ground looked like going horribly wrong as the home team openers brought up 50 inside five overs. The fourth ball of the match was hit far over the trees into the mushroom farm. £12 gone and Goss’ reputation on the slide again. The mayhem came at both ends, Edwards being removed from the attack after two overs had cost him 25 runs. Happily, the fire was put out with Goss and the late Andrew McLoughlin bagging one danger man each. The South African ended with 4-40 and may well leave for Australia next month having pipped Ross Greenwood in the career bowling averages, if three years constitutes a career.
Greenhough (3-0-32-3) bowled as the figures suggest, expensive shopping, PAJ Andrew only had time for one over before Shackleford’s collapse was complete. We had to bat before tea!
Rod Edwards was given the chance to redeem himself with the bat, and showed how to open an innings properly. Three in 25 minutes. Benham’s 25 was classy, Hope-Dunbar’s 37 brutal. Dwight Cupit found his missing form with a steady 31*, built with care while Seeckts, McLoughlin and Goss perished, wrecklessly trying to win the game too quickly. 44 were still needed when Andrew strutted to the crease, with only Greenhough to follow. It wasn’t quite Claygate 2000 but all his aerial shots went into gaps as he chipped and biffed 22*. Cupit joined in and the blushes of others were spared.
The annual trip to the Bank of England ground produced its first mismatch as a weaker than usual Bounders Xl capitulated. The Cryptic team was short of many regulars, but the occasionals and debutants who replaced them looked and talked like old hands.
New boy Simon Millard was unruffled as he notched 65, being out just before Scotty secured the win with another cheeky not out. Keith Taylor, in his second game, again couldn’t give his wicket away. Thanks to the Ashursts boys, Hogben and Pawson for giving the game some balance and the Bounders a couple of wickets. Pawson’s career record: 2 games, 4 catches, 1 stumping, 1 shot, 6 runs, 1 dinner. (That’s more catches than Edwards has taken in 10 years.)
The game began with Bounders’ big gun Speno hitting the first ball to the fence for the third successive year. He soon ran his skipper out and was then triggered, LBW to an Edwards ball that saw wicketkeeper Pawson hastily moving to his left. The previous ball had been flogged so far out of the ground that nobody even looked for it. Bounders reached 90-3 after 16 overs but it all went wrong for them. Their large contingent of young South Africans was not up to the Cryptic change bowlers, debutant Justin Sharp and Andrew Pryde. Pryde’s 4-21, taken with a mixture of good, bad and terrible balls, ripped out the Bounders’ middle and it only remained for Goss and Seeckts to polish off the bunnies.
123 was not a challenging score on a small ground. Glen Skarott was unable to get involved with bat or ball, but cheerfully pondered coming on tour to Malta in the week in which his first child is due. A fine example to several Cryptics.
The most eagerly anticipated Cryptic match in years – if not ever – ended in a thrilling draw with all results possible right up to the last ball. Mark McLoughlin resolutely played it back to the bowler and so, fittingly, denied either team the extended bragging that would undoubtedly have followed in the event of a positive result, however narrow the margin.
This game had everything. The familiarity of opposing players made for a very convivial day off the field, and an equally competitive one on it. There was ‘white line fever’ aplenty, no shortage of chat on the pitch and a determination from bowlers and fielders alike that produced a catching performance untypically good. That some of the batting was flaky can be attributed to a sporting pitch (after heavy rain the previous day) and the pressure some batsmen felt in the middle. It was impossible not to enjoy the spirit of the day, even for the nine batsmen who failed to score a run. Cryptics of yore – Atkinson, Thompson, Greenwood, MacDonald – would have loved this.
Greg Andrell captained the South team and sensibly inserted Richard Seeckts’ North team. Wright and Streeter were comfortable facing the McLoughlins’ loose stuff early on. Wright was exemplary in playing the ball on its merit rather than the bowler on his reputation. That he made 55 and the rest of his side managed only 74 off the bat illustrates a general reluctance to follow his example. Streeter (8) and Will Taunton-Burnett (2) perished attacking, but the innings was rescued by Ware (24) whose unconvential footwork and free swinging of the bat always keep bowlers interested. Mark McLoughlin bowled him, but only via the Puppy’s chest and the back of his bat. The late James Scott (32) and Wright saw the North to 124-3, Scott hammering 16 from the first five balls of a Glen Skarott over before lofting the sixth to Cupit’s safe hands. At that time, talk in the pavilion was of a declaration on 200!
