Up Fixtures 2013 Home
Richard Austin Tribute - here
|Season to date||Played||Won||Lost||Drawn||Abandoned||Cancelled|
Match reports by Robin Richards, Tom Jeffreys, John Capper
Dom Haddock et al...
Pictures - Chris Sargeant
|May 5th||Chartridge - Lost||H||May 12th||The Lee - Abandoned - Rain||A|
|May 19th||Green Stock - Won !||A||May 26th||Chesham - Lost||H|
|June 2nd||Ley Hill - Drawn||H||June 9th||Misfits - Won !||H|
|June 15th||Presidents XI - Cancelled - Rain||H||June 23rd||Southwell Ramblers - Won !||H|
|June 30th||Gt Gaddesden - Lost||H||July 7th||Ballinger Waggoners - Won !||H|
|July 14th||Red Square Lions - Drawn||H||July 21st||Full Tossers - Drawn||H|
|July 26th||Petts Wood - Won !||H||July 28th||The Carpenters Arms - Won!||H|
|August 4th||Bourne End - Lost||A||August 11th||Longwick - Cancelled||A|
|August 18th||Gamecox - Lost||H||August 25th||Bank of England - Lost||H|
|September 1st||Roxbourne - Lost||H||September 8th||Goodwill Wanderers - Won !||H|
|September 15th||Ivinghoe & Pitstone - Cancelled - Rain||H|
Cancelled - Rain
September 8th - Goodwill Wanderers
Abbotts Langley cancelled on Thursday and we welcomed a last minute change to a Cricket Conference side Goodwill Wanderers ... and WON !
A win! A bloody win. After a joyless August, the (no
longer) mighty Heath registered our first victory since July 28th. With
Abbots Langley dropping out on the Thursday, much conferring took place
and it was finally agreed that Goodwill Wanderers would be the day's
opposition. And what an aptly named cricket team - for they proved a most
entertaining bunch, full of abuse directed (as it should be) relentlessly
towards their own players.
September 1st - Roxbourne - Home
The pattern of the 2013 season continued this Sunday at home against Roxbourne, as Hyde Heath again fell just short of victory, with the absence of several key players increasingly keenly felt. On the plus side, it was an extremely enjoyable and competitive game, thanks almost entirely to a quite brilliant innings from Dom Haddock, who pitched up at Fortress Heath having only just returned – engaged, no less! – from glamorous Copenhagen.
With most of the team slow to arrive, the mighty Heath were forced to bat first and the makeshift opening partnership of myself and Capper got off to a poor start, when after a couple of well-times strokes, Henry was bowled by a gently away-swinging yorker. Jez, at number 3, and I steadied the ship –although it turns out there is such a thing as too steady, and after a rather painful 11 off 40 balls (dropped three times, never looked like scoring any runs) I was finally caught behind having a horrible swish.
Thereafter, our middle order stuttered and all looked grim, until Dom rocked up, played himself in carefully, before accelerating through the gears. At first he made himself comfortable, judging the pace of the pitch and the bowlers; then he pushed the singles hard to irritate the fielders, bowlers and captain; before really cutting loose in the final overs. It was probably the best innings I’ve seen Dom play – placing the ball perfectly and running hard, or drilling it through the gaps for boundaries, he made a mockery of line or length or fielding positions. In the final two overs, there was a sense of inevitability about his batting that echoed Michaels Hussey or Bevan at their best. Whatever field was set, whatever the bowler bowled, Dom placed it where he wanted – for a scampered single to keep the strike, or in the gap for yet another boundary. It was pretty amazing stuff.
Given useful support by Ben, Angus (who injured himself trying to keep up) and Stanley (who played one glorious stroke through the covers) Dom was able to drag us up to a relatively respectable 150ish thanks to his unbeaten 65 off 47 balls. Especially impressive as he was about 12 off 30.
Unfortunately, from there our lack of bowling was exposed. I opened and picked up a couple despite bowling dross (the wickets came from a brilliant stumping by Capper and a quite extraordinary one-handed catch low down by Spencer at cover) whilst, at the other end, Spencer picked up three, bowling with more height and pace than usual. But he probably bowled an over too many, and despite being 7 down , the oppo cobbled together a sufficiently significant partnership to take them over the line. It’s rather been the story of our season – just a bowler or batsman (or both) light.
How we could have done with Richie Austin.
August 18th - Gamecox - Home
August 4th - Bourne End - Away
So apparently that old adage about London buses also applies to half centuries. You wait over a decade for one to come along, and then suddenly it's two in consecutive innings. Yes, after my long-awaited maiden 50 against The Full Tossers two weeks ago, 50 number two was registered immediately afterwards, away at Bourne End. If the first was painfully slow, this was a much freer affair – flowing even, with several fours and even a six – although I did benefit from two or three lapses in the field – not drops exactly, more a kind of lethargy that prevented the oppo's fielders from even bothering to attempt to catch the ball. Perhaps the same lethargy overcame our spectators who failed to acknowledge the momentous landmark until after I was dismissed, top edging a pull, for 52. No claps, no jugs people.
