The game was played at the beautiful Harberton cricket ground, as Palstone Park in South Brent is not yet up to the standard of cricket that Brent hopes to be hosting. Though hopefully work being put in over the winter will insure Palstone Park will be ready to host cricket for next year.
A 35 over a side game was played under lovely early autumn skies, with the odd shower about.
The Erratics, who are a team with a long history, had fielded a strong side. This was for many of the Brentonians, their first game of cricket for years, so expectations weren’t high. But everyone was determined to put on a good show and display to the cricketing community that Brent means business.
The Erratics won the toss and chose to bat first on what looked like a good wicket. Brent skipper Pete Glen, lead from the front and was bowling a good line and length and finding some outswing, going past the edge several times.
Jono Clapham in his first bowl for a long time, kept the batsmen guessing at the other end with his variable deliveries.
Erratics openers Chave and Wright looked to have played themselves in nicely when a sharp run was called for. Former Erratics player but now playing for Brent, Dominic Prosser ran out his former teammate Chave, with a fantastic direct hit which pleased him no end.
Wright carried on playing nicely, the ball occasionally ‘stopping’ in its bounce, so coming thru off the pitch slower. Glen picked up on this and moved himself into a catching position at short mid off. Sure enough a mistimed drive gave him a low catch off Prosser’s bowling and Wright was gone for a good 26 with the score on 55 for2. Prosser, having scalped yet another of his old teammates was in the groove and bowling well. Two overs later, his accurate bowling was rewarded further when he bowled F.Chave for 6.
At the other end Adam Cook had come on for a bowl and as he had not bowled in a match before, was showing a few nerves before eventually finding a rhythm. He got his reward by taking a good diving caught and bowled to bag his first ever wicket. The determination and focus in his eyes as the ball came back towards him meant he was always going to claim it- Like an owl swooping down on its pray he never took his eye off the ball! Thistlethwaite had gone for a duck to the debutant. 65 for 4 and Brent were on a roll now.
Prosser (30-2)had finished a fine spell of bowling. It was time for the cunning and guile of Dave Lewis’ offspin. He struck 2nd ball in and sent Kirby back to the hutch for 9. At 82 for 5,Brent had kept the pressure and the wickets were falling on a regular basis.
The Erratics then rallied as Nallala and Cook showed the other batsmen how to play on this wicket. By being more watchful, using their feet and waiting for the ball rather than chasing, and prodding at it. They both timed the ball superbly and put on a 55 run partnership for the 6th wicket, before Lewis (44-3) got Nallala LBW for a very good 30. Lewis could smell blood now and next over clean bowled Price for a duck.
The skipper then bought on John Barnes, another bowling debutant who had shown potential at the practice sessions.
But more to the point, John carried cricketing royalty in his veins, as his great great-great granduncle is no other than the legendary Sydney Barnes……….. Sydney was an early twentieth century England cricketer, who some say was perhaps the greatest English bowler of all time, being able to move the ball both ways at pace, both in the air and off the pitch!
This was enough to convince the skipper, (who on a visit to Lords earlier in the season noted a huge portrait of Sydney Barnes outside the away dressing room), that there must surely be wickets in his bequiffed descendant John. And lo and behold, after witnessing this performance some of the watching masses must of wondered if they were watching the Barnes of 1913 instead of 2013!
As John, bowling medium slow got the ball to move both in the air and off the pitch, and in his 2nd over trapped Krepakran lbw for 1! Then the very next delivery, Barnes induced Molins to loft one to wide mid on where Glen took a running catch to put John Barnes on a Hat trick! In his first ever match! The vultures circled around the bat for the hat-trick ball as history beckoned and John called on the spirit of Sydney once again. He couldn't have bowled a better ball, - one that was full with some inswing, on the stumps. The number 11 played all round it, only to scuff a bottom edge onto the ball and all watched as the ball dribbled slowly towards… but agonisingly just inches wide of leg stump! Unbelievable drama! It really should be on YouTube!
Barnes got his man bowled in the next over though and finished with debut figures of 3 for 14 from 4 overs! Was that the fleeting ghostly presence of Sydney applauding from the start of the bowlers run up as the players walked to the pavilion for the interval… ?
The Erratics finished on a challenging but gettable 165. Cook had played admirably and was left not out for a very accomplished 49
South Brent had put up a great display of bowling and fielding for a team that is so new and raw, with some of the players not having played in a match for years if ever! The spirit of the team was joyful and committed.
