Badgers Cricket Club – Season 2006 Match Reports


This page holds the match reports for all games played during the 2006 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, as were all editorial comments. 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.

24th September – Ockley: 143 all out   Badgers: 147 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.

17th September – Headley: 147 all out   Badgers: 128 all out

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[This report courtesy of Graham Ward]

The Badgers, some with wet kit tied to the roof to give it every chance of drying in time for the match, made their way down to Headley for the second successive season. A small ground, overlooked by a roadside cafe that does bring in the neutral spectators in their tens. Once they were armed with cup of tea and hot dog full of onions, they would enjoy nothing better, than to sit down and watch the maverick Black Caps in action – well at least until the medication has worn off.

Having taken their places on the benches that surround the ground, a little late it must be said, they could have been forgiven for thinking this game would be over tout suite and been forced into going home to watch Songs of Praise. This was due to the fact the Badgers made a very good start. Some of you regular readers may remember last year, a quick 60 from Headley key batsman Moss set their impetus, but this time, a little disappointed that his favourite area of long off was quickly plugged in the first over, he offered a catch behind off Ian Gregg that Steve Pitts snaffled. Greggy (5-26) has bowled superbly this season and while Allan Butt was able to tie down an end, Ian capitalised by claiming some more wickets with his movement both ways. Mick Willmott entered the action from Allan’s end (not literally obviously) and was soon in amongst the action. He claimed three wickets of his own, including a stumping given by the home umpire that didn’t look quite as out as it could do. Still, the Badgers were not in the mood to quibble.

Headley staged their rearguard led by Cheek (good job you didn’t know his name when you wrote the report Graham, I’m sure you’d have squeezed a gag or two out of that one – Humour Ed). He was able to deal with the slower bowling, albeit not without alarm. However once the Skipper decided enough was enough he brought himself on and brought back the crimson Greggy for another spell and the extra pace was way too much. Suddenly it was a matter of time and the score went from 144 for 8 to 146 all out, twenty minutes early.

Cakes of all shapes and sizes comprised tea and were eaten by players of all shapes and sizes. Some looked like they were past their sell by date, but they liked eating the cakes all the same.

The Ward brothers started the hot pursuit of the Headley total. They were greeted by a quick bowler and a sixteen year old leggie who turned the ball appreciably. A sensible cautious approach was adopted early doors and the score had reached 29 before forward short leg pulled off a pearler to dismiss the luckless Graham. From there the wickets tumbled too regularly until Graham Davenport (24) and Patrick Redding steadied the ship. Graham was dismissed playing his trademark ‘four to win’ shot and from there another tumble ensued.

Darrell was adjudged caught behind and Patrick was joined at the crease by the ‘grouchy’ Steve Pitts, whose testy mood was compounded by another stumping decision that had more eyebrows raised than a Roger Moore anthology. Patrick was joined at the crease by Allan Butt who was able to tie down an end while Pat switched Badgers Total Cricket brand into an expansive gear, regularly finding boundaries in a partnership of 28. After Allan’s dismissal, Mick did his best to follow suit and Badgers were just 19 runs short when Patrick’s pull shot found mid on and his innings of 56 came to an end, disappointing the enthralled crowd.

3rd September – Badgers: 206 for 6 dec.   Blindley Heath: 188 for 9

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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.

27th August – Woking & Horsell: 195 all out   Badgers: 147 all out

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A new venue for the Badgers – although Graham Davenport confessed to having played squash matches for years against the squash club in one corner of the ground – and probably the most pleasant of the conference arranged fixtures this season. Unfortunately Woking & Horsell insisted on a limited overs game, forty per side with maximum eight per bowler, rather than the traditional friendly timed game – the sixth opponent this season to do so. This is a trend that I abhor, but I am told that I need to keep up with the times, so perhaps it is time for this old fogey to retire gracefully rather than get in the way of progress – but rather than turn this match report into a diatribe on the subject, I will save that for another time and a different place.

The Badgers fielded first – Patrick Redding, skipping for the first time this season, won the toss – and the opening attack of Ian Gregg and Mark Gordon restricted the home side to a little more than three an over for their four over spells before being removed from the attack in the standard limited overs fashion. Change bowlers Nick Piper and John Larkin then had the tough job of controlling Zimbabwean opener White who was hitting the bad balls hard (and some of the good ones too). John broke the opening partnership with a ball that cut back a mile, to finish his opening over on a high after considerable variety in the previous seven deliveries. It was to be his only success but he bowled much better than last week and improved as the spell progressed.

