Warnings of extreme temperatures had been exaggerated as the Mighty Greys travelled to the foot of the Downs to play long-time opponents Streat and Westmeston. The ground looked a picture on a fine sunny day with the outfield grass cut short and the wicket a batsman’s paradise.
Ben lost the toss and the Grey’s were asked to bat first in a game of village rules. A cooling breeze blew across the ground sparing the fielding team from the worst of the heat. Grey’s veterans Jerry and Biff opened the innings, the former getting off to a fast start scoring two boundaries before leaving a ball that nipped back down the slope to take his off stump.
Biff was joined by Dan C but the pair added only three runs before Biff was bowled by a good inswinger from the impressive S.Lea. Robor came in at 4 with the score 17-2 and began the process of rebuilding with Dan. The opening bowlers were naggingly accurate and hard to score from. Dan played some good shots before going back to a ball he should have gone forward to and being bowled as the ball moved slightly off the seam.
The Greys were in trouble at 43-3 on a good wicket that is normally a high scoring ground. Alex and Rob grafted to try and get the Grey’s back in the game with a number of byes keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Alex was bowled by a straight one for three with the score on 94 for 4 after 17 overs. Rob Hoare came in a 6 and played a couple of good shots to the leg side boundary before being bowled by another quick inswinging delivery from S Lea. He was replaced by James who departed in much the same way but not before playing a nutmeg shot for four through his legs to backward square leg. (Nat meg?)
Scoring became easier with the opening bowlers taking a rest. The Greys were still in trouble at 131 for 6 off 23. Robor took a liking to the moon balls bowled by Streat legend Stan Spiegel and dispatched him for 25 from his 2 overs to get the score board moving. Dave D came in at 8 and smashed his first ball to the cover boundary for 4. He and Robor upped the run rate with some hard-hitting shots including a great late cut from Dave and a big six over the pavilion from Rob.
Both struggled with calling with Dave’s ‘Yes, no, maybe, Sorry that was shit!”- for no run receiving a nomination.
Meanwhile Botting was targeted and went for 60 from his 5 overs.
Streat were back in the game when S.Lea bowled Dave on the last ball of his ninth over. Terry came in at 9 and played a fine knock to consolidate the Greys position. He was with Rob when he brought up his ton with a 6 towards deep mid-wicket from the bowling of Botting (PSM). Rob decided to go all-out attack and was eventually stumped running up the wicket for 108.
This left new recruit Tim to finish the innings with Terry. He did so on fine style with a succession of cleanly struck shots that peppered the legside boundary. The pick of his shots rebounding off the pavilion roof and being caught by Ben.
The Greys finished with a decent total of 245 for 8.
Tea was a treat. Coronation chicken sandwiches, scones and jam, Victoria sponge cake and ice lollies. All washed down with multiple cups of tea.
The Greys took to the field refreshed with Dave Day opening the bowling with the old ball. The wicket had become lifeless and bowling Streat out was always going to be a challenge.
DD persevered and was rewarded when a yorker bowled Bill Baxter for 5. He followed his wicket up with one of the longest and loudest LBW appeals this author has ever heard. It contained no consonants, just vowels, and was comparable to the roar of a dinosaur.
Not out said the umpire.
Meanwhile, Jerry was on fire in the field. Diving full length of a number of occasions to stop the ball racing to the boundary. Perhaps inspired by Jerry, Dave chased the ball down to the sight screen to prevent the ignominy of four byes for the Grey’s keeper.
Debutant Laing was getting the ball to loop and trapped Bell in front for 1 for his maiden wicket for the Grey’s. Streat were now 28 for 2. But Michael Lea showed the benefits of being coached at the Fenton Academy of Cricket and together with the impressive James Porter began to chase down the Grey’s total. They put on 120 for the third wicket and looked like they might win the game for Streat.
But the Grey’s had the copious talents of Dan Cope to call upon. He was summoned from deep square leg and bowled quickly from both ends. But it was young James Hoare who removed the danger man with Biff taking a great catch, covering a lot of ground to remove M. Lea for 77.
Cope then returned to remove the Streat six, seven and eight to kill off any chance of a successful run chase (9-0-41-4). A fine effort on a flat deck. To their credit the Streat players continued to try to win the game and all results remained possible until the very end.
Jerry and Terry combined to take a final wicket. Terry having recovered from an effort ball that saw him land flat on his face to remove Geoff Hart.
Skipper Ben returned to bowl the final over and was rightly pleased to defend the 36 the Streat batsman needed for victory. Porter was left 88 not out as Streat finished on 220 for 8.
Both teams enjoyed drinks at the White Hart in Ditchling after the game.