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The Chalfont St. Peter match usually proves much more entertaining and this didn't disappoint. Graeme Paskins (70) and Craig (50) helped us up to 189 and a good all-round team effort saw us miss out on a deserved win by just one wicket Graeme completing a good game clean bowling three.
The Harrow-on-the-Hill match was significant for the injury that Mike Bradley picked up whilst bowling foolishly ignoring the sudden pain in his knee to complete a miserly spell of bowling, much to his cost later on. Colin Callaghan picked up 3 wickets in a rare outing out of the 3rds.
Our encounter with Vale, played as a 45 over match saw the team soundly beaten although Craig picked up another 50 as he continued his good run of early season form.
Jeff Mooney finally began his season, against Amersham Hill, in the first league match to be completed (our first league fixture against eventual champs Wargrave having been abandoned the week before). A series of dropped catches let them reach 234 and our batting was about as effective as the fielding with only Richard Wijeyesekera and Simon Goodrham, undefeated on 51, saving the match whilst everyone else contributed little.
Both Aussies got fifties against a weak Redingensians team but it was John Clark with 86, his highest ever first XI score, that featured as our biggest contributor to the score which proved far too much for the visitors. Young Jamie Bannister was thrown the ball at the end and finished them off with a couple of wickets in his only over.
At Little Marlow they played with only two batsmen with any idea how to bat and thanks to poor fielding, including dropping one of them off the first ball of the match, allowed the pair to score 213 out of 256. Jeff Mooney gave an all to brief display of his league intentions scoring fifty off 22 balls but slow batting at the other end ensured another low points score. The only highlight, in the second half, was their off-spinner being read the riot act by their umpire for insisting on bowling in a bright yellow flower pot hat.
Simon Wigmore's excellent 4-46 against Windsor set up an easy victory with our very strong batting line up racing to 209 in 36 overs Jeff scoring a rapid 132* to send them home somewhat shell-shocked.
The Hurley league match was a rain interrupted affair and Simon Goodrham's 64 again confirmed his growing value as a top order batsman unfortunately, no-one else seemed so interested in batting and our final 163 appeared completely inadequate. Mike Bradley (still playing but with a worsening knee problem) inspired his troops by red-carding Craig after receiving some unwanted advice about various captaincy decisions and almost yielded an improbable victory Simon picking up another four wickets aided by some tremendous fielding in the gloom by New Zealander Mark Forde (debuting for the firsts) who added two stunning catches to his couple of wickets.
Jeff Mooney (130) was warming up nicely with another big hundred, this time against Odney who in reply were lucky to reach 53 all out they had no answer to Dave Thornley (6-4) and Andrew Mills who picked up two clean bowleds from the two balls he sent down!
The Tour opener against Cadnam started as expected with Paul Bannister delaying the fall of the tour's first wicket until the second ball of the match. Craig smacked an entertaining 75 to set up a good score of 185 which looked good value after Tour debutante Simon Goodrham picked up 3 early wickets. They chased the score all the way to contribute to a fine match which saw them finish five short with a wicket left.
National Gin & Tonic day started late at 11.30am only once the taste for beer was lost but fortunately, the tragic call of tonic running out only delayed the game for ten minutes before we put together a good score of 207 against Brockenhurst - Chris Lowe top scoring with 55* and Jeff scoring 52 in 13 scoring shots. According to the score book, the start time for the Brockenhurst innings was when Wells finishes his tea - the stage was then set for Wigmore and Kinrade to bowl marathon spells before a surprise wicketless tour-spell from Greg Lightfoot ensured another close draw.
Cadnam's Aussie Dale McDonald played for us against Paultons and didn't do too badly - in a low scoring match he top scored with a fifty out of 132-9 and then helped win us the match taking five wickets and the small matter of five catches, three of them caught and bowled.