The North’s big hope, Hope-Dunbar, was completely done by receiving three consecutive good length balls from Andrew McLoughlin. The third was straight. First duck of the day and the collapse was gathering momentum. Seeckts (1) scooped Edwards to mid on, Grindrod (7) looked uncomfortable and fell to a fabulous one handed catch by Graham McLean. Harry Stevens (0) fluffed one to the keeper and Mark Blamphin (0) left the gate open. Nick Pow played 18 dot balls, to remain undefeated amid the mayhem of seven wickets falling for 18.
Paul Goss went wicketless. Accustomed to being hit back over his head by swashbuckling village tailenders, his bowling reputation took a nosedive when Philip Wright became the latest to give him the treatment
With Cryptics batting all day, the collapse was able to continue after tea. Four overs in, the South were 8-3, all falling to Pow. Warrick King had travelled from Melbourne for his duck, being well caught by a diving Scott at short leg. Cupit (4) went the same way and Pryde was gone next ball. At the non striker’s end, meanwhile, makeshift opener Goss sensed that he had something of a job on his hands. McLean bashed 16 but missed a Blamphin full toss before a nervous Kowalski came in. The talkative Pole was so quiet it was tempting to keep him in, but when he gloved a ball that rolled down his bat and into Ware’s waiting gloves, he had to go. Up went the appeal – hardly necessary – but Kowalski stood there like a War Memorial. Umpire Mark McLoughlin knew he was out, but gave him ample opportunity to walk. He just wouldn’t budge. Eventually the finger went up and we were able to get on with the game. No explanation followed. 28-5. Either side of tea, 12 Cryptic wickets had fallen for 46.
Goss got his helmeted head down in company with Andrew McLoughlin, now taking his batting more seriously than ever. The pair were quiet models of concentration as the fielders chirped away, the only retort coming when a confident appeal for a catch behind was turned down. McLoughlin heaved Grindrod into the bushes but fell for 40.
15 overs remained, the South required 51 runs with four wickets in hand. A draw looked impossible. Goss soldiered on unnoticed past 50, Edwards joined the pondful of ducks, and Andrell was surprisingly impotent as he mustered one run in a partnership of 22. Why the captain had come in so late was inexplicable to all bar students of the career averages. It did him no favours, however, for when he finally got hold of one that looked to be sailing to the midwicket boundary, it was pouched by his opposite number leaping salmon-like to trump McLean’s earlier effort. Whatever other reports may say, the delirious celebrations of the entire fielding side were testament to the popularity of the catch, regardless of its rare brilliance!
Harry Stevens, a charming and affable gent until he gets a cricket ball in his hands, toiled away down the hill as the game reached its climax. Giving little away – he went for only two boundaries in nine overs – he remained wicketless. His consolation was to take the catch to dismiss Goss who had played brilliantly for his 67 and was ninth man out on 139.
Three were needed from Stevens’ last over. One was scored. Everyone was happy.
There followed an evening of revelry in the captain’s garden. No serious casualties have been reported. Photographs of the day may appear in the future but none are available yet.
Mark McLoughlin’s inability to bowl down the offside is renowned across the Cryptic world, however by doing just that on the opening ball of his first over when bowling to a 7:2 field ( that is 7 leg slips and 2 leg gulleys) he conceded the three runs that cost the South victory and therefore a clean sweep of rugby and cricket results on the day.
With the South’s captain conceding runs with over aggressive field placements in both opening overs the McLoughlin family joined in the fun with Andrew in particular giving away runs from a succession of short pitched deliveries which Pippa put away in a fizzing innings. It was only the arrival of Edwards at the bowling crease with the score at 120 odd for 4 that put the brake on the Norths innings and made us realise how badly we had bowled on the pitch.
