Holton vs Great Milton
Original report written by Mike Jackson
The annual fixture against Great Milton has always been enjoyable, providing a keenly fought match with our local rivals. This week we were short of key personnel with the captain apparently recuperating from his injury by giving a lecture on the QE2, as you do, and the vice-captain sampling the delights of Dublin. Having been somewhere behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s chauffeur in the line of succession a fortnight earlier, the role of leading the side fell to Neil, as the most capped and venerable (and venerated) member of the team. We welcomed Tim Littlewood into the side for his first game of the season, as our token Holton resident, and Simon Robinson rejoined us with tales of watching Euro2004 in Portugal. Tim took up the wicketkeeping gauntlets, leaving the other three candidates for this position, Simon R, Simon Switala and James Race, to strengthen our fielding.
Neil’s first decisive action of the day was to win the toss and invite our visitors to bat, so we took the field on a warm afternoon with a pleasant breeze, welcome after a week of variable weather. It looked like a typical Brookes pitch, a bit slow and not offering much for the bowlers. Somewhat surprised at being asked to open the bowling, with Mike the Elder and Wiser being kept back for a later spell, I received words of advice from the acting skipper: “Just bowl accurately and keep the run rate down”. Unable to cope with this or indeed any kind of strategy I duly conceded a boundary and then three more runs in the first over, followed by a wide at the start of the second. A plea to the skipper for Plan B didn’t yield much response.
Things settled down after that however and Alan Clark put in a good opening spell from the Holton end, conceding just 14 runs in his first six overs.
With the score on 18 one of the Great Milton openers offered a skier that fell to earth just out of mid-off’s reach but all was forgotten two deliveries later when his accomplice drove one in the air only to perish to a great catch by Phil White running round from mid-on, giving Alan his 198th wicket for the club. This brought the Great Milton captain Anthony Watts to the crease, a player who has often made runs against us in the past. Not this year, however, as after gifting him with an easy boundary second ball, he kindly guided a delivery from myself into Tim’s safe hands behind the stumps.
It’s not always easy coming on first change in a limited-overs match, but the opening pair of Mike and Alan was replaced after six overs each by another bowling combination of Mike and Alan (Shorthouse and Banyard) who bowled their eight-over spells straight though and kept the run rate down with considerable accuracy. By now GM’s opening batsman Matt Shields was looking to attack and punish anything short for four but Mike S produced a beautiful delivery to move back in and clean bowl him. Meanwhile at the other end Alan B kept on the pressure by varying his pace to enable Tim to pull off a superb stumping and then two overs later winning an appeal for LBW. The score was now an unMiltonesque 59-5 off 23 overs and we were optimistic that if the run rate could be controlled for the rest of the innings we were in with a chance.
The score moved steadily along to 82 by which time we had exhausted our supply of Mikes and Alans so Phil White and Neil came on to wrap things up.
Phil clean bowled the no 6 batsman with a quicker ball, an important wicket as he had already scored 23. Both bowlers were then unfortunate to come up against two lower order batsmen who rode their luck with the usual edges through the slips and gully and put on an unbeaten 56 for the 7th wicket in eleven overs. Alan C and myself came back for a couple of overs each at the very end but no great damage was done and the visitors’ innings closed on
138-6 at the end of the allotted forty overs. Everyone had bowled tidily and the fielding was good too, with James and Graham Hawkins patrolling the covers energetically and returning the ball quickly, Phil making a superb stop at extra cover, Simon R saving runs at gully and Tim applying pressure all the time by standing up to the stumps and appealing enthusiastically.
Great Milton 138-6 off 40 overs
- Shields 37
- Prosser 31*
- Stanway 27*
Extras 9 (8w, 1lb)
Fall of wkts: 1-19; 2-25; 3-47; 4-51; 5-59; 6-82 Scoring rate: 10 overs-21 runs; 20 overs-47 runs; 30 overs-83 runs; 40
Mike Jackson 8-1-17-1 (1 wide)
Alan Clark 8-2-26-1 (1 wide)
Mike Shorthouse 8-2-24-1
Alan Banyard 8-0-25-2 (5 wides)
Phil White 4-0-25-1 (1 wide)
Neil Robinson 4-0-20-0
Catches: Tim Littlewood, Phil White (1 each)
Stumping: Tim Littlewood (1)
During an enjoyable tea, kindly provided by Mike Shorthouse, talk turned among other things to whether Holton could make the 139 runs required for victory. Great Milton took the field uniformly resplendent in club sweaters and green caps (subtle hint to committee!) followed by Simon Switala and Alan Banyard to open our account. Alan returned quickly after being bowled in the first over to see if any tea remained, bringing Simon and Tim together for the first major partnership of the innings. Slowly but surely both batsmen found their touch and the score moved along to 32-1 off ten overs.
