Badgers Cricket Club – Season 2004 Match Reports


This page holds the match reports for all games played during the 2004 season. The links below provide a direct route to the report for each game plus access to the reports for seasons from 2000 to the present. It is also possible to link to them from the associated rolling results page entries and I hope to extend that facility to include all of the historical results pages, once I’ve figured out the best method of doing so.

Unless otherwise noted all match reports were written by your host and webmaster, Steve Pitts. For reasons that are now lost in the mists of time, the reports are laid out in reverse chronological order, but hopefully the links above make that an unimportant detail.

25th September – Merrow: 131 all out   Badgers: 134 for 3

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My abiding memories of Merrow are of a friendly and welcoming club, cricket played in the right spirit, and … rain. I guess the last game of the season is always going to have the potential to be a little damp, and being the last game of the season tends to get played unless conditions are totally out of order, but we still seem to play in the wet more than would be deemed as credible. Last Saturday was no different, with the whole of Merrow’s innings (and therefore our time in the field) conducted in a steady precipitation that varied from a drizzle to persistent rain. We got through it however, and produced a very creditable bowling performance under the circumstances.

In some respects the batting side seemed to struggle with the conditions more than the bowlers did, slip-sliding around not just when running between wickets but also when playing shots. None of the batsmen got on top of the bowling, and there was a steady dribble of wickets to keep the bowling side interested. Allan Butt doesn’t open the bowling very often – 10 times in the last 11 seasons – and whereas at Crondall two weeks ago, where he opened mainly because Ian Gregg was still trying to find his way through Farnham, on this occasion he and Ian were asked to perform the role in harness with all eleven Badgers present and correct. When he completed his spell he had outshone his partner and finished with figures of nine overs, three maidens, two wickets for twelve runs.

The batting side were unable to put together any significant partnerships, and S.Perry (29), the only batsman to pass 20 runs, was roundly barracked for scoring too slowly. With Alan Tickner (5-33) replacing Allan at the pavilion end they didn’t get much respite either, with Alan’s usual virtues of line and length causing the normal problems, and three of his five victims being clean bowled. Perry eventually fell to Alan, with Mark Gordon taking his third catch of the day to extend his record breaking season total even further into the realms of the incredible, albeit that all three were absolute dollies. Clive and Andy Windass did have a little fun at the tail end of the innings, adding 22 runs for the last wicket, but when Clive became the final statistic in Alan’s first five wicket haul of this season, the innings closed at 131.

Badgers have failed miserably to chase similar targets against these same opponents on several occasions, so nobody was taking anything for granted, but after the usual impressive hot meals had been consumed at tea time, they came out determined to lay that particular ghost. Opener Richard Ward provided the backbone of the innings, initially in partnership with brother Graham, and having survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket (or more accurately, a ball which ricocheted from the keeper to first slip) hit some lovely shots, including eleven fours which was only one less than Merrow had amassed between them.

Despite having easier conditions, at least in terms of the atmospheric conditions, the Merrow bowlers struggled to put the ball in the right places and an opening partnership of 41 was followed by another of 45 between Richard and Graham Davenport (25). Graham failed to trouble the scorers a great deal during the early and middle part of this season, but he has provided three solid scores in the last three games in his usual inimitable style, and he again occasioned some excitement from the fielding side. Richard sailed serenely on at the other end, and when the winning runs were scored by Greggy at the other end he was unbeaten on 64, his best score and first fifty for the Badgers. Having turned out to make up the numbers against the Foreign & Commonwealth Office he has only missed one game since, and has yet to be on a losing side. Anyone want to start a sweep on how long that record will last into the 2005 season??

I did say after the game that this was our first win at Merrow, but it turns out my memory is faulty, as we did win the second ever meeting back in 1996. However, we have lost the last six contests so this was a welcome return to winning ways. Anyway, a damp end to the season, but the usual hospitality from our hosts brought cricket for 2004 to a suitable climax and leaves us with the prospect of seven months off before we start again in May 2005. Here’s to a successful season and to many more to come.

19th September – Ockley: 160 for 6 dec.   Badgers: 158 for 9

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For the fourth time this season we entered the final over of a game with any result possible, and for the first time failed to deliver the win despite having both the captain and vice-captain at the wicket. In truth we shouldn’t have been in a position to win, but the most notable feature of the day was how badly both sides fielded, especially in the catching department. The failures started early in Ockley’s innings, with Mick Willmott having left-handed opener Herbert (25) dropped at the wicket from the first ball that he bowled and the batsmen faced.

Wicket keeper Steve Pitts did redeem himself with a good leg-side catch in Mick’s next over, but the bowler’s did not make best use of a difficult wicket, made slow and soft by overnight rain. The fact that the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat made scoring difficult, especially when the ball was put in the right places, but the fourth wicket pair of Turrel (29) and Bennett (65) slowly wrested control of the game away from the fielding side, with some powerful strokeplay.

The scoring rate was up to four an over when the fourth wicket went down in the thirtieth over, but Bennett continued the onslaught and it looked like a score around 180 was on the cards. The Badgers fielding was looking decidedly ropey at this point, with the low point (or comedic high point, depending on your point of view) being a massive skier that landed about a yard or so immediately behind a bemused Mick Willmott supposedly fielding on the line at long off. However, Graham Davenport rescued a little pride, enticing Bennett into a rash charge down the wicket and then repeating the dose two balls later to give Steve his first stumpings since the fourth game of the season. Ockley closed their innings on 160, which they might have considered to be a little below par but which looked like being more than enough in the early part of the Badgers’ innings.

