Good afternoon all,
Mount visited Felsted School on Sunday to face the Robins. The glorious setting and continuing spectacular weather ensured we all arrived in good spirits for what has been a challenging fixture for Mount in the past. Our record of no wins and two convincing defeats did not augur well but, with the sun shining and the backdrop stunning, any trepidation soon gave way to anticipation and excitement.
With the toss lost, it looked like we may have to sweat out the hottest part of the day in the field. However, following some Jedi mind trickery, the Felsted captain agreed that it WAS better that they field – its not just match reports and availability requests you know!
We opened with Charlie Lockhart and Max Dunn who got us off to a cracking start putting on 65 for the first wicket at around 6 per over. Max eventually trapped LBW by the ever youthful Simon Mather, for 30. Simon Jackson joined Charlie, who continued to flourish while the President was struggling to find his touch. Approaching halfway, Charlie reached his 50 and the opposition turned to Mount favourite, Sam Weller, to try his luck with his spin bowling. Straight away he began to cause problems. Jackson, was still searching for fluency when, having been pinned down by a few tricky deliveries from Weller, he gave him the charge, missed the ball and was bowled. 96/2 after 17. Paul Offord the new man, found Weller equally difficult to pick and, after adding four, went in the same fashion.
Debutant Mike Boyce came in at no.5, upping our quota of bearded players and garnering more nicknames on his first day than many players achieve in an entire career. Charlie sailed imperiously on, seemingly untroubled by whatever the opposition bowlers tried and unbothered by a wicketkeeper who clearly had the volume turned up to 11! Felsted ‘keeper Nick Harrison kept us amused throughout with his commentary and friendly sledging and clearly is highly accustomed to public speaking.
As Charlie neared his century and Mike grew in confidence, the partnership grew to 50 runs. The partners looking like a young Alastair Cook and a young Peter Sutcliffe/Jesus/Charles Manson/young Jimmy Hill/older George Best ( I told you there were a lot!) surged on, Charlie the senior partner and Mike the able support.
Charlie soon reached his century – an excellent knock in which he rarely looked troubled and was the cornerstone of our innings. Having reached 3 figures he looked to his captain on the side-lines, wondering if he should retire - he was studiously ignored.
In the 32nd over, having added 55 the partnership was finally broken with Che Guevara run out with the score on 173. Up stepped vice-captain, Dave Summers, and he and Charlie added an impressive 31 runs off 18 balls. This included 19 off the last over – a huge 6 and a single to Charlie and 3 fours for Dave. We closed on 204/4 from our 35 overs. This beat our previous highest total vs the Robins, by 50 runs - an excellent achievement. However, with the opposition known to have their fair share of batting, a decent track and a lightning outfield, it was felt that we may be a few runs light.
Tea was taken at the Chequers Public House on the boundary - I really do like this place!
Felsted’s openers, Hance and Weller, strode to the crease. We knew well the threat Weller posed, as he has performed so well for Mount down the years, but we would just have to deal with that. The captain was keen to start with Duffin and Dunn, the alliterative dynamic Dunster duo, but it was felt that a new ball would not suit Dunn’s “leggies” – it needed some wear and tear quickly – the Captain was the man for the job! If anyone can get that ball roughed up by being repeatedly hit into the school buildings, its the skipper.
Duffin’s first over yielded just one run off the last ball, Weller retaining the strike. Foley bowled the second over and the plan started to work – 3 fours all into the car park or the school building. Duffin’s second over was eventful. A four was soon followed by a very loud LBW appeal – Mather, the umpire, was unconvinced but received extensive and, we hope, helpful feedback on his decision from both bowler and Captain. A second four was scored before another great LBW shout – the umpire had no option this time and raised his finger. We were pleased that he had taken on board our advice and guidance. 21/1 off 3.
Felsted had obviously rumbled our plan and only took one boundary from the next 2 overs. In the sixth over,
Weller helped himself to one more four before being trapped LBW by Foley. This was starting to get interesting – 40/2 from 6.
One more over for Duffin before time for a change - Max “the magician” Dunn for Foley, Paul “PMac” McKeon for Duffin. Max, benefitting from the quickly aged ball struck with his second delivery - an absolute peach that turned a mile from outside leg to hit middle and off. 52/3 . At the other end PMac bowled well without luck, but with relative economy. Noisy Nick Harrison, an accomplished batsman had come in at no. 5 and set about his work well. Where others had struggled to master Dunn’s spin and variation, he attacked – sweeping and pulling, always hitting with the spin, to great effect.