Having been caught out last year by playing a league match disastrously after the tour week we had the good sense to take the weekend off before the next league match, this time at Wraysbury. Gordon Morgan has a big bat and a big league hundred against us in his only previous match against us but Craig sent him back for a duck after the ball rolled gently back on to the stumps off his leg. They scored slowly without losing wickets until Simon Wigmore came on and bowled a tremendous 15 over spell picking up 52-5 with Andrew Mills doing well behind the stumps catching one and stumping two. New recruit Wayne Newman played his first match for the club after defecting from Farnham Royal bringing a new option to the attack with his leg-spin and was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket. Paul Tarn was captain for the day and continued with the policy of opening the batting with Jeff and Craig and they steered the score to a patient 70 off the first twenty overs. Jeff batted beautifully with previously unnoticed maturity but even though we were chasing only 174 we still managed to bat with suicidal carelessness at the other end including two run outs (Richard actually being run out before facing a ball by Jeff who appeared to attempt a body check to ensure Richard's demise!). Jeff steered his way to a superb match winning century but was stopped when the skipper, coming in at nine, scored a couple of boundaries to effect the win all this was enacted in front of a disbelieving and nervous Mike Bradley who both wanted the side to get their first win but also worried by the thought of his promise to buy Jeff a meal if he could get a league hundred; stand-in captain had saved him on both counts.
Frensham saw a good team effort and we won with ease Simon Goodrham enjoying his time as captain, both top scoring and organising his bowlers and fielders with get confidence and skill.
Taplow were playing well now and Penn & Tylers Green arrived, lost the toss and their top order collapsed completely within 19 overs. Reduced to 55-6 with Craig swinging the ball yards and Jonathan Kellett bowling with genuine pace and aggression - actually bouncing someone out after the batsman had decided to stand his ground after snicking it to the wicketkeeper the ball before. Considering the start they had you can understand why they were so delighted with their final score of 203 all out. Still, Jeff was determined to get his hundred and this time he managed it just scoring 101* as we cruised to an eight wicket win with ten overs to spare. The win on the following day against Littlewick Green made it five wins in a row Craig's good Sunday form continuing with a powerful 69 and Simon Christy and Jon Wrapson contributing well with the result decided with 3 balls remaining.
Coleshill's league match was played on a very hot day and Mike's choice to field backfired as they amassed 281-5. All we could do was grind out a draw with Richard (62*) and Wayne putting on 65 runs at the end to bring us to some sort of respectability. Wayne actually was out on the penultimate ball of the match forcing Mike to hobble to the non-strikers end for the last ball his last playing contribution of the year.
Back to winning ways on Sunday though, Malvern Wayfarers were sent home with time to spare after Craig's 66* - earlier though Wayfarer's opening bowler had scored what must surely be the worst fifty ever seen at Taplow's hallowed ground.
Winchmore Hill arrived the week after and put together an opening stand of 160 but we fielded well and they never kicked on and finished on 206-4, Simon Goodrham getting 3 of them. A good batting line up including Graeme Paskins spluttered a little, early on, but four scores in the twenties and another excellent knock from Richard (65*) saw us to an easy win. A low key defeat against Marlow in a 40 over match followed seeing an end to a 12 match undefeated run which included nine wins. A mid-week draw against the Stage XI, with Jeff starring with 90 runs, turned out to be a warm up for the league match against reigning champions Amersham Hill.
The weather conditions were described as V. Hot which neatly described the Taplow batting as well. We got 50 after 8 overs, 100 after 14, 150 after 21 and 200 after 27. In a hundred over match when do you declare when this is going on?! Jeff was doing most of the damage with his hundred coming off just 73 balls. James Brewer, playing his first match in the first XI since his knee injury a year before was scoring well at the other end but as Jeff passed 150 (and his 1000 for the season it was still only 10th July) then 175 he slowed down to ensure no careless mistake could rob him of an extraordinary double century. 250 arrived in the 37th over, 300 in the 47th and then in the final over of the innings and with Jeff on 199, James called for three, Jeff pulled up with a groin strain going for the third and collapsed in a heap. After five minutes he recovered sufficiently to push a single to give him his two-hundred in 168 balls. He was out next ball going for the league record of 202! We declared there on 335, the Club's highest ever score. In reply Russell Owens scored 84 in 55 balls and Amersham actually reached one hundred quicker than we did but then wickets fell and with it their faint hopes of winning. Ross Dunlop (35-3) bowled well but it wasn't enough to win the match. 621 runs had been scored for 14 wickets by the end of this amazing match. A wonderful weekend of cricket was completed when we beat Burnham on the Sunday with Graeme Paskins (102*) and Craig (74) largely responsible for the 8 wicket win. Craig incidentally was now on 969 runs for the season.
