It was uncanny but there were quite a few parallels between the third ODI between England and New Zealand and the game between the Captain Scott Invitation XI and Braywood Cricket Club; starting with the unwavering fact that both games were to be played on Sunday the 14th June 2015.
Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club describes their ground as “situated in the beautiful village of Bray, Berkshire, on the banks of the Thames, overlooked by the Church of St Michael. The main ground is widely acknowledged as one of the most picturesque in the country.” It was very fortunate that the groundsman of Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club was able to direct our Wicket-Keeper, Grant van der Horst to the ground of Braywood Cricket Club where the other 10 Captain Scott players had correctly gone. He was only 25 minutes late. Unbelievably Mike Stepney was early for once and it turned out that he was really looking forward to playing at Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club, where he has scored a plethora of runs in the past, only to be slightly disappointed when the SatNav got him to the actual (correct) ground.
The Skipper was back to his old ways and running 20 minutes late. Clarification was sought as to whether that meant 20 minutes past the meet time (13:50) or 20 minutes past the start time (14:20). It turns out it was the latter. With Sean not around, Brett was deputised by the other Captain Scott players and walked out to the middle with the Braywood Captain for the toss at 13:55. Brett wise to the double-headed coin trick employed by opposition captains, called heads and therefore won the toss. Knowing that several players (Sean R, Paul D, Grant vdH, Martin on debut) were still to arrive, decided to bat.
A quick telephone conversation between Brett and the Skipper established the batting order down to number five. The big surprise was that after Brett’s 35 runs last week, he was asked to open again, this time with Kaps Vara. This was the second parallel as England and Captain Scott both had South African born batsmen confirmed in their opening pair. Mike Stepney at three, Paul at four and the skipper at five. The remaining order would be established when the Skipper was at the ground.
Kaps and Brett got off to a brisk start and with 47 on the board Kaps refused the 2nd run (something to do with being related to the Reillys) with Brett a fair way down the track. He turned back, but was an inch short when the bails were removed. Senior Smail, umpiring at square-leg, informed Brett later that if he’d grounded his bat it would have made the decision very difficult. With Brett gone for 24, 47 on the board and only 6.5 overs gone, the team had got off to a good start. Stepils now made his way to the middle and kept the run rate going with Kaps looking to bat through the innings. Mike went for a pull and proceeded to sky one. Braywood’s money was on the ball, but no one told that to the fielder who held on and Mikey was out for a 29 ball 37. 114 for 2 in 14.4 overs, Captain Scott were cruising at 7.7 per over.
By this stage, Braywood had brought on stalwart and Braywood regular, Brett Carter, who tied up one end with some good line and length. Spin was reintroduced and both Kaps (close to his 50) and Paul found the going difficult and were struggling. Carter produced a good ball that seamed back found PAD wanting. Wickets splayed and PAD was not to be in the runs like his previous two innings. At 136 for 3 at the halfway point and drinks break, Captain Scott’s were still in a good position to post a 200+ total.
After the drinks break the Skipper found himself at the non-strikers end, hoping that he would not get a third duck in as many innings. The Skipper got off the mark to a ball that he felt should have been a no-ball on height, but was not called by, the qualified umpire, Brett. A brief discussion, between Brett and Sean, a short while later, had Sean informing Brett, that any ball above waist height is a no ball, which Brett disagreed with as he said that it is a no ball if above shoulder height for slow (read spin) bowlers. It turns out that the actual law is as follows;
Law 42.6(b) Bowling of high full pitched balls
(i) Any delivery, other than a slow paced one, which passes or would have passed on the full above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.
(ii) A slow delivery which passes or would have passed on the full above shoulder height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.
It turns out that Sean is partially correct, as ICC International Match Playing Regulations do not permit any full-pitch ball above waist height, but as all games played (or to be played), by the Captain Scott Invitation XI, in 2015 are not influenced by ICC International Match Playing Regulations, umpires, umpiring in games between the Captain Scott Invitation XI and their opponents are to follow law 42.6(b) and only call no balls for slow (spin) bowlers above shoulder height. Glad that has been resolved, back to the match report.Kaps reached his 50 (second of the season) off 52 balls, with his cousin and Skipper, having shaken him by the hand, after having run the single. Two overs later, the bowler sent down a slightly quicker one, which rapped Kaps on the pad. Braywood vociferously appealed and out came the dreaded finger. Kaps had no choice but to make his way off with 52 to his name. 142 for 4 and in strode the familiar figure of Aidan Naude. With some batting still in the hutch it was not panic stations yet.