Nick grabbed two wickets in his spell, including the key one of White (who had scored 79 out of 110 at that point) courtesy of a running catch by Patrick, who started at deep long on but caught the ball on the off side of the sightscreen. The home side were scoring at around five an over for most of their innings, aided by some lapses in the field including a couple of dropped catches, and at 148 for 3 after 30 overs looked poised to post a score well beyond 200. However, Mark broke the third wicket partnership in his final over, and then Darrell Pitts (3-39) and Ian (3-34) cleaned up the final six wickets (five of them bowled or LBW) to restrict the final total to 195.

Any momentum from those successes proved short-lived when the visitors came out to bat, with run scoring proving more difficult than it had for Woking’s batsmen and wickets tumbling too. A score of 22 for 3 after nine and a half overs really puts the pressure on the lower middle order, but it seems to have become a common story – ignoring the midweek game, the first two wickets have managed to amass fifty runs between them only twice this year, in the first game of the season and at Tadworth on June 11th, with the latter featuring the only decent first wicket stand of the season.

Richard Ward (36) and Pat Redding (44) started a rescue operation, lifting the scoring rate to four an over in the process, but both fell to an all spin attack within six balls of each other. The pressure of scoring at nearly six and a half an over for the last fifteen overs proved too much for the rest of the batting, and although some valiant blows were struck, the innings subsided to 147 with fourteen balls still to be bowled.

20th August – Badgers: 169 for 8 dec.   Maori-Oxshott: 172 for none

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It is difficult to think what to write about a game like this. We’ve been playing Oxshott, in one guise or another, for a few years now with mixed results, but this was one of the worst drubbings that the Badgers have ever been on the receiving end of, and it hurt. We were asked to bat first, and actually made a decent enough fist of it, posting a score that felt like it ought to be competitive. Unfortunately, since we had beaten them handily for the past two seasons, the home side had fielded a strong team, whilst the Badgers were missing two or three key players, and consequently their batting proved much too strong for a bowling attack that has struggled a fair bit in recent weeks.

The Badgers innings got off to a shaky start, three wickets down in the first eight overs, but Richard Ward (44) and Mark Gordon (27) steadied the ship and had started to exert some control when Mark hit a full blooded cover drive and set off for a single. Sadly for Richard a tremendous diving stop and direct hit on the striker’s end stumps from a prone position put paid to his innings and brother Graham also fell victim to a direct hit, this time from fine leg, only two overs later. When Mark meekly poked the third ball of leg spinner Hansen’s first over to mid-wicket the visitor’s innings was teetering again, at 99 for 6.

Allan Butt (41) batted sensibly against the loopy leggy (reminiscent of Mick Willmott in everything but the fact that he didn’t spin the ball quite as much) and without a great deal of direct assistance from the other lower order batsmen, was able to drag the score towards respectability. When he played all around a straight one the Badgers were still a few runs and several overs away from an acceptable score, but despite only scoring eleven runs from the last eight overs, no more wickets fell and Mark was able to make a measured declaration.

The tea interval saw much confusion, as this was the moment the Pakistanis were staging their protest at The Oval and Sky spent some time showing us pictures of a closed door, and some of that disarray seemed to transfer itself to the Badgers as they went out to field. John Larkin and Mark Gordon opened the bowling and both came under early fire – John because he hadn’t bowled for nearly a year and his radar was off, and Mark because the new pimple spikes he’d put in his boots were totally ineffective and he struggled with his footing (go back to normal spikes, Skipper). First change Darrell Pitts introduced some sanity for a short while, but his fielders let him down – three catches were put down, two of them by John Larkin at long off – and the runs were flowing with great rapidity at the other end.

The introduction of Allan Butt did slow things down somewhat, helped by opener (and first team captain) T Nasir choosing to retire having reached his fifty, but the end came rapidly enough, with more than thirteen of the last twenty overs still to be bowled. The Badgers have not lost by ten wickets for over twenty years and I sincerely hope we are not involved in another pasting of this severity for the next twenty.

6th August – Englefield Green: 150 all out   Badgers: 151 for 5

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This was the second return to a one-time regular opponent this season – with Tadworth being the first – and the only major change from the last time that we visited the Green at Englefield was that the pitch had been moved a couple of hundred yards further NE, such that the clubhouse now faces an empty stretch of the green!? That last visit was back in 1987, with Alan Tickner featuring heavily in a winning draw that day, and from a quick check of the surnames of the opposition, it appears that I (Steve Pitts) am the only player from either side to have played in both games.