Batting at three again due to absences – have I nailed down this pivotal position? Where will Capper slot into the order when he returns? – I came to the crease after the openers had made a calculatedly aggressive start to our chase of 220 in 40 overs. After playing one of the most sweetly timed lofted drives you could wish to see, Dom was extremely unfortunate to be given out caught of his forearm by Ben Sonley, and left the field absolutely fuming. He's subsequently emailed me to say that he has a rather large bruise half way up his arm where the ball hit!
At the other end Shrimpie “had the dog” after several catches were dropped off his bowling and Bourne End captain Azhar had capitalised by depositing a series of increasingly fast, flat deliveries into the nearby field. After smiting several glorious sixes himself (“Do you reckon I can win the sixes cup in one innings?” he asked as I came out to bat) he essayed one big hit too many and got himself stumped.
Strangely, the run rate didn't drop that much as I found an able ally in young Olly who batted extremely sensibly – blocking the good stuff and capitalising on anything legside – and the partnership began to grow. It was by a distance the most I've enjoyed batting: the pitch was a minefield, and the opposition's battery of “quirky”-actioned spinners were turning it square and finding occasionally laughable amounts of bounce. Olly was sconned twice in an over, one was called a wide so high did it bounce over my head, and I have a cluster of bruises on my ribs from a succession of off-breaks that spat off a length. But I felt confident judging the length and there were sufficient bad balls to keep things ticking. Thank god they didn't have any genuinely fast bowlers – Sohail would have been lethal on that pitch. At the half-way stage we were 100 for 2 and very much in the game.
When Olly and I were eventually dismissed, Jez and Spencer kept our hopes alive with a quick-fire partnership, but their dismissals exposed our inexperienced lower-middle order (comprising Gwillem (sp?), Angus, Ben and Liam). And as the run-rate began to escalate, the wickets tumbled, our innings rather tailed off and we eventually fell short by 20 or so.
Earlier, we were so short of seamers that I opened the bowling, picking up two wickets – one to an excellent reflex catch by Ben in the gulley. But it was nothing compared to Liam's quite brilliant snare to get rid of their dangerous number four, who I'm pretty certain has scored runs against us in the past. The batsman was lured into a false drive against Ben, who like those battalions of Gloucestershire medium-pacers in the early 2000s (Mark Alleyne, Ian Harvey, James Averis, Jon Lewis, Mike Smith... any others, Ali?) found a niggardly length to record our most economical figures of the day. The ball in question flew high over Liam's head at point. Backpeddling rapidly, he kept his eyes on the ball, leapt backwards and somehow caught it one-handed. An absolute screamer.
Inexplicably, Liam decided to make up for this moment of brilliant by shelling two much more straightforward catches – one at long-on and one at backward point. Those moments proved crucial, as thereafter the wheels rather came off. Spence dropped one in the deep after having run in too far off the boundary and Angus got nowhere near two that were arguable catchable, as the bowling was put to the sword. Even more inexplicably, I actually took two catches – one pretty well-held inches off the ground at deep backward square leg. But, increasingly lacklustre in the field, slow between overs, and lacking much bowling, we were incapable of preventing Bourne End's late innings acceleration, despite good spells from Ben and Dom. In the end we got closer than might have been expected, but not close enough.
Oh, and before we conclude this week's match report, special mention should go to the makers of Bourne End's tea. Well-made sandwiches were supplemented by an absolutely belting chicken biryani – heated up in the pavilion and served in 22 separate tupperware boxes alongside a cooling yoghurt and mint sauce. Yum! Perhaps it was the curry that contributed to all those runs. Ahem. Sorry.
The tourists arrived at Hyde Heath after narrowly beating Ley Hill on Thursday by 1 wicket having been set 160 to win. Sadly one casualty was my little brother Toby, who having stroked a glorious 7 pulled his hamstring attempting a leisurely two. So sadly there was to be no opportunity for me to sledge him from behind the stumps. Petts Wood stayed at the Premier Inn in Hemel and discovered to their horror that the nearest pub was 10 minutes walk away..they recovered their composure to sink a few at the Wetherspoons pub and consume a dodgy pizza.
The Heath X1 showed several changes with Charlie wisely recruiting several experienced Man. Utd fans who greatly added to our batting strength. Charlie won the toss and of course we fielded, with Jez opening the bowling with Mark James, fresh from his maiden 50 against the Full Tossers. Our bowling was a little wayward but Jez was unlucky not to get a LBW in the fitsrt over. However he succeeded a few overs later, swinging one back into the left handed Nuttall’s pads. Another wicket followed thanks to Charlie’s astute captaincy. He moved the slip to leg slip, and with Jez serving up an accurate leg stump half volley the other Petts Wood opener hit it firmly straight to him.
Liam bowled a long spell, grabbing two wickets, including a member of the fraud squad. Despite a tight spell from Atif Petts Wood’s total continued to mount, partly due to geriatric wicket keeping from the Chairman, who was slow to move to anything that meant he had to move his arms or legs. The tourists’ total of 225 looked pretty formidable, with extras contributing an unbeaten 48...
