TMG vs Hammerwood Sep 2011 by EO A.K.A hero!

Stairway to Heaven -TMG v. Hammerwood, 11th September 2011

It was late in the day, but nobody’s thoughts were elsewhere as eyes strained through the gloom. The scores level on 238, the young Hammerwood bowler delivers the last ball of the game. No width, just short of a length but Ian Sewell pushes the ball providentially wide of midwicket for a single. A deep-throated roar was followed by scenes of pandemonium as grown men ran hither and thither, ululating, hugging but mostly shaking their heads in disbelief. This was the Party Seven moment.

The scene was Hammerwood Park, a beautiful fold of countryside on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, one time retreat of Led Zeppelin. There was more than one telly chucked from the window of high dudgeon today as The Greys found their morale being tested more sternly than is usual. The home side started ominously, crashing the usually parsimonious Dave Day and Rocky Hoare for a string of sixes. It was a very small ground but the top order, familiar with the conditions, were cleanly smacking anything full and to a lesser degree anything short. Rocky was withdrawn and Sewell continued his return to reasonable consistency but the first ten overs went for 100.

The first breakthrough came when Sewell had the beefy opener superbly caught at deep midwicket by the immaculate Derek Covill, but the scoring continued apace with the arrival of an old foe, Chappy from Maresfield CC. Much time was spent retrieving the ball from the next field. Captain Biff Line began to berate his teammates for a lack of spirit, which really helped.

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If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow,

Don’t be alarmed now.

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Eventually The Greys got a hold on the game when batsmen two and three were removed, a sharp slip catch by Ibrahim Azami and another excellent one in the deep by Rocky. Too many loose balls were still being bowled and flayed as Hammerwood passed 200, but when batsman four gave a stinging ankle-high catch to Sewell at mid-off from the bowling of Ricky Southon the worst was over. Richie Partridge, Ibrahim and Dave choked off the runs and a more formidable target was avoided. Still, Hammerwood had achieved the notable feat of pressurising The Greys in the field to such an extent that a venerable former Club captain was heard to tell the esteemed current Club Captain to “‘F­­— Off!”

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There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.

In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

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Tea was taken in pleasant Autumn sunshine and washed down with perfectly delicious PG tips – a well-seasoned pot being the secret. Ricky after a night out with the Quim Twins took advantage of the sun loungers and had to woken up when it was time to go home. Derek, hereafter Del, and Biff opened, knowing that seven an over left no margin for error. Del set about the bowling straight away. He waited for the ball to come on – cutting, pulling and sweeping, as well as sending the full deliveries straight to the rope. Biff missed one that came back at him. Bowled. Fortunately the ramshackle changing hut is stronger than it looks. Terry Burgess kept the strike rotating until bowled round his arse. Del continued to take the bowling apart cruising past 50, with Alan Gallagher contributing a decent 19. Then the fireworks truly started. Man of the season, Dave Day, Adonis with a Newberry, crashed 5 sixes including a dead straight one off the back foot. A stunning 59 off 30 balls brought the run rate down to five and victory looked a strong possibility. However 5 or 6 an over looked rather less of a formality with Dave out. Del was tiring and his timing was suffering as he approached a chanceless ton. However, the run rate was maintained for a couple more overs before Richie P was bowled out. Every dog has his day and with 6.3 overs left Sewell arrived in the middle – strangely calm as if surrendered to a benevolent presence.

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And it’s whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

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After straight batting the last three deliveries of the quicker bowler, he and Del set about knocking off the 40 or so runs needed. Del was still not firing on all cylinders but there were enough two’s and byes to keep up. Twenty-two runs were now needed from 4 overs. Sewell confidently faced a veteran slow armer but could not get him away. Familiar feelings of inadequacy returned as the over disappeared in a blur of swipes and mis-hits. Only the second maiden of the game! Even his loyal team mates couldn’t stifle groans of despair. The Greys badly wanted this victory after being bullied by the Hammerwood top order, but now we needed 22 off 3 overs. The next over saw Del reach his well deserved century but he was still unable to find the big shots to finish it off. Again, four or five runs were scrambled from one’s, two’s and a wide. The penultimate over was similarly frustrating. The restlessness and anxiety from the pavilion became tangible when an overwrought Sewell contrived to run a single off the last ball of the over and retain the strike. Even Ricky was muttering in his sleep. Thirteen runs off the final over were required. Del, Greys legend and possibly the most accomplished cricketer ever to play for the club, was stranded at the wrong end while gone to seed bowler, best known for talking out of his arse and gratuitous drinking, was trying to pretend he hadn’t lost his mark at the other! Few then, will have noticed the barely perceptible straightening of his back as Sewell stared after the fast departing sun. Perhaps he drew some allegorical significance, perhaps he was hearing echoes from another time …..

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There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who stand looking.

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Pushing forward, Sewell met the first ball cleanly enough and set off, the only person in the vicinity who didn’t realise that running only one was probably the sensible course of action. He who had only ever scored thirteen runs on two or three occasions in twenty years! Heads were shaking and teeth were being sucked, but Sewell was now oblivious.

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(Eleven off 5 balls required)

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The second ball was on a length, but pushing forward a little harder the ball pierced midwicket and made it to the boundary!

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(Seven off 4 balls required)

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Ooh, it makes me wonder!

 

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The third ball was over-pitched, Sewell was on it immediately and sent it over mid-on.

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(Three off 3 balls required)

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Ooh, it makes me wonder!

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The fourth ball was straighter. Sewell again pushed at it firmly but the bowler fielded.

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(Needed. 3 off 3 balls)

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The fifth ball is a bit of a mystery but two runs were again taken without much fuss.

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(One off 1 ball required)

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It was late in the day, but nobody’s thoughts were elsewhere as ……

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WE INTERUPPT THIS PRETENTIOUS PIFFLE TO BRING YOU A WORD ABOUT ‘THE WALL’

In the absence of any regular wicket-keeper ‘Alan The Wall’ took the gloves. This was not controversial, him being one of only two Greysmen who can still bend his back. What was not known at the time was that he had never before kept wicket in a match. In the light of the oppositions 20+ extras, his solitary bye represents another match-winning performance. We apologise now for telling you to shut up when saying coy things like. “It feels really weird with gloves on.” It’s hard to get attention in this team!

 

And so as Ricky, still horizontal, was loaded into the van, The Greys were left to reflect on a great new fixture, a match of wildly swing fortunes, a buttock clenching last ball finish and the birth of Grey’s legend. The grin on Sewell’s face was nearly as wide as it was at Dave’s birthday and was still there the next day!

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