Opening bowlers Cheesman (9-5-8-2) and Haig both bowled a good line, and the ball suddenly seemed to be moving all over the place. Cheesman was especially tough, hitting the seam and cutting the ball both ways and opener Steve Pitts (19) barely laid bat on ball in his first two overs, before watching from the other end as both Ward brothers were castled by balls that pitched on middle and hit off. Steve survived that torrid spell and in the eleventh over was joined by Patrick Redding when the third wicket fell with the score on eight!! The pair eventually saw off the openers, but the advent of the change bowlers didn’t make scoring any easier to start with, and just after the start of the last hour Steve fell prey to a short and wide delivery that he spooned to point.

The requirement at the start of the last twenty had been nearly six and a half an over, but the arrival of Graham Davenport (26) at the fall of the fifth wicket finally gave the innings the hurry up it needed. Graham and Pat lifted the scoring rate above the paltry two an over it had been to that point, clattering 36 from the next five overs before Graham was run out by a direct hit from long on, but the asking rate had risen to eight and a half an over despite their best endeavours. It looked like the game would peter out to a draw, with Patrick untroubled (other than by his dodgy calf) at one end and captain Mark Gordon (25) pushing the ball around at the other, but several dropped catches and missed chances gave the innings some impetus. The pair plundered forty eight runs from four overs, including 21 from Ockley skipper Figg’s last over, and the final over started with just five required for an improbable victory.

What happened next was even more improbable, with Patrick skying the first ball of the over to mid wicket to end his innings on 72 and Mark then conjuring a mirror image dismissal from the very next ball. Keith Miller and Mick scrambled a couple of singles but Keith had his stumps shattered trying to smite the last ball of the innings for the winning runs and Badgers fell two runs short of Ockley’s total with a solitary wicket in hand.

12th September – Crondall: 99 all out   Badgers: 102 for 6

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The outfield was rather lush, the pitch looked a little green, but Crondall really is a very picturesque village and it didn’t seem to matter that the sun didn’t shine or that the ball didn’t run to the boundary quite as some of us would prefer. This was Patrick’s first game in charge since tour, and he continued the recent tradition by asking Crondall to bat first. The game got off to an explosive start, despite the absence of opening bowler Ian Gregg – lost in the wilds of Farnham, apparently – with Allan Butt’s second ball dispatched back over his head and onto the road in front of the church. Allan got his revenge three balls later, having the batsman caught at the wicket, and in the process giving wicket keeper Steve Pitts his 250th dismissal behind the stumps. Thereafter the game settled into a more normal pattern for a pitch where the ball was not coming onto the bat.

Opener P.Goldsworthy (20) and captain Goss (39 no.) fashioned a third wicket partnership of nearly 40, but the scoring rate was slow and the eventual introduction of Ian into the attack slowed it down even more. A breakthrough seemed inevitable and when it came, courtesy of a slip catch, it gave Dave Tickner his 150th outfield catch for the club. From that point on Goss watched in growing consternation as his partners came and went with increasing rapidity as both Ian and Simon Fox (3-20) bowled straight and the batsmen generally played across the line too frequently. Only Maclean (17) made it into double figures (or even beyond five to be pedantic) and whilst he hit some big shots he too fell playing across the line, giving Foxy one of his three clean bowled victims of the afternoon.

Greggy continued to plug away, and eventually bagged a five-fer courtesy of three wickets in seven balls, finishing with 5 for 32. Indeed, the last five wickets went down in twenty balls for the addition of about ten runs (and no, I can’t be more vague. Since the scorebook was missing both fall of wickets and over by over totals I am groping around for accurate numbers) and the innings closed at 99 from 32.5 overs.

The wicket didn’t get any easier when it was our turn to bat, nor did the outfield grass get any shorter, but the Badgers batsmen did cope better with the demands of the conditions. Opener Steve Pitts (31) provided the initial impetus, making the lion’s share of a 38 run first wicket partnership, but both openers fell to the wiles of young R.Goldsworthy (2-19) who bowled straight and probably deserved a little more luck. When Steve was second out the score was 49 from fifteen overs, and a partnership of 27 between the two Grahams, Ward and Davenport, kept things ticking over, with Graham Davenport (27) dominating his junior partner.

When Graham senior was fourth out only 14 more runs were needed to win from the last 18 overs, but the middle order made heavy weather of finishing the job, taking eight more overs to do so. Dave Tickner managed to make a golden duck with just two needed to win, but appropriately it was one-time Crondall vice-captain Allan Butt who struck the winning runs with a boundary in the next over. Another solid all round performance and another notch in the victory stick.

5th September – Ottershaw: 124 for 8 dec.   Badgers: 125 for 3

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My apologies for the lack of a report for this game, but I simply ran out of time to get everything done

29th August – Blindley Heath: 175 for 6 dec.   Badgers: 176 for 7

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Despite heavy rain on the morning of the game, and a twenty-odd minute delay at the start of the last hour due to a significant shower, we were able to complete this game, albeit that it was nearly dark by the time we finished. Badgers were short of bowling, but fortunately were able to field first having won the toss. Some tight bowling by the opening pair, Alan Tickner and Mark Gordon (2-27), restricted the early scoring, but the only breakthroughs in the first 24 overs came courtesy of a couple of superb catches – a diving one by Richard Ward in the covers and a smart slip catch away to his right by Alan – in one over from Mark.