Tim has shown before that he knows better than anyone how to judge a run-chase and looked in good form for his first innings of the season, driving anything short for four. After a couple of delays while we waited for the heavy rain to clear, the score had moved to 53 when he misjudged a shot to extra cover who gratefully accepted the catch. A fellow left-hander in Graham came and went and the second major partnership of the innings started.
James’s form has been a bit patchy of late, though always threatening, and we hoped that he could at least bat through to the end and enable partnerships to be built around him. He opened his innings with a six over the short legside boundary and was soon back to his best form while Simon continued to pick up runs as well.
The score moved along steadily to 86-3, after a brief hiatus while two members of the local Brains Trust entertained us by steering their motorised skateboard (?) across the outfield. A useful stand then ended with Simon S’s dismissal and we now needed 52 more runs in 14 overs with five wickets gone.
This soon became six wickets as Simon R departed for 2. Having offered at tea to write the match report I decided that a stint of umpiring would provide a better perspective on events and witnessed from close quarters a brief but hectic stand between James and Phil White. This ended when Phil tried to complete a second run which wasn’t quite there and succumbed unluckily to a direct throw.
The run rate was still around four an over and we just needed someone to stay with James while he waited for the one loose delivery in each over to be dispatched swiftly for four. Neil showed his leadership qualities by hanging around long enough to advance the score to 120 and raised the biggest cheer of the day with a pull over square leg to the far boundary.
Unfortunately he couldn’t repeat the shot and was dismissed next ball, bringing about over-excited celebrations by the bowler.
It was looking serious. Alan Clark came out to bat and it seemed that I might have to get padded up in readiness. Approaching the pavilion for a replacement umpire, there were no takers (cheers, lads) until Simon Robinson kindly emerged, clutching a can of post-innings beer/lager. Alan and James kept the score moving along until 133-7 became 133-8 as Alan departed for six to the fourth catch of the innings.
We had reached the final over of the drama with Holton needing five runs to win, two wickets in hand, James facing and Mike Shorthouse, the proud possessor of more ‘not outs’ than any other Holton player in history, at the non-striker’s end. (Un)fortunately the chairman was not present to give his usual rendition of ‘There’s a breathless hush in the Close tonight – Ten to make and the match to win, etc’ but the tension was palpable. Simon enhanced the Robinson family’s reputation for quick-fingeredness by pronouncing James lbw to the first ball of the over from the aforementioned Mr Watts. I managed a single off the second ball, reaching the non-striker’s end well out of harm’s way, leaving Mike S to claim his moment of glory.
The bowling was mean, accurate and right on the stumps and, try as he might, Mike couldn’t force the third, fourth or fifth deliveries past the claustrophobic fielding cordon. With no more batsmen to come he had to wait till the last ball for a big heave down to long-on but we could only manage two and had fallen at the final hurdle by just a single run. A game which had ebbed and flowed throughout like an England-Portugal match finally finished at 8.40 pm (!) with the narrowest of margins.
It was left to El Presidente Robert to present the Audley-Miller plate to the victorious Great Milton captain and the Roger Pridmore Man of the Match virtual Rose Bowl (in its absence) to Matt Shields of GM for scoring 37, taking 2-20 in eight overs and producing a direct run-out. As Robert said, it was a very enjoyable game of cricket, regardless of the result, a sentiment endorsed by Neil and hopefully everyone who took part. Finally it was time to adjourn to the Sun and ponder where that extra run might have come from. Both sides bowled and fielded tightly (although apparently Great Milton dropped five catches!) but the crucial difference was probably the unbroken stand by the visitors of 56 for their 7th wkt. We can’t really complain if the last wicket pair need to score the winning runs but such is the glorious uncertainty of village cricket!
Holton 137-9 off 40 overs
Simon Switala bowled 21
Alan Banyard bowled 0
Tim Littlewood caught 37
Graham Hawkins caught 2
James Race lbw 45
Simon Robinson caught 2
Phil White run out 3
Neil Robinson bowled 8
Alan Clark caught 6
Mike Shorthouse not out 2
Mike Jackson not out 1
Extras 10 (1nb, 7w, 1b, 1lb)
Fall of wkts: 1-0 (batsman 2); 2-53 (3); 3-58 (4); 4-86 (1); 5-91 (6); 6-96 (7); 7-120 (8); 8-133 (9); 9-134 (5) Scoring rate: 10 overs-32 runs; 20 overs-58 runs; 30 overs-100 runs; 40
Result: Great Milton won by one run
Roger Pridmore Man of the Match Rose Bowl: Matt Shields (Great Milton)
Holton captain’s unofficial Man of the Match: James Race – as Neil says ‘for his mature and sensible batting’. Well done, James and thanks from the stand-in skipper to all the other players for contributing.
That’s my match report for this year! Next Sunday (4th July) we face the Richard Denner XI at home at 2.30 pm – see you then!