Knowing how important putting on a good tea is to a team’s reputation, the South Brent tea ladies, Dave Lewis and John Barnes, did a fantastic job and can wear their pinnies with pride as the two teams enjoyed a sumptuous spread at the interval.
The reply from Brent was encouraging right from the start. The Zimbabwean Jono “the eagle” Clapham started spanking the ball round the park as is his nature. Unfortunately fellow opener Lannin was caught on the crease lbw for 0 by Krepakaran. Maybe he’d had too much delicious cake and was thinking of getting more!
Meanwhile the in form Dave Lewis was certainly having his cake and eating it as he joined Clapham in making light work of the bowling. Playing watchfully, he also sent the fielders scurrying to all corners to fetch the ball. Clapham continued to play in the manner in which he is accustomed and was caught at 3rd man off Price having another big swing for a handsome and carefree 25. Clapham has a wonderful eye and is a real asset, as he can take a game away from the opposition quickly. After a good start, many of the watching Brent players were feeling comfortable enough to sit back and have further helpings of Battenburg and Lemon Drizzle, thinking they weren’t likely to be called into bat any time shortly. Wishful thinking as the wickets started to tumble as quick as the cake was eaten.
Richard Haines looked understandably a little rusty and went shortly after bowled for 3, but it’s figured he too, could only have been thinking of getting back to the delicious left over cakes. 49 for 3 and Lewis was still showing superb discipline combined with attacking finesse at the other end.
Price was bowling a good disciplined spell of bowling and the inexperienced or rusty Brent middle and lower order soon found out they couldn’t have their cake and bat at the same time! Although some of them batted as if they were holding a swiss roll instead of a bat! They may as well have been!
In the same over Price took a good caught and bowled as the promising young star Seamus Prosser didn’t follow through with enough force attempting an off drive. Another victim of the ball that stops on the pitch.
Keen youngster Alec Hodgson was given a chance higher up the order. Hodgson has shown a great attitude in training and has a lot of promise but this time was unlucky, as after playing some committed attacking shots and making good contact with the ball, was caught off Mollins.
It was like Dominoes out there as South Brent collapsed like a 1990s England team. At 60 for 6 things looked pretty bleak, but the skipper, justifying his scoffing of cake by saying he needed the energy to bat a long innings, knew that Lewis was still playing well and that Dominic Prosser who scored a very accomplished 48 the previous week was in next.
Sadly there was no heroics this week as Prosser, perhaps getting some gentle words of encouragement from his former team mates, paying the price of defection and played on off Price(16-4) for only 1.
Andy Carnell, another keen and promising cricket match debutant was bowled shortly after, by Mollins(33-2).
Glen, who was also in the runs the previous week was determined to support the defiant Lewis at the other end, but he rashly tried to cut a ball that was to close to him and was well caught by the keeper from a thin under edge off Chave for an inglorious duck. One of five ducks in the Brent innings. Quack Quack Quack indeed. Perhaps they would’ve batted better if it was raining.
At 67 for 8 John Barnes came in and the position of his team was like water off a ducks back. As he showed some impressive defensive technique and discipline as he supported Lewis for a 22 run partnership. Lewis had decided to let rip now as he could see the dying of the light approaching rather quickly!
The sunset was beautiful too, but the shadows of doom were cast upon the plucky Brent as Lewis was finally out for a defiant, and impressive 41 bowled by Mollins who had been bowling well. Lewis showed a great example. Playing the conditions and bowlers well, showing good technique, discipline and shot selection. He never let himself get bogged down too.
Barnes was left with a very credible not out as Adam Cook was bowled by Chave for 4 going for glory.
So South Brent were bowled out for 95. Losing by 70 runs with 15 overs to spare. A disappointing end to the game, but for much of the match Brent were competitive and always showed good commitment, spirit and most of all seem to be enjoying themselves.
The Erratics sportingly stayed on and played a fun 7 over a side game, in which Dominic and Seamus Prosser scored some runs and Tim Lannin bowled a good over taking a fine wicket. John Cranch showed his intent coming back from injury too.
There were certainly some highlights, and much fun was had. Everyone got a taste for match cricket. But unfortunately, the Brent batting, unlike the marvellous cakes, had a soggy middle and bottom that was undercooked!
Thanks to Harberton Cricket club for the use of the their beautiful ground and clubhouse, and to John Cranch and Chris Kelcey for umpiring.