WCC v Hertford
Hertford 319-4 dec. WCC 138-9.
The Weekenders' last pair played out the final over to secure a satisfying draw. It was an improvement on last year's tera-choke and showed character after a bit of a bullying in the first half of the day. Davis's 204 not out might have knocked the stuffing out of some teams, but the Weekenders are blessed with an abundance of stuffing to sustain them in times of difficulty, as exemplified by the encouraging shouts of 'Keep it to seven' on the stroke of lunch as the batsmen crossed for the fifth time. Chief among the scrappers was Jessie Black who made one of the most impressive WCC debuts of recent times, with two wickets from six brisk overs including the clever dismissal of the pro Ter Braak with a slow full toss. When the time came for her to bat to save the match, she showed formidable sang froid swaying out of the way of a first ball bouncer as it hurtled past her nose, then slapped the next one to the point boundary. There were some elegant knocks from Laurie and the debutant Twigg. Lyons resisted gamely for an hour and a half, Douglas made a 65-minute 11, courageously taking on the leg-spinner while Jessie faced the six-foot quick bloke.
The player of the match was our skipper, keeper and match manager, Husaini. Having heroically averted the shame of cancellation due to shortage of numbers, Husain cleverly spread the pain of the boy Davis's double ton around the Weekenders bowlers, so no one suffered too badly; there was also the small matter of surviving the day's 120th over to secure the draw. But it was his prompt action when the pub opposite the station was found to be derelict that assured Husaini's place in the Pantheon of great Weekenders leaders. He jumped in a mini-cab, found an offie and returned with 18 cans of Stella shortly before the London train pulled alongside the platform. All of which makes the current idolising of Alastair Cook seem faintly ridiculous.
Hertford 319-4 dec. (54.3 overs)
B. Davis 204 not out
Douglas 9.3-1-35-1, Orwell 9-1-39-0, Blaxhall 8-1-59-0, J Black 6-1-31-2, Twigg 6-0-27-0, Dunne 9-0-39-0, Lyons 3-0-21-0, R Black 4-0-54-1.
WCC 138-9 (65 overs)
Twigg 31, Laurie 17, Lyons 33, R Black 2, Dunne 8, Bailey 1, Douglas 11, Blaxhall 4, J Black 7, Husaini (Capt.) 6*, Orwell 0*
M. Lawrence (quick) 10-6-8-2, D. Ter Braak (leggie) 11-6-11-4.
View from the train
DRAMA’S ALWAYS ON THE MENU WHEN THE WEEKENDERS ARE IN TOWN.
Hertford CC’s highly manicured facilities, a satellite of Middlesex CCC no less, is an unlikely setting for bollock-coruscating drama. But for the second year running, the ‘Enders conjured an alarming twist to what seemed a processional trudge to the inevitable.
No more will be said about last year’s match, where the Weekenders, boasting Queensland’s Michael Phillipson, launched themselves from the high table of glory, headlong into the rectum of defeat.
This year, Hertford’s curator, perhaps in an attempt to nullify The ‘Enders' ‘hunting-as-a-pack’ seam attack, produced a pitch flat enough to please Elizabethan religious zealots. Coupled with a match ball that resembled damp tiramisu, this was fixture was never going to be one for the bowlers to savour.
Hertford scored just 19 off their first 11 overs. Douglas removed Hertford's opener who appeared to be LBW, bowled and hit wicket, all at once. However the departure of Mr Triple-Dismissal brought to the crease a stocky right-hander who had depressing plans for the ‘Enders bowling unit.
Hertford’s Davis played from the start in a risk-free fashion; scampering singles on the offside and firmly punching to the boundary on the leg. Debutant Jesse Black (accomplished cricketing daughter of ‘Ender’s favourite Richard Black) took two excellent wickets with her clever seam-up bowling, including the early departure of Hertford’s slightly terrifying, gleaming-toothed club-pro - Ter-Braak from Rotterdam via New Zealand.
But nothing could stop Davis as he first hit his inaugural ton, then continued to 150. It’s true, a lack of fleet-footedness in the field did result in at least two all-run fours and many, many threes - but Hertford stayed in the field long enough for Davis to compile an assured 204 with a final six off Douglas.
By this time, the score was 319 and the Weekenders, after a second delicious prandial sitting, went into full hunker mode - with the draw the only realistic result. The pitch was still benign, so openers Twigg and Laurie looked comfortable, if unaggressive in the first 10 overs of response. But BBC World Service needed Dom Laurie on air by 5.45pm, so after a two-over attack frenzy - Dom ran down the wicket and continued into a waiting Toyota Avensis, to be spirited to the capital. Debutant John Twigg began to open his shoulders before being pinned by an erratic Hertford paceman, leaving a welt that Douglas confused for an infected horsefly bite.
Pace made way for terrifying gleaming-toothed leg spin as Meneer Ter-Braak entered the fray with some highly accomplished wrist-spin which was far too good for most of the ‘Enders.
Inevitably, the game hinged on the 120th & final over, with the Weekenders needing 191 to win, and Hertford requiring one more wicket. Captain Husaini blocked out doughtily for a barely deserved draw, then delivered us to the Hertford North train station, with each of us supplied two cans of Stella. Man