Opener Neil Burchett (62), who averages over 60 against us in the 2000s and has not failed to reach fifty during that span, was largely untroubled at the other end but the scoring rate was fairly pedestrian until Mick Willmott (1-52) captured the third wicket in the 25th over with the score on 63. This brought Blindley Heath’s skipper Howard (59 no.) to the wicket and he proceeded to clobber the leggie from the attack, with 45 runs coming from Mick’s next four overs. Alan Tickner at the other end had conceded fewer than that (43) from his 16 overs to that point, and continued to plug away. He found an ally in fourteen year old Darrell Pitts (1-25), who bowled a little quicker than Mick, which made quite a difference on the spongy surface.

Alan produced a peach of a delivery, pitching on middle and hitting the top of off stump, to scupper Burchett and then repeated the dose two balls later. Despite getting collared for thirteen runs in his final over he finished with mighty impressive figures – 23 overs, 5 maidens, 2 wickets for 70 runs, and the longest spell of bowling since Alan Wilkes bowled 25 overs at Dormansland back in July 1992. Darrell snaffled his first wicket for the Badgers at the other end, and could well have had a couple more since catches went to ground, before Blindley Heath closed their innings at 175 for 6.

The Badgers reply got off to a quick start, ten runs comings from the first over despite opener Steve Pitts (25) damaging his brand new bat with the first shot he played with it, but thereafter scoring proved tough against some tight bowling on the slow wicket. Steve fell to a sharp catch in the covers and whilst most of the middle order contributed runs, the scoring rate stayed at around three an over. A heavy rain squall almost immediately after the start of the last hour jeopardised the whole contest, but play resumed after a break of twenty five minutes or so. Almost immediately the task became more difficult as two quick wickets fell to leave 109 runs still required from 16 overs with only five wickets in hand.

Dave Tickner (43) started in scratchy fashion but slowly grew in confidence as he put together his best innings for several seasons (since the 86 he scored against Reigate Cavaliers in August 2000, in fact). When he was joined by brother Alan, 82 runs were still required from 10 overs, but the pair kept their cool in the deepening gloom and the next six overs realised 60 runs, with both hitting some big shots on the small ground. Dave was out with 18 still needed, the pair having put on 64 for the seventh wicket, but Alan (41 no.) manipulated the strike, made the big hits, and saw the Badgers safely to the target with a ball to spare but no light to speak of.

22nd August – Badgers: 195 for 8 dec.   Maori-Oxshott: 129 all out

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We first played Oxshott Village, as they were then, in 2000 and two of the three matches in the series so far have been rather one-sided in their favour, with the other being drawn when we were unable to bowl them out. On this occasion we were asked to bat first, and after a couple of early wickets opener Steve Pitts (51) and captain Mark Gordon (69) settled in and gradually started to wrest control from the bowling side, especially once openers Karim (1-16) and Mollan (3-39) had been removed from the attack.

At that point the score was 33 from 16 overs, but when Steve ran himself out just five runs shy of his 5000 for the club, the pair had collected another 76 from just thirteen more overs, and the partnership had realised 94 altogether. Mark lasted another ten overs, although the ball striking that had brought him three massive sixes during the third wicket partnership deserted him somewhat, but another forty runs were added during that period. The lower middle order then provided the vital kick-on, despite Alan Tickner (15) falling to a fairly freaky dismissal when the ball struck various parts of his equipment before rolling back onto the stumps just hard enough to dislodge the bails.

Graham Davenport (17 no.) and Mick Willmott (15) found ways to continue the scoring and their eighth wicket partnership added another 33 to the total and meant that the innings closed just five runs short of the 200. That looked a competitive total, with a good track being slightly offset by some long boundaries, but once Ross Billington (1-29) started to find some swing and the Maori-Oxshott opening pair were dismissed in the space of two overs, they struggled to achieve the required run rate.

Ross had a hand in the removal of both openers, having one caught at slip and catching the other from Ian Gregg’s bowling, and their 37 run opening stand would turn out to be biggest of the innings. Bringing himself on as first change Mark Gordon continued the process started by his openers, with wickets falling in four of his first six overs. Mick Willmott (2-45) chipped in at the other end and only the sixth wicket pair of Buckland (21) and Mollan (27) threatened the Badgers’ hegemony, with a stand of 31.

The tail couldn’t resist taking the odd swipe, despite the ministrations of their captain at the other end, and enough of those attacking shots proved fatal for the visitors to wrap up the win with more than six overs still to be bowled. Fittingly Mark returned to snaffle the final wicket and to finish with 5 for 21 plus two catches to put the tin lid on a fantastic individual all-round day and a solid team performance.

15th August – Newchapel & Horne: 240 for 7 dec.   Badgers: 242 for 8

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Despite the fact that they’ve filled in the ditch around the far side of the ground, Newchapel & Horne remains one of the most compact cricket pitches that we play on, and yet again the aggregate scores reflected that fact. In common with Old Alleynians and Blindley Heath, the small boundaries mean that bowlers tend to toil in vain, especially once batsmen get their eye in, and Sunday was another example of that. Opener Ian Gregg, for instance, bowled seven overs for just 14 runs, but went for 17 more from the final over of that first spell. At the other end first change Mark Gordon had the opposite experience, with his first over going for 14 runs but the next seven costing only 11.

Number three Higgs (69) had led the early forays, including a 72 run second wicket partnership, and his innings was only ended by a beauty of a catch by Mark, racing in and diving forward at mid-wicket – an entirely appropriate way to bring up his 200th catch for the club. It’s an arbitrary milestone, since he already holds the club record for outfield catches, but to put the feat into a little perspective Mark has taken those catches over the course of sixteen seasons (thirteen if you ignore the handful of games he appeared in before starting to play regularly at the age of fifteen) and the only person ahead of him overall is his father Roy, who was keeping wicket for the vast majority of his catches and played regularly for 28 seasons and occasionally for 10 others.

