South Brent's first win in 17 years!
Report by Pete Glen
A last minute cancellation by a touring team, had left a vacancy in Harbertons fixture list. Harberton asked if South Brent would like to fill it. The enthusiasm for cricket at Brent left no room for hesitation in taking up the offer.So the newly reformed South Brent had one last unexpected chance this season to win their first game in 17 years.
Skipper Pete Glen was unable to pick his strongest side as Dominic Prosser and Jono Clapham were unable to play. It was a blow, but luckily for Brent, all rounder Gareth Havard from Dartington cricket club came to the rescue.
In murky, cloudy but warm conditions, skipper Pete Glen strengthened his reputation as a useless tosser by losing yet another toss. But to his relief, Dave Griffith the Harberton skipper, elected to bowl first on a damp wicket that was only going to get harder to bat on as it cut up through the game. The murky conditions would also bring bad light issues into the game, in what was a 40 over per side contest.
Club chairman John Cranch and treasurer Tim “numbers” Lannin opened the batting. Surely this was the ideal pair to get the team off to a solid start. The plan worked, as the two of them played Harbertons two opening pace bowlers, Dennis and Griffith with dilligence on what was a difficult, sticky wicket to bat on.
Cranch and Lannin played the good balls sensibly and dispatched the bad balls. it was liking watching Greenidge and Haynes, the legendary West Indian openers! John Cranch played some sumptuous drives, while Lannin gleefully whipped anything straying down leg to the square leg boundary.The opening pair had put on 28 and feeling confident, they started pushing the running.
Lannin pushed a ball out to square leg and Cranch called him through for a quick single. Lannin, perhaps startled by seeing “the big JC” charging towards him shouting at him to run, was a little slow to respond to the whippet like Cranch, and was marginally run out for 12 by a direct hit to the bowlers end. Unlucky, maybe.
They say trouble comes in twos, and this proved to be the case when in the same over, Cranch, perhaps ruminating on his part in the run out, took a big swing at a dipping full toss, but missed it completely and was clean bowled for 13 by the toiling Griffith(1-27).
Dennis (0-22) also bowled a good tight line without reward.
It's said you should never count your chickens, but the skipper counted them in and then counted them out in swift succession as further disaster struck.
Brad “canonman” Needs came in to bat with only clearing the boundary ropes in mind. If he’d made contact with every ball he faced, every one would’ve been either four or six! He was bowled for 7 taking a big swing at Noah Tobias who was bowling at pace.
Two balls later Richard “Hatman” Haines, was unluckily bowled for nought by Noah Tobias, playing on whilst backing away. The gathered crowds were disappointed and will have to wait before seeing his elegant square cuts.
Four wickets had fallen for seven runs and the mood of the watching Brent players had taken a sudden and foreboding dip.
But then, the stuff of legends was born....
The score was 35 for 4 when the in form Dave “the dart” Lewis was joined by Gareth “the Welsh terrier” Havard at the crease. The skipper prayed for just one significant partnership so as to at least avoid humiliation. What he got was a minor miracle.
Looking on from between his fingers he witnessed a superb display of batting, as Lewis continued his wonderful form by making a difficult batting wicket look like “a road”. In his ever relaxed manner, Lewis displayed genuine class with the bat. Playing with superb timing, he dispatched the ball to all parts of the cloud shrouded park, with a mix of dashing elegance, due diligence, and nonchalant stroke-play. For anyone who enjoys watching the craft of batting this was a sight to behold. It wasn't until Ted “the spin doctor’ Waller came onto bowl that he looked in any real difficulty. Looking to attack more, he was twice dropped off Wallers flighted leg spin bowling, but every great innings has its fair share of luck.
At the other end Havard did a splendid job. Playing with great discipline and curtailing his attacking instincts, Havard played a superb supporting contrast to Lewis’ attacking brio. It was just what was called for, especially as Waller kept bowling well and was throwing up some tempting looking leg spinners that dipped very late.
Havard eventually got into the swing of it and played some lovely shots, displaying a wonderful late cut in particular. The pair were together for 21 overs and put on a massive 127 run partnership for the fifth wicket. Amongst other things ,their running between the wickets was excellent.
Eventually Lewis was out bowled in the 37th over by the impressive Noah Tobias (3-38), for a quite brilliant 79.
With only 3 overs left, Havard unleashed himself and started playing with freedom and a further 20 runs were put on with the competent but rusty looking Willoughby and much relieved skipper Pete Glen.
Havard finished not out on 42,it was a superb innings, that showed great character and discipline, under pressure and in trying conditions. From being 35 for 4 South Brent finished on a massive 185 for 6. Waller(0-22) was unlucky not to get any reward for his testing, well flighted leg spin.
Had Harberton underestimated South Brent and let them off the hook?
