Cricket week culminates with a Clemmo classic
|Man of the match:||Tom Clements|
|Prat of the match:||Harry Copeland|
In what was a huge week of cricket across this great land, the weekend of the 13th/14th July would see cricket week culminate in the biggest game of our lifetimes (well, all of us bar your scribe for reasons that will be obvious to most ?). Two fantastic sides, both littered with talented players born overseas, this truly would be one for the ages. As the who’s who of cricket gathered at the home of cricket, anticipation mounted and there was something special in the air.
The sweet smell of Jäger symbolising another successful edition of National DBW day.
I am of course referring to the mighty Wick 1st XI hosting Trinity Mid-Whitgiftian Cricket Club at HQ on a delightful summer Saturday.
After a successful trip to Ashford the prior week, this was an extremely tough 1st XI side to crack into, with just the one like-for-like change made, with leg spinner Mickey making way for bowling all-rounder leg/off spinner Clemmo. As the team congregated early on Saturday morning, it was clear that bowling first would probably be preferable, not because of the conditions that we were greeted with, more because of the damage the aforementioned Jägermeister had done to our batting line-up. In a stroke of good fortune, Captain Copeland lost the toss and TMWCC elected to bat, giving a few sore heads a little bit of time to come good. Being the first return fixture of the season, we had the fortune of knowing exactly what to expect from TMWCC. Whilst having some good young talent in their ranks, holding the key to their fortunes was one man and one man only. When he did not stride to the crease to open the batting as he usually does, eyebrows were raised. Instead, they opted for youth at the top and in return, we would fight fire with fire, opting for youth to open the attack in the form of Nick Browning and Sam Jones. The first ball of the game went for 4 byes, but aside from that, it was a tight start from these two, and it wasn’t long before an opportunity presented itself. A healthy edge to safe hands Sashi at gully. You’d want no-one else there, Sashi takes more of these than he takes Insta selfies, but there was one problem. On this particular opportunity was Sashi opted to use his sternum instead of his hands. Despite this one going begging, it was a good sign and we knew we were close to a breakthrough. Some poor quality chat from our cordon, lowlighted by a disastrous line about Oyster cards for the youth, only fuelled the classy opener as he got into his work nicely. As he went to work, his opening partner had heard enough of the witty repartee from our mob, and decided he was better off dismissed, Browning cleaning him up to leave the score at 33 for 1. Sashi and Tongy were introduced and continued to turn the screws with a quality bowling partnership, building the pressure on the relatively inexperienced pair, and with the score on 76, the classy opener popped up a tough chance to G Tong. Flying through the air to his right, Tongy stuck out the right mitt to take an absolute blinder. 76 for 2, and out came the key man. It was now game on.
Batting at number 4, in a clear sign that he was a little out of touch, we welcomed him to the crease in a typical friendly Wick manner. Whilst I couldn’t hear exactly what Mikey Wood whispered, I am pretty sure it was something along the lines of “welcome to the crease young man. Enjoy your innings”. He gave himself one sighter before rocketing a clip of the pads for 4 with arguably his best shot of the day, a ball later described by Tongy as one of his better ones for the day. From there, it didn’t get much better for us, with some of the purest striking of a cricket ball you’ll see from their key man sending the run rate sky high. There was no margin for error for our bowlers, with seemingly good balls going the distance with this chap. Before long, he had raced to 100 and had pushed their total up to 196. From the time he came in to the time he was dismissed, TMWCC scored 120 runs. He scored a clean 100 of these, but that would be all. Thankfully, deep into the innings was long enough for Blobs to sober up enough to only be seeing one ball, and he took an extremely good catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss him, covering up the earlier work of dropping him when on 97, but my mind escapes me as to who was the culprit… The tail then wagged, dining out on some uncharacteristic tardiness in the field, eventually closing their innings at the 54 over mark, the score reading a formidable 255.