A return to the familiar territory of a timed game resulted in a much better bowling performance than in recent weeks and opener Mark Gordon was soon giving the home side’s top order the run around on a rock hard wicket with a little bit of devil in it. He took four wickets in his first seven overs, and with first change Mick Willmott weighing in at the other end Englefield were six down for just thirty-two runs after less than fifteen overs. Things didn’t improve much in the short term and the home side found themselves at 72 for 8, with both Mick and Mark having taken four wickets apiece. Mick’s share included a spectacular catch from Paul Little, diving forward at slip, and a spectacular looking (but rather mundane by his standards) diving two-hander at short cover by Mark.

Two of Englefield Green’s teenagers then effected a rescue job, playing sensibly and taking what the bowling gave them rather than trying to force the issue, Whittle (47) and Cochrane (24) amassed a ninth wicket stand of 68 from fifteen overs of resistance. Bowlers came and went at the pavilion end – with a moody Graham Ward refusing a second over and forcing Mick to return to the attack and worsen his figures by ten runs – but it was the steady Ian Gregg who broke the partnership and finished off the innings with two wickets in four balls.

At two weeks’ remove it is difficult to remember anything particularly remarkable about the Badgers reply. Progress to the total was relatively serene, helped by more than a reasonable number of extras including 21 wides and 11 byes, and although the odd wicket fell it never felt like we were in danger of not making the necessary runs. In no small measure this was due to a sensible and solid innings from John Larkin, who amassed 56 unbeaten runs whilst only rarely looking troubled by any of the seven bowlers used by the home side. He received good support from Patrick Redding (25) in a fifth wicket partnership of 59, and saw the visitors home with twelve of the last twenty overs still to be bowled.

30th July – Ham & Petersham: 210 for 5   Badgers: 175 all out

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Ham & Petersham is one of the more unusual places that we play cricket, with the clubhouse next door to a pub on one side of the road and the pitch some way away on Ham Common, but the home side are friendly and a nice afternoon guaranteed a large turn out of supporters of both sides. Unfortunately Ham are one of those sides that prefers to play limited overs – in their case to avoid boring draws, which at least has some logic to it even if I still don’t agree with the reasoning – and yet again the Badgers lack of common sense at that format let us down somewhat.

Mark Gordon won the toss and asked the home side to bat first, and early on it looked like things might work out rather better than last week, when the roles were reversed. The opening pair of Allan Butt and Mark himself applied some early pressure and the home side were ten for two, but gradually wrested the initiative back, despite making the error of trying to take a quick single to Mark at short mid-wicket. That run out, so badly misjudged that not even a direct hit was required, was the Badgers only success for some considerable period, although the scorebook was sadly lacking in any further fall of wickets details, so I cannot tell you what the partnerships were. Suffice to say that opener Cook (63) and number five Redman (46) were really starting to accelerate the scoring when young Sahil Dawar put the brakes on them for a while by trapping the former leg before in his second over, the thirtieth of the innings, and then luring the latter for a fatal sashay out of his ground.

At that point it looked like Ham might be restricted to less than 200, but the traditional re-entry into the attack of the opening bowlers proved to be ineffective, with Mark coming in for such stick that his two overs cost more runs (22) than his original five over spell had done (19). In the end, a total of 210 for 5 was probably about even par, but the Badgers bowlers had not really taken advantage of a wicket that was nothing like flat and which showed a considerable variability of bounce.

Unfortunately the home side proved to be better at exploiting that aspect, and most of the Badgers batting order simply failed to come to terms with what was required to cope with some tight early bowling, to the extent that the visitors slumped to their worst position since I started keeping the records back in 1988. Thanks primarily to an opening four over spell of four wickets for one run by Tebb, the Badgers found themselves five wickets down for just six runs and looking at an extremely heavy defeat. Not for the first time over the past couple of seasons, it was the captain and vice-captain that pulled them out of a self-induced predicament, and a club record and a couple of personal milestones came and went in the process.

Mark contributed 41 to the sixth wicket partnership, which took him past 5000 runs for the club, the fifth player to reach that milestone (for those that can’t be bothered to check the lifetime averages, the answer to the obvious follow up question is Brian Moore, Dave and Alan Tickner and Steve Pitts). The 111 that he and Patrick Redding amassed also represents a new club record for the sixth wicket, eclipsing the 103 that Mark and Alan Tickner put on against Reigate Cavaliers back in 2001. Just when it looked like the pair might pull off a miracle comeback, the Skipper gave the fellow he had earlier run out his revenge when he fell for the old one-two punch of a wide followed by a straight one.