Caroline Capper and Jan did a wonderful job of arranging teas and the tourists were suitably impressed. I managed to embarrass my bro’ by leading a chorus of happy birthday to him...and he was later rather harshly fined for having a birthday on tour.
The Heath started slowly with Shrimpy (opening with his Uncle) falling early to a good catch by the fat policeman off the Wood’s skipper, Buttery, who was bowling gentle but accurate off spin. There also followed a road rage incident right next to the common with a local resident getting out of his car and berating the owner of the car behind him for trying to overtake in the village...it nearly came to blows. Not as exciting as the ladies fighting on the common last year but I am wondering if Hyde Heath is becoming a crime hot-spot? Is it the sight of cricket on the common that tips people over the edge? Anyway Charlie’s experienced pros saw off the opening bowlers but the nagging left arm gentle guile of Ward meant runs were not flowing and the run rate was up to 8 an over. It was at this stage that Toby upset his team mates, committing the unforgiveable sin of ambling over to The Plough to get a G&T and failing to get his team mates a jug of Pimms...a well deserved and hefty fine was to follow. However the departure of Hubbick for a well made 48 brought Mark and Kevin (Charlie’s secret weapon) together and they began punishing some wayward Petts Wood bowling. Their female tourist was treated in most ungentlemanly fashion and deposited into the trees ( I appreciate this could be misconstrued) and with 20 coming from one over at a critical time five were needed from the last over. Mark duly sealed the win with three balls left.
Although the game was marked by some dodgy bowling over 450 runs were scored with most players getting a good game , thanks to the efforts of both captains. Buttery could have tightened up one end but ensured that all the tourists had a game, even if it meant losing the match.
Petts Wood 226-5 Hyde Heath 227-3 Hyde Heath won by 7 wickets and with three balls to spare
July 21st - Full Tossers - Home
great week for sporting patriots (an Ashes thrashing, some rugby, that
tennis fellow, some other stuff) reached what was universally acclaimed as
its apotheosis on the hallowed turf of Hyde Heath last week, with a
long-awaited maiden half century from your humble correspondent.
Long-awaited, it must be said, in more ways than one: for not only is this
something like my 14th season at the club, but it was also one of the most
painfully tedious innings that Fortress Heath has had the misfortune to
witness in some time.
Of more note, perhaps, than my non-existent strokeplay was
the occasionally fractious dialogue with the opposition, The Full Tossers.
At the half-way stage of our innings they had only bowled 18 overs, and
the more quickly Shrimpie scored, the slower the over-rate seemed to
become. Whether or not this was a deliberate policy, there certainly did
seem to be a lot of field changes (possibly to counter my vast array of
strokes) and things did get more than a little frustrating - to the extent
that words were exchanged and threats made. But we all kissed and made up
shortly afterwards, as it should be with village cricket. By the time of
tea, they'd bowled a perfectly respectable 40 overs, so all was well.
End of July, holiday & wedding season, a skipper’s worst nightmare. Almost a full eleven of regulars were unavailable for our fixture against the Red Square Lions (Capper, Shrimpy, TJ, Sohail, Atif, Luke etc) and Nico’s in plaster, ending his season. Those selected would have to play well if the Heath were to win again this week.
Our opening bowlers had read the script and play well they sure did. Having been asked to bowl first in 30 degree heat, Charlie and Jeremy combined youth and experience to get us off to a flyer. Jeremy bowled in excellent areas with some nice shape, giving the oppo no free runs. His patience was rewarded with a nick to the ‘keeper, soon after he fired down a yorker which hooped through air, dumbfounding the poor batsmen and cleaned him up. I can’t remember him bowling a tighter spell all season, his 12 overs going for just 17 runs. With Jeremy tying them down at one end, Charlie Fosterripped through them at the other. A lot had been made of Jimmy Anderson’s never-ending 13 over spell at Trent Bridge earlier that morning. Charlie went one (well, three) better and reeled off 15 overs (6 maidens), taking wickets at regular intervals, finishing with 5 for 53. It’s worth noting that all of the bowlers were supported with some solid fielding all afternoon from the rest of the gang, Harry chased everything down, Ben wore one in the chest at gully, Mark saved a number of runs sweeping on the cover boundary and the stand-in keeper (yours truly) did a decent job with a couple of catches and a stumping. We were guilty, however, of not capitalising on a strong start. It looked at one point that they wouldn’t make many more than 80 or 90 odd. However, we were a bowler light (the keeper made sure that his skipper knew that he was loose, but to no avail) and Red Square Lions are no mugs. They batted deep, used all of their overs and somehow crept up to 168-9.
An excellent tea marked the break and gave us time to get up to speed with England’s heroics in Nottingham. To quote the great Geoffrey Boycott ‘’Bad luck you Aussies, bad luck!’’.
Our reply began well. The Lions’ bowled wicket to wicket, line and length, nagging sort of stuff. But Matt looked in good touch, flaying anything wide of off stump to the point boundary in true Sims style. And Haddock had his favoured pull shot fed on regular enough occasions to make a fluent 45, before a he was done by the ol’ shin high full toss, as we know, a deadly wicket-taking delivery. Harry came in at three and hit the ball hard and far. Whilst he was there, we were in the driving seat and the scoreboard ticked over nicely. He passed 50 in style but was bowled very shortly afterwards, in less style. A great knock, was it enough for HHCC victory?
