The clash of the top two teams in the league, Wylam unbeaten and frankly racking up runs at an alarming rate what they did to Hexham Leazes the other week was unnerving reading… Wylam 346-1 (Raffle 115*, Rowell 186*) from 42 overs and having faced Hexham’s bowlers that’s a little frightening, even given that they have one of the smallest grounds or at least the shortest boundary in the league, they beat Hexham by 165 runs, pretty much the same Hexham team that beat us a few weeks ago…
I pretty much dreaded this game all week, just didn’t know how on Earth we were going to stop them, going out to field it was very much ‘whatever happens we’re going to enjoy it’ attitude, nothing different because we’ve been enjoying all season so far together.
They were missing a few players, so were we but you can only play the team in front of you…
Aaron Tiffin has been asking for the new ball all season, and given how he has been bowling he’s deserved it, he got what he wanted and put in a great spell to remove two dangerous batsmen, the swing and bounce made him unplayable at times and it was great to see his confidence as he mixed up his pace and swing.
Jacob needs a mention for taking a top edge that just didn’t seem to want to come down, everyone holding their breath watching, all the pressure building as it finally came down, taken clean as a whistle, like there was ever a doubt.
George Green’s opening spell was tidy and he was unlucky not to have a couple.
Wylam went off hard it has to be said, they were on for 240 – 250 at one stage based mostly on the good old saying “If you’re going to swing, swing hard”, they did and because of that even clear edges were going for runs.
Mark Hogg though came up with the most unbelieveable spell of bowling, he started with a couple of tricky overs when the wind was wrecking his line, because of the swing he gets the little wind was just pushing it too far down leg and he was getting picked off, he wanted to come off but was encouraged to have another then in what was just unreal he took an insane c&b, flicking the ball off his boot and into his hand. Playing football has to have it’s upside.
He ran through the middle order, JD took a great catch at his bootlaces. He used the good old leg side trap and had M Rowell caught at square leg by George Green just after he had reached a well made 50. ‘Wally’ took a good one at backward point too.
An excellent run out by George again from square leg where he just launched it, direct hit and there was no chance for the batsman who really thought he was alright until that moment when the ball comes in and you know your struggling. He knew he wasn’t going to get there. It was really good work.
I bowled a couple of quiet overs, the batsman admitting that he would rather face a 85mph man than a slow bowling girl. Mainly because he couldn’t bare to be out to a girl. Oh well, as a slow loopy occasional finding a bit of turn spinner I’ll take all the psychological advantages I can get thanks.
We were really good in the field and everyone played their part chasing hard and the energy was great, all errors were fined as per usual. We reigned them in and they managed 174-8 from their 42 overs. Not a bad score but the pitch was good, outfield fast enough and we all felt we could chase that given how quiet we had kept them in the last 10 – 12 overs.
Pilki and Jacob certainly increased the confidence as they went off hard against Wylam’s pacey attack. I did have a moment of wondering why Wylam would bowl short at a left hander without a square leg. Left handers are 9 times out of 10 good at the pull shot and Pilki is. But I wasn’t questioning too much after all we needed the runs.
Paton came on and bowled really well, picking up Pilki and JD, off-spin v left handers the age old story…
Following this there was a slightly hilarious, slightly ridiculous, mostly nerve wrecking set of running from ‘Wally’ who now keeps that nickname (on request) and dully paid his fines. It got to the point that we on the side lines were calling the runs.
Henry had a brisk knock, with some lovely striking and looked in good touch until Wally ran him out for 18.
Max came in a took over the calling of runs and again proved that he was on form in the middle, striking the ball very cleanly. He got 20 before he was caught.
Wally after redeeming himself some what with some lovely shots was caught.
This left myself and Steve Tiffin at the crease. Steven has been hitting the ball well. Me well I haven’t had much time in the middle, although I’m hitting it ok in nets.
Wylam were a little bemused I think that I was batting at 8, it wasn’t disrespectful or anything like that but I’m still a fairly unknown quantity with the bat in this league, I don’t even really know myself, all I know is the more I face the bowling the more comfortable I am with the pace and the more I feel like I can make a score but I know I can’t go about it the same way as I do in the women’s game because I’m not going to get the easy hits, I’m not going to be allowed to give every ball the kitchen sink because the pace is so much quicker, the lines are so much tighter and the bowling is just better quality, it’s not going to stay right in my arch for an age, I have to time it instead, use the pace. It’s very different and it’s possibly why I’ve struggled so much in the women’s game this season. I’ve adapted to pace and now I can’t seem to switch back.
It was a frustrating period where the Rowell brothers were bowling quick and we just couldn’t get the ball away for the runs we needed. I had more than my fair share of luck although I did employ the “swing, swing hard” mentality and I put the ball through slips a few times, over the top of them too. It’s so much easier when there’s pace on the ball to get runs through behind.
Wylam certainly didn’t like it, but then if I’m playing through slips deliberately because I find it easier than hitting through cover and mid off I’m not going to stop doing it. I did still play through mid-off and cover because those are my shots (my pull shot is still MIA, I really want it back because I used to hit it so well) but there are these people, they are called fielders and they seem to want to get in the way instead of letting the ball go through them, it’s very annoying.
Me and Steve were really trying to go for it but it just wasn’t happening. The bounce was difficult, the Rowells were really bending their backs and it was hostile, there were a few that came through to me at chin height. Steve wore one that followed him. He dully kept his head in the game and was out going for a straight drive one of his best shots but it came up and he was c&b.
We were looking at 7 or so an over to get the runs, it was looking a little impossible since I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hit out to any effect, I was trying but nothing was sitting up for me to hit.
Welcome to the fray one George Green, number 9. He had a look at a few balls then went all Chris Gayle on Wylam, broke their hearts and their dream of being unbeaten all season…
As soon as I saw hit strike his first 4 there was no doubt in my mind that he had to have the strike and I would have to find some way of giving it to him. I indulged in some slightly dangerous running but only when I knew I was going to the danger end, but if we were going to pull this off he had to have the bowling so we put the fielders under pressure and got away with it.
Wylam were pretty much resigned to their fate when they realised that our number 9, yeah he can bat a bit, he isn’t a number 9 he just happened to open the bowling so in the everyone gets a go theme in the mid to lower order he ended up there instead of higher up. Although number 11 is very nearly always Aaron owner of 0* as a highest score. Of course this is because he hasn’t had the opportunity and has nothing to do with his habit of swiping across the line first ball to death rattle although this season he did play straight and achieved 0* so that maiden half century is getting closer.
Anyway, George hit a massive, I mean huge 6 over mid off into the wood behind the playground, it just went up so high and went so far. It was a really impressive bit of striking possibly not as good as the 6 over long mid off’s head only because the look on the blokes face as he thought he had it, thought he had it then the realisation dawned, he didn’t have it. It cleared him by about 2 foot.
1 ball of the penultimate over to go 2 to win…
“Should I go for it or should we take a single?”
“Whatever you want.” I replied.
4 through square leg.
It was a fabulous team performance with everyone contributing and that’s been the thing for us this season, everyone pulling their weight, everyone trying their hardest, everyone backing each other and everyone enjoying themselves.
It was a unbelievable result, although I’m not sure why given our results this season, it just didn’t seem possible driving to the ground that it would happen, it didn’t feel like it would in the 36th over, so it kind of felt like we’d gotten away with something when we got over the line.
Matfen Hall beat Wylam by 3 wickets.