Mill Hill Village CC vs Ivanhoe – 19th May 2024

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

Octopus CC vs Ivanhoe – 5th May 2024

Ivanhoe at Octopus Cricket Club

After an aborted attempt to begin the season, Octopus provided an opponent as the early season sun brought spring to life.

The fifth of May 2024 will go down in the annuals of Ivanhoe, as revenge was had against a worthy foe, as well as against nature, fate and the frailties of the human body. Last year’s game caused great damage to body and spirit, with a lengthy injury toll that afflicted the team throughout the season.

The rosy fingered dawn heralded a warm day, unbenighted by rain, although our man in Lisbon suggested rain was on the way just in time to ruin the week, but all that was before us as Ivanhoe journeyed to the shadow of Alexandra Palace with a spring in our collective steps.

Opening up and fearlessly taking the first ball of the season was Phil K – a great net session behind him augured well. Against a quick bowler swinging the ball away and moving it off the seam provided quite a few tricky moments but Phil bestrode them colossus like. At the other end the pace was down but the tricks played by the slightly damp wicket provided a different challenge. Phil was undone by one, after several powerful strokes, that stuck in the wicket and he was caught.

In strode Mo, with memories of last season’s epic knock, and many a frightened bowler in the nets; a four and six later, the pitch once again bedevilled a batter and off the back of the bat he was caught too…

A calamitous mix-up between Steven and Hansi saw the latter huffing and puffing and run out by 15 yards…then a tricky skidding delivery undid Steven.

At this point (in the view of the batters dismissed) the pitch flattened out as Tai and Sai settled in, feasted upon some wayward bowling and peppered the boundary. Octopus didn’t quite get their lengths and line right; the batters’ wagon wheels indicated leg side scoring dominated. Fours, sixes, singles off many an over’s last ball, more boundaries…the partnership grew and grew, the fielders’ heads dropped…and still the batters kept smiting the ball to and over the rope. Even the return of the opening bowler, who admittedly caused both problems, could not break the flow. Both passed 50, the ball started flying to all areas of the ground, with the straight and off-side boundarya peppered before Tai was caught.

A frenetic flurry of runs and wickets fell over the final overs, including the odd instance of Sai being stumped off a wide on what would have been the final ball of the innings for 75.  No doubt the number of wickets lost was flattered in this period, but the extra runs scored felt absolutely necessary as memories of power batting on Octopus’ part loomed large. 217-9 in 35 overs represented a great feat…all batters played their part in building this formidable total.

A tight opening spell from Parsad and an early wicket from Saqib dented the reply. Run scoring was at a premium, overs went by between boundaries. Pressure built. Aside from an edge through Hansi at gully of Sai, chances were limited but scoreboard pressure kept building. 8-18 off 7 consecutive overs from Prasad exemplified this performance (and here’s to these kind of excellent displays throughout the season, we missed them last year!). Whilst batting might not have been as perilous as the opening of Ivanhoe’s innings, Phil K’s performance behind the sticks frequently drew cheers of appreciation. On another day, byes would have accounted for Octopus’ top score, but not today. Flinging himself about with abandon and great skill, very few got past him as skidding deliveries were interspaced with ones that reared and moved late.

When the second wicket finally fell, to a good catch by Sai, the game’s complexion changed. Suddenly the new batter was able to score more freely, the field was breached and runs began to flow…the power hitting of Octopus couldn’t match that already seen by the Ivanhoe batters, and they’d left it a little too late…occasionally taking on one that wasn’t there as well as good bowling saw a couple more wickets fall to the bowling of Sai and Krishna, before Saqib came back to take one more…only five wickets fell in all, but the doldrums at the beginning of Octopus’ innings came back to haunt them and without the batting of Heracles they were never really in it, despite causing consternation here and there.

Had this been a timed game, honours would have rested with Octopus, but the scales fell Ivanhoe’s way for a fantastic first win of the year, with the well deserved player of the match Sai chiefly responsible for this.

Author: Hansi B

Nets – 20th March 2024

Ivanhoe Nets – Wednesday 20 March 2024

Another Wednesday, another visit to Hatfield for an examination by pace and spin for 8 hardy Cricket fanatics.

On a personal note, it is very pleasing to see three left handers playing with the minds of the bowlers…and most took a few deliveries to find their range and the lines that tie lefties in knots.

From the first ball, Peter had cranked it up to full, bowling very swiftly and moving the ball through the air and getting some good cut off the seam. Saquib was another that had the ball hooping around.