Well, that’s what we did. It all rather petered out with ten or fifteen overs to go. They didn’t look like bowling us out, setting defensive fields to contain rather than take wickets. We didn’t look like getting runs. And we didn’t. We fill 19 short of our target, a shame, because Jez and Charlie had put us in such a great position early on. Credit to the Lions for a good comeback. Ah well, win some, lose some. Oh, and draw some.
Haddock – 45
Sims – 13
McHugh – 52
Mandeville – 4
North – 7
Harrison – 8
Robertson – 7*
Foster – 4
Stevens – 1*
Taking the field soon after, was a difficult thing to do. But we all did so together, as Charlie, spotting it was 30 degrees, an absolute road of wicket and a lightening quick outfield, decided that we ought to have a bowl. Our opening pair were on great form. Jeremy, it was concluded, had ‘got it back’! Gone were the wides (well, most of them), back was the nagging line and length and movement through the air. With Jez tying them down at one end, Charlie Foster ripped through the top order at the other. His accurate, nippy, left-arm-angling deliveries were too good for the Ballinger top order and Charlie kept hitting the top of off and top of middle to claim four wickets. With a good number of the Ballinger batting line up under 16 years old, what we really needed was ‘the specialist’ Tom Jeffries in the side. TJ not being available this weekend Shrimp and Spence took up the mantle. Trouble was, Ballinger had by far their best batsman lurking in the lower middle order, who dealt out some heavy blows and got the scoreboard rattling along. Fiddy and Shrimpy kept plugging away and were duly rewarded with three wickets and two wickets respectively (including a reaction return catch by Spence, which went like a rocket. Ballinger might have been able to really get away from us in the last few overs, were it not for some excellent, miserly, death bowling from the returning Charlie Foster, who was the pick of the bowlers all afternoon. Ballinger 187-9 at tea.
There was the danger of HHCC’s reply being overshadowed by Andy Murray’s efforts in SW19. As Capper and Haddock negotiated the first few overs, roars could be heard from within the Plough. Had he done it? Another roar. Was it over? We expected it was. We still had work to do.
HHCC’s run rate rattled along early on, then your reporter attempted to put a slower ball over the road, failed and was clean bowled. This brought Shrimpy and Capper together who continued to punish bad balls, all round the ground. Unfortunately (both for them and for jug-hungry team mates) they both perished in the high 40s, leaving us with 80 to win, in our last 20 overs.
Harry bludgeoned some decent spin bowling to race to 39 in what seemed a matter of minutes, before he swiped across the line one too many times. Neither Gus nor Ben managed to get going and HHCC were left six down.
Ballinger brought their quick opening bowlers back on to try to finish us off. Liam was unfazed and resolute, offering no way through his forward defence. At the other end, Spence blocked the good balls and put the bad ones into the trees. One of Fiddy’s sixes cleared the road and landed on one of our neighbour’s car roofs, leaving a pretty decent dent. HHCC's insurers may have already received a claim! Anyway, Fiddy and Liam guided us home with ease. Spence's cool headed 30*, three wickets and sharp catch probably sees him snatching man-of-the-match status from Charlie Foster and his four-fer.
A good, all-round team performance from HHCC, on a very difficult, very sad day for the club.
June 30th - Gt Gaddesden - Home
Scorchio! The hottest day of the year so far (probably) saw an under-strength Hyde Heath XI brushed aside by the might of Great Gaddesden, although, whilst the eventual winning margin of around 80 suggests a thrashing, we did have our moments, and with a bit more luck/application/talent, could well have pulled off something special. Alas, it was not to be.
Missing several players meant that Jez assumed the gloves behind the stumps (as 4th choice keeper? 5Th?) and our bowling attack featured no less than four spinners with just the one seamer (Mike Perera, playing his first match for the Heath and his first game of cricket in a decade). On a divine track for batting (flat and easy-paced – nice work My Duck!) we were always going to be in trouble unless a) somebody bowled like a genius, or b) the opposition were terrible. Unfortunately, neither came to pass, as a succession of spinners – Nick bowling off-breaks, Shrimpie, Richie and myself – all singularly failed to do anything dramatic.
Like a thoroughbred horse, GG (geddit?!) got off to a flier, with Mike's extra pace proving much to the liking of their top order. With a few more matches under his belt, he'll be an excellent addition to the team (his batting – brief but wristily brutal – could also come in very useful) but this time proved expensive. He was given especially harsh treatment by their hard-hitting number 3 – at one time a talented fast bowler who had trials with Derbyshire, but reduced to bowling spin (and thrashing us round the park) by cruciate ligament damage. He hit one of the biggest sixes I've ever seen at the Heath, and at one stage we had everyone on the boundary against him. It may have been a negative tactic, but it worked, as he drilled my first ball – the trademark wide long-hop – to Shrimpie at deep cover. Class.
