Old Boys v Venturers
Sunday 15th June 2008 at The YMCA, Golden Hill
By SJ Smith
Brimming with confidence we arrived at Golden Hill for our second Sunday match of the season - also our second game against Venturers. Eight wins from nine this season, and seven on the bounce meant that the usual trepidation with which these epic-feeling games are approached was banished in favour of our newly adopted simple mentality - just score more runs than the opposition.
The toss was lost and Venturers put us into bat - Ed and Phil striding out to the crease in the early afternoon sunshine to the ripples of applause and encouragement from the rest of us. Phil lined a few up and looked to have found his eye and his range, making a swift 11 before his timbers were sent spiralling by a straight one. Venturers were bowling well but steady Eddy looked reassuringly solid. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Clements who came and went in whirl of fresh-air baseball shots. Al Pearce - making a welcome return to the team and playing his first of the season - looked to settle in with Ed, but lack of time in the middle betrayed him as he prodded at a wide one which looped to slip. Gone for four and suddenly we were on the rack.
In came Sgt Junior - a revelation with the bat this season - and he and Ed made a recovery, taking the total over 100 before Mike was bowled bringing captain Smith to the crease. My arrival fortunately coincided with the worst bowling of the day, repeated beamers and full tosses being dispatched to the boundary as the visitors lost their lines and lengths, and four or five overs later we'd racked up over 150. I then tried to nurdle one round the leg side (I wish I'd just smashed it) and was gone for 28 of the most gift-wrapped runs I've ever scored. In came will and with a platform like that there was no way we were going to hold back on the opportunity to register the first score of over 200 in the Old Boy's history. Will smashed 30 before a leading edge ballooned in the air, and in came Jon.
Now all the while Ed had been solid as a rock down the other end, allowing others to play around him - in many ways the perfect team one-day innings. Anticipation was starting to grow on the sidelines though, and Ed - with the help of a few all-run fours - was entering uncharted territory. The 70s and 80s came and went but so did the overs with Jon contributing a few lusty blows for his part. We were down to the 40th and last over of the innings. Ed's on 94 and Jon's down the other end sweating like it's been him out there for 40 overs - even though it's only been 4. Ed hit's a four off the first with his finest shot of the day, a shimmy down the pitch and a clip through midwicket. Then a single and Jon's on strike which is a worry as he's been getting twitchy of late, but he blocks it and runs and Ed's back on. On 99 with two balls left. A drive for a couple then brings up the much deserved holy-grail hundred to cheers from sidelines and the Old Boys end up with a mammoth 258 for 6 from our 40 overs at more than a run a ball. What an innings from Ed and what a season he's having - now with two 50s and a hundred, all made at a decent lick as well.
And so with Ed close to exhaustion and Jon even closer to a coronary (but with 25 not out to his name) we cheered them off, toasting Ed's ton with a few plastic cups, some water and cheese and pickle sandwiches for tea. Venturers were left wondering what had hit them. Frankly so were we.
Having batted so well taking the field for 40 overs was always going to be a bit of a come-down. And so it proved as Venturers approached their daunting target with determination. The bowling wasn't too bad, but the fielding was probably the worst so far this season - with the notable exception of Al Pearce who contributed a catch and two fine run-outs. I took a couple of wickets but kept up my habit of becoming increasingly expensive and things were looking a bit dodgy for a while until Al's fielding turned things in our favour. We were really missing the slower bowling options of Ashford and Adams in the match, so Will reverted to spinners and James Osmand whirled away at the other end on debut. It was enough to clinch the win with James taking his first two HOB wickets, and Ed capping a fine day by cleaning up the tail.
In all it was a fine batting performance from HOBs and a record breaking day, a hundred more runs than we'd ever scored previously as a team and a first ever personal hundred from Ed also being the first for the club. No prizes for guessing man of the match. Let's hope there's more of the same in store for the Octopodes next weekend….