Sunday 31 July 2022

SCCC 209-9 (40 overs)
Blackheath 170 all out (31.5 overs)
SCCC won by 39 runs
40 over match 
Blackheath won the toss

Richard Seeckts writes:

Exactly the same margin of victory as the previous week at Crondall but a totally different game. The opposition provided an appropriate age range but included star skipper Ronnie Harrison and kiwi import Ian Souness who bowled like Vettori and, we were told early on, ‘can smash it about too’. Not the kind of kiwi the Cryptics are used to. 

By contrast, the Cryptics turned up with only one youngster (Ed G), a shortage of bowling options, no recognised opening batsmen, two injured and a keeper who hadn’t played since May. All complimented by a debutant Saffa, Grant van Wyk who, in his wisdom, sends his children to Cranleigh. Safe to say we started as underdogs.

Thus Bridges and Cupit strode out and nudged things along briefly, both falling to Jones’s deadly straight ball for 4 and 18 respectively. Keith, enjoying a purple patch this year, started slowly but came to life after Hugh had come and gone, chuckling his way off in apparent bemusement for 4. 26-3 off 8. Hmm. 

The middle order batted with uncommon wisdom and patience, four of them making between 32 and 35 as Blackheath offered no canteen bowling at all. Keith fell for 32 just before Souness started a masterclass in left arm spin but Scottie and new boy Grant were equal to the challenge, unquestionably the right men for the job, until Scottie nicked off at the (relatively) easy end. Ware replaced Scottie and resisted Souness with aplomb, without neglecting his trademark frenetic calling and biffing which yielded 32 including three fours and a five. At 152-6 off 32 when Grant perished for 35, there was still work to be done. Pup fell caught and bowled despite questionable attempts to distract the bowler but Ed showed great form to keep the runs flowing as his Dad came and went for three, to be replaced by the injured Stu.

Stu took the advice to ‘have a look at the first one, then swing’. And look he did, judging the length perfectly and deciding to let it pass to the keeper. Unfortunately he hadn’t judged the line so well and, bat raised for the leave, lost his middle stump. Skipper entered at No11, gave Ed sufficient strike to take 18 off the penultimate over and managed to steal the single off the final ball that made him only the sixth Cryptic in history to have scored in every batting position from one to 11.  The previous five: Daddy Grinders, Ware, PAJA, Rod and Ed Grinders. 

A first class tea, with seconds available, was enjoyed immensely. 209-9 was a decent score but didn’t really feel like enough on a lightning fast outfield with age related degrees of immobility in all pairs of Cryptic trousers bar one. Then the fun really started.

Grant’s opening spell was a curate’s egg, the good stuff threatening and the short stuff murdered. Blackheath reached 50-1 off eight, Grinders’ perfect dibbly dobbers having 1-9 at the other end, the wicket being the crucial one of Harrison, very smartly taken one handed by Pup in the second over, his 100th Cryptic catch. That he might have been on about 105 catches by the end of the day (and wasn’t) mattered not in the final reckoning. 

The Grindrod pere et fils vice then tightened, Ed’s six overs returned 3-12 and David’s eight ended with 2-30. It was the arrival of Souness at 69-4 that would determine the direction of the game just as Stu the ‘fruit machine’ had to bowl for the first time since early June. He started with a row of lemons. First two deliveries were no-balled for height AND despatched for four and six. 12 off the over, six balls remaining. Souness was made aware that, if he tried, the over could get him at least 40. Next ball four, then a dot and another four. 20 scored, three balls to come. A gentle word from Pup observing that the house beyond long off would be a good spot to land the ball. Keith mooching about in that general direction was no deterrent for the gung-ho kiwi who obviously took up the challenge.

Keith has taken some mighty fine catches over the years, but the look of determination on his face as he tore in, knowing the importance of this chance, and dived full length to take it near the ground made it not only the catch of the day but also of his career. A stunned Kiwi plodded off like an All Black humming along to The Fields of Athenry.

One more meaningful partnership from the tail kept the game interesting until the eighth and ninth wickets fell at 155. The most debated wicket came from another Pup drop. He spontaneously morphed into Tommy, the pinball wizard, as the ball ricocheted off most parts of his undercarriage and onto the stumps with the batsman out of his ground. Stumped or run out? Opinion was divided until Tuesday evening when extensive research came down in favour of a stumping, not least to appease a rampant Puppy and give Scottie the wicket, 2-27 representing a largely tidy spell. Stu’s nightmare start was mitigated by some bunny hunting for 3-47 as brother-in-law Bridges enviously looked on at the teenage victims, wishing for all money that his crumbling knee would allow him to bowl.

Jingle Bells with added bells on. This was a fabulously entertaining win against a superior team in which every Cryptic had contributed. Blackheath played a full part in the fun and were magnanimous and charming as ever in defeat. Sunday cricket at its best on a beautiful ground where we are always made to feel welcome. All thoroughly enjoyable, especially for a scribe / skipper who had batted briefly at No11 and not bowled.

Can you see Scottie?