We took over two nets, according everyone a good quarter hour of batting and tested out the fitness of the bowlers…good workout but the more senior citizens might feel the effects of 45 minutes of non-stop bowling (not sure I can put my hand up to say I was one of those, as my shoulder is rather stiff!).

Those that rely on guile and deception were not left behind, with many a batter bamboozled by some sharp turn imparted on the ball. John was working on the various non-spinning changeups as well as some big turning leggies. Will bowled a few absolute beauties with the ball deviating significantly from the pitch.

There was an almost end of term freedom and joi de vie in the stroke play of the batters, but this caused everyone’s stumps to be rearranged at least once. There was a cacophony of thundering cracks from the ball being smote interspersed with a hollow rattle of ball clattering the wickets.

Hopefully the powerful batting and hitting will continue into the season but with a little more discipline – batters will need to remember they need to be in to score…

Author: Hansi B

Nets – 6th March 2024

The weather outside might be utterly miserable, the water table so high that groundspeople around the country are no-doubt in despair at the thought of preparing wickets for the next season, but the nets are in prime condition to build up Ivanhoe’s confidence.

March’s first net saw slightly less swing for the fast bowlers than the previous couple of weeks – to the delight of the batters but the battery of quicks didn’t share their enthusiasm for the lack of movement.

It was great to see Ciaran at the nets as he was straight on it, generating some serious pace, along with Peter and Saquib one net provided an examination of fire and brimstone, whereas the other saw the wily and crafty slower bowlers in operation.

As is his (new) wont, John was padded up and ready to face up well before 9 (there are unconfirmed reports that he drove to the nets in his pads!), and it didn’t take long for the big shots to come out.

In the other net, Chris batted well, playing some good strokes and looking unflustered – time in the firing line over the next few weeks will build his confidence mightily.

Will again batted with aplomb, Saquib gave him a working over but he was equal to the task, runs will certainly flow if he bats like this once we get out onto (hopefully) dry tracks.

Missing several weeks due to being struck on the toe has certainly not affected Phil K’s confidence. One of the most astounding sites of the evening was an attempted reverse scoop to a length ball from Peter. Sadly Phil missed…but gladly so did Peter! Could have been messy but no harm done to stumps or person…lets see this come out in a game!

There was some thunderous stroke-play from Mo, although there was a casualty of the brutality…Mo’s bat split!  Looking forward to seeing him next week with a new blade and seeing how far the ball will travel!

Tai and Shez provided some good (and not so good on occasion) deliveries but their forte with the willow was apparent, punishing good and bad balls.

If the opposition are ever short and John plays for the opposition, Saquib will be shaking in his boots – as once again he proved to be John’s bunny whilst not being overtly troubled by others. Seeing his stumps rearranged by one of John’s box of tricks is becoming a regular occurrence!

Running two nets with lots of bowlers gave everyone a chance to really turn their arms over and get a good bat – hopefully more will be able to join us next week!

Author: Hansi B

Nets – 28th Feb 2024

Late February saw Ivanhoe returning to the nets for another session, although injuries and inexplicable other engagements meant only 7 souls made it to Hatfield. Taking up two nets allowed all and sundry to get a long bat…although with the pace, guile and movement on offer this also provided opportunity for one’s off stump to be pegged back…no doubt banter about walking wickets will ensue unless next week sees tightened up defences.

The hot and steamy conditions in the nets accorded an unreasonable amount of swing and the ball hooped around in the air, providing a workout for all bowlers as at any time there were either two or three people bowling in each net…those with older bodies may creak a little for a couple of days.

As with last week, John fronted up in one net…he’s getting a taste for batting early, when the season starts he’ll hear “We’re batting” and rush off to get his pads on. Standing the ‘right way round’ meant it took Hansi a wee while to work out how to get the ball outside off (rather than leg) stump, but Peter was on the spot straight away. Working up a healthy pace as well as moving the ball out of the hand, presenting an upright and proud seam there were ‘oohs and aas’ aplenty. Right at the end of his prolonged session the shots came out and his trademark lofted drive was played a couple of times.

In the other net, Tai took on all that Saquib and Shez could hurl down at him, crashing the ball to all parts of the net. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the bowlers though, as the odd ball beat the bat and the stumps rattled a couple of times.

John did weave his magic against several of the batters hitting the stumps a couple of time, but Hansi managed to beat him down so much that he reverted to bowling some left-arm ‘stuff’. He said it was to protect his shoulder but all could see how this was the only way to get Hansi out.

