Nail-Biting Finish at Spelthorne

Date: 15/08/2020
Opposition: Spelthorne CC
Venue: Spelthorne
Man of the match: Charlie Higgins
Prat of the match: Jacob Povah and Ollie Morjaria

In the absence of a Surrey Challenge Group 913 league fixture, the 4th XI enjoyed a friendly fixture against Spelthorne CC, a side who no one could ever recall playing so I will make the educated guess that it was a new fixture for the club. Even before the game began, there was much hilarity, often provided by the Chuckle brother esque duo of Ben Longhurst and Ollie Morjaria. DOTD was awarded before a ball was bowled, and went to young Jacob Povah who went to Staines and Laleham CC rather than Spelthorne, and Ollie Morjaria who brought an iphone charger despite being asked to provide an aux cord by his chauffer.

In anticipation of the heavy rain forecast, both skippers came to the sensible decision to play a T20 to ensure a full game. Co-Captain Ben Houghton called correctly and decided to bat on a very green track. Houghton – heard comparing himself to Jos Buttler pre game – and Mandeep Singh opened our assault: taking advantage of some early errant bowling Mandeep got straight into his work with some boundaries on both side of the wicket before missing a straight one and being clean bowled. This brought the club’s answer to Rishi Sunak – Tim Sturm – to the crease. While Tim sought to find his timing, Houghton strengthened his Buttler comparisons with some aggressive strokeplay, the highlights being a delightful swivel pull off the back foot. Spelthorne resorted early to defensive fields to try and counter the flashing blade of Houghton, but Ben was still able to locate the gap and run hard. The change of bowling brought antics with it – Houghton was parried for 4 off the spinners’ first ball, whilst at the other end Tim played round a full toss, which clipped leg stump but did not dislodge the bail and ran away for four byes. It was all happening in Spelthorne. Building upon this life that the Spelthorne Leg Stump gave him, Tim proceeded to deposit the spinner over mid wicket for 6 and these experienced campaigners looked to put the pressure on the opposition. However, we stumbled momentarily when Houghton was out caught at long on and Sturm LBW, but this brought more experience to the crease in the form of Daniel Dernford Kemp and Phil Miles. Both took a few balls to locate their timing, but this pair put on 50 for the 4th wicket and ran hard between the wickets. Dan unfurled some majestic straight drives in the latter overs which drew suitable praise from the dugout. The 4s finished on 124-3 off their 20 overs, confident that the bowling line up could defend it.

Ben Longhurst and the Povah Express (once at the correct ground) opened the reply. It was clear from the off that Spelthorne’s No.1 bat was a gun player as he looked very composed and comfortable against Longhurst’s accuracy and Povah’s pace. That was until he was removed by a simply spectacular catch by Charlie Higgins in the gully. Think Ben Stokes at Trent Bridge in the 2015 Ashes, but better. Longhurst offered a modicum of width to the No.1 who absolutely middle It through gully, and looked for all money that it was hurtling to the ropes, until CHiggins plucked a screamer that HAS to be catch of the season. That was the only breakthrough we were able to make in the opening 8 overs as Spelthorne looked comfortable and found the gaps in the field regularly. Ollie Morjaria and Charlie Higgins took over at first chance, with Morjaria getting some good turn and bounce in his first two overs but was not assisted by having to bowl with a very wet ball. Charlie bowled very economically and took a wicket and generated a run out. Dropping and running to anyone who learns to field on the Kingsfield is a foolish mistake, made even more foolish when the fielder in question was Dan Kemp. Aided by good communication from wicket keeper Tom Hopkins, Kemp ran the No.3 out with a direct hit at the bowlers end and started to claw back the momentum in our favour. With 4 overs to go, Le Feuvre and Kemp replaced Morjaria and Higgins, armed with the task of seeing the boys home. A couple of dropped chances did not help our cause but Le Feuvre and Kemp took a wicket each to see Spelthorne leaving six off the last two overs, and then three off the last. Kemp was prolifically accurate and got the equation down to 2 from 2. Sadly the ball ran away for 4 leg byes, and Spelthorne completed a five wicket win.

An enjoyable afternoon had by all, the 4s attention now turns to Kingstonians visit to HQ next week.