Unfortunately for the visitors that dismissal didn’t signal a slowing of the run rate and only a ridiculous run out that ended the 77 run fourth wicket partnership and some tight bowling at the death by Alan Tickner and Ian Gregg stopped Newchapel posting a score well over 250. Both picked up wickets during those final overs, and Ian also reached a milestone, with the second of his wickets being his 100th for the club.

The required run rate was going to be around six an over, and some tight bowling and scratchy batting from the top order, meant that when the third wicket fell four an over was all that had been managed. The fourth wicket pair changed the face of the game, with Richard Ward (42) providing the necessary support whilst Paul Little (76) – who obviously likes this ground after his match winning innings last year – battered the bowling at the other end with three sixes and twelve fours. The pair put on 106 for the fourth wicket and when they were parted with eleven of the last twenty overs remaining the target was an achievable 74.

One over later it was 12 runs less but Paul was dismissed from the last ball and the innings lost its impetus for a while. Fortunately for the Badgers Alan Tickner (20 no.) kept his head whilst the required rate crept up from six an over to just over ten with three overs remaining. By that point skipper Mark Gordon (25) had joined him in the middle, and some brutal hitting quickly reduced the target to just four runs from ten balls. Mark was cleaned bowled trying to finish things off and Graham Davenport added another golden duck to his collection attempting the same trick. Fortunately Alan did not panic and Ian Gregg struck the winning runs from the penultimate ball of the game.

8th August – Reigate Cavaliers: 181 for 9 dec.   Badgers: 86 all out

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A beautiful sunny day, lovely surroundings, but an ugly performance which makes this a difficult game to write about (politely). We seem to have developed a tendency to collapse horribly against Reigate Cavaliers, who whilst putting out one of the stronger sides we play against are by no means as good as some of our recent showings make them look. On this occasion the bowlers put on a solid display, but our batting was execrable.

Mark Gordon’s decision to ask Mick Willmott (1-24) to be his opening partner was a brave one, not in the least because it isn’t always easy for a spinner to grip the new ball, but Mick more than repaid the Skipper’s faith with ten solid overs during which he regularly worried the batsmen with both bounce and turn. In fact he finished with the best economy rate on the day, and was also the only bowler to take a wicket during the first 28 overs of the innings. Mark and Andy Parker had toiled away at the other end without much luck, although they were able to peg the scoring rate to about three an over, and it wasn’t until the introduction of Alan Tickner that the Cavaliers’ stately progress was interrupted.

The second wicket partnership between Miller (43) and Greenfield (36) had amassed 71 runs before Alan’s ability to pitch the ball up and bowl straight upset their apple cart. Both were skittled in the space of three overs, and when Graham Davenport (2-29) chipped in with a double-wicket maiden three overs later, Reigate had declined to 120 for 6 and the Badgers had hopes of bowling them out for 150 or so. The lower order put paid to that idea, showing a willingness to swing through the line and hit the ball hard, and even Alan Tickner came in for some stick over the closing overs. Reigate’s final total of 181 looked to be about par on a good wicket and a large outfield, but turned out to be more than enough.

The less said about the Badgers batting performance the better. Suffice to say that only Simon Fox (13) and Alan Tickner (12) showed the necessary nous, that five middle order wickets went down in the space of 29 balls, that at 38 for 7 we were threatening to embarrass ourselves as badly as two years ago, and that Mick Willmott (15 no.) top scored whilst sharing in the highest partnership of the innings – 29 for the last wicket. James Brickley (3-18) continues to haunt us, but this year it was skipper Andy Lewis (4-33) who led the attack.

1st August – Ham & Petersham: 164 all out   Badgers: 166 for 7

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A brand new fixture, courtesy of the CCC and a late Rowan cry-off, and what a cracker it was too. The setup at Ham & Petersham is the sort of anachronism that only English village cricket could throw up, with the clubhouse being little more than a wooden shed huddled between the adjacent buildings on one side of the A307 between Richmond and Kingston, whilst the pitch is a few hundred yards away on Ham Common, which is the other side of the road. The facilities provided by the clubhouse were perfectly adequate, however, and a most impressive spread at tea-time was laid out in the back room of the adjacent Hand & Flower public house. The wicket initially looked as if it might make the game a difficult one for batsmen, but in the end proved to be nothing like as venomous as the early overs indicated it might be.

The opening bowlers kept things tight early on, with Ian Gregg (1-9) perhaps receiving less reward than he might on another day. Partner Ross Billington (3-47) fared a little better, with all three of his wickets coming courtesy of almost identical deliveries – a late dipping, slightly slower, almost yorker length ball that castled his hapless victims. His marathon spell probably lasted one over too long, however, with a dozen runs coming from that thirteenth over to spoil his impressive figures slightly. Allan Butt (1-26) continued the good work at the other end, and Ham found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 39 for 5 after 17 overs.

The sixth wicket pair of Redman (44) and Patel (41) set about repairing the damage and a frustrating period ensued for the visitors, with the odd chance going begging or falling just wide of the fielders. It was the ever dependable Alan Tickner (3-38) who broke the 61 run partnership, courtesy of Mark Gordon’s 199th catch in games that counted towards the averages, and he and Mick Willmott (2-39) continued to make it difficult for the batsmen to accelerate the scoring as they’d have liked.

