SHENSTONE HANG ON TO EARN DRAW

TGCC 260 all out & 233 all out
SHENSTONE COLLEGE OB 268 for 6 dec & 164 for 9

Match Drawn

Two days of test match cricket in unseasonably hot conditions ended in a draw. But no ordinary draw. A 10 men round the bat, last wicket stand, Jack Leach, Rourke’s Drift kind of draw. With Killian wedging a helmet on his monstrous cranium and other fielders even closer, like a team performing heart surgery, the last Shenstone pair literally killed the ball stone dead.

Twelve hours of cricket earlier Young won the toss and chose to bat. And for the first time this season Grafton had 11 whilst the opposition didn’t, although quite why we agreed to lend them the svelte Barry in the field rather than someone more round and sedentary I’m not sure. Plan A went to plan, pretty much. A fine 70 from Harris and 62 from Cavan Farrow was interrupted by a monumental Ashfield lunch which actually had a potted plant of which the leaves were to decorate the mozzarella and tomato combo. Martin snipping delicately with his scissors was certainly preferable to Ben, if his batting is anything to go by, laying into the basil with a hedge trimmer. Anyway Harris and Farrow junior provided the bulk of the runs and a late flurry from Barry (34) was most welcome but others chipped in along the way – even Will Gough before he ran himself out the ball before we were going to declare anyway. 260 all out and time to get some wickets before tea.
The Grafton bowling was exceptional. Having batted merrily along at over 4.5 an over, Shenstone were going at barely 3, such was the effectiveness of Ben Ashfield (8-1-25) – bowling a tight line not often associated with such a feckless young thing – Gough (with signature skip now consigned to history) (10-0-22), Barry (7-0-19) and Callum Farrow (7-0-14). At 130 odd for 1 though the ultimate return wasn’t great until Jarrett and Harris (4-1-10) entered the fray in the last 45 minutes and wickets tumbled. Jarrett soon got his nagging line and length and is a man that clearly takes considerable relish at asphyxiating the batsmen – not least of which the key wicket of Fuller for 46.
His 7-3-16 was exceptional. I see him in black leather strangler’s gloves creeping around the woods at night. Overnight 145 for 5 and an interesting prospect for the morning.

10:55 Sunday and we have 6 players. But we took the field at 11am with 8, plus 2 of theirs so it was an improving feast in the human resources department. Another hot day and undoubtedly a Shenstone charge towards parity. It came with a brutal assault by Azeem as Grafton’s bowlers (and the spread field) simply went for damage limitation. Howard Benjamin, straight from the colonies and just off the M40, got straight into his nagging line after initial bursts from Gough and Callum Farrow. Great wicket keeping, it is always said, should be unnoticeable. Cavan Farrow’s was. So that’s that done. Oh and there was one other curious incident.

Test Match Special’s Jonathan Agnew annually interviews ex-test umpire John Holder in an Ask The Umpire lunchtime special. This year there was an interesting umpiring conundrum put to him via email from someone in South Warwickshire.

Email: “Recently we were playing in a local village game when an opposition batsman extra-cover drove the ball towards the boundary. In the corner of the ground where the ball was headed is a large tree. The fielder from long on ran round the boundary and under the tree, collecting the ball before it crossed the rope. The batsmen had run three. The fielder, for reasons best known to himself, then threw the ball into the tree. What should the umpire do?”
John Holder: “That is ridiculous and would never happen because no-one would be such an idiot.”

Four duly awarded to Shenstone. Their declaration came late morning on Azeem’s 100. 168-7 and a quick turnaround for openers Young and Kirk. And quickly back in the pavilion too. And then it was the Killian/Cavan Farrow show. Firstly Killian doing what he’s done since he was a kid, just with slightly more judicious shot selection, smashed the ball to all parts – despite looking like seven shades of sh*t with a hangover. Interrupted by a splendid lunch – and we should be eternally grateful to Mark Russell for stepping in in the catering department at the last minute – he carried on and then Farrow took over. Killian’s 80 was, if anything, upstaged by Farrow’s vicious assault with a 97 that involved some of the best hitting to grace the ground this season. The rest fell away, well collapsed actually, for very few runs, as a declaration was again averted by being bowled out – this time for 223. And so 216 to win. Ring any bells?

25 minutes in the field before tea and a well-deserved wicket to the ever-youthful Gough. And it was a case of chipping away but keeping the boundaries to a minimum. Generally Grafton got the fielding positions right as wickets gradually fell as the run rate required crept up. Firstly five, then six and by the time it was seven there was a real danger of Shenstone running out of viable hitters. Absolutely key was Harvey’s catch to remove Azeem off Kirk and then Fuller caught Harris bowled Benjamin for 50. Only six overs from time did Shenstone concede that victory was impossible and the claustrophobic denouement began. Hill Senior, Wilson and Ralph ground it out under absurd pressure with ten men literally hugging them at the crease and did so superbly for a draw as that last wicket evaded Harris, Benjamin and latterly Harvey. In hindsight, Harvey, centrally contracted as an all-rounder, was under-bowled. But then……

Keep the diary open for next year.

Posted in Match Reports

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