TGCC 142 all out
THE LENCHES 109 all out


Saturday saw TGCC welcome The Lenches to the GCG for the second half of the double header must win games.  Following last week’s loss, another loss would surely have been the final nail in the coffin for Div 2 cricket in 2017.

As has been the case most weeks, a raft of changes were made following the previous week’s defeat.  Down stepped Ashfield, Farrow, Farrow, Joyce and the much missed James, replaced by Ivor, Bilbrough and for their first games of the season, whay aye man Geordie Lad and Jake Conway.  But despite a call out to half of Badger’s contact list, some lads at Golls Garden Centre, the butcher at Freemans Meats and 3 dogs, we stepped into battle with only 10 hero’s.

Grafton lost the toss and were asked to bat.  Captain Killer opening alongside makeshift opener Badger, who was on a Lenches pair following last week’s golden duck.  Opening bowlers Cottrill and White were offered some assistance from a track still recovering from the overnight rain, and despite 11 runs coming from the first 2 overs, the Lenches then tightened the screw and bowled 4 consecutive maidens to apply some pressure.  Just as Killian was breaking free of the shackles he was caught on the drive off White for 20.  With the ball still in the air, half way to fielder Brookes, Killian let out a despairing cry.  Brookes was not entirely happy with this, and not for the only time, displayed his petulant dissatisfaction with events.  Calm down son, it’s only a game.

White, despite bowling a testing 6 overs, only bowled one booming inducker at new batsman Johnston, before being replaced by leg spinner Brookes.  It provided an inspired change as he sent Johnston back, bowled for a duck, from the first ball of his spell.  Johnston refused to “have a look”, and, perhaps fearful of hitting yet another micro 6, tried to smash his first ball to Gloucester.  At the other end Cottrill (1-31) bowled out his 10 overs, claiming the scalp of Kirk caught in the slips.  With the score on 63 for 3, Grafton youth policy Lewis Bilbrough joined Badger at the crease and together this pair put on a crucial 47 runs.  Bilbrough (17) is maturing as a batsman, and scored his highest league score for Grafton.  Batting with intelligence, he solidly defended the good balls and put the balls in his slot away to the boundary.  With Badger looking to up the tempo, and after finally rediscovering his cut shot that raced along the ground rather than dollied up to point, he was finally dismissed by Brookes (4-25) for a well-made 63 from 89 balls.  From 125 for 7 Grafton stuttered to 142 all out in just the 33rd over, but with Howard Benjamin hitting a momentum changing 14 runs off one over to demonstrate we were willing to fight for the points.

Tea was a Heather and Ivor masterclass.  With 2013 cheesegate firmly behind them, this was a tea of quantity and quality.  Cheese and a fine selection of meats, washed down with big cakes, little cakes, strawberries scones and cream.  The only problem was 30 minutes was never going to be long enough.

Despite the low total to defend, Grafton set out positively, with attacking fields for Ivor and Badger opening the bowling.  Both bowlers proved difficult for the Lenches batsmen to get away, and Badger soon had the first breakthrough trapping Brookes LBW for 1 (petulant display no 2 from “grown man” Brookes, whose prolonged trudge back contained unnecessary rubbing of his thigh).  Ivor was replaced by Geordie Lad, who bowled well without luck, but at the other end Badger had another breakthrough when Benjamin coolly snatched Teasdale following a mistimed sweep.  This brought Al White to the crease who has been in excellent form for Lenches in recent weeks, and has often proved to be a thorn in Grafton’s side.  However this was not his week as Grafton’s king of spin had another successful LBW appeal to send him on his way for a duck.  Game on.  With the Lenches struggling on 35 for 3, skipper Stokes came to the crease looking determined to see his side home.  Badger bowled out for a tidy 3-20 and was replaced by Kirk.  Kirk and Benjamin were both finding plenty of movement through the air and making life difficult for the Lenches batsmen.  In Kirks 3rd over he made the crucial breakthrough to have Stokes caught by the reliable (20%) Benjamin at mid-wicket.  This opened the flood gates for Grafton as Lenches collapsed from 85 for 3 to 109 all out, with Benjamin the chief destroyer taking 3 for 15 from his 8 over spell and Ivor returning to finish with 2-20 off his 8.  Mixed up in the middle of this carnage was what would be the first of two run outs of the weekend engineered by the fielding of “bad arm” Conway.

Not only was this a crucial win for Grafton, the manner of the victory was what sets it apart.  With the odds stacked against us, we put a shift in and produced a genuine team performance.

Hats off to the Lenches lads who played with great spirit in both games. A real pleasure to play in.

Bring on Wellesbourne next week where hopefully Grafton can put together a winning run.

Posted in Match Reports

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