Amersham CC v Cryptics CC at Shardeloes, Amersham
Sunday 20th June 2021
Amersham CC 301 for 5 dec (A Palmer 101*, D Ishaq 60, P Weston 52*, A Rajapaksa 50, R Willis 2-53)
Cryptics CC 268 for 4 (R Willis 106*, E Montague 73, C Briant 2-50, M Choksi 2-33)
None of the commonly used weather apps showed that the conditions would actually allow for a ball to be bowled in this game. However, come the match day, the biblical storms predicted did not materialise, and despite some early misty rain, the toss was made at 11.45am, which was duly won by the hosting team. Sent into the field, the new ball was handed to William Wilkins. With his fourth ball, the opener missed a straight delivery and was sent back to the pavilion (0-1). Unaccustomed to bowling in a game, Matt Pugh was asked to take the second over, to see whether he could any success with his medium pace. After a couple of sighters, the batsman tried to cross-bat hit a low full toss. Taking the top edge the ball looped just over the head of cover. A near miss!
For the next 19 overs, the Cryptics were made to chase the ball, with both batsmen taking a liking to the bowling. Wilkins (1-34) and Pugh (0-38) were replaced by the off-spin of Ruairi Willis and Anton Madzarevic, but they were unable to stem the flow of runs immediately. First to their half century was Ishaq, and on reaching his own half century a few balls later, Rajapaksa played around a straight delivery from Willis. The ball hit his back leg in front of the stumps, and despite only the bowler appealing, the umpire concurred it was out, and Amersham were 117 for 2. It did not take long for Madzarevic to get in on the act. Ishaq was lured out of the crease, played and missed at the ball, and the quick glovework of Nino Trapani brought about his demise (125-3). Palmer started to find his range and having helped the new batsman settle, got into the flow again and struck some lusty boundaries. Willis struck again to remove Mathurangan (3), and with the introduction of Tim Forte’s leg spin at the other end, there was a further lull in the runs. Paul Massey replaced Willis (2-53), and whilst boundaries were hard to come by, the partnership reached 50 after 11 overs. Forte then struck. Choksi went for a big heave, missed the turning ball, and Trapani removed the bails to leave the batsman stranded. With Amersham on 203 for 5 after 41 overs, Palmer (57*) was joined by the captain, Weston. In the following 9 overs, boundaries were plentiful and a declaration score neared. Forte (1-58) was replaced by Madzarevic, who bore the brunt of the onslaught, whilst Massey proved slightly more difficult to despatch (0-48). Weston scored a quickfire 52 not out, and Palmer completed his century by hitting Madzarevic (1-67) for a straight six. At the 50 over mark, Amersham declared their innings on 301 for 5.
After the single break taken in the match, Mike Stafford and Ed Montague strode out to the crease, to continue the good opening partnership had in previous games at Amersham. It was going to need a good batting performance to win this game, with 6 runs per over to match the Amersham scoring rate. Mathurangan and C Briant opened the bowling for the hosts. It started well with both batsmen scoring freely, but in the sixth over disaster struck, when Stafford (16) checked his shot and returned a simple catch to the bowler (35 for 1). Enter Matt Pugh, who had made big scores in previous games at this ground before. He made a solid start, playing some delightful drives. He then feathered the ball off C. Briant to the wicket keeper, and departed for 16. Montague, meanwhile, had been scoring with relative ease (mostly across the line) was in his mid-thirties when joined by Ruairi Willis. Whilst Willis played himself in, Montague continued to punish wayward deliveries and passed the half century mark. He was undone by the introduction of spin, guiding a flighted, wide delivery to fly slip, for 73. Chris Ward replaced him, and played out 10 balls, before being adjudged caught behind (0), that had the “ultra-edge” technology been available would have been referred to the 3rd umpire for review. At number 6, new member, Ned Bishop-Harper came to the crease to join Willis, on 9 runs at this stage. With the score at 134 for 4 and 31 overs bowled, it was going to require a monumental partnership to get the Cryptics into anywhere near a position to challenge the Amersham score. With the remaining batsmen in the pavilion arguing about who was going to take the number 11 spot, and not wanting the responsibility of batting out for the draw, the incumbent at the crease were determined not to be budged either. It is said that the best form of defence is attack (clearly not taken from the Gareth Southgate book on football management), and that was the approach taken by Willis. Dominating the unbroken partnership with Bishop-Harper, when at the strikers end, he took the game to the bowlers and proceeded to despatch them with apparent ease. The pair scored 134 runs… of which, Willis contributed 95, and Bishop-Harper 13 (including 4 overthrows). The real acceleration came when Willis realised that a ton was in sight. His 106 not out was just reward for the miles that he covered to play in the fixture. The Cryptics’ innings closed at 268 for 4 (53 overs).
Another entertaining day’s cricket against Amersham CC, with 569 runs scored and another drawn game. The elusive plight for victory continues!