Here’s the match report for the 2’s game away to Little Horwood.

This time last year the C’s were on a long unbeaten run, chasing promotion from division seven. Fast forward twelve months and a different scenario is playing out, with the team free-falling down the division six table after a three match losing streak, and now they faced the daunting prospect of trip to high-flying Little Horwood, with a less than full strength team. Could they pull off a shock win?

Robbie lost the toss and the hosts elected to bat on a pitch that was damp after an overnight deluge. The match started pretty quietly, with some mostly tight bowling from Robbie and Farhan, but things took a turn when Robbie bowled Pritchard for 13, bringing Gaskins to the crease. From a moderate start he began to accelerate the scoring and by the drinks at the fifteen over mark Horwood were 61 for 1. There’s a saying that drinks bring wickets, but not on this occasion as Gaskins set about first Steve and then Mitul, plundering sixes almost at will and losing several balls in the process. Seven overs on from drinks at the score had more than doubled to 132 for 1, and Horwood looked like they would be able to declare early and give themselves plenty of extra overs in their pursuit of a win.

Gaskins reached his fifty with a skier that was dropped at long off by Robbie, and continued his assault on the bowling with Sales providing excellent support at the other end. Jim was brought on with the score at 185 for 1 and finally broke the partnership, first nipping one through Sales’ (45) defences, and then having the then centurion Gaskins (107) caught by Mitul. Green and Gold (yes, I know) then took the score past 200, and with ten overs still to go everyone was expecting a declaration. It didn’t come. Robbie then turned to youth, as first Callum and then Sam were given their first taste of bowling in league cricket. Both bowled well, with Callum taking the wicket of Gold for 9 in his first over after seeing two chances dropped from his first four deliveries. Farhan came back on and took the wickets of King (6) and Sales Snr (0), with Steve taking a blinding catch at slip to dismiss the former. Steve then struck to dismiss Day for 18, and with just one over left the Horwood skipper declared the innings at 239 for 7.

So with more than enough runs and the weather coming in, did the hosts take too long to declare?

Callum, who had to leave early, joined Gary at the crease for the start of the C’s reply. After a lean spell with the bat and chasing over 200 Gary decided to attack, signalling this by pulling the first delivery of the innings for four. Things got feisty in the next over when, after again pulling a short one from Green, Gary was struck in the chest by a second short ball and decided to let the bowler know what he thought of the lack of apology. Another bouncer was duly delivered and dispatched, words were again exchanged and battle had commenced. Gold dismissed Callum (0) in the third over, bringing Omar to the crease. The next ten overs were attack and counter with the best opening bowling attack in the division steaming in with pace and aggression, Omar repelling everything thrown at him and Gary swinging at almost every delivery (with varying degrees of success) whilst enjoying a verbal joust with both bowlers.

The pair saw off the onslaught, with Callaghan replacing Gold, and had pushed the score onto 46 for 1 when Gary went for one heave too many and was caught at mid-wicket for 27. Omar, who had been quietly accumulating to this point then picked up the baton and started to accelerate with a pair of straight sixes, but fell two overs later when he tried to repeat the dose and was caught on the boundary for 24. Farooq joined Mitul at the crease and then left almost as quickly when he was bowled by Gaskins for 4 in the next over. Mitul was the next to go, tickling a rising delivery through to the keeper for 13, and with eighteen overs gone the C’s were 86 for 4. Sam joined his dad at the crease and looked pretty confident and comfortable against the attack for a while, whilst Simmo Snr was picking runs up at the other end. Sam had made a creditable 1, when he was bowled by Gaskins, bringing Farhan to the crease.

Okay go on, you can admit it, you’ve been wondering where the controversy that seems to be present in every report that I write is, aren’t you? Well don’t panic, because it’s coming and you want to brace yourself for this one as it’s a corker!

With the score in the 70’s and the weather coming in, Horwood decided that runs were no longer an issue and brought in their field. Simmo and Farhan both took advantage of this and were looking comfortable. All of a sudden it was becoming apparent that the hosts were wondering whether they’d left it too late with the declaration as they still needed four wickets and now only had eleven overs to get them with the light worsening and the pair at the crease looking very settled. Enter the umpire. Did I mention that Horwood supplied their own umpire? Well they did, and he played a blinder. Gold came back into the attack and duly cannoned the ball onto Farhan’s thigh. Surely it was too high for an appeal though? Well, never fear as the umpire’s finger had shot up before a cry of ‘Howzat!’ had left the lips of even the most optimistic fielder. Farhan trudged back for 14 and the weather closed in a little more.

Six overs to go, Steve and Simmo at the crease, rain in the air, skies darkening, umpire’s finger at the ready, Simmo five feet down the track, the ball hit the pad outside the line, and BINGO! Simmo was gone. Again, there was no hesitation from the umpire. He was their twelfth man and they knew it. Green was back on at the other end and it was dark and now raining heavily. Horwood needed two wickets and after Robbie was bowled by a ball that no one saw, Gary, who was umpiring at the bowler’s end decided to confer with the home umpire at square leg.

Cue World War Three.

The home umpire was adamant that conditions were playable and a selection of the fielders were hurling insults and accusations faster than Dan Kidman hurls alcohol down his throat and then back up again. Things were kicking off big style. Robbie refused to send Jim out, resulting in the home umpire threatening to time him out, and Steve threatening to knock the umpire out. Whilst all this mayhem was going on, the rain was getting heavier and the skies were getting darker. Eventually everyone left the field and the arguments continued under cover. Everyone and his dog were now involved and while the exchanges continued, the rain subsided and the skies brightened. Play finally resumed and Green took the final wicket of Steve leaving the C’s all out for 153 and just five overs short of survival.

It was then time for everyone to calm down, apologise and move on which some did, and others eventually did. To be fair, I don’t think that anyone from the C’s would have been any less passionate if the roles had been reversed but equally, as to their credit most of the opposition admitted later, they would have agreed that the decision was the right one at the end of the day.

Man of the match this week goes to the entire batting line-up for their sheer guts and determination and for coming so close against a good attack and a daunting score. Next week the C’s host bottom of the table Wing and will a) be hoping for a better performance and b) not be using an opposition umpire…