The ultimate humiliation was when Hansi played a reverse pull to one of John’s mystery balls…good to practice in the nets but unlikely to be seen in a match situation unless there is something very odd in the air!

John got his mojo back when bowling to Saquib, who missed a straight one, but otherwise batted well.  

The non-stop bowling certainly put many miles into the bowlers legs, as well as according the batters the opportunity to really get their eye in against one bowler and work out their nuances and start to pick the deliveries from the hand.

Author: Hansi B

Nets – 21st Feb 2024

The third Wednesday in November saw two stalwarts return to the nets, having been incapacitate or holidaying over the previous two weeks. To say there was a little rust in Hansi’s limbs is a case of dramatic understatement, but Bob Collins, like the well oiled machine he is was straight back into it, playing some lovely shots as he took first use of the net…It did not all go swimmingly, with his off-peg knocked back twice by admittedly excellent deliveries. Even prime Collins would have struggled with some of the beauties send down at him. Some lovely back-foot play indicated that when he gets in we can look forward to some very good top order runs as bad balls were punished with authority.

Saquib swung the ball outrageously, providing a working over for all batters, generating good pace and movement through the air. To top off his performance, Saq had a prolonged bat, showing good and solid defence interspersed with some big shots.

A sight all at Ivanhoe will be glad to see was John…getting some turn and finding a length that drew batters forward. Here’s to a return of ’22 which saw many first over wickets, something sorely missed last season. Let’s hope that this continues onto the early season wickets where some variable bounce will aid and abet his box of tricks.

There were frequent crashes as thundering and powerful shots from the blade of Mo, which in a game would have seen fielders searching in the bushes for many lost balls. The freedom with which he dispatched good balls bodes well for the forthcoming season – let’s all hope for some good batting tracks without too much variable bounce.

Utilizing two nets provided a great workout for all the bowlers and allowed everyone to get a good innings. There were a wide variety of approaches, Will getting in behind the line and protecting his wickets with aplomb, or Shez and Tai throwing their hands through the ball whenever it was pitched up or a bit wide. At times there was risk to life and limb as the ball sped back down the nets toward the waiting bowlers.

Here’s to seeing more at the next session!

Author: Hansi B

Ivanhoe CC vs Monks Risborough – 17th Sept 2023

A late addition to the calendar, as no-one had been booked to test their mettle against Ivanhoe, Monks Risborough stepped up to offer us a game. Once again, to Buckinghamshire Ivanhoe set forth.

Many grounds have idiosyncrasies, from the shelves and roman pottery at Verulamium, the tree on the field at Theydon Bois, strange dimensions at Rudolph Steiner and many others experienced over the years, but nothing quite took it to the extreme as this ground.

Steeply sloping from the clubhouse to the pitch on the straight boundary, the pitch was relatively flat but one square boundary was slightly uphill, the other dropped off precipitously and fielders on the boundary were almost invisible to a batter in their stance. The other straight boundary dropped away from the pitch too – meaning bowlers had huge slopes to contend with.

The changing rooms were well appointed, with John being particularly impressed by their collection on mowers…to each their own!

First use of the pitch was given to Ivanhoe, leaving Phil K and Hansi to face the unknown. Monk’s opening bowler, going up the slope, marked out a runup that saw him pass through a couple of postcodes…readers at this point will no doubt remember many a ‘quick’ bowler with a long run-up that puts the fear of whatever into them until the ball trundles down at a moderate pace. Well, dear reader, this was not the case at all! The runup was justified as the ball flashed by the batters in a spell that kept them on their toes, not wayward but not exactly threatening. Phil played a lovely pull-shot off him and Hansi ignored anything he didn’t need to play. The other end saw respite as ambling in but putting effort on the ball, the pace was considerably slower. Runs abounded from the flashing blade of Phil before he was undone by an effort ball that arrived a bit faster than expected and was caught.

Kirishna joined Hansi in the drizzle as thoughts and words were exchanged on the viability of staying out. Two mighty drives to wide ones got Krishna off and running before the rain got heavier and sadly the game was called off. 56-1 from 13 or so overs represented a great base. What would have come of the game but for the weather no-one knows, but an enjoyable experience, hopefully to be repeated next season under liquid-golden skies rather than under one that is leaden and grim.

Shoutout to John, who paused his mower appreciation to umpire from both ends and Tristan who stood at square leg throughout.