Redman had been joined by number eight Inns (31), who proceeded to nudge and nurdle runs, especially into the gaps between the close and deep fielders off Mick’s bowling. The pair took the score to 141 and were threatening to move the score on to a more formidable total when a diving catch by Ross removed Redman and precipitated a fairly rapid decline to 164 all out.

This looked to be a less than imposing total, despite the occasional vagaries of the pitch, but the Badgers pursuit of it got off to an horrendous start, with the first three wickets tumbling inside the first four overs for just a single run. A captain’s innings was required, and Mark Gordon – playing his 200th innings for the club – provided just that, ably assisted by Alan Tickner (40). Mark was especially harsh on the bad balls, scattering four sixes amongst his eleven boundaries, and the pair pushed the score along to 73 from 16 overs and the target at the start of the last twenty was 87, at a run-rate fractionally below the current scoring rate.

Alan was dismissed just before the start of the last hour, having added 72 runs for the fourth wicket, and when the fifth wicket went down three overs later, fourteen year-old Darrell Pitts came to the wicket to play his first innings for the club in nearly two years. Unfortunately Mark fell for 66 runs to the returning opening bowler Sweeney (3-38) with fifty runs still required to win from twelve overs, but Patrick Redding (36 no.) is not a bad batsman to have arrive at the crease with six wickets down, and he set about the task with his usual watchfulness. He and Darrell added 43 runs before the latter’s 37 ball vigil came to an end with seven still needed to win, but despite playing the latter half of his innings on one leg and with a runner, Pat steered the Badgers to another good win with two overs, and three wickets, in hand.

24th July – Old Alleynians: 185 all out   Badgers: 186 for 3

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I started an (as yet incomplete and therefore) unpublished match report for the Hook Norton game on this year’s tour by describing that fixture as the second oldest on the slate (with Dormansland, whom we first played in 1962, being the oldest), but it seems that my gut feeling was wrong, and in fact Old Alleynians hold that position, with the fixture having been contested on twenty occasions since 1980. The first couple of games were played at Rose Hill, but the remainder have been played in Dulwich, and as far as I can remember always on the plastic strip which gives such little encouragement to the bowlers. None of the current Old Alleynians side were involved in that first fixture, but both Alan Tickner and I (Steve Pitts) played for the Badgers, with Alan top-scoring with 41, taking two catches and finishing with the best bowling figures of 4 for 19.

All nineteen previous meetings have been played as time limited games, in traditional Badgers fashion, but this one was agreed between the captains as a limited overs contest. As it happens that made little or no difference, since we bowled them out and were never in danger of running out of overs, but it still didn’t feel right to this old-timer. The Old Alleynians innings got off to a solid start, mainly thanks to opener Parkin (37), but it was only after the Badgers opening pairing of Mark Gordon (1-11) and Ian Gregg (2-24) were replaced that the scoring rate started to pick up. Highlight of that early part of the innings was a blinding catch, diving low to his right, by Richard Ward which left the home side’s number four with his mouth hanging open and his head shaking.

Despite a couple of wickets, and a couple more spilled catches to boot, Mick Willmott (2-62) came in for some stick on the small ground, and a fifth wicket partnership featuring Smith (54) and Marmion (20) started to swing the game Old Alleynians’ way. Marmion was unlucky to be given run out, given the umpire’s positioning and apparent lack of awareness of what actually happened (although quite how you knock a set of sprung stumps out of the ground is not obvious). From a high point of 129 for 4 from 25 overs, the innings gradually declined as Simon Fox (2-44) finally found some success in his last couple of overs and Alan Tickner (2-34) kept it tight at the other end. The final wicket fell with nine balls still to be bowled, and a total of 185 looked to be thirty or forty short of what was necessary.

The Badgers innings followed a familiar pattern, with Richard and Graham Ward providing solid support to another masterclass from Patrick Redding. Someone commented in the middle of the innings that there seemed to be a lot of scratching about going on in the middle, to which Alan observed that he’d love to be able to scratch around for sixty odd!! At the twenty-five over point Badgers were 122 for 3, which was comparable with the Alleynians’ score at the same point, but Patrick accelerated the scoring to the extent that the 64 runs required came up off just seven more overs and the final boundary also brought up his third century of the season, an unbeaten 103.

The Old Alleynians’ bowlers did not help themselves much with 23 wides and eleven no balls amongst the 37 extras recorded. This is the most extras in a Badgers innings since exactly the same figure was recorded on 5th May 1996 against Nutfield, and equals the second highest since I’ve been keeping the records. Crondall supplied 41 extras on 3rd July 1994, and Saturday’s 37 is only the tenth time our opponents have passed 30 since 1988.

[For the record the following table documents the half dozen longest running active head-to-head records. This is one of the new reports that I’ve been working on behind the scenes, so at some point I should be able to publish a more complete list, although I probably ought to finish off the missing match reports first?!] (the fruits of those labours did not ripen until 2011, but the opponent summary page has existed since then to provide those details – retrospective Ed.)

OpponentFirst metGamesWins LossesDrawsTiesAbandoned
Dormansland196247 1517 1212
Old Alleynians198020 884   
Rowan198119 387  1
Hook Norton198419 936  1
Newchapel198418 3104  1
Blindley Heath198517 629   

17th July – Beddington: 116 for 8   Badgers: 117 for 6

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The last time we played Beddington, back in September 2002, we had a really close game that went right down to the final over, but whilst they provided the same mix of youth and experience as last time, they never really came to terms with what was required in this forty over contest. Overnight rain had left the pitch a little slow, with the occasional inconsistent bounce, and the Badgers opening attack made the most of the conditions by restricting the scoring. Ian Gregg (3-14) was in his element and turned in his best figures of the season, bowling his eight overs off the reel at the start of the innings.

