Ripley awayW&H started their penultimate game of the season away to Ripley, a venue with one of the most historic and impressive club houses and one of the most historic and least impressive wickets. This may be sour grapes but who cares. W&H were beaten by 1 wicket in a very tight game.
It is said that Henry the 8th once slept in the Ripley club house and that he once got bowled to a low bouncing cutter on the green and pitted track. If this were so he was in good company today as the W&H opening 4 were all clean bowled for a total of 23. Peter (6) was first to go with one that cut in sharply, his son Matt (8) was next with a similar ball although Matt’s kept low as well. Dave (5) played down the wrong line and opening bowler Hughes (whose father is the groundsman they were saying unkindly in the W&H dressing room) had 3 wickets in 5 overs. Great reward for a sharp, straight and well directed opening spell – the pitch only helps if the ball is in the right place. Amongst the carnage enter Paul Bennett who played very well for his 34, pushing forward wisely and taking the bad ball with growing confidence. He saw his colt colleague Connor (2) come and go quickly and then settled down well with Albert (Richard) Hall (39). Both played sensibly with the score on 23 for 4 and built a fantastic partnership of 78. Albert also stayed on the front foot and gave the benefit of his years to increase Paul’s confident.
These two saved the side from an embarrassing ‘total’ and played really well together. Paul fell with the score of 101. This saw John Hargan come to the crease, he also played confidently although ran a little cautiously with his elder partner Mr Hall. Albert fell with the score on 129 and John fell shortly after. This brought another mini collapse with Cochrane and Khedekar both out for 1, Cochrane bowled and Mandar unlucky to be caught by the only leg side fielder pulling a bad ball.
Jerry, who came in at 8, managed well with Peter Smith through the final 5 overs, dragging the score reluctantly to a hard fought 154. The team did not deserve the total but Paul, Jerry, John and Albert did.
Most of the bowlers were keen to get cracking on the antique strip and Mandar and John opened well. Mandar settled quickly into a hostile spell, putting the odd ball too short but the majority of the time on a great length. John at the other end bowled his opening spell of 5 tightly. Matt (0 for 26 off 7) replaced John at one end. He bowled his usual quick and straight deliveries in his first spell. At this point the opening pair from Ripley looked well set until Dave took the game by the scruff of the neck. Amidst confusion over a quick single he threw the ball and grazed the stumps for an excellent narrow run out. Whilst style (described as ‘a throw like a young girl’s first shot put’ by the ever supportive vice captain Smith) was not present in Dave’s effort it was effective at galvanising the team. With Mandar shortly after taking his 2 wickets, an lbw and a bowled for a good spell of 21 for 2 off 8. The score at the 15 over mark was 57 for 3. Peter Smith (34 for 2 off 8) replaced Mandar at the end of his 8 overs. He bowled well, with few bad balls, taking 2 wickets, both caught. Paul Bennett further distinguished himself with an important catch off Peter which took a long time to come down.
Jerry replaced his brother at the other end and the game looked to be with the visitors at 66 for 6 off 21 overs. At this point Ripley consolidated, keeping their heads down and moving the ball around before growing in confidence. Jerry (2 for 23 off 5) did well to keep to his gameplan against some increasingly attacking batting and deserved his two wickets.
Skipper Cochrane (2 for 24 off 4), not wishing to be left out, replaced Jerry. The score was now around 120 for 7. He bowled ok taking a caught and bowled chance in his second over, making up for an earlier drop of an albeit tough chance but the run rate stayed achievable. The closing overs were bowled well by Matt and John, both keeping the runs down really well to set up a very tight finish. A minor captaincy / vicecaptaincy miscalculation meant that the captain got to bowl the last over with 7 needed. He let 2 go off the first ball, a dot second ball then took a wicket, with the third leaving the home team needing 4 off of 3 balls. Maybe a little overconfident after the wicket he tossed one a little wide and the last man in swiped it for 4 – giving the home team a good victory with a ball to spare.
As with any close game all enjoyed themselves despite a few batting calamities, fielding howlers and various attempts to keep warm in the wind. All go into the final game of the season looking to win and end the season on a high.