Shrimpy and I were then able to slow things up for a time, but we both probably bowled too many overs (24 between us) and it might have been worth giving Stanley or Atif a whirl. I struggled to quite find the rhythm of previous matches, but finished with four wickets, which could easily have been more in Gaddesden's eventual total of 220. Jez, you may be interested to hear, did an excellent job behind the stumps. He dropped a very tough chance off me, and missed a tight stumping chance when he got carried away with a caught behind appeal, but he did take a good catch off my bowling and gave away only 2 byes (or was it 1?) in the whole innings.
Tea of course was a highlight – Atif's pakoras and chicken tikka of particular note.
Then Shrimpie and I strode out to open the batting against, *gasp*,
a woman! We negotiated her opening spell and that of an ok medium-pacer at
the other end, and were just beginning to build something that could have
been significant when I decided to play a pull-shot (last seen: 1998) and
got myself bowled. Urgh. It was the best I've ever felt batting, on a flat
pitch, against not enormously challenging bowling. That half century is
never going to come...
.... a win for Hyde Heath
Southwell Ramblers are an interesting team with quite an association to the Heath, many of our members having played for them including a Past Captain (Terry Laidlaw) and our current Secretary, who is, still, a mainstay of their club. In the past, we have had many fine games with well fought results. However, you never know how good a team will turn up!
The Heath were a bit on the weak side with the batting looking a bit thin. However Charlie won the toss and, as is usual, asked the Ramblers to bat first. Although their line-up seemed to be a variable feast, it didn’t take long for the Heath to strike. Ollie Haddock, well known to us all as an excellent bat, opened and looked in good form. However, Alastair Richards bowled 3 successive balls which bamboozled him, ending with a caught-behind, as fine a piece of bowling as any the Heath have produced. Alastair bowled 13 overs in succession, never taking the pressure off with figures of 6-32, with two bowled and, strangely, 3 caught by Harry McHugh at short mid-off. Charlie Foster (1-25) bowled well from the other end in support, without as much penetration but keeping on the pressure. As usual with the Ramblers, they often change the order and their two best bats came in at 7 and 8. Ali Turner, who has scored a century against us, at 8, although he succumbed to the combination of Alastair and Harry! The number 7, however, batted really well, farming the bowling and taking the pressure and taking their score to 127 all out. Spencer and Jeremy taking a wicket each (catches off slogs), but the high-light was Stanley Burgham’s bowling with 1-12. He looks a cracking prospect. In spite of being a bit short of our best bowling (where was Tom?) this was a good result, well under par on another fine wicket from Mike.
The good news, from bowling them out, was that tea came 10 minutes early and very welcome too. It was a cold afternoon but cake of many varieties, fruit from around the world and sandwiches (possibly too much tuna for me, but I am Mr Picky), with crisps and hot tea, all courtesy of Maureen Shrimpton (not actually present as James was playing elsewhere), Janet Samuels (and Harriet with her A-levels out of the way - best of luck with the results), and the Delectable Caroline helping too. Well done, girls.
One other point in that it was great to see Robin Richards, our President, back in his customary seat as scorer. As avid followers will know, it was not possible to play the President’s Day match, the previous week, because of rain although all had a very convivial lunch with much enjoyment. It was a shame that this afternoon was so cold for him but good to see him on two consecutive weekends.
OK, back to the cricket. The Ramblers seem to really enjoy their cricket but can have some strange collapses, as today, in their batting. However, they more than make up for that in their fielding as they did again. I am not a fan of constant “chat” in the field, and certain sides are just obnoxious and, frankly, intimidatory. The Ramblers stay on the right side of this although they are extremely noisy in the field but then they also produced a phenomenal display in their catching and stops. I suppose one cancels the other and they do really enjoy themselves. I would also point out, they never dissented at any decision which is not always the case with “enthusiastic” sides. To digress, umpiring, when sides challenge a decision in an aggressive way, is distinctly unpleasant. I am pleased to say the Heath have been very good on this front over recent seasons (not purely because of my retirement!)
Henry Capper and Harry McHugh opened together and looked in good form. Henry, after some beautiful blows, fell to a stunning catch off a full-blooded drive at Short Extra. What the fielder was doing there anyway was strange, but he caught it on the floor when most would have waved it through. The game could have got away as Henry is so often the centre of our batting, and in the past quite often would have done, but Harry (24) and Nick Burgham (26) knuckled down and put on a good partnership. Both departed when well set, Harry bowled by a beautiful delivery that left him and Nick caught off a sliced drive. In strides Atif Mirza and Spencer North, with neither renowned for “steadiness”! But, huge credit to them, they played beautifully, Atif showing a restraint which, for him, is most unusual and Spencer seemingly forgetting his batting by numbers! For those who haven’t seen it, Spencer usually blocks two balls and smashes the third irrespective of length, but this time he really seemed to assess each ball on merits. This didn’t stop him hitting 4 sixes, but they were off poor balls. Anyway, their total was easily overhauled for 3 wickets down, Atif scoring a very patient 6 not out and Spencer 37 not out. As I have mentioned, the Ramblers fielded very well and stopped everything, making their total more formidable than it might sound and the Heath were delighted to beat a tricky side.