When Ian left the attack after sixteen overs the score had reached just 35, with four Beddington batsman already back in the clubhouse and Ross Billington (1-19) keeping things tight at the other end. Alan Tickner (2-25) was another ideally suited to the conditions, and he bowled the last eight overs from the same end as Ian, inducing a steepling catch from Holleyman (22) – who had looked the home side’s best bat – which Graham Ward snaffled neatly. The lower middle order did provide a little more impetus, but nobody really got in and made hay, and the final score was 116 from the full 40 overs.

The Badgers innings got off to a roaring start with opener Steve Pitts (18) taking a toll of some wayward deliveries to rack up thirteen runs from the first over. Things settled down into a more normal pattern after that, with Richard Ward (38) battling away at one end whilst runs proved rather more difficult to come by after that initial flurry. After seventeen overs the Badgers had mustered 54 runs, on target but only just, but the third wicket fell in that over and number five batsman Paul Little turned the game on its head again with some brutal ball striking – smashing two sixes and five fours in his 37 runs.

When Paul eventually holed out, just over seven overs later, he and Richard had added 54 runs for the fourth wicket – exactly doubling the score and leaving just nine to win from sixteen overs!! As so often happens after a good partnership, Richard fell in the very next over, and we were then treated to a very brief cameo from Graham Davenport, who announced in advance that he was going to try and clog the four runs needed to win from the very first ball he received. The cynics on the balcony then immediately called what happened next, much to the amusement of Beddington’s lone supporter, and Graham duly holed out to deep mid-wicket for a golden duck. It was left to skipper Mark Gordon to hit the winning four, and Badgers were home and dry with 13.4 overs in hand.

10th July – Badgers: 161 for 9   Foreign & Commonwealth Office: 160 all out

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A brand new fixture, and I doubt that we’ll have too many games this season that end up being as close as this one. Proceedings started somewhat unpromisingly, with the start being delayed by a rain squall and dire warnings from the Met Office about thunderstorms and heavy rain, but despite two further interruptions due to torrential downpours we were able to complete a full forty over contest.

Asked to bat first Badgers got off to a mixed start, with almost complete constipation at one end, thanks to tight bowling by Bielby (8-5-7-1), and a better flow of runs at the other, at least until the dismissal of opener Steve Pitts (22). The first rain delay came at exactly halfway, with the score at 75 for 3 and the captain and vice-captain in harness. The next ten overs yielded 55 runs, but F&CO made canny use of their bowlers and when Mark Gordon (36) was out in the next over even Patrick Redding (55) was unable to keep the scoring rate moving and with the lower middle order and tail only sparking fitfully the innings sputtered to a close with only 31 runs coming from the last ten overs, and only seven from the last four as the wickets tumbled.

Mark had been carefully planning his bowling attack, but when Foxy announced at tea-time that he would have to leave early those plans went out of the window, and the Badgers would be left with only ten men in the field for the last sixteen overs. The F&CO innings got off to a slow start, with Mark conceding just eight runs from his five over spell, but they showed their experience in the limited overs format by gradually ramping up the scoring to the point where their score at halfway was almost identical, 74 for 3. The Badgers ground fielding looked ragged throughout, but the catching – especially from Mark and Graham Ward – would prove the difference in the game.

When it looked like the home side were getting on top Mark reintroduced himself into the attack with immediate effect, courtesy of a superb caught and bowled, and the pressure was back on, with 44 needed from the final ten overs and only four wickets left. However, the seventh wicket pair of Janjua (22) and Bielby (14) batted sensibly, taking advantage of some sloppy fielding to steal singles and turn ones into twos and twos into threes. Alan Tickner (4-22) had been plugging away impressively from one end, in his usual niggardly fashion, and his seventh over, the 38th of the innings, was to prove decisive.

The over started with just eight runs required from eighteen balls, but from the third ball Bielby skied a difficult catch to Graham at deep square, which he clung on to with aplomb. For some reason Janjua then tried to win the game with a big hit, when a continuation of the patient approach would almost certainly have brought victory, and fell to a Mark Gordon special, running away from mid wicket towards the boundary and taking an over the shoulder catch at full tilt. When the new batsman fell to a first ball plumb LBW decision Alan had himself a hat-trick and the Badgers had dragged themselves back into the game.

The result was still in doubt, however, and when Mark Gordon (1-21) failed to dislodge the final pair in the penultimate over, Alan was left to stop them scoring three runs to win. From the first ball Dave Tickner was unable to decide which hand to pick the ball up with, which arm to throw it with, or which end to throw it to, and the juggling act enabled the batsmen to scramble the first of those runs. The next ball saw Patrick make an athletic diving stop at cover and this time the throw reached the wicket keeper quickly enough for the desperate attempt at levelling the scores to end in the run out that completed a Badgers victory.