Author: Hansi B

Ibstone CC vs Ivanhoe – 10 Sept 2023

Friday dawned bright, heatwaves promised across Hertfordshire for the forthcoming weekend, the prospect of an artificial pitch necessitating soft spikes and running shoes loomed large. The prospect of revenge, all the sweeter given the forecast and probable pitch conditions and recent run of close games brought optimism to all registered for the game…at least until the calamitous message from Andrew that the scoundrels had cancelled on us…what were the intrepid travellers, bereft of the Royal Vet College to do?

Into the breach (although perhaps the use of breach stretched the definition of one usage of the word) stepped Ibstone – into deepest, darkest Buckinghamshire ventured the Ives.  Sat-navs were set for a journey to test ourselves against an unknown quandary.

Further disruption occurred as a late illness withdrawal left the brave travellers one short on the day. As cars parked around the square boundaries of Ibstone’s lovely ground all who’d ventured along the M40 regaled how they’d been peppered with a semi-torrential downpour en route, that had darkened spirits at the prospect of the game being called off. Hearts were gladdened by the pitch coverings and clubhouse for all and sundry to shelter in!

30 overs per side were agreed upon due to the delayed start and creeping darkness that curtail play early on a September’s eve. First use of the wicket fell to the home side but under heavy skies Saquib and Hansi opened up and took 2 wickets apiece, giving the Ives a start not enjoyed in a long while as runs were at a premium. Saquib swung it both ways trapping one batter LBW and another had their off stump knocked back. Stand-in wicketkeeper Rich defied a stiff neck to take a catch, as did Krishna before Ven disrupted another batters wickets.

A mini revival ensued, one cannot but applaud batters doing well against good bowling, before Ven took another, Mohammed chipped in to further deepen the mire Ibstone were in.

John and Phil K turned their arms over, each prying a batter out, aided by some top-notch fielding, both on the ground saving runs and in safe hands catching almost everything … for a while at least.

Champagne moments abounded, as two contenders for catch of the season occurred within the space of a few overs; Saquib defied gravity at backward square flying through the air like a majestic falcon, and Phil K on the boundary flirting with the rope whilst charging back to pluck a lofted drive out of the air. Not to be outdone (and to provide competition to Will’s Mr Nonchalant easy catching and wicketkeeping), Rich affected a stumping with aplomb and calmness.

Sadly the last pair of batters swung their respective willows with gusto and to great effect. Runs were plundered, boundaries aplenty including several balls smote most profoundly over the rope and into nearby woodland inflated the score from a less than middling 110-odd to a semi-imposing 146.

The Ive’s innings can, and indeed should, be divided into two very distinct halves…to whit, Steve, and then the rest. More on Steve later, but for the rest it must be recorded, as posterity needs to know the horrors. Phil K and Venky opened up but sadly didn’t last too long, Krishna looked good and dispatched several balls to the boundary but fell just as the opening bowlers were finishing their spells. Mohammad was undone by a big turner and stumped. The lefthanded power axis of John and Hansi performed miserably. Rich lost the sibling rivalry as he was dismissed first ball and Saquib didn’t last too long. Chris came in for the last couple of overs and outscored his sibling to remain undefeated at the end.

On the other hand, and it is far more enjoyable to recount the exploits of Steve. Coming in early, blocking the good balls and dispatching the bad ones and seemingly untroubled by the carnage around him, he wore a bemused expression as batter after batter fell at the other end. His countenance was unflappable as, when the ball was in his ark, it was gloriously and summarily sent to (and over) the boundary rope. Even when the asking rate was at seven, eight, nine runs and above he did not panic, but merely hit the ball harder and through the ring field.

A well deserved half century was scored, unbowed and undefeated he led the players from the field at the end of Ive’s 30 overs.

History will record Steve’s excellent innings and a relatively close game all up, but those with long memories of the game will chastise themselves for letting the last wicket pair take the game away from them…as well as an admiring nod to Steve, the player of the match.

Author: Hansi B

Ives vs Harrowdene CC – 13th August 2023

Ivanhoe have challenged themselves over the last couple of years against the powerhouse team of Harrowdene CC A timed game in 2021 saw the Ives in desperate trouble but a powerhouse performance from Bob Collins and a controlled innings from Saqib both saved the game and brought the chance of victory but honours finished even. 2022 saw the Vet College host an absolute annihilation, 211 proved far too many in 35 overs as the Ives limped to 109, albeit only for 8.

A bright and sunny day in early August accorded the opportunity for revenge in another timed game, as the toss was won and Harrowdene inserted to face the new ball….

The first few overs belied the carnage that was to come; as few runs were scored off Saqib and Hansi, who took an early wicket as the ball moved off the seam and caused a few false shots and kept the fielders interested. The pitch wasn’t misbehaving in the ‘usual manner’ that we have come to expect from the Vet College.

