WHCC 3rd XI 159 AO
WHCC 4th XI 142 AO
by Des Cooke
The first match at the park this season promised to be a real clash of the titans as Paul Fortescue’s mighty 3rd XI took on the plucky underdogs of the Carnival. It proved to be an even bigger clash due to the selection of 24 players in total, so both captains agreed to play with 12 men on the field. Unfortunately getting on to the field was going to be a problem as Thommo still hadn’t arrived at the ground with the keys to the pavilion 15 minutes before the game was due to start. The carnival was back and things were looking good for the season ahead.
The 3rd XI batted first, no doubt confident that their powerful batting line up would post an unassailable score. Amrender Singh, who scored 50 the previous week opened with the seasoned campaigner, Peter Murphy. Opening the bowling for the Carnival was one Chris Murphy, the prodigal son of Peter, returning to playing after a lengthy absence. The lay-off was showing however as the early balls tested the wicket keepers reactions on the leg-side. At the other end the young Ginger haired Mark Worgan was also finding the going tough as he constantly feed Singh’s favored shot of the cut over gully. C. Murphy however soon found revenge by bowling P. Murphy off an inside edge much to the bowler’s obvious delight. Indeed some of the bowlers departing comments to the batsman seemed to hint at a “history” between the two. This brought Richard Thompson to the wicket, who had brought the considerable support of his brother Andy with him. Thommo showed some of the class that had seen him as a regular 2nd XI player not too long ago. However, it was too no avail as he also chopped the ball onto his own stumps to bring his innings to an end. By now the Carnival were sensing that a couple more wickets could see the match swing in their favour, but Matt Allen was determined to score some runs to make a game of it. Unfortunately he was bowled for a duck in his first game of the season. With this the skippers went about rewriting the rules of cricket by declaring that those batsmen who were dismissed for a duck could bat again, much to Matt’s delight. By now the bowling had been changed and Roger White was bowling from the pavilion end. The dismissal of Matt brought his South African compatriot Jason Bird to the crease. Roger was already the sharpest of the bowlers so far, but this added incentive inspired him to really bend his back. So much so that stand in keeper Des Cooke was beginning to resemble a man with saucepans for hands behind the stumps, as the ball ricochet off all parts of his body in his attempts to catch it. A big inswinger eventually removed Jason’s off stump and the wicket keeper breathed an audible sigh of relief. Graham Mattocks at the other end was bowling his steady outswingers. Neil Cheetham, who by now had been batting for what seemed like three days, continually played and missed bringing a comment of “would you like a bell in it?” from the field. Clive Moon now came out to the crease having arrived late at the game, his excuse being that he was playing golf in Portugal that morning. The return of Peter Smith to the bowling attack after a season’s absence immediately brought about the departure of the ball and fielders to all parts of the boundary. After having the 3rd XI side at 58 for 6 the Carnival relaxed slightly and the free hitting Andrew Walker scored with impunity. Next in was Paul Fortescue, but only after he had moved his car out of cow corner, and he continued in the same vein. He should have been caught early but Sean Ireland seemed to take his eye off the ball, or was he trying to protect his cigarette, and dropped the catch. The departure of Walker brought Matt Allen back to the crease for his second opportunity to avoid a duck. Fortunately, Paul was dismissed at the other end so Matt avoided that particular humiliation. The 3rd XI innings finished on 159 all out, a respectable total.
The Carnival Opened with Chris Murphy and the ever reliable Mike Walsh, and reliable as ever Mike was out early in the first over. Chris fared little better as he was out first ball edging on to his forehead and being caught, causing panic in the changing room. At the crease now was Graham Mattocks and Sean Ireland, who was determined to score some runs this week after being run out for a duck the previous week. This week he was bowled out for a duck, which, owing to the altered rules, meant he could have another go at the end of the innings. This brought Des Cooke to the wicket who proceeded to bat in a style that would have had Boycott reaching for a pillow. Through all this Fortescue and Walker bowled reasonably well but were helped by some poor shots. Mattocks and Cooke put together a reasonable partnership that was cut short by the removal of Mattocks. Will Stevens and Cooke then put together another small partnership, of which, Stevens was by far the higher scorer. Indeed, when Stevens was dismissed he was the highest scoring batsman in the hutch. Cooke was eventually removed to be replaced by Jerry Allen, who proceeded to bat out of his skin and produce his best performance for the club with the bat, including his first six of Jason Bird. Young Mark Worgan was in next in and he showed that he’s not just handy with the ball, as he became the highest scorer for the Carnival. By now the innings was collapsing and it was left to Chris Dunbar and Sean Ireland, both batting for the second time to bat out the last few overs to avoid defeat. They looked to have achieved this until the very last ball of the match when Sean played down the wrong line and was bowled off Matt Allen, who at least managed to contribute something with the ball, handing the game to the victorious 3rd XI.
This game suggested that some of the players in the 3rd XI should be looking over their shoulders, as a number of Carnival players look to be knocking on the door. Either team could have won this and the return fixture in a couple of weeks will be played with just as much competitiveness.