Amersham v Cryptics
282 for 6 dec 43.3 overs (G Rance 104*S Rogers 42, S Rance 35, Marcus Ward 2-51, Mike Stafford 2-67)
277 for 4 50 overs (Matt Pugh 94*, Mike Stafford 62, Ed Montague 61, S Rogers 2-54)
Amersham Cricket Club, in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, is a delightful setting to play cricket, especially on such a glorious day as we were blessed with. Hikers passed through the ground regularly, many on route to the next village for a pint or cream tea. A gentle breeze created ripples in the next door wheat field (more on this field later). The wicket looked good and hard, and the outfield like glass, suggesting runs would be a plenty.
And so, with the sun shining and the mercury rising, the Captains met in the middle, and a notional toss was performed. Amersham to bat first.
The Cryptics took to the field, assisted by an Amersham player (to make the team up to eleven, following a late withdraw due to injury). Opening the bowling, William Wilkins coming down the slight slope. In his second over, his response to being hit for a boundary was to induce a mistimed drive. The ball took the inside edge and looped up off the pad towards second slip, and the waiting hands of Tim Forte. It did not take him long to get up a full head of steam … sweat … and then consumption-like symptoms! This caused much distraction to the batsmen, and thus his opening 6 over spell only went for 24 runs. Marcus Ward at the other end had to contest with the uphill slope, meaning that the batsmen were hitting downhill towards a short, straight boundary! That said, his economy was pretty good, all things considered, and then he struck twice in his 6th over, removing both the opening and number 3 batsmen, who were just starting to build a good partnership. Nick Priestnall took a comfortable catch off a thin outside edge for the first (Viney, 28), and then middle and off were split with a full-length delivery (Ariyantha, 25). Spin replaced pace, with flighted leg spin from Forte, and canny slow right arm from Mike Stafford. The batsmen found the boundary with regularity, and with some lusty blows, especially when it was realised that hitting across the line was more difficult and risky than hitting back over the bowler’s head. This resulted in the first of several visits to the wheat field. Inspired captaincy (I can say that, I am writing the report) led to the next two wickets. Edd Rogers was dispatched to the square leg-side boundary, and a couple of balls later found himself in the action taking a good low catch to remove Rance (S) for 35, off the bowling of Mike Stafford. Enter Rance (G), who nicely rotated the strike and together with Rogers added a further 40 runs. An adjustment to the field for Stafford’s bowling saw the immediate dismissal – a juggling catch by the captain – of the opposing captain, Rogers, who was looking very settled (42). Lunch was taken with Amersham on a healthy score of 160 for 5 wickets, off 27 overs. There was a real prospect of having to chase a score of 300 plus! After a hearty lunch of chilli con carne, extra chillies as optional, the heat started increasing after the interval, and so did the number of trips to the boundary and into the wheat field. Wilkins returned for four more frugal overs, but despite picking up the wicket of Tilbury in his first over, Chris Ward unfortunately took the brunt of an onslaught by Rance (G). In the space of 39 balls, 83 runs were added and Rance (G) brought up his century with a straight 6…into the wheat! The Amersham declaration came at 282 for 6, in the 43rd over.
Set 283 to win, the Club had plenty of time, but would it have the batting? Mike Stafford and Ed Montague started the reply, in watchful fashion, against steady seam bowling from one end, and an eclectic array of deliveries ranging from beamers to decent in-duckers hitting middle stump. Fortunately the senior partner managed to coach the other through until the tea break, with the score on 60-0 (13 overs). The final session started with two new bowlers. The opposition captain (Rogers) bowling his sharp pace, more regularly seen in the Home Counties Premier League on a Saturday, and Rance (S) bowling off spin. Maintaining a steady 5 runs per over, the scoreboard was ticking over nicely, and the more senior and experienced Amersham players started to resort to the tactic of inane drivel (pseudo-sledging) to encourage a wicket. After approximately the twentieth repeat of “C’mon boys, leg before coming!”, Montague (61) duly obliged by missing a straight one from Rogers, and walked before Wilkins (the stand-in official) raised the finger. Enter Matt Pugh, who had had a busy day in the outfield (generally fetching the ball from the other side of the boundary rope). He and Stafford set about building on the opening stand of 110. Stafford reached his half century, and did not look troubled. The temperature reached its maximum at about this point, and the opposition were definitely feeling hot under the collar. A couple of close decisions had not gone their way, and the background noise increased. The second wicket partnership of 45 came to an end when Stafford holed out for 62, and this brought Marcus Ward to the crease. Pugh was really finding his range when the final 20 overs commenced, and the Cryptics were in the driving seat with 116 required. The only problem was, the tail looked on paper rather long, and there were only 10 in the team! The partnership was looking strong, and the various bowling changes did not seem to trouble either batsman. Ward (M) ably supported Pugh, with both helping themselves to boundaries and playing low risk cricket. That was, until the 44th over when Ward (M) went aerial with a hit off the bowling of Rance (G) and was caught for 21. Edd Rogers came and went rather quickly, undone by the pace of Rogers for a third ball duck. The score was on 234. 49 runs required to win. 5 overs remaining. Enter Chris Ward. He fed the strike to the in-form Pugh, and then hit a delightful straight six himself …into the wheat field. The Thames Valley Police search team was considered, however a replacement ball would make it to the wicket quicker, and so play continued. Ward and Pugh could only manage 5 runs off the 47th over, but fought back with 15 runs off the next. A further miserly over from Rogers meant 13 runs were required off the final over. Boundaries proved elusive, and singles were not enough to take the Club passed the Amersham score of 282. 277 for 4 wickets off 50 overs was the final score. The not out batsmen - Matt Pugh finished on 94 and Chris Ward on 18. Match drawn.