TGCC 230 for 7
STANWAY 219 for 6
TGCC WIN BY 11 RUNS
Let’s be honest, we tend to look for reasons to cancel the first game in April because it’s usually a grey, frigid affair with the thermometer seldom above 7 or 8 degrees and the prospects of raising 11 over-nourished souls from hibernation, an exercise in utter futility. Standing in the field for 40 overs desperately willing a batting collapse or sitting waiting to bat desperately willing a batting collapse is the usual fair of April cricket. Stanway, an idyllic Cotswold retreat replete with rolling hills, thatch, the playful toot of a steam train and a light jazz collation wafting across this most bucolic of settings, and an azure sky and temperature akin to early July. And eleven players, who all navigated their way through the errant venue and start time instructions emanating from the Chair of Selectors, all turned up on time.
Toss lost. Young and Jarrett open the batting and put on a decent opening stand against sharp, tight bowling for three-quarters of an hour. And then momentous events. Killian, at number 3, was suddenly caught short with the turtle’s head and promptly, desperately touching cloth, promoted Tom Benjamin from 4, should he be required, whilst he was indisposed. Young, meanwhile, attempted a third pull and was bowled for 22, leaving Benjamin walking out and Killian, oblivious, still on the chod bin. And the rest, as they say,…… Benjamin went from strength to strength with all of those trade mark shots on both sides of the wicket, while Jarrett moved through the gears as he pushed the ball around with increasing confidence. He finally fell leg before for 41, but Benjamin simply cut loose as a conservative 90 for 2 at drinks was always becoming a competitive 200+ as the afternoon unfolded. Killian, now coming in at 4, robbed of his berth at 3, was all too impatient and miscued to be caught for 6. The much maligned Harvey then went in, complementing Benjamin’s stroke play with his own brand of artistry. He even hit a 6, to much derision, on his way to a decent 33 before miscuing some sort of shot back to the bowler. Williams went lbw first ball, Howard Benjamin played a fluent cameo in support of the now 80-something Tom. In the race to a 100, Benjamin splayed a square cut six, followed by a swing over mid-wicket with the same result. An attempt at the same over long off saw him cruelly caught on 98. A magnificent innings – an innings of toilet-based opportunism and ruthless, early season clinical stroke play. Debutant Peter Law pushed a single off his first ball, banking a strike rate of 100, and wisely watched the rest from the other end. Howard Benjamin had gone lbw for 12 as the innings wound up with Pedley flailing away and 229 for 7 off 40.
Tea was notable for a medley of cakes and the paucity of intelligent conversation.
Stanway’s reply started badly with the increasingly rapid Pedley picking up a wicket, Young holding on at mid-wicket, and James trundling in from the other end in far too tight borrowed kit that brought to mind a bag of swarfega. Initially parsimonious, James (5-19-0) started to get the treatment which really was what happened to everyone sooner or later. Hallett (5-25-1) took some stick early on and late, but bowled well in between, Howard Benjamin‘s 8 overs went for 44 (with many totally unhittable dot balls) but runs came at a reasonable rate as Williams’ willingness to run was exploited to the full as he was made to do nearly all the fielding – somewhere out in the corrugated outfield. Fielding was pretty decent generally but it was 90ish for 2 at drinks and on course for a tight finish. Indeed, it was beginning to go against Grafton when Jarrett’s spell changed everything. Removing the two danger men Haines (45) and then Powell (67) effectively won the game, even if the latter was somewhat miffed at Jarrett’s eye-popping celebration. It only needed Harvey to twirl away from the other end and supply the strangle and the game was over. Which he didn’t. Then he did. Then he didn’t again. Then he did a bit more, and enough of a brake was applied for Grafton to eventually win at a canter, Stanway falling 12 short.
MOM – Alan Powell