Fortunately the North had a very Cryptic collapse and found their way from 124-3 to 141 runs all out, a score later suspiciously and controversially increased to 142.
Knowing we were chasing a tough target on a pitch that Edwards had shown how to bowl on we made a disastrous start to be 3 for 8 after 3 overs. McLean and Goss steadied the ship only for McLean to miss a full bunger from Fin with the score on 28. Polish Pete who later failed to signal a clear wide when umpiring, came to the crease and became the first Cryptic since Thompson to hit the ball with both bat and glove and still not walk. At 28-5 we were in a bit of trouble until McLoughlin A made up for his profligacy with the ball by smashing 40 while Goss who opened the innings was looking increasingly assured at the other end. Having passed 100 with 5 wickets down we were looking good until Edwards quickly followed McLoughlin back to the Pavilion which left the stage for a victorious captains knock by myself. Unfortunately I gave a simple chance to Seeckts at square leg who made it look far harder than it was and shortly after, with a handful of runs to go, Goss joined me in the pavilion after an excellent 68, leaving Skarrot who had hit Stevens for 4 with a lovely straight drive, and McLoughlin M at the crease. A couple of runs ensued from Skarrot and then McLoughlin was faced needing 2 runs off the last 2 balls to win the match.
In the style of the true gentleman he is, he patted back a couple of innocuous Stevens deliveries in order the North were left with some dignity from a day of sporting carnage.
This was a thoroughly convincing win, albeit against a Platypods side weakened by lack of availability. It should be remembered that the boot was on the other foot last year when the Cryptics folded under minimal pressure.
This time though, their nine players were no match for our ten. The Cranleigh ground looked marvellous on a belting hot day, and is worthy of better cricket than this – however enjoyable it was.
Rod Edwards won a dubious LBW decision in the first over, bringing the dangerously talented Platypod skipper Peter Kemp to the crease. Runs flowed until Hope-Dunbar took a fabulous left handed catch off his own bowling to dismiss Saxel in the 12th over with the score about 70. The bulky Scot had put in a good spell with the ball which, combined with his wicketkeeping and batting from the previous week, gives the northern hemisphere a range of options for the impending North v South clash.
Kemp cruised past 50 but some tidy slow bowling (it might have been off spin) from debutant Glen Skarott (6-0-15-2) wrestled the game back the Cryptics’ way. Skarott looked a true Cryptic from the start. Amply filling his new kit, he misfielded the first ball of the match only to take a spectacular running catch on the long on boundary and give Nick Pow a well deserved wicket. Hope-Dunbar’s direct hit from 30 yards opened up the rabbit hutch and when Seeckts clung on to Kemp’s rapier-like clout at mid-wicket, Grindrod was able to finish off the tail quickly.
Nick Benham became Philip Wright’s latest opening partner and both looked comfortable as they put on 31 at a run a ball. Wright missed a straight one on 17, Grindrod ran himself out and Kowalski took the opportunity to redeem himself for his second successive 2.45pm arrival. One day he will arrive on time and be all grumpy when Scotty is late. He may have missed the beginning, but was still there at the end on 32. By then Benham had paid the price for being hit on the pad for a stylish 55. Seeckts smote a quickfire 22* from six scoring shots to seal the win, achieved at a rate of 8.28 runs per over.
The big guns, Skarott, Cupit and Hope-Dunbar couldn’t get in, Pow and Edwards were happy not to, and the game was over well before 6pm. The short form of the game is catching on rapidly at the top level (especially now it emerges that Australia are no good at it) but too many designated 30 over games might make it seem like a long journey to play regardless of where you live.
Truely a victory to savour. The Cryptics had not won on the farm since May 1999, in the era when the host club still played conventional Sunday cricket. Since then they have dominated under the pyjama format, something the Cryptics have been contentedly slow to embrace.
Having to chase a total for the fourth successive game this year, a teatime strategy meeting resolved that sheer weight of opening batsmen might produce sheer weight of runs. Wright volunteered to vacate his cherished opening slot, allowing the in form (but sleep deprived) Hogben to partner the reluctant Hope-Dunbar. Whatever nerves the ‘laird elect’ showed as he padded up soon vanished, and by the time he returned to the pavilion, caught on the fence for a splendid 90, the game was all but won. That was in the 20th over.