The sun continued to shine and with it Jeff's batting. He smashed 160 (in 38 overs) against Little Marlow and this time we managed to win with two great spells from Chris Lowe along with some excellent bowling from Ross and Jon Wrapson assisted by good work behind the stumps by Gerry Bowyer.
Young Andrew Hill scored a good 67* in the 45 over match against Holyport and the continued good bowling from Ross (39-3 in 16 overs) helped contain them. We were then slaughtered by a strong touring Newport I.O.W. team before we met a much strengthened Hurley side who had added a couple of South Africans to their already strong team. On a very hot day, dreadful fielding and poor bowling meant that they hardly broke into a sweat as they raced to 299-4. Jeff completely failed caught on the boundary on 99! and we gave up the chase shortly afterward in the face of an impressive five wicket spell from one of their new stars. Jeff beat 106 off 73 balls the next day with John Clark (63) putting on 164 for the first wicket. Our final score turned out to be 202 runs too many for a demoralised Bledlow Ridge team.
By this time it was clear Mike would not play again this season and Chris Paskins took over with the team well placed in the league and a crunch match against top of the table Wargrave next. On yet another hot day the toss was won and we decided to bat. After ten minutes, and still in the second over, the Wargrave umpire was seriously considering timing the new skipper out as he desperately padded up with his team three down including Mooney out with a second ball duck what a start! Fortunately, Craig was still there and looking very much focused on a battle he had been going through a bad patch and still hadn't reached his 1000 despite playing every match since Burnham. Together they staged a good recovery taking the score up to 82. Shortly after Chris was out though Craig (54) followed and despite a resilient hour long innings from Jonathan Kellett the rest of the team collapsed quickly afterwards. Wargrave were in for a shock though and it centred on tremendous bowling from Craig who destroyed their top order. A wicket fell in six of his first seven overs and Wargrave looked down and out at 31-6. A dropped catch and perhaps a lack of the killer instinct let them get back into it however, but they still needed seven runs when Craig had returned to take their ninth wicket to no avail though as they just managed to limp home.
Wooburn Narkovians were beaten easily the following day but it wasn't quite as straightforward as it seemed. We failed to build on a good opening stand between Jonathan Kellett and Kevin Dilly. Still with a batting line up with Mooney at 5, Windus at 6 and Graeme Paskins at 7 it shouldn't have been a problem perhaps normally, but both Aussies were clean bowled for ducks in the same over to send the lower order into panic! Graeme tends to operate at a hundred levels above the rest though and he put together a faultless century with Andrew Mills in support as the two put on a record seventh wicket partnership worth 125*.
The return league fixture against Wraysbury was ruined by Gordon Morgan who managed to get the big hundred he expects when he turns up at Ten Acres. Paul Tarn saved the match with a steady 46* having recovered from a Morgan mauling while bowling (his last over included 3 huge sixes). A damp, cheerless weekend was completed the next day against Cookham Dean where we managed to get bowled out for 68 for no real apparent reason!
Over the years we tend to play at Penn & Tylers Green on overcast, damp days and this one was no exception. Everyone bowled well although Wayne Newman with 21-2 off his first ten overs and Simon Wigmore were exceptional. They still managed to reach 244 but Jeff was really looking forward to batting on a ground with such short boundaries and the chase was on from the start. Jeff (64) and Craig set off at more than ten an over and despite both getting out (both LBW to Penn's infamous umpire) the hundred was reached within 15 overs. Andrew Mills and Richard Wiji were batting beautifully before Andrew tragically ran himself out to a remarkable throw from the boundary. Seconds later William had been caught for a golden duck and Richard was bowled. We still had Ross (36) though who launched a ferocious attack against the Penn bowling. With the skipper, a timely fifty partnership saw the score race to within 20 runs of victory. But again the wheels fell off and we lost quick wickets when Mark Forde became the umpire's third victim our chance of winning the league had gone another great chance to win a match had been thrown away. Straight forward wins on Sunday resumed though as Addlestone were thumped the following day with Gerry Bowyer (42) dominating a winning opening stand with that other youngster, John Clark.
