Wikipeadia describes Hindhead as “a village in Surrey, England. It is the highest village in Surrey, with buildings at between 185 and 246 metres above sea level. It is best known as the location of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a beauty spot and site of special scientific interest, and as the site of the Hindhead crossroads, a formerly notorious congestion spot, where the A3 between Portsmouth and London was crossed by the A287 between Hook and Haslemere.”
Sunday’s game was anything but a congestion spot! 514 runs scored in 80.1 overs. For those of you who are curious, it’s an average run rate of 6.4 runs per over.
Long-time opponents, Hindhead CC, fooled the Skipper with a double-headed coin, knowing he’d call tails… with the toss lost their Captain, Alex “Side-Show” Bertola, had no hesitation putting us in the field.
Hindhead like to play a timed game. For those that don’t know what a timed game is, long and the short of it is that the team batting first bat until tea (or can declare earlier if they wish) then the second team batting, bat from tea until 18:30. Number of overs bowled between tea and 18:30 varies depending on the team bowling, but from 18:30 there are only 20 overs left of the game. To get a result the team batting second needs to chase down the score set by the first team or the fielding side needs to take 10 wickets. Any other scenario ends in a draw, with the team that has a better run rate claiming the winning draw. Most Saturday leagues play this format with points received for passing a certain amount of runs or taking a certain amount of wickets and further points for the winning draw. This format is very effective when weak teams play against very strong teams, but isn’t the Captain Scott Invitation XI’s favourite format as most teams batting second tend to put the shutters down and play for a draw when a few wickets suddenly fall… but enough already as we would be batting second this time.
Being as prompt as usual the Scotties eventually took to the field at 14:10, with only one player having not arrived. Not bad for Scotties I can hear one or two of you think, but when that player, no names mentioned Mike Stepney, is supposed to be your wicket-keeper and the player having to fulfil the role of the wicket-keeper is your opening bowler, it changes one’s plans slightly.
Fortunately for us, we had had one Justin “Are you sure you’re not Russ Joynt?” Lamprecht on début and was able to bowl some medium-fast with some away swing. Aidan Naude was to be kept in the wings until our regular wicket-keeper arrived (ETA was 30 minutes).
With Ant bowling down the hill and Justin bowling up, they did a great job and restricted Hindhead to 50 after 11 overs. Wickets on the day were going to rare with only nine wickets falling all day. Mind you if legitimate LBW decisions were called as such, a few more wickets might have fallen – but I’m not about to cast any aspersions on the Hindhead Umpires (Players) characters.
Stepils eventually donned the keeper’s gloves, much to the relief of Aidan’s palms and right ankle. Hindhead being one of Mr Naude’s more favourable grounds took the decision to come up the hill and it paid off as he snared the first wicket, clean bowling their opener for 31. Hindhead were 81 for 1. This brought their skipper to the crease. Brett bowling down the hill without any success and going for slightly less than the overall run rate was replaced by the miserly Alastair “Billy” Smail.
Aidan and Alastair bowled in tandem with Aidan capturing the second wicket, the batsman mistiming the ball and hitting it straight down the throat of Sunny Sandhu who was stationed at mid-off. Breaths were held, but Sunny took the catch confidently and had his first catch for the 2015 season. 139 for 2 and in walked Hindhead’s best hockey (yes, hockey) player. With Aidan tiring, Alastair changed ends and began to bowl up the hill with KP starting his spell from the other end.
Alastair fired in a quicker straight one and Hindhead’s “I’ll play across the line” Hockey player was bowled for 19. 198 for 3 in the 34th over. Mr Bertola on 58 at the fall of the third wicket then increased his scoring pace and proceeded to put on a partnership of 57, contributing 43 of those runs himself. The skipper was not out for 101 and his partner adding the remaining 14 runs of the partnership.
Whilst getting changed prior to the game, Russ Joynt’s doppelganger, Justin, informed a few of us that he had retired from cricket and now only played exhibition games. He was duly informed he was in the right place as the Captain Scott Invitation XI played exhibition games most Sundays in the summer. At this comment he chuckled but after watching our fielding and catching on (what can only be called) a fast outfield he realised that he was watching an exhibition in mediocrity. He was included in this exhibition, dropping an extremely difficult chance on the deep midwicket boundary. Catches and poor fielding had probably added 20 to 30 runs too many. We hoped these exhibitions of mediocrity would not cost us…
Hindhead declared with two minutes before tea with a total of 255 for 3 in 41 overs. The scorebook once again agreed (what a luxury, having a decent scorer) and tea was consumed.
The skipper with his mind ticking over like a Swiss precision timepiece came up with a cunning plan to protect some of the usual top order batsmen so that an attempt could be made on the total set by Hindhead and failing that, drop anchor and see out a draw.
The conversation at tea went something like this;
Skipper: “Brett, could you please bat at number two and open with Sunny?”
Brett: “Number two? Who me? Why? With Sunny?”
Laurie (Scorer): “Brett?! At number two? Sean, are you feeling okay?”
