Little would anyone have thought, on arriving at an overcast, windy and distinctly cool Cavendish Sports Ground what an enthralling match was to unfold. Apart from the weather, the omens did not look good with a wicket as unkempt as Bob’s beard and as green as Andy looked on his first morning all those years ago in Malta. This was only to be accentuated by a lost toss – courtesy of our Treasurer (standing in for our waylaid skipper) who must have forgotten that the royal mint doesn’t typically produce double-headed coins ! Ivanhoe promptly found themselves being asked to bat.
Our opening pair was an experienced one – offering up over a century of cricket-playing years between them ! The new ball on the green top did its worst as Lawrence departed early, but Den dug in and along with Aidy started to steer the score northwards – ably assisted by a fair smattering of gifted extras. Just as Aidy looked likely to get going he fell for 20, bringing Bob to the crease. Unfortunately a seaming ball meant his stay was a relatively short one – albeit the score had been guided into the 70s off approaching 25 overs. As Phil P arrived at the centre, Skip spoke with his opposite number and agreed to foreshorten the game to a 35 over affair – due to a combination of slow over-rate and gathering clouds. This sparked Ives into action, with PP quickly posting 25 (including a rare six over long-on) and Den picking up the pace and ultimately falling for 37. A couple of quick wickets saw Malcolm and Andy *preserving their averages/*scampering quick singles (or sevens !) (* delete as appropriate) and the Ives posting a Skipper-pleasing 146 for 5.
Ives took to the field in good spirits and were quickly rewarded as ‘Lionel’ Ritchie made a mess of the opening batsmen’s stumps. A further wicket for Richard and one for Andy H heightened the team’s optimism. But a succession of non-sticking catches and Wealdstone’s annoying ability to keep at or ahead of the required run-rate became an increasing concern. Still, Ives kept to the task and were rewarded as Aidy tinkered with the bowling line-up. As the final overs ticked down the run-rate suddenly started to look testing for Wealdstone and with Aidy (1) and Lawrence (3) snaring victims at crucial times to leave the opposition teetering, nine wickets down, the tension mounted and an Ives win suddenly looked back on the cards. Alas it was not to be as a boundary snuck its way through to tie the game with four balls to go. Two balls later and a frantically scampered single secured the win for Wealdstone.
It was a game that hurt to lose. The chances were there to win it – another single here, a catch there etc etc. But that’s what we all play cricket for – a match that proved you should never assume the die is cast on a game and one played in the true spirit of ‘friendly cricket’.