When the shackles were broken, they were well and truly broken! Boundaries were plundered all around the wicket, leather was chased as the sound of the ball being dispatched echoed around the ground. Some outrageous shot-making ensued, including batters walking outside off stump and walloping the ball behind square on the legs side. It was entertaining to watch (even as a bowler being smashed), with high risk suggesting that wickets could fall at any moment.

Brakes were put on by Tristan, with two wickets in two balls, and Hansi had a plum LBW turned down (cue grins from the batter and a tacit understanding when they were bowling that any LBWs were not going to be forthcoming!). After a quite spell, lasting all of about 10 balls, the pace was picked up…A couple more big partnerships followed and a run rate of 6 an over was easily achieved. The ball, not the greatest to start with, resembled a lump of mud that was increasingly closer in shape to an egg rather than a sphere, certainly did not help.

Two dropped catches did not help the cause of the Ives, but in general it was one of the better fielding performances, espoused by fantastic keeping by Phil K who affected a stumping and kept the batters ‘honest’.

Newcomer Krishna came on to bowl deep into Harrowdene’s innings and bowled beautifully, taking two wickets from excellent deliveries – including the top scorer who was eying a century!

Ivanhoe’s response started in calamity as Phil K fell early, and tight bowling restricted Bob, Rich et al changed the nature of the game; it was no longer about trying to chase the target down, but to survive. Close fielders kept the singles to a premium, and the tight bowling gave few opportunities for the batters to free their arms and hit through the line to break the ring-field.

The battery of fast bowlers were augmented by two spinner; an offie who had tormented Ivanhoe in the past generating lots of bounce and turn, and a left-armer tied batters in knots…there wasn’t any respite and almost every-ball a challenge. The final insult came when a part-timer came on and bowled a maiden, a wicket maiden, then five balls (with another wicket) before conceding a solitary single that could have resulted in a run-out!  

Phil P and Hansi faced the music, trying to be positive wherever possible, with some powerful and controlled strokes from Phil. in a partnership that spanned nearly 20 overs, the draw was achieved, before off the last ball Phil holed out, having done his job to save the game.

Joint player of the match awards went to the returning Parnells, Phil and Tristan – glad to have you back!

Author: Hansi B

Theydon Bois CC vs Ives – 30th July 2023

Ivanhoe at Theydon Bois – The game that wasn’t

The Ives travelled to the lovely ground that Theydon Bois call home – last year we were serenaded by piano concertos from a nearby house as a tightly fought game came down on the side of Theydon.
The curse of 2023’s weather had temporarily abated but under leaden skies that threatened a downpour at any stage, but the presence of a fantastic clubhouse lightened any heavy hearts, Ivanhoe went into bat in a 35 over game.
Depending on where one bats in the order, the sight of a strapping young bowler marking out a runup over 20+ paces either excites or puts the fear of all that’s holy into others…coupled with the gloomy outlook, a large tree deep in the outfield and a pitch that sloped from the short boundary on one side to the long boundary on the clubhouse side, and a few ridges just outside off at one end suggested a challenge would be faced by the openers.
Phil K and Ciaran opened up and faced the wrath of the new ball…Phil made a handy 14 with some lovely strokes before falling. Steve joined the fray and played an exquisite square drive early on as well as a sweetly timed pull shot and looked utterly comfortable in scoring 16, before falling against the run of play.
One of Prasad’s friends was undone first ball by a big spinner bringing Bob Collins in, and the score rattled along until calamity struck and out of nowhere Ciaran fell for a very handy 44. Hansi Joined and was able to watch from the non-strikers end as Bob put on a masterclass of power batting, scoring around the wicket and utterly dominating the partnership.
The rain grew heavier, but the spirits of the Bois were not dampened, even if their shirts were sodden and rain dripped off the helmet visor and black and yellow cap of the batsmen but all and sundry stayed on the field.
Captain Collins was no-doubt cursing his decision not to play a 40 over game, as having scored 65 and led the Ives to 174/4 he left a century on the table. Considering last year Ivanhoe scored 156 off 40 overs this represented the kind of batting that was required last year…
During the luncheon interval, any prospect of play was utterly curtailed ad the downpour became torrential, and the game was called off – an utterly sensible decision but great applause must be directed to the Bois for sticking with the game for the Ives’ innings without complaint and then not getting an opportunity to bat.
Understandably Bob Collins (esquire) was player of the match, although due to some quirk of democracy he shared that accolade…

Author: Hansi B