Brett: “Geez, thanks Ma!”
Skipper: “Yeah I’m fine. If you and Sunny open then we can protect some of the others and chase the score down when the balls a bit older or drop anchor if we need to play for the draw.”
Brett: “That makes sense, but Sunny and I at one and two? Have you asked Sunny?”
Skipper: “Yeah, he’s already padded and waiting to go.”
Sceptically, Brett went off to pad up… not 100% sure that this plan was going to work. His and Sunny’s instructions were to take their time, play carefully and see the first 10 or so overs out.
Nose bleeds staunched, due to batting so high, Sunny and Brett made their way to the middle. The first over was a maiden and no one was back in the hutch… The second over saw runs scored, but a return throw to the keeper hit an old foot mark on a previously used wicket and proceeded to catch Hindhead’s keeper on the cheek, right below the eye… man down, but hey, no one was back in the hutch… yet. The keeper left the field with a bag of ice on his injured eye, and a trip to A&E, a substitute was found and the game continued.
Gasps of pure amazement could be heard from the side when Sunny and Brett showed they knew what a forward defensive was, The strike continued to rotate and after 10 overs they had put 44 on the board (Hindhead had put 46 in their first 10). This brought the about the first change, the bowler managed to eventually swing a ball – straight between Brett’s bat and pad. Someone was back in the hutch. Brett had fallen for 35 runs and the team score on 46 for 1. In walked, Russ, I mean Justin, striding to the middle with a confident swagger.
Justin and Sunny added 29 runs in four overs, one of those going for 25 run alone. This over included two wides, two no ball sixes, a no ball four and four legitimate runs. Sunny was unfortunately trapped on the back foot and KP was left with no choice but to raise his finger. Sunny was also back in the hutch for a well-played 15. Both openers contributing 50 runs to the team total. They were forgiven for looking a little smug.
Stepils entered the field of play and joined Mr Lamprecht in the middle. The skipper’s plan might actually work! 19 runs in three overs and Mike missed a straight one and was the third one back in the hutch for 10. Would the skipper’s plan work? Surely it was too early to drop anchor and play for the draw? 94 for 3 after 18 overs, it could be better, but it wasn’t bad. Enter the other Captain Scott debutant, the younger version of Alastair Smail – his son, Ben. Ben’s dad was quietly confident as he’d recently purchased a new bat for Ben and it was time that it got some runs with it. Alastair’s prediction proved to be correct and Justin and Ben put on a mighty fine 110 run partnership. Ben reaching a personal new high score of 45 from 36 balls, eventually being caught by the substitute wicket keeper off the bowling of the Hindhead skipper, who’d brought himself on to try contain the run chase. This brought the ever vociferous Mr Naude to the middle to with 52 required from 14.5 overs or 3.5 runs an over.
10 runs and 7 balls later Justin holed out at deep mid-off having attempted to hit one shot too many for the team’s top individual contribution of 68 from 65 balls. The two debutants had steered the run chase away from the rocky shores of a loss and towards the calmer waters of a win but left us in a current of uncertainty with only a few gusts of experience to make sure we didn’t end up in the doldrums of a draw. Not quite squeaky-bum time but a slight tightening of the glutes was noted by a few within the team.
Not the Skipper for nothing, Sean strode purposely towards the wicket, looking like Hannibal for the 80’s television show the A-Team, all that was missing was the cigar (no doubt he’d have that later in the evening) and Sean saying “I love it when a plan comes together”! Unfortunately the plan did not quite come together and Sean received the ball of the day, which was quick, seamed back very late and took the top of the off stump. Consecutive eggs in consecutive weeks, but today’s egg could be forgiven considering his bold and cheeky idea to see the Captain Scott team victorious.
40 runs were required from 72 balls, not an impossible task, but without much batting experience at 9, 10 or 11 (no offence lads), Alastair coming in at number 8 was our last line of defence. Aidan realising the situation tightened his glutes a little tighter, again, which gave him a great stance and a look of steely determination (or it might have been wind) took guard, wanting to see the team home.
Both Alastair and Aidan played great shots with one or two lucky stokes (Aidan will tell you he played the Shaolin Slice on purpose) saw them tie the scores at 255 after 39 overs. This allowed Aidan to hit the first ball of the 40th over for a four and the Captain Scott Invitation XI were victorious once again in 2015 with 259 for 6 in 39.1 overs. Not only had we successfully chased down the score set by Hindhead, but we’d done it 11 balls quicker than them. Great Game! While the fielding and bowling might have been an exhibition of mediocrity, the batting was an exhibition of determination and timing. Justin, guess you’ll be playing a few more exhibition games in 2015.
Back-slaps and hugs were shared all round and once we’d all showered quite a few chilled libations were shared with the opposition. Man of the match award was a difficult decision, with the two debutants in contention, but Justin just pipped Ben to the post with his 68 from 63. Hindhead are a brilliant bunch of lads and they play a great game of cricket in the right spirit. Cricket and Captain Scott were winners on the day.
The scorecard for those of you that are interested, can be found here.