Aidan and Sean, looked to consolidate and see off the two bowlers that were bowling very well in tandem. Shah with one wicket to his name already ripped the last ball of his fifth over, which spun sharply and bowled Aidan for 8. 159 for 5. Grant after his mini adventure to Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club earlier in the day, joined the Skipper in the middle. Grant has scored numerous fifties and centuries seasons past and has batted at the top of the order with Sean often, so the team were quietly confident that at five wickets down Scotties would post a competitive total. Shah having a purple patch got one to bounce, catching the top edge of Sean’s bat resulting in Sean being caught for 11. Scotties were on the ropes, but not down and out yet. Time to absorb some pressure and let our opponent tire and then come out with a classic combination and put them on their backside. 162 for 6 after 28.2 overs. Time to rotate the strike, put away the bad balls and see if we could add an additional 50 runs or so from the remaining 68 balls.
Junior (Ben) Smail fresh from his 45 on debut the week before very suddenly found himself in the middle. Sean and Grant had crossed so Grant was on strike. He struck a single and yet again Shah struck with the last ball of his over. Ben left a ball that looked to be wide, but it bit, turned and took the top of off. Ben was out for a golden duck. Three batsmen to come and Scotties were reeling, looking a little punch drunk and wobbling. In hustled Martin “Marty” O’Neil, the fifth debutant this season.
Brett Carter having bowled his eight overs made way for another spinner. Grant, with four runs to his name, shouldered arms and fell in the same fashion as Ben, to a ball that turned and rearranged the furniture. 165 for 8 and the captain Scott Invitation XI regained their feet at the six count. Senior Smail coming in at the unfamiliar position of number 10 has made 23 and 16* in previous knocks looked to bat out the remaining overs, unfortunately Marty and KP perished shortly after one another. Marty looked to pull a ball but forgot to pull with any force and proceeded to lob a simple catch to square-leg, while showing his disdain by yelling “nooit” – an Afrikaans word meaning “not”, but in context meant “no!”
It must be said that the KP’s dismissal was the least conventional dismissal I have seen in a long long time. The Braywood youngster brought on, bowled a first ball no ball that resulted in two additional runs, Alastair then hit the next ball for a four. The third ball was a bye and KP was on strike. The fourth ball was called a wide resulting the the bowlers annoyance. His fifth (only third legitimate) ball was bowled too short (imagine a very slow bouncer), tennis-ball bounced up over the top of KP’s bat and hit his stumps three quarters of the way down. Parallel number tree and both England and the Scotties paid the price for a (late) collapse, both teams losing the last five wickets for less than 16 runs each.
178 all out. The greatest crime was the 9.3 overs that had gone utilised. Tea was taken and the team was left rueing lost chances. Nine wickets fell for 64 runs on a pitch that should have produced 240 to 250 runs in 40 overs. At the half way point we were well on the way to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but Braywood could also have a collapse as the did the year before when we bowled them all out for 120 odd. Not all was lost.
Sean once again was thinking outside the box and decided to open the bowling with Aidan and Alastair. Spin had worked for Braywood, perhaps Alastair could make a difference. Aidan was his usual miserly self and opened the innings with a maiden. Would the Captain’s gamble work, could opening with spin from the other end work? Hell yes, first ball and Stepils snaffles the catch at cover. Braywood were 0 for 1. Skip, you’re a god damned genius! 25 runs and 6.3 overs later and Alastair strikes again. 25 for 2.
Brett, who often ties down one side, struggled undoing much of the good work done by the openers, but up-steped Marty “Nooit” O’Neil who backed up his comment that he is a bowler and not a batter. He proceeded to take the next three wickets 86 for 3, 112 for 4 and 116 for 5, but with runs being taken at will from the other end, it was always going to be tough. Kaps not content with his 50, also took two difficult catches (we won’t mention the drop – as it was off a no ball and wouldn’t have counted anyway). The first was the fourth top edge of the day and it went very very high. The second an incredible catch at slip that was almost past him before he grabbed it. Unfortunately Braywoods number six and seven saw then safely home. Braywood were 179 for 5 after 32.3 overs. The fourth and final parallel; New Zealand and Braywood CC were never under much pressure in chasing down the total.
Had the match day XI made fifty more and used all 40 overs, it could have been a different game. This was a game that Captain Scott lost and not one the Braywood won. We simply threw it away by not applying ourselves or being a little more diligent while batting.
The scorecard can be found here – for those that are interested.