A last minute change of venue as once again a game against Belmont (albeit at their home ground as opposed to ours this time) cried off.

Fortunately for those that had planned their journeys in advance, Mill Hill’s ground was a stone’s throw or big six away. Driving into the ground, there was no question it was a cricket ground as there was not a flat piece of ground in sight!

A lovely and glorious warm afternoon greeted Ivanhoe as they took first use of the conditions and bowled first. The pitch sat atop a dome in the severely sloping outfield with ruts and lumps on the bowlers’ runups, causing issues for the bowlers as they ran into bowl. The pitch itself was interspersed with green patches as well as a slope that assisted movement on or about off stump.

Bowlers of both sides struggled to get their body positions right at the crease, with a few wides and the odd missed length…

Prasad and Hansi opened up, some tight bowling saw the run-rate hover around three for the first ten overs, but some lovely balls that moved off the slope and seam failed to garner any wickets. John came on at first change, toiling up the slope to take the first wicket.

Some lovely composed fielding from Shez in the covers and Ven at the bowlers end resulted in a runout – all and sundry keeping their heads to affect the dismissal as the batters decided to have a chat following a yes/no/yes/oh bugger debate on a single.

The wickets were frequently struck over the next few overs, as Ven, Richard with a couple tore the heart out of the top and middle order. Some late hitting, and to be frank beautiful batting from the wicket keeper and one of the bowlers boosted the score before things were rounded out by a great catch from Shez diving away and a good catch off Earl saw the innings peter out for just shy of 150 runs.

How would Mill Hill perform? Knowing the slopes, the vagaries of the pitch and where to position fielders, the chase was set out to be tricky for Ivanhoe! Any pressure that might have bene on Phil and Ven as they opened up was released by the opening bowlers’ wayward lines. Wides, byes, boundary balls…the first few overs were littered with those moments that a bowler hangs their head having delivered.

The fast start as both pummelled the boundary came to the inevitable end, as one wicket followed another leading to a recovery job from Tai and Shez, who both batted without being troubled by the pitch and accumulated carefully. Some of Mill Hill’s quicker bowlers were put off their lines and length by both batters walking down the pitch.

A period of relative calm followed before Shez was out, quickly followed by Tai. Rich and Hansi came together and aside from the odd wafts outside off stump by Hansi and missed cuts from Rich, proceeded serenely to the target. The highlight of both batters’ innings were straight drives off one of the opening bowlers that scorched the grass on the way to the boundary.

With a minimum of fuss, and much to the chagrin of John who’d waited patiently all padded up, the target was achieved.

Another fantastic performance from the Ives, against a foe that challenged us but played in great spirit!

Author: Hansi B

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