This precipitated a second collapse almost as execrable as the first, with four wickets falling for the addition of just two runs, all of them clean bowled, and defeat loomed with more than ten overs to be bowled. What followed was a piece of pure theatre, with Patrick and Rakesh Dawar somehow managing to push the score along at the required run rate of nine an over for the next six overs and forcing the home captain to bring back his opening bowlers. Sadly a moment of lost concentration from Rakesh, who failed to respond quickly to Patrick’s call and was run out, brought the show to an end, but not before the pair had broken yet another partnership record with their 56 runs, of which Rako made two!!

So in the end the Badgers had made a good game of it, but really that was down to just one man, and inevitably Patrick also passed a personal milestone, since he galloped past 2000 runs for the club whilst adding another unbeaten century (103 to be precise) to his catalogue of achievements. An impressive showing, on a wicket that was not easy to bat on, and all done with such aplomb.

23rd July – Badgers: 225 for 5   Seven Sports: 226 for 4

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I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation in advance of this game, especially given the last two conference arranged fixtures that we’ve played, but any fears about the opposition or the location proved to be groundless and it turned out to be an afternoon of broken records amidst a closely-fought contest. Not for the first time in a limited overs game – thirty-five overs per side in this instance – the Badgers were found wanting in the nous department due to a lack of familiarity with the demands of the format but I guess we’ll get better at them the more we play, and they seem to be becoming more common amongst our normal diet of timed games.

The first notable element about this game was that it featured three debutants for the club. Nick Piper finally made it to the field after appearing at winter nets, Simon Clementson finally gave in to Graham Ward’s cajoling, and my daughter Jacqueline was a late replacement for Paul Little who had cried off at the last minute. Whilst Simon Fox contends otherwise, I believe that this is the first time that a female of the species has turned out for the Badgers. Foxy seems to think that Anne Kemp has played in a regular game, but I can only recall her turning out in beer matches or the President’s XI games. However, without going back through all of the old scorebooks it is impossible to be sure so all I can definitely say is that Jacqueline is the first ‘Lady Badger’ since I started keeping the statistics back in 1988.

The Badgers were asked to bat first, and after a steady start led by Patrick Redding (31) there was something of a collapse as three wickets went down in four overs to leave the visitors struggling at 61 for 4 after twelve overs. The fifth wicket pair of Simon Clementson and Mark Gordon settled in straight away and began to accelerate the scoring rate to six an over and beyond, despite the nuisance factor from Simon’s car alarm which insisted on plaintively bleeping for long periods despite no visible tampering. The pair stayed together for over twenty overs, with Mark gradually taking control and his partner happily feeding him the strike, to the extent that having hit five boundaries in his first thirteen scoring shots, Simon didn’t hit another for the rest of his innings, instead scattering thirteen singles amongst his final fifteen scoring shots.

Simon was eventually out five runs short of a debut half century, by which point the pair had set a new record for the fifth wicket, 149 runs being fifteen more than Mark and David Aldwinckle had amassed at Woldingham just over three years ago. Mark saw out the rest of the innings but himself came up nine runs shy of another century for the club. The innings closed on 225 for 5, which was a few more than the sages on the sidelines had considered to be a workable score.

Unfortunately when it came our turn to bowl we simply didn’t apply enough pressure and with at least one gift ball per over the Seven Sports’ batsmen were able to just pick off the bad ones and play sensibly against the rest. Darrell Pitts, opening the bowling from one end, did manage to break the opening partnership, but only courtesy of a Mark Gordon special – a one-handed catch to his left at short cover that almost beggared belief. Thereafter a 62 run second wicket partnership at six an over kept things bubbling along nicely for the home side, and the third wicket stand between opener Dench (68) and P Johnson (83), who had also taken four wickets, had pretty much decided the game when Nick Piper, returning for a second spell, got Dench to play on. The pair had added 117 runs and were just 27 runs shy of the target with just short of seven overs still to be bowled. They did make slightly heavy weather of reaching that target, needing all bar eight balls of the thirty-five overs to do so, but the final winner was never really in doubt despite Graham Ward trapping P Johnson in front with eleven still needed to win.