Harbertons reply started as light drizzle moved in from the moors. The wet ball got difficult to grip, the outfield became slippery and the pitch started cutting up. The light was already proving an issue.
After a stirring team talk, skipper Glen opened with himself and the determined Adam “the ferret” Cook. Glen felt nervous about the slippery underfoot conditions and wasn’t bowling a great length, but with the pitch’ bounce becoming more variable the main thing was to bowl on the stumps.
Cook and Glen kept the pressure on and Harberton openers Mather and Ogilvie found it hard to get the ball off the square. Then with Harberton on only 16 after 11 overs, Glen(1-9) cunningly bowled a superb rank long hop, which Mather(7) top edged to be caught by Willoughby at mid wicket.
At the other end Cook was bowling superb medium slow inswingers in what was unbelievably his first ever season. Like a seasoned pro, he kept going and got his just rewards. With some assistance from the pitch he clean bowled the disciplined Ogilvie(8). Cook (2-25) had got a taste for it now and with his confidence up he clean bowled Somerville(7) with a superb delivery to make the score 34 for 3.
But Brent dared not dream yet, as Toby Tobias came in. He was joined by Heath who played the conditions very well and started accelerating the scoring by dispatching anything loose.
The Brent bowlers kept their nerve, kept the pressure on and didn't let them get away. The bowlers were well supported by some wonderfully committed fielding in slippery conditions.
John “Sydney” Barnes(0-33) was unlucky not to get a wicket, particularly as the warm, humid and wet conditions kept steaming up his glasses as he was running in to bowl!
At only thirteen years old Alec “wonderkid” Hodgson was given his bowling debut. And what a debut it was! He put one on the stumps and pegged back the leg stump of Harbertons most dangerous batsmen Heath, who was starting to look very threatening for 42. The glee on the youngsters face was a joy to behold in what looks like a promising future for both him and South Brent. Hodgson (1-11) deserved it, after showing a great attitude in training and in the matches.
It was a much needed breakthrough as the 4th wicket had put on 63 runs and got Harberton to 97. Although the target was still within range.
That wicket proved to be decisive though, as Brent got the bit between their teeth and wickets fell regularly. Willoughby (0-24) bowled his first overs in a match for many years and was unlucky not to get any reward.
The skipper still had two trump cards in his pack and with his team in the ascendency, decided to go for the jugular by bringing the pacey Havard onto bowl.
Having recovered from his heroics with the bat, his pace proved difficult in dim conditions. Havard bowled a superb tight line with genuine pace, right on the stumps. In his first over he bowled a superb delivery just short of a length that snicked the outside edge of the established Toby Tobias’ bat, which Lewis gobbled up behind the stumps.Toby had batted very well in difficult conditions for 14.
Glen, at the same time played his other trump card,- the hero of Brent's innings, Lewis, came out from behind the stumps to dart in some of his off spin bowling. With his variations of flight and pace, Lewis(2-22) is just as talented with the ball as he is with the bat. Seeing Noah Tobias(9) come dancing down the pitch he altered his flight and bowled him as Noah missed.
Havard then had a chance to realise one of his dreams.
Coming to the crease was his fellow Dartington team mate and drinking buddy, Paul “the trouble” Raven. With much good natured ribbing going on, Raven looked up for the fight as he drove his nemisis Havard hard to deep mid off. That was a mistake though as it only made Havard angry! Shortly afterwards he knocked back Ravens middle pole, as in the dying light, Raven went for another full blooded drive. Havard looked like he had just bowled out Viv Richards he was so delighted. Bragging rights earnt! Raven(12) put on a brave face but you could see he felt disturbed by the incident that will surely leave scars!
Lewis got Dennis as he skied a ball to mid wicket to which Cranch took a good catch in poor light running round to his left.
Havard, having been told by the umpires to drop his pace because of the light, then bowled out both While and Waller to end with figures of 4 for 8 off 6.2 overs! The Gary Sobers of South Devon!
So, Harberton were all out for 141 in 37 overs, and South Brent had won by 44 runs with three and a half overs to spare.
It was a superb performance from South Brent. They showed true fighting spirit, never giving up and conjured up an unlikely win. The first win for the club in 17 years! But after a 17 year break it only took them 3 games to get their first win. The first of many we hope.
The team celebrations went on well into the night! The skipper awoke the next morning with a sore head but a happy cricketing heart!
Many thanks to Barry Goldsmith, the Harberton chairman, for arranging the game and umpiring. Also to the Harberton team for hosting us at their beautiful ground and clubhouse, serving up a wonderful tea and giving us a good contest, played in a good spirit. We look forward to playing Harberton home and away next year. Thanks also to the inimitable Geoff Quest for coming up from Plymouth to umpire for us.