Off to the Plough, under new management, and very inviting too after an enjoyable game played in good spirit. The only casualty of the day seemed to be the outfield mower which was sounding very sick before the match. Thanks to the members of the club, the Heath have a great collection of ground equipment (and a great Groundsman) but it is worrying when such a vital bit of kit fails. Hopefully it will be restored to full fitness by next week, but if not, all volunteers to report at 11.00 am next Sunday with scissors at the ready!
Need we say more ....
Well, what a match? Here at the Heath, there are two unwritten but obeyed rules. Play a timed game and Bat second. Fortunately Mr “Timed Game” himself, was Captain for the day as Captain Charlie was in Turkey kick-starting their economy. No doubt about the first rule, but apparently Charlie couldn’t resist tinkering from his hotel room in Istanbul. “Bat first, as they are a bit weak” was the advice delivered from afar. Unfortunately, down on the ground where the first captain’s change of plan involved all the team who had turned up early (and that was only 4) having to have an early pint, all of the “Misfits” were there on time and in the nets looking young(ish) and even worse, warming up. In spite of warning signs to the contrary,Charlie’s advice was taken and the Heath batted first. Stunned late arrivals on questioning “said Captain” were met with “How could we field with only 4?”, a pretty poor excuse in my view!
So, the second Rule of Hyde Heath cricket having been broken, even stranger was the Opening Pair’s behaviour. Everyone knows our “openers” always impose themselves on the attack, but this was reversed. Even Dom Haddock seemed mesmerised by some, admittedly, accurate and fast bowling. No swishes, merely defence, defence was the method, supported by last week’s hero, Matt Sims, equally becalmed. 25 off 10 overs was a pedestrian start, mimicking Trott and Bell in the Champion’s league. However, Matt (26 no) soon saw sense (or was he protecting his average) and walked off the field with a calf injury, allowing Shrimpy a go at the same bowling. Suddenly, the score-board started moving and, helped by the second-string bowlers, even looked respectable until Dom, after a cracking innings of 40, gave way to Henry. Henry spent the morning looking at wedding venues and, as well as being late to the ground and missing his opening berth, could he forget crinoline and lace and bat. He did and together with Shrimpy played some glorious shots to bring up the 100 runs. Unfortunately, Henry (28) decided to give the only fielder within 30 yards some very simple catching practice and despite 3 juggles he was out.
Now, as we said earlier, Hyde Heath are not used to batting first. Batting first requires a certain urgency to take advantage of the extra half hour batting time. Unfortunately, that urgency was lacking until Sohail (out for a golden duck). Fortunately, Jeremy (10no), re-born as a batsman, and Shrimpy played beautifully, murdering the last 4 overs to end up 176 for 5. James Shrimpton played a really accomplished innings of 70 not out. When he doesn’t give his wicket away, he really is a very good batsman.
So, in for tea and see what delights await. This week Maureen Shrimpton and Caroline Capper were in charge. The cakes were delicious,Carrot Cake, Chocolate and Victoria sponge, sausage rolls, fresh fruit (including strawberries!) and sandwiches with Brie and grapes, Cottage cheese, Mango chutney and Rocket and finally Chicken tikka wraps. If that doesn’t make you long for Sundays, nothing will. A small word on the participants; one of the Misfits was seen taking the filling out of his sandwich -heathen – obviously HS2 has affected him; the second point is the Tea-Bunch, those whose timing is impeccable with the regular rush round the boundary as tea time approaches. Actually, my views on these people were modified since they all stayed for the second half and one of them umpired for the whole second innings.
Right, back to the action with our opening attack of Sohail and Ali Richards producing about as good a spell of bowling as you will see on our pitch. Both bowled accurately and with hostility to their openers. Had it not been for a really true surface again, prepared by Mike Thompson, batting would have been really difficult. Ali seemed to have been very unlucky with an LBW shout and both passed the edge repeatedly. The openers survived both looking fairly secure in spite of this.
Actually,it’s time for another digression. Why must some umpires change the wide definition over tea (Ali will understand), it’s as if they are standing in a T20 suddenly and it causes bad feeling. It didn’t help to then turn down a perfectly good request for a wicket. His successors seemed to be fair-minded and honest but you do wonder how the first umpire manages to sleep at night! I would like to add, we gave 2 LBW’s and very few wides indeed!
Eventually two wickets in 2 balls from Sohail changed the game, one caught behind with the batsman walking, the other bowled – no need for decisions there.( In fact no decisions were needed at all throughout the innings, 2 big nicks to the keeper, caught Atif (who?), run out by a mile and all the others clean bowled!l) His Hat-Trick ball was almost edged too. However it took a change of bowling to bring more luck. Mr TG brought himself on and soon snared a victim, caught behind. Not too much later he had another wicket with that rarest of beasts, caught Atif, and things looked good although a win on this pitch seemed unlikely. The next wicket was a gem. After the ball was turned to mid-wicket a quick run seemed a formality, until Shrimpy swooped and hit with an underhand throw with amazing agility. What a day he had (including his Mum’s cakes!).