The mood turned to food. Your scribe was in the rare and extremely fortunate position of having Ken’s Michelin-Star clubhouse lunch for consecutive weeks, and for those that are aware of my work, you’ll no that I am not one who is shy of a feed, and definitely not one to push the table away. After a tough graft in the July sun, tea was extremely well received. We filled our boots, and quickly Matty D and Blobs turned their appetite to runs. Copious amounts of them. We were absolutely not daunted by this total. 256 to win off 46. Absolutely achievable with a strong batting line-up and the knowledge that TMWCC had struggled with the ball in hand this season. Even so, a strong start was pivotal. Unfortunately, their opening bowler took a very sharp catch to remove Blobs early, not the quality of Tongy’s from earlier in the day, but a sharp snaffle nonetheless. Caleb strode out to the centre of the sunbathed top oval and joined Matty D, and despite the early Blobs setback, spirits were still high. Caleb is a man who has future match winner written all over him, and that is not the only trait he shares with another weekend match-winner in Ben Stokes. Both built like the proverbial outhouse, both have more visible ink than visible skin, and both born in New Zealand. If this 255 was going to be troubled, Caleb would play a key part. Early doors he played second fiddle to Matty D, who hit some vintage Matty D drives to get the score racing. However, with the score on 41, Matty went for one too many and, unfortunately, picked him out, he picked him out, he picked him out for good. Caleb then partnered with Mikey Wood and the two set about this score. Again, Caleb’s partner Mikey was the aggressor, launching a couple of huge straight sixes of their young leggy, before going for one too many, and edging off with his score on 25 and the team score on 76.
Making his way into the middle at #5 was the newly promoted Clemmo, to join forces with Caleb, who was now making batting look easy as the bowlers began to tire in the aforementioned July sun. Fair to say it had been a very tough week to be an Australian. They do not cope with defeat very well, mainly because it is a term unfamiliar to them, and when it is to the hands of the mother country, it is for some reason even harder to take, despite the copious amounts of love between the two nations. The insipid performance put in by Aaron Finch and his men on Thursday was somewhat softened for Clemmo by being named in the 3 greatest Aussies to have rolled through the Wick, arguably a greater accomplishment than winning a world cup (or 5) anyway. The fact that you managed to find 3 great Australians worthy of a tweet was remarkable enough, an oxymoron if you will. Buoyed by this little win, Clemmo and Caleb were out to put in a true ANZAC performance and get us to this target. Clemmo scratched his way through his first 15 balls before managing to get one away, and then the boys marched on like so many ANZACs before them. The required rate was well under control, the bowlers were tiring, and we were growing ever more confident. Scoring became easier and soon enough Caleb was raising the bat for a superb 50. However, soon after, Caleb was undone by a well-flighted delivery from their left-armer, putting an end to the ANZAC stand with the partnership 68 and the score on 144. After a near MW performance the week prior, MPG charged out to the middle with more confidence than Tommy Fury, just with a slightly less chiselled rig, and he was ready to deliver the knockout blow. Unfortunately it was short-lived for MPG this week, caught at square leg by his sparring partner for the day. It was left to Browning and Clemmo to steady the ship, and the two put on 40-odd before Clemmo’s innings was ended on 81 trying to paddle out down to 3rd man. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the day was discovering the strike rate of the normally turgid Clemmo, a massive 129! By this stage, the score had rocketed up to 207 and with plenty of overs left, the win was still very much within grasp. Sternum Sashi came and went quickly, and then it was left to Captain Copeland and Brown sauce to steer us home. Once we secured the winning draw score of 219, attention then turned to the 8 an over required to win what would be a truly brilliant chase. Unfortunately we could not get the 256 runs required, and as a couple more wickets fell, it was left to the departing Sammy Jones to face out the final 5 balls to secure a winning draw. It was a nervy ending to a great game, and Sammy handled with aplomb, securing the winning draw for the Wick, finishing on 238 for 9.
This was probably a game where we were 10% off our normal high standards in the field which made the chase 50 more than it should have been. Notwithstanding, we did extremely well to get so close to the formidable target set by TMWCC, who were carried by their key man who had a day out. MoM was awarded to Clemmo for restoring a modicum of Aussie pride, and DoD awarded to Captain Copeland for being the culprit of the aforementioned fielding calamities, breaking his sunglasses in the process. We consolidate 4th spot on the table, and march ahead to a crucial 4th v 5th place clash next week as we venture to Old Pauline, looking to repeat the dominant performance of the round 2 fixture which saw a dominant Wick victory. Up the almighty Wick.