Coleshill arrived for their league match knowing that only a win would do to remain in the top flight so they decided to bat once the toss had been won. Craig clean bowled their opener in his first over but the rest batted well throughout. Wayne continued his good form picking up two wickets and Jonathan Kellett deserved his two after a tremendous second spell. Our batting, though, was dreadful. Of the top six, 20 runs were shared between five of them. Fortunately, the sixth player was Jeff who had been stung into action with the knowledge that he hadn't got a hundred for five matches! The score was 160-6 when he was out for a marvellous 128. At that stage though we could easily have folded but Paul Tarn and Simon Wigmore batted together intelligently and we edged toward the victory Jeff's innings merited. Madness caused a mix-up that saw Paul run out but then Jonathan Kellett took up the challenge and their hard work took us to within 6 runs with 2 wickets left at the start of the last over. Four runs were scored for one wicket and we could do no better than a draw perhaps little more than we deserved though.
Simon Wigmore (31-3) bowled well in our 40 over match against High Wycombe. Jeff and Craig's opening partnership of 91 in eleven overs threatened to break the quickest hundred stand (if there was one) and young Jeffrey Brown's 28 was very proficient and must have impressed his father who later helped out with two runs of his own! The President's match enjoyed very good weather and Mark Forde starred for Taplow in the first half with 3 wickets. Jonathan Kellett picked up the prized wicket of William Midlane (!) but not before he had scored 102 for his dad. In reply, Dave Holland soon succumbed to the barracking from the sidelines but we kept up with the pace thanks to powerful displays from Graeme Paskins (64), Jeff (49) and particularly Andrew Mills who could have scored anything between 65 and 85 depending on which numbers you believe in the score book! Well done Brian Wells for effortlessly standing in for 3 New Zealand test players!
The last league match was against Winchmore Hill. Thanks to a run of low point scoring matches we were lying seventh and actually needed 2 points to ensure that we didn't end up being relegated! They put us in despite only having nine players at the start and the carnage commenced. I always look to have about 80 off the first twenty overs, by then Jeff, Craig and Paul Tarn (72) had taken the score to 148 and were still going. Jeff finally decided to give someone else a go and holed out on 135 an amazing 1109 league runs in the year and smashing the previous record of 888 by miles. Richard came in and scored 40 in minutes including some of the most attractive shots seen all year. We reached 291 after 38 overs (making the innings against Amersham look quite pedestrian) and declared soon after on 300 to avoid any embarrassment with the hosts. As we took to the field after tea María called the skipper off and took him to hospital in response to a scare involving their nephew. Paul Tarn took over and, despite the precarious position of the match and losing their top bowler, made the most of the difficult situation. Wayne and Simon opened the bowling and soon removed the top three then Craig was brought on, and with the stand in skipper, helped themselves to the rest.
The twenty five points from the last game and some curious results elsewhere saw the team rocket up the table to third. A great finish in the first year of the new format league and what price wins in the Wargrave, Penn and Coleshill matches... ah, if only!
The last few matches were played mostly on dark, wet days those that were played at all that is. Craig's last innings, against Brockenhurst, also happened to be his highest of the season (84) and his 141 run partnership with Dave Holland formed the foundations of a match winning total. The old boys Ian Kinrade (60-3) and Colin Callaghan (52-4) did the damage with the ball.
The forty over affair against West Middlesex was something of a mismatch though William Midlane did well, taking charge now that Craig had returned home. Paul Bannister surprised and certainly impressed onlookers with an aggressive 57* and Jonathan Kellett was effective with 24*. Their opener rode his luck to begin with but once he got going our 170 looked about 100 short!
In what turned out to be our last match, against Farnham Royal, Dave Holland took a bit of time to get going and fell on his sword just as he (and Mike) had just started to open up. James Brewer bludgeoned 45 including three consecutive sixes and Jon Wrapson entertained with a fine 39. The rain was coming down hard by the start of their innings making bowling difficult. Mark Forde bowled well in those trying conditions with no luck and they seemed to be coasting to victory. Enters Ross Dunlop, stage right. A devastating spell of four wickets in six overs rocked them. Dave Thornley turned the screw and in the fading light Chris Lowe completed a wonderful comeback as the batsman guided the ball to gully where Chris Paskins clung on to the catch for his first real win!
Thanks to all our umpires especially Dave, George and Simon and to María, Laura and the wonderfully named Louise Delahoussaye for scoring. All we need is Saga Wijeyesekera to continue her training and we can boast some of the longest scorer surnames in the country. Last but not least thanks to our excellent tea ladies, on many occasions we've been told that we are surely being treated to the best teas in the area every week.