The total started to climb and after 14 overs, Felsted were closing in on 100. Dunn had lost a little of his magic and it was time to try something different. Something to put the pressure back on them. Something they weren’t expecting – it was time for “Golden Arm”. Paul Southward was summoned from long on, where he had done an excellent job of man-marking the sightscreen out of the game thus far. His first over was solid, the tension from the batsmen was tangible - barring one huge six, clearly borne out of the batsman’s panic. His second over was where he came into his own – just a single from the first 3 balls then his moment. The batsman, caught brilliantly by Lockhart off a ball that did so much in the air that any overall movement was imperceptible but it was up there so long that it became almost unplayable. A breakthrough. 127/4.
His next victim had even less chance - as plumb an LBW as you are ever likely to see. The ball threatened to swing, dip and spin but, wisely decided against all three, leaving its victim powerless and somehow transfixed, unable to move as it crashed into his front pad, low down in front of middle. 127/5. Game on!
One more over from our 24 Carat Golden Arm saw him to tidy figures of 2/16. Lockhart had tried from the other end, but was understandably a little weary after his knock and was replaced by Jack Summers, who like McKeon, bowled well without luck.
During this spell we had a heart-stopping moment when, following a most uncharacteristic misfield from Dunn at mid-on, Max turned to chase down the ball to atone for his error, only to find Toby Duffin haring round from deep mid-off – hang on, we’ve seen this before. Our minds flashed back to Canewdon, that time it was Southward trying to atone for a misfield, whereas now it was Dunn – the common factor was Duffin. Surely, not again. Surely, he would not take out another teammate with a throw – his unique Viking retribution for fielding errors is well known – but surely not now, not here! Southward was only returning to action today following near-fatal, light bruising. Duffin fielded the ball and we held our breath. Dunn is too young for this - oh the humanity! Thankfully, Duffin remembered Max has a good arm and gave him the ball to throw back – crisis averted, Max escaped unscathed. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
Harrison was still there, his scoring progress as serene as his ‘keeping was loud - what can we do to break his concentration? He requested a “comfort break” - an opportunity? A plan was needed. Off he went to answer the call of nature. Upon his return, he picked up his gloves and made his way towards the crease – but something was missing – where was his bat? Had he lost it? Had it been stolen? Had a large bird of prey mistaken it for food and carried it away? Had we hidden it? Maybe, but where? After a few minutes of confusion he approached our Captain to ask if he knew anything of the whereabouts of his bat. As he drew near, he became aware of the outline of an alien object, within the skippers trousers – when challenged there was nothing else to do but confess that yes, we had hidden it and yes, we had selected my trousers as the best hiding place. Did our plan work? Did we disrupt him? Not sufficiently.
Mike Boyce took over from 24 Carat, with his left arm, medium pace bowling offering another useful variation – and achieving remarkably similar results! A wicket in each of his second and third overs - both bowled - saw a late Felsted stumble - 170/5 becoming 175/7 – still a chance. He could have had one more but a top edge to a full bunger, hit Paul Offord, standing up at ‘keeper straight in the throat. A tough chance admittedly and a little painful. Contributions with bat and ball (also 2/16) made it a great debut for the young/old [insert name of bearded person here]. A gent and a welcome addition to the club. Thanks Michael.
With plenty of overs left this was going to be about removing Noisy Nick and bowling them out, defence was not an option. To the wicket came Bury, a Goliath of a man - his style suggested he was going to score quickly or leave quickly – alas, it was to prove the former. 4 fours in the last couple of overs proving decisive as he and Harrison saw Felsted home to victory by 3 wickets.
As suspected our total proved just a little light, but it was a damn fine effort from the team and certainly the closest we have come to beating the Robins. More importantly, as we retired to Chequers to discuss the game with our hosts, the conversation was all about what a fantastic day it had been, how much fun we’d had, and how we all looked forward to doing it again next year. At Mount, we are very fortunate that we get to play at some amazing grounds throughout the year (ACG included) and that almost every game is played in the right spirit. Sunday reminded us how just how fortunate we are.
Next up the Terence Hair 6-a-side tournament, ACG - 19th August – promises to be a fantastic day. More on that soon.