The successful run chase meant that another record had been broken, since this was the first time that the Badgers had ever scored more than 200 runs batting first and lost the game, but the weaknesses of our bowling and the home side’s strong batting meant that record had to go too. All in all a pleasant afternoon’s cricket in decent surroundings against friendly opposition. What more could one ask for?? [and no, ‘a win’ is not a sensible answer to that question – I for one would rather lose a game like this one than win against the likes of Croygas]

15th July – Ibberton: 141 for 6   Badgers: 145 for 5

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Ibberton may be one of the most picturesque places that the Badgers have ever had the pleasure to play at, although a plastic pitch, primitive facilities and an eight man opposition (until the vicar arrived an hour into the game) somewhat soured the occasion. This was a real shame, because village cricket of this ilk is the beautiful base of the pyramid that reaches its zenith with internationals and it seems as if the game is slowly dying at that bottom level to the degree that each area will just be left with a handful of large clubs running multiple teams but without the gentle attitude and ethos of the small village sides. As an example of this our opposition were welcoming, friendly, played the game in the right spirit despite the disadvantages, and were just as friendly and chatty in the pub despite a heavy defeat on the pitch – much like the Badgers would be if put in a similar situation.

Anyway, enough of the introspective musings, what of the game?? It was another hot day, and the message that it was a plastic pitch had not been transmitted to us, so there was much frantic toing and froing over footwear and the removal of spikes. Skipper Mark Gordon decided that there was no way he was going to be able to bowl in the resultant pimpled boots, so I suggested that he keep wicket and I’d bowl. He was a little reluctant in the latter regard, not unsurprisingly, and I suspect that he ended up regretting the former too, since it was not the easiest of surfaces to keep on. The pitch did play a little better than it looked, but it was still a minefield for the incautious batter, and Ibberton had plenty of those.

Ian Gregg was in his element on such a bowler friendly wicket, giving away just a single run in his five over spell, and that was a wide!! I can’t give you any exact details, because there was no running score nor fall of wickets recorded in the oppo’s scorebook, but their progress was slow and most of the Badgers’ bowlers, including Rakesh Dawar and Steve Pitts, went for between two and three an over, with all of the first five bowlers chipping in with a wicket. The arrival of Seymour, the vicar, batting at number eight due to arriving late, changed things somewhat and he steered the innings to its full 40 over course and kept the scoreboard ticking by the simple virtue of putting away the bad balls. At the final tally he had top-scored with 36 and dragged the team total up to 141.

An example of making the most of the facilities saw tea set out under an awning (which had already proved a boon to the Mann’s by providing shelter from the sun’s heat to their new baby) with plenty for everyone including some very nice homemade cakes, which would shame some clubs with far better conditions in which to prepare and present.

For the second tour running the Badgers batting order had been chosen by the drawing of lots in the pub the night before, but one subtle tweak was made – Patrick Redding swapping number two for Graham Ward’s number nine – partly for pragmatic reasons and partly because Pat had bowled whilst Graham had not. The innings got off to a quick-fire start but two of three somewhat arguable LBW calls curtailed the efforts of both Mark and Graham before Allan Butt (41) took control of the situation in impressive fashion, whilst posting his best score for the club for six years. When Allan was fourth out the target was down to 29 from nineteen overs and the result was no longer really in doubt.

Simon Fox was Allan’s partner at that point, although Stella had asked me to chivvy him up during a drinks break that saw most everyone turning their noses up at a couple of jugs of what was allegedly fruit squash but which looked remarkably like a hospital sample, but with a dozen runs still needed he too fell leg before, and it was left to Steve Pitts to hit the winning boundary for the second game running.

At the risk of boring everyone, I shall return to Ibberton’s plight as a team, and wish them every success in finding enough players to keep their league side going and in developing youngsters to fill that side in the future. It would be a real shame if such a scenic location were no longer to play host to the game of cricket that provides entertainment, companionship and pleasure to so many of us. Good luck to them and to all the other small village sides in a similar bind.

11th July – Tadworth: 137 for 6   Badgers: 140 for 3

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The Badgers have not played a midweek game for some considerable time (probably not since Ebrington on the 1995 tour), but we were asked to stand in for a Cricket Week cancellation at Tadworth, and were able to raise a side to do the honours, featuring guest appearances from Darren Hanley, who hadn’t turned out for the club in almost exactly five years, and Barry Davenport, who is still recovering from knee surgery and almost certainly shouldn’t have been playing.

It was a beautiful summer’s evening, still fairly warm, but as usual we chose to field first and were given something of the run around by the second wicket pair of Lawry (59) and Grierson (53) who put on just under a hundred runs together at a very decent clip, ramping up from six an over after five overs to better than seven and a half by the time they were parted in the fifteenth over. That wicket was Graham Davenport’s only success, and came courtesy of a leg-side stumping that a TV replay might have overturned (although, to be fair, I did call the batsman back, but he was sent on his way again by the square leg umpire, on the basis that it was time for someone else to have a go!?)