Last few episodes of the soap opera

Last home game of the season for the Sunday side saw our second most ‘establishment’ opposition, Surrey Cryptics, beat W&H by 7 wickets. Batting first the home team put on 194 in 43 overs which the Cryptics reached with some ease. One  opener getting a century and the other unbeaten on 58 at the end. Incidentally for those who care I believe the most establishment side we play is Bank of England -although it was a close thing this year, with the BoE tone being lessened substantially by the presence of two of the family Hargan – buts that’s another match report.

 That’s the short report – anyone who thinks the rest of these things is a waste of time don’t bother reading on – that will save you 10 minutes and me the aggro of listening to the moaning.

 W&H opened the batting with their county player Peter - upstanding, well turned out and a man of some years experience contrasting nicely with the slouching youth, vigour and scruffyiness of Mark Worgan. Both found the opening bowler, quite the most miserable opener on the circuit (although he seemed to cheer up as he racked up his century when also opening the batting) hard to get away, with Worgie (14) surviving an early lbw shout as he hopped about the crease. Peter started slowly whilst Worgie attacked, hitting a couple of decent boundaries to keep the score ticking over, albeit slowly. Worgie then got out lbw, a decision that the umpire took literally milliseconds over – something that the brave but foolhardy Dave pointed out to the umpire as he took his guard. Peter then pulled his groin and, freed from the pressure of actually running, started to put all his energy into his shots on his way to a strong 37.

 Dave (11) and Peter put on a few before Dave fell, again lbw, and the home side started their now familiar middle order wobble, with Albert caught for 4 soon after Dave departed. The side were 62 for 3 and then became 73 for 4 as Peter fell. Billy was joined by Matt and both were faced with some accurate but outrageous ‘high’ bowling. It was apparent to even the casual observer that both men were keen to get stuck into what looked like tasty pies. However both treated them with caution as they were generally well placed and the side needed to consolidate after its characteristic wobble. Matt did this particularly well, given that he likes a swipe more than most, and ended the day unbeaten on an excellent 41. Billy persevered but, like a schoolboy sat in front of a doughnut, eventually fell to temptation and spooned a catch from a misjudged whack.

 Talking of whacks, and doughnuts for that matter, Scott then joined the new look Boycott Allan. Scott didn’t bother with the caution and smote his way to a very valuable 46 in about half as many balls. The now established skipper Cochrane (0) then appeared for a ball, clean bowled, and was followed by Jerry who did a good job supporting Matt as he started to open up as the wickets fell around him. Jerry was bowled having put on a useful 10, at which point new boy Michael Hillman came out for his debut. Having only 4 balls to make an impression the lad did well, running faster than anyone in support of Matt and finishing not out. All in all W&H reached a, slightly scrambled towards the end, but pretty respectable 194.

 After tea Matt (39 for 0 off 6) and Mike (28 for 1 off 8) opened the bowling and both bats looked initially uncomfortable. Mike bowled fast and got better and better as he settled through his spell. He was let down badly by the skipper who dropped a very easy chance off his second over. There was some debate later as to the batsman that Cochrane dropped but with Bat 1 getting 100 and bat 2 getting 58 not out it was a little academic.

 After this early unease Mr Grindrod, the Cryptics grumpy opening bowler, started to cheer up as he laid into Matt and then Smithy (50 for 0 off 7). Scott (0 for 18 off 5) replaced Mike and posed a few problems but both batsmen were now looking very comfortable. They were particularly well placed to enjoy the display of village fielding that the home team had laid on as a sort of end of season party piece. As mentioned the captain set the early tone with his rubbish drop but some of the later set pieces, from Ed Harman in particular, were very entertaining – looking back now I am still torn between Ed’s full length dive over the ball and his run ‘like mad to the spinning ball only to see it bounce well left of him for 4’ routine. I only know that both images will stay with the side through a long winter.

 Cochrane and his more knowledgeable assistant Smith continued to rotate the bowling looking for the breakthrough that the side needed but to no avail. Cochrane was next put to the sword (25 for 0 off 2) before Jerry (17 for 1 off 2) replaced Smithy and got the breakthrough – the now cheerful centurion Grindrod, skying a chance to Matt who, not appreciating the trick fielding display, caught a tough chance. The visitors were now well over 100 for the loss of the first wicket. Mike came back and bowled a great spell, fast, well pitched up and accurate, which kept the run rate at 5 an over. He grabbed his first senior wicket in the spell which saw W&H put a little pressure on the visitors by keeping the run rate highish. Albert (12 for 0 off 2) replaced Jerry and was unlucky not to get a wicket with his tight bowling while Matt finished at the other end as the Cryptics coasted home in truth.

 So the last home game of the season was not an impressive one from the side. There are still two away games to allow the team to regain some pride and continue a pretty good season before winter sets in. The final night of putting the world to rights from the sun terrace saw the skipper declaring that the pressure for immediate results and the associated media hounding was too much for his young family and he was planning to spend more time with them next year. This allows the better and more experienced Matt Allan to take over a role that he is well suited for. Although the soap opera this season has been amusing all these low budget affairs get tired at some point.

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