Back to the action and the Misfit’s number 5 (33, their top scorer) looked to be in no trouble and batting very competently until Jeremy(1-11) came on. With a mixture of very wide down the Leg and very wide down the Off he appeared to be bowling for a draw until he chucked in a straight one to bowl the poor man all ends up. Tom continued his excellent spell from the other end (7-1-25-2) but was scheming how to get success from the opposite end. After Jeremy was taken off, Paul the Plasterer came on for his debut bowl and immediately created a record. Firstly with a ball, his first, which bounced so often before arriving any spin or momentum had ceased (actually in a post-match interview, he said this wrenched his arm and all the blood went from his head -and presumably, brain – to his arm and accounted for the rest of the over). Secondly, in bowling 10 more deliveries in this same over without a run being scored until the ultimate ball with his analysis reading, eventually, 1 over, 12 balls and only one run (plus a few wides, no balls), a record number of balls in one over. Jeremy, eat your heart out! Atif chucked a few down and was relieved they were defending, unlike last week, but it was back to the opening pair in a rush to achieve the impossible victory.
Great bowling from Sohail (3-32) and Ali (10-4-2-16) accounted for the last 3 wickets who couldn’t cope with the pace and the Misfits were 104 all out. These two and Captain Tom were outstanding. It is no mean effort to winkle out all 10 batsmen in such a short time particularly as the Misfits were much stronger than Charlie Samuels predicted. No question Shrimpy was man of the match and, after a dodgy start to the season, things have improved considerably for the Heath with this win.
At last, it seems Summer has arrived and Hyde Heath Common looked a picture of England at it’s best. Mike had done his usual miracle on the square with a belter of a pitch and other than the Monstrosity down at Third Man reducing the outfield, all was well with village life!
Ley Hill are a very reasonable league side, playing in the Mid Bucks League Premier Division. They turned out a very high quality team, presumably out of respect and awe for the mighty Heath. Certainly they had 3 very high calibre batsmen and the opening attack from their Saturday league side. I am afraid to say, we weren’t quite at our strongest. What with trips to France, Venice, to a Party (up North), not allowed out (again) and family commitments, several of our hardened veterans were missing. However, with the two Foster brothers, Spencer North and The Chairman, all making rare appearances, there was a feeling of optimism on taking the field after Charlie won the toss.
We have debated before the merits or otherwise of limited or timed games of cricket. There is no doubt with evenly balanced sides, “overs” games can be very enjoyable. However, sometimes timed games are the only way to play to allow both sides to have a really enjoyable afternoon. This was one of those games.
Ley Hill started very effectively scoring 5 an over for the first 20 overs. One of their batsmen, who scored 170 against us 3 years ago, looked particularly good and hit some rather elegant lofted drives, only one of which offered a hard chance. Our opening bowlers seemed intent on saving the stump-line of Mike’s pitch for our innings, which was a bit worrying and the number of wides crept up. However due to a bit of frustration, these tactics paid off when one of the openers played on from wide outside the off stump from a ball by Jeremy. Neither Jeremy(1-51) nor Spencer (2-32)settled down to a good line and it was left to Charlie Foster(2-47) to re-gain an element of control with his excellent left-arm over deliveries. He has a beautiful in-swinging delivery and bowled quite impressively and soon had their number 3 out LBW. However Captain Charlie was forced to change his other bowlers with poor Atif taking an unwarranted amount of stick in his 4 overs, Spencer coming back on to have their impressive opening bat out, caught by Henry and eventually their even better number 4 caught and bowled, both batsmen having scored well over their fifties. Charlie Foster took a brilliant sharp return catch of his own bowling, but Ley Hill went in to tea with 227 – 5 on the board, Nick having taken 2 wickets towards the end. I am afraid the optimism was less evident by the end of their innings but, hold on, who cares when you’re coming off to a Hyde Heath tea!
Tea was excellent with Emma and Janet delivering a masterpiece. I would particularly commend the scones with cream and jam and a lovely chocolate cake. Maybe this was why Ley Hill fielded such a strong side?
Starting with their opening league bowlers, there was pressure from the start for Dominic and Henry. Both batted particularly well with Dominic showing rare restraint and Henry several blistering drives. Dom was unlucky to be out when their ‘keeper threw the stumps down while he was considering how he missed the ball, a great shame as he looked in good form. Henry (28) was joined by Harry McHugh (46) and they looked to attack against very accurate bowling. Henry was eventually out caught off a slower ball. Simon Foster on his debut and a bit ring-rusty having not played for 7 years, was bowled without showing his true form and The Chairman, Matt Sims strode to the pitch.
Hyde Heath have had a nasty habit of dropping like flies when the pressure was on and many pundits reckoned Matt was the man to stick fast and steady the ship. Actually, Matt (43no) played one of the real gems amongst innings at Hyde Heath. He drove through the covers, slogged a six over mid-wicket and hooked a beamer for the most glorious 4, a really good innings. Harry had earlier smote several 4’s all around the wicket and was unlucky to be out for 46. Nick (28no) came in and hit some excellent blows and, amazingly managed to bat out the last over off a dobbing leggie without either getting out or sustaining a hernia, leaving us on 157 for 4 for a well-earned draw.