Hope-Dunbar’s day had not been so comfortable earlier. Press ganged into keeping wicket, he was surprised by the pace bowling of new recruit James Bailey, fresh from the Yorkshire league and keen to make his mark. Rapid away swing was, happily, too good for the batsmen to edge to a trembling slip cordon. So impressive was Bailey that it was quickly decided to keep a few of his overs in reserve for the later entry of Follies’ danger man, David Leng. At the other end Nick Pow produced a fine spell, conceding only 18 from his eight overs. Peter Andrew’s spell was something of a curate’s egg, his wicket with the last ball of his sixth over not being enough to keep him on. With another debutant, Dom Mochan, and David Grindrod doing their bit admirably, the Cryptics had the luxury (to considerable sniggering) of leaving Paul Goss grazing in the deep until the 32nd over.
Bailey duly returned when Leng came in, but Leng pitched camp at the non-striker’s end for three overs before being castled by the second Bailey ball he faced. Nice plan. Goss was thumped back over his head once or twice in a largely respectable ‘death’ spell.
Then came the Hope-Dunbar show, tea and batting. Hogben (6), Wright (20) and Grindrod (3) were more circumspect. Cupit batted an age for an anchoring 14*. Had he connected with all the late cuts he played, he would have scored at least 70. Seeckts slapped an uncharacteristically fast 25 (including a six!) but was caught trying to hit the winning boundary. A scrambled three, 19 balls later, saw us home. Hope-Dunbar was the hero, but what score he considers worthy of a jug of beer remains a mystery.
As at Follies Farm, this game was won by the less bad of two sides that batted well below their capabilities. The Cryptics won a third successive toss and inserted Woking and Horsell, recent history suggesting that we can chase better than we can take ten wickets after egg sandwiches and jam tarts. Past performance is not necessarily a guide, although again we dismissed the opposition for a score we were happy to chase.
(Photo left – “I’ve been on my feet all day…”)
Woking and Horsell’s innings was a three part affair. From 56 without loss after 8 overs they were pegged back to 132-9 before a last wicket stand of 50 masterfully engineered by a man called Saf Nawaz. Needless to say Paul Goss bowled at the beginning and the end.
The express start brought on fears of a Conference fixture mismatch but once David Grindrod had sent both openers back, the batting side wilted under pressure of tight Cryptic bowling and unusually good catching and ground fielding. Grindrod cheerfully plays a different role in the team each week, and if he couldn’t bat at all he could justifiably take the new ball on the strength of this spell of 13-6-46-3. One day we’ll stick the ‘keeper’s gloves on him.
One W&H opener ostentaciously wore a Surrey CCC helmet, formerly the property of Mark Ramprakash. The attacking aerial shots were not the stuff of his mentor, though a slightly petulant reaction to being given LBW was.
Extra cover and mid off were the positions for the best catchers to be all day. The pitch had been soaked the previous day, accentuating the habit of Sunday cricketers hitting the ball in the air. Cupit ducked a head high screamer before taking a more gentle offering. Peter Andrew took one that was simply coming too fast for him to avoid. The petrified look on his face as the ball approached turned to pain as his cut and dislocated finger left blood on the ball which stayed in despite his questionable technique. Unable to continue bowling, he was replaced by the captain who bowled wides and wicket taking balls aplenty, seeing off the W&H captain in the process, thanks to Hope-Dunbar’s second fine catch of the day.
W&H’s last wicket stand was to prove the difference between the teams. Wright fell cheaply again, Hogben crashed 32 in the company of debutant Nick Benham, yet another Ashurst lawyer. Benham held the innings together while more established Cryptics gave him a lesson in middle order collapses. Grindrod stroked 24, even Ware clubbed 19 but there was too much for the tail to manage. Andrew had vowed to bat like Colin Cowdrey, but he meant Cowdrey at Lords in 1963 with a plastercast on. True to his word, he didn’t face a ball before Greenhough was the last to hole out.