3rd July – Badgers: 192 for 2 dec.   Woldingham: 119 for 7

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My apologies for the lack of a report for this game, but I I simply ran out of time to get everything done

27th June – Badgers: 139 for 9   Milton: 143 for 4

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My apologies for the lack of a report for this game, but I simply ran out of time to get everything done

26th June – Badgers: 170 for 5   Hook Norton: did not bat

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My apologies for the lack of a report for this game, but I simply ran out of time to get everything done

20th June – Beechwood: 40 for 2   Badgers: did not bat

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Brand new opposition, who found us via the web and thought we sounded worthy of a game, a picturesque ground on the outskirts of a Kent village, a very impressive spread at tea time, but sadly no result as the weather ruined what was shaping to be an interesting game. Not much more to report really, given that less than nineteen overs were bowled during two spells in the middle, but …

David Aldwinckle sent down an impressive opening spell of swing bowling, deserving of better than a lone success, and debutant Ross Billington treated us to a wicket maiden as his first over for the club – with the wicket coming third ball, so not quite as explosive a debut as Matthew Cattee then Ross   ;-{)=

6th June – Stoke D'Abernon: 176 all out   Badgers: 179 for 7

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[My apologies for the lack of detail in the second half of this report, but I started it in the week after the game but didn’t finish it until nearly two months later]

A lovely summer’s afternoon, convivial opposition, and an entertaining game of cricket that could easily have gone either way … what more can you ask for?? Add Mick Willmott’s best bowling figures since the 2001 Tour, Barry Davenport’s quick-fire fifty and a Badgers win to the mix, and you have a very good afternoon indeed from a Badgers’ perspective. The game started in the usual fashion – Mark Gordon winning the toss and inserting the opposition – but despite Mark’s best efforts in a tight opening spell the first wicket pair escaped unscathed from the early salvoes, primarily thanks to some fairly sloppy fielding by the Badgers who missed several chances in that period.

The introduction of leg-spinner Mick Willmott for his first spell of the season proved to be a master-stroke by the Skipper, who contributed himself by taking a blinding catch at short mid-wicket before snaffling a much easier one to remove Stoke’s 1st XI captain for a golden duck. The third wicket pair looked like they might take the game away from the Badgers, with Cooper (34) hitting two big sixes off Mick once he safely negotiated the (straight!!) hat-trick ball, but the leggie continued to bowl a teasing line and length and the batsmen started to become a little frustrated.

When Simon Fox joined the attack there was a brief flurry of wickets, with Cooper falling to a well-judged Alan Tickner catch at deep mid off from Mick’s bowling, Simon castling the new batsman, and Mick finally inducing a fatal false stroke from opener Finch (51). Stoke were managing to keep the scoreboard moving, but Mick clinched his first five wicket haul since the Hook Norton game in 2001 to finish with 5 for 52 and Graham Ward (3-25) continued the good work by enticing Keulemans (28) into a fatal foray down the wicket. Stoke’s number 10 Andrew (23) contributed the lion’s share of a 27 run last wicket partnership, but the final total of 176 still looked to be a little light.

The Badgers reply was dominated by one individual innings but opener Alan Tickner (28) provided the initial stability (and unusually started his innings with eight consecutive twos). When he was joined by Barry Davenport (54) the fireworks really started and the pair added 58 runs in just nine overs. Alan’s dismissal started a crazy spell of three overs that saw 22 runs added to the score whilst Barry brought up his fifty, but also included the downfall of a pair of Davenports. At that point the score was 111 for 5 from just 19 overs, but with what turned out to be six overs still to bowl before the start of the last twenty the wickets looked like being more of an issue than the time.

Paul Wilson provided the necessary stability, holding up one end for twenty overs whilst Mark Gordon (38) gradually picked up the scoring rate again with a mixture of watchful defence and savage hitting – his last eight scoring shots were all fours. Mark was cleaned bowled by returning opening bowler Keulemans (2-67) having added 49 runs with Paul for the sixth wicket, but at that point Badgers needed just 17 runs to win from nearly 15 overs. That it took another nine overs to get there was testament to Stoke tightening their line and length, and to the patience of Paul and number eight Patrick Redding, helped by the realisation that there was no need to hurry and risk giving the game away. Paul’s marathon innings did come to an end eight runs shy of the target, but he had filled the anchor role admirably and the winning post was reached without further loss.

29th May – Epsom Methodists: 198 for 6 dec.   Badgers: 201 for none

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(You might like to compare this report with the Epsom Methodists’ version, if you can cope with the bright yellow background!?)

With the Stoke D'Abernon game coming up next week, this was another eerie flashback in that our opponents, Epsom Methodists in this case, amassed what looked like an impressively large total only to see it demolished in short order by a record breaking unbroken first wicket partnership. In hindsight, especially given that twenty overs was started at half six rather than the six o’clock we were expecting, Epsom’s declaration was very generous and probably at least twenty runs short of what I personally would have wanted to be defending on a fast Gibraltar Rec. outfield with short boundaries and a track that played far better than past experience would have indicated.

Skipper Mark Gordon, having inserted the opposition, made the most of the opportunity with wickets in his first two overs, but thereafter Epsom’s third wicket pair gradually took control, taking full toll of a regular supply of loose balls. By the time that captain Johnson (34) fell to a smart stumping off Graham Davenport (3-53) he and Grant senior had added over a hundred runs, and the dismissal didn’t stem the flow of runs as Richard Darke (42 no.) helped Grant to continue to punish the bad balls.

The innings took a wrong turn when Grant (75 ret.) received a nasty blow on the forehead when top-edging a pull shot at one of Graham’s occasional full tosses (which brought back one or two unpleasant memories for yours truly), but despite a tumble of wickets at the other end, Darke kept things going especially when ruining Graham’s figures with two sixes and a four from what turned out to be the last over before the closure.

The Badgers’ reply got off to a rapid start and, barring a maiden fifth over, never slowed down. Alan Tickner (74 no.) opened the batting despite a slight groin strain, which had cut short his bowling spell, but it didn’t seem to bother him much and with Patrick Redding steady as a rock at the other end and the boundaries flowing, the score rattled along at well over five an over. Nothing that Epsom tried made much difference, and only a confident LBW shout and a difficult stumping chance offered them any hope of breaking the partnership. Patrick duly amassed his third century for the club – only Darren Hanley and Chris Morgan have more – finishing on an unbeaten 111 as the winning runs and 200 partnership came up in the 35th over.