Bearing in mind their class of bowlers the quality of their whole team, I think this was a good result for us. Draws can be boring but the Heath produced some great batting even if the bowling was not so good and, as some seasoned watchers on the Common know, the Heath have been known to wilt against a large total! Honour was satisfied and both teams went away with pride intact, actually with Pride on tap at the Plough where Matt remained as modest as ever.
Our Cricket Club continues to enjoy mixed fortunes…there was a seventy-run defeat last Sunday by Chesham Sun.XI Tom Jeffreys bowled well to finish with six wickets for seventy runs as the visitors made a competitive total of 195, but we had nobody who was prepared to graft and build an innings of substance in reply. Not like last week, when Henry Capper (86 not out) and Dominic Haddock (51) led the charge to 190 to beat Greenwood Park of St.Albans by nine wickets and with nine overs to spare.
So far this season the “Heath” had not had the brightest of starts. The first match against our old rivals, Chartridge, had ended in a sad loss when chasing a reasonable total. The second game ended with the rain against the Lee but only after suffering the indignity of one of their batsmen making one of the less cultured 40’s ever seen. If Captain Charlie had placed all 9 fielders in an arc between Square leg and a wide mid-on, he would have been lucky to score a run! The rain soon put an end to the misery and after a pretty good tea everyone left, frustrated.
The agreed match between us and Great Misseneden Pelicans never got off the ground. The initial problem appeared to be a burrowing animal had ruined their pitch, necessitating a change of venue. Badgers and a cull were mentioned, but the idea of playing us on a neutral venue filled them with apprehension and they cancelled the fixture. Whether it was the real badger or our Umpiring Badger, Tim Barnsley, that worried them was open to question. Certainly Shrimpy was hoping to regain his form with outside help!
From the fixture exchange, Green Stock appeared, allowing Mike an extra weekend off as they offered their ground, and what a ground. The post-code took us near Luton and it’s airport (Spencer became very romantic at the thought), and even better, they had laid on a fun-fair on the edge of the pitch. Actually the pitch itself was of a very high standard with an accompanying outfield that was huge. Charlie won the toss and elected, as usual, to field. Now, I’ll be honest here, your correspondent was a bit late getting to the ground and the early story varies. Some say Jeremy’s first over was 15 balls long, others 16, but either way, probably the longest over in our history took quite a while. Jeremy will say the umpire was a bit harsh on wides, Henry was laughing too hard to care but it was a shocker. Fortunately Sohail bowled well at the other end to make up for it. Green Stock made steady progress on a very fast outfield despite Charlie Foster (0-24), Spencer (2-28 including a very good return catch) and Nick “The Kiwi” (1-32) all bowling well. By the end of their 40 overs, they were 189 for 6, a formidable total or so it seemed.
On entering the tea-room, the Heath were a bit worried about a sign saying tea-money was £60, but apparently this referred to another side who used the pitch. Unfortunately there was neither milk nor sugar for the tea (which itself was a high-point) nor much variety elsewhere. Fortunately this lack of an enormous meal seemed to inspire the batsmen, especially Dominic.
Back on the pitch Dominic played a startling innings, hammering the bowling all round the ground and reached his fifty well before his partner Henry. Unfortunately, rather a slow lobby bowler came on and Dominic, trying to achieve a century, win the match and clear the sight-screen, all in one go, missed a sneaky one and was stumped. Many thought he could have regained his ground, but it was probably a lack of sugar in his tea that did for him. Anyway, a fine innings of 53, leaving Henry to be joined by Shrimpy with 90-odd still needed.
Now, many experienced Heath-watchers have seen defeat snatched from the jaws of victory on many occasions but not today. Henry batted really well, scoring 86 not out while Shrimpy, very kindly in my view, tried to give the bowlers a little bit of self-confidence, (or was it lack of sugar again) but staying around to the end. The Heath had a whole 10 overs still to go and also, Golden Mason, Atif, Foster, Spencer and even “wide-boy” Jeremy still in reserve if needed. A notable and important victory to start the season properly. Green Stock were a very congenial side to play (other than the milk and sugar) with a really good pitch encouraging good stroke-play.
Ah well, Chesham next week and let’s hope the weather improves. It was rather cold but that didn’t stop proud parents (Haddocks and Cappers) and even the Grandparents of Henry and his cousin Charlie Foster, enjoying what was a very entertaining day – or perhaps I’m biased!
On Sunday 12th the Cricket Club was not so lucky. It made several attempts to continue play at The Lee,but eventually had to abandon, due to rain, with The Lee on 123 for 3 wickets. Luke Brennan bowled well and took two of those wickets. This Sunday's match (19th) vs Gt Missenden Pelicans has been moved to Lt Kingshill due to burrowing creatures infesting their square - 2.00pm start.
The Cricket Club made an inauspicious start to the season with a defeat at home to Chartridge. Their innings closed on 161 and we began our reply brightly with a half-century from Henry Capper, but there was no great substance in our later batting and we finished twenty-odd runs short. This Sunday (12th.) the match is at the Lee with a 2.00 pm.start.