On a day by no means as sweltering as the Saturday that preceded it The Exiles arrived in plenty of time, lost the toss and were asked to field. Holybourne CC in the pretty Hampshire village of that name, home of Exile Kevin Hobley, were our genial hosts for the first of what hopefully will become a regular feature. The square hides the ruins of a Roman settlement, which the groundsman is forbidden to dig up so it's undulating nature can only be dampened by top dressing. Consequently the ball tends to bounce in a variable manner, making the batsman's life tricky. Suffice to say there were no Centurions walking off the pitch this day. Everything was as pukka as village Cricket can be and hopefully the test-sized sightscreens won't diminish the rural idyll once they are completed. Doubts were raised as to their stability in a gale once the uPVC planking is in place. There is already a prize offered for the first batsman to hit one on the full, perhaps from the coach's pocket to encourage straighter hitting on this capricious wicket. Said Coach, Peter Taylor, is the only member of the League Champion Saturday team to bolster the Sunday friendly team, which in best English tradition is made up of all ages. Stuart Lindsay swung the ball prodigiously in the heavy atmosphere to remove Taylor for a duck. Paul Shorrock came down the hill for a spell that yielded a few chances and not many runs. Steve Du Preez's slow left arm is becoming a fixture in The Exiles bowling attack, and up the hill he found some turn and bounce troubling all who faced him. P Kelly and Errol Pinnock, the Captain, hit some lusty boundaries, Errol preferring the squarer route, Kelly the straighter but not much use was made of the quick single. Steve's first wicket was almost entirely due to the unpredictable bounce, Captain Errol lbw on the back foot, second bounce. Stephen O'Connor bowled his improving seamers, taking a while to find his line and length and overstepping again, but patience was rewarded as he zeroed in on off stump. His girlfriend Freddie had made the long train journey to watch him in action so perhaps that inspired him. He removed top scorer P Kelly for 35 and after that the two "Swazi Steves" exerted control over the middle order. Close fielders were brought in and Stephen was the most successful of these, pouching two catches at silly mid off. He also collected two more wickets, removing "Forrest" Croucher, the groundsman and S Legg. He arrived with The Exiles describing himself a batsman and a net bowler but to date he has made more of an impression with the ball. Hopefully his batting will be given opportunity to shine soon. Steve Du Preez bowled all eight off the reel picking up four wickets and assuming the vacant mantle of all-rounder. Vincent Brooks wrapped up the tail with an inside edge and a clean bowled allowing "local" boy Kevin just the one over that he claims was a maiden but the book has a single against him. Holybourne all out for 88 in the 29th over. Tea was still being prepared so there was time for half an hour of The Exiles' innings before the break.
|P Taylor||Bowled||S Lindsay||0|
|P Kelly||Bowled||S D O'Connor||35|
|E Pinnock||lbw||S Du Preez||16|
|P Croucher||Ct.||S D O'Connor||7|
|M Colbran||Ct. S D O'Connor||S Du Preez||0|
|S Legg||Bowled||S D O'Connor||0|
|R Kelly||Bowled||V Brooks||5|
|J Ianos||Ct||S Du Preez||9|
|J Rogers||Ct||S Du Preez||3|
|P Legg||Bowled||V Brooks||2|
|Total||28.2 overs||Extras 10||89 all out|
|S D O'Connor||7||2||21||3|
|S Du Preez||8||0||26||4|
Kevin and Doug Macintyre saw through to tea with no loss for 24 runs after 9 overs. There were some chances and a mighty six from Doug but the generally softly-softly approach was paying off in approaching the modest target. In the first over after tea Doug attempted a big drive with little footwork and was bowled by Croucher who as the groundsman and an intimate knowledge of where to pitch his slow off breaks for maximum effect. The "pie effect" suggested the home team who know a thing or two about post-tea droop. Tony and Kevin then added another twelve runs before Tony cut at a wide one from Croucher straight to the young man at point who held it well. This brought newly signed Terron Miller to the crease, a relaxed Jamaican who disdains to take a guard. His first ball was full and cut in at him trapping him on the crease right in front, he had to go, lbw first ball. This brought Nick Harrison, another new member, out to face the hat-trick ball. Kevin at the non-strikers end advised "straight bat!". Nick took guard then retreated outside leg about a foot, contrary to the Laws but probably acceptable in the circumstances the umpire pointed out that he was a foot from his guard. Then with the men of Holybourne encircling him tightly Croucher bowled another, straighter, fuller delivery. Nick aimed to play it to square leg, missed and was as lbw as can be. A Hat Trick in his last over, Croucher was mobbed by his team mates and congratulated by all. It later transpired that Kevin's entreaty to play straight was misinterpreted by Nick as a comment on how he was carrying his bat! Game on then, as the Exiles slump to 37 for 4 with 53 still needed for victory. Fortunately Roric Coleman is in great form and he and Kevin steadied the ship. Roric should serve as inspiration to the new guys who are wondering where their next run is coming from. He had never played before joining The Exiles to keep his mates Steves Little and Du Preez company. He has turned himself into a hard hitting batsman/wicket keeper, as pivotal role in the team as you can get. It didn't happen overnight but his positive attitude has dragged his technique from rudimentary to destructive. His good natured competitive rivalry with fellow South Africans Steve and Rob sometimes overshadows their rivalry with the opposition but it has spurred all three of them on to great performances in adversity. Kevin caused some mild palpitations when he was caught off a no-ball but the pair husbanded the score on to 60 before he was caught off a legitimate delivery. His watchful twenty was the bedrock for The Exiles reply and a useful recuperation for both his damaged hand and his shaky start to the season. His departure brought together pals Steve and Roric, and although it was too far to tell from the boundary I'm sure they had grins on their faces as they egged each other on, scampering twos. The returning Colbran got his figures dented, then injured his arm and retired. Steve launched a mighty six over mid-wicket off P Kelly and it slowly dawned on Vincent that his much improved batting was not going to be called upon. Steve Du Preez finished it with an emphatic boundary. Stephen looked more relieved than disappointed too as it was handshakes all round and fire up the barbecue time.
I hope all the Exiles managed to make it home safely after the post-match conviviality, much lubricated by local Moon Dancer Ale. All expressed a desire to repeat the fixture, certain batsman notwitstanding. Lets hope the Groundsman "Forrest" Croucher, manages to keep the ghosts of those Roman antecedents resting in peace.
That's Out! Paul Shorrock relives the only hat trick he'll ever have a hand in.
|K Hobley||Ct||P Kelly||20|
|S Du Preez||Not||Out||15|
|S D O'Connor||,||,||,|
|Total||40 overs||for 5 Wickets||92|
Holybourne bowling figures:
Next up The Occasionals at home.