TGCC 203 for 6
LEAMINGTON LEMMINGS 193 all out
Temple Grafton win by 10 runs
It’s easy to forget the format of Sunday away games. Try and find the ground. No-one you recognise but two scruffy labourers swigging bottles of export in a white van. Oh yeah. That’s our number four and scorer.
Very lovely ground, very erratic wicket, toss lost and batting. Mark Russell, back from the wilderness, went second ball playing at one he would normally leave to a top catch at first slip. But, there is nothing like that warm, safe feeling of spotting an old hand, a man of such standing in the game, about to enter the fray, that all feelings of unease dissipate on the spot. The fact that he was looking for items of kit, half dressed and should rightfully have been timed out was by the by. Enter Matt Harvey. 22 overs of sheer hard work and unaccustomed levels of concentration saw Young make 46 (bowled courtesy of a dreadful mow) and Harvey 31. A 76 partnership provided the basis for what followed – that is a brutal assault by Killian who refused to respect the demons in the pitch, usually by taking the pitch out of the equation and clubbing full tosses for six. 70 off nine balls was ridiculous and changed the tempo, very ably abetted by Kirk’s powerful 31. When they fell to a miscued heave and a back leg lbw respectively, the score was nearing 200 and probably enough. Howard Benjamin, on a hiding to nothing pushed it around for a hopeful red-inker whilst being dramatically upstaged by Ben Ashfield’s first ball four and 2 ball strike rate of 250.
The last ball of the innings would have had potential for high controversy in different circumstances. Benjamin feathered behind, caught and the wicket keeper simply walked off, undemonstratively happy to have taken a sharp catch but no big deal. Umpire Harvey, no shirker from controversy, somehow missed the (very audible) edge and walked off for a cheese sandwich. And so the finer points of the laws of cricket were given an airing. Is a catch only given out if there is an appeal? Was there an actual edge (given that no-one seemed to care)? Was Benjamin going to finish about 1 not out? Well, praise the lord for the existence of a) Matt Harvey and b) the video camera recording facility of an iPhone. There, Harvey forensically and digitally proved with unpalatable glee, was both edge and appeal.
Tea was a perfectly respectable finger buffet with a considerably better than average cake selection. Fighting food for Thompson, promoted to open the attack with Benjamin. Sadly he didn’t quite get it together and retired himself after three overs, but his time will come (probably every Sunday). Benjamin did what he always does and quickly got into his test match groove, completing the usual 8 over spell for a paltry 21. But runs came, and the required five an over was actually happening, largely due to White (who was to go on to amass 102). Killian took over from one end and Kirk put in an outstanding spell (8-3-22) from the other but runs were still coming and the Lemmings were knocking on the door. Ashfield and Joe Ward bowled in tandem, and bowled some fantastic stuff, but were being picked off – so much so Harvey came from behind the timbers with 10 overs to go and 59 needed. Last roll of the dice. Always a pleasure to hear his expletives as his full toss fizzes over mid-wicket for six, whilst at the other end the ball was tossed in an unlikely direction – Mark Russell.
As Harvey’s third over went for 12 and victory looked a stroll for the Lemmings, Russell expertly reined them in from the other end, putting the pressure back on the opposition. His 4-0-14 really turned out to be a match winner, but Harvey didn’t just grab the headlines, he molested them in unspeakable ways, with a flurry of wickets. Six in total and in short time. 4.3 overs 6 for 20 is a remarkable denouement to a game as Grafton bowled the Lemmings out 10 short three balls from the end. It was as unexpected, in the end, as Thompson’s effort at a match fee of £9.10 was expected.