Dwight Cupit reflects on his first duck for the club – 22.05.05
The Cryptic wagon began to roll again in the sunshine at Putney. The forecast rain never came but the expected pitch of variable bounce was true to form. The poor soul who became Mark McLoughlin’s first victim since June 2002 was hit on the toe by a half tracker that never left the deck. It seems that like Old Blue Eyes the senior Cryptic can’t quite let go.
Now 56 and adamant that this was not a comeback, Mark arrived fitter and thinner than at any time since the 1980s, with new whites to compliment the boots he bought just prior to ‘retiring’ in 2002. His sincere assertion that this was a one off may be questioned when he turns out again for the Southern Hemisphere against the Northern Hemisphere on 25 June. Happily, he has not ‘lost it’ and and found his length – about half way, and his line – outside leg stump, from his first ball. Figures of 7-2-8-1 flatter but the wicket was vital to the game and the competitive spirit in the old man remains admirable.
Nephew Andrew McLoughlin had a productive day too. An opening spell of 11-6-21-4 kept Putney hoping he would be taken off as they struggled to cope with his pace, away swing and variations of length. Hitting the stumps, as he did three times, remains the best way for Cryptic bowlers to take wickets, but he also found the edge once for Seeckts to juggle and eventually pouch the ball at slip. (It come pretty quick actually. Ed.)
Goss had taken his first wicket of the season in the first over, and from 63-5 Putney should have been dismissed for little more than 100. Number 7 Ashworth had different ideas, striking 47 blacksmith style as Edwards and Ed Dyson occasionally over pitched.
The chase was well managed once Wright and Basher McLean had gone early to successive balls. James Hogben stylishly smote 41 (9 fours, 5 singles) in a welcome return to form, and David Grindrod made up for his lack of opportunity to bowl with a confident 25. More surprising was the maturity shown by Kowalski in a solid 28 that guided us close to victory from a stage when the Cryptics have been known to crumble. The Polish migrant had had a shocking day up to that point. After arriving an hour late, his fielding had been comically unfortunate. He made amends with the bat, despite an attempt to run the skipper out in exactly the same way Goss had done so the previous week.
All that remained was for the demoted Andrew McLoughlin to come in and smash a quick 24* to speed the Cryptics to an enjoyable win with 3.2 overs to spare. The show pony was determined to launch the ball into Roehampton with only two runs required but had to settle for a thick inside edge for four. Uncle Mark was relieved to remove his pads without having to enter the arena.
No call for the ECB pitch inspector required here. The Follies Farm strip may have been typically slow and low for the time of year but it was not reponsible for this low scoring but gripping encounter. No team had ever been asked to chase less than 100 on this ground. In the end the Cryptics didn’t come close and had only themselves to blame for self destructing with some style.
The worst offender was David Grindrod, Man of the Year in 2004, who lost his stumps trying to clear the car park. Others were little wiser. Wright advanced and was stumped, Scott kicked a straight one, Ware hung his bat out on a curtain rail and edged to the ‘keeper, Cupit watched a turning ball remove the bails and Streeter was too tall for the one that crept under his bat. Seeckts and Goss were building well on a foundation of 49-6 until the ginger mist struck. Goss hit the ball straight to Follies’ best fielder, at square leg, called for a run and the captain was yards short as the bails were removed. Although time was never a factor, the bowlers had done their work earlier in the day and were not about to win this one for us.
The afternoon had started well. Scott was habitually late and the bowlers all performed better than anyone might have hoped. Edwards took the vital wicket of Leng with one that nipped back, Greenhough was introduced early and fell into a rhythm as if there had been no winter. Andrew’s spell was a strong case for pre-season nets (until the three full tosses in his sixth over), and Grindrod produced figures of 5-5-0-1. Cupit’s annual bowl came four months early and he picked up numbers 10 and 11 for a song. Veteran Dennis Winter recovered from major heart surgery to be stumped Ware, bowled Cupit for a duck in his first game back. Cricket can be cruel.
Afterwards we handed over £77 to our excellent hosts. The game cost us more than a pound per run we scored, which is thought to be another club first.
Team at Follies Farm – 08.05.05