Some 356 days since they set the previous record, Alan and Patrick had broken it by a solitary run. Epsom Methodists must be sick of the sight of Alan Tickner, as the last time they got him out was in 1997, since when he has amassed 255 runs in four innings spread over five matches!!

23rd May – Dormansland: 124 all out   Badgers: 113 all out

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In an almost spooky replay of last week’s proceedings Badgers threw away their second game of the season with a sloppy batting display. The similarities are striking with both sides batting performances relying on just two good scores, one each from an opener and a middle order batsman; our bowlers restricting the opposition to almost identical scores; a veteran Badger sending down a long inexpensive spell of bowling; our lower order throwing away a promising position with a precipitous collapse; and to cap it all a recognised batsman making a golden duck at number eleven.

Badgers fielded first and the strike pair of Mark Gordon and Alan Tickner (persuaded out of bowling retirement once again – his osteopath must be rubbing his hands in anticipation of a further boost to the bank balance) kept the scoring rate under control, even if a couple of early breakthroughs were the only successes of the first twenty overs. At that point debutant Matthew Cattee (another Internet recruit) was introduced as first change and proceeded to take a wicket with his very first ball for the Badgers. I’d like to report what a fantastic delivery he opened his career with, but I’d be lying because in truth it was a loosener that had ‘rank long hop’ written all over it, and which opener Phillips (37), who had looked to be the pick of the batting side, larruped straight back to the delighted bowler.

That wicket ended a third wicket partnership of 57, and signalled a mini-collapse as the next couple of wickets also fell cheaply. Dormansland skipper Nick Hellier seemed determined to stem the tide, but as time wore on and the scoring rate dropped below three an over his cautious approach, and the lack of any significant impetus from the other end, meant that the pressure increased as the tea interval loomed. Matthew (3-24) continued to bowl well, and with Allan Butt (2-10) producing a much improved performance over the previous week, the stranglehold continued. The key breakthrough came courtesy of Graham Davenport, who finally enticed Hellier into a loss of concentration as he charged down the wicket and was stumped, and the end came quickly with the last three wickets falling for three runs in the space of six balls.

Patrick Redding hammered in the final nail, with a rolling catch at deep mid on, and then provided the initial thrust as the Badgers’ innings got underway after tea. Strong support from number three Simon Fox (24) saw the score advance steadily to 70 for 1 but the introduction of fifth bowler Whitford completely changed the complexion of the game. Having bowled Patrick for 37 he then proceeded to rip the heart out of the Badgers order, before also cleaning up the tail including castling Alan Tickner, getting a bat at number 11 for the first time in eleven seasons, for a golden duck. Whitford finished with 6 for 20 and the Badgers had lost their last nine wickets for 43 runs.

15th May – Leigh: 125 all out   Badgers: 102 all out

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The 2004 season finally hit the straps on Saturday but you could have been forgiven for thinking that you’d fallen through a time-warp back to the tail-end of last season, since this match followed a similar pattern to the Ockley and Merrow games inasmuch as we bowled our opponents out for a below par total which we then failed dismally to match. The pitch had a lot to do with the way the game progressed, with continual low bounce causing problems for batsmen and wicket keepers alike, but Leigh probably had the worst of the conditions as the pitch did seem to improve fractionally as the match wore on.

In that context the key innings of the match was that of Leigh’s opener Martin, who battled the difficult conditions for a goodly proportion of their innings (sorry, I can’t be more specific because I forgot to copy across the fall of wickets, if they were recorded) in making 33 valuable runs. A glacial start, with David Aldwinckle sending down five maidens to start his opening spell, was followed by a gradual increase in the scoring rate, especially during the second wicket partnership when Bounds (23) provided Martin with rather more assistance than the rest of the batting order. Allan Butt was especially wayward, but Ian Gregg settled in at the other end and slowly tightened the screws by the simple virtue of bowling straight (how many times have I written/said those words??)

All bar one of Greggy’s six victims were either bowled or LBW, with only a good catch by David Aldwinckle to bring Martin’s resistance to an end breaking the chain. The Leigh lower order sputtered and failed to provide the necessary spark, and their innings closed just before the scheduled tea time when the opening bowlers returned to mop up the last two wickets and finish the good work done by Ian. 17 overs, 8 maidens, 6 wickets for 25 runs represents his best return for the club (and only his second five-fer, I was surprised to discover), and were just reward for a tight line that nagged the batsmen into submission.

The Badgers’ innings also got off to a stuttering start but had started to cause some anxiety amongst the fielding side as opener Steve Pitts (31) mixed some good attacking shots with just enough of the slices of luck needed to survive on a pitch of variable bounce. Ably assisted by Graham Ward (11) the score had moved on to 46 when Steve’s lack of fitness, which had already started to affect the running between the wickets, precipitated a tired heave at a straight one. A brief period of retrenchment followed, until Graham Davenport (26) started to turn the game the Badgers way again. He and David Aldwinckle (10) pushed the the score along to 85 before Graham too missed a straight one.

This brought skipper Mark Gordon (15 no.) to the wicket, and he and David continued to push steadily towards the target, with Mark adding two sixes to the total. Unfortunately this was the point when the wheels fell off. David holed out to a fine catch at long on with the score on 100, and man of the match Martin (5-24), returning for a second spell, proceeded to mow down the Badgers tail with three wickets in five balls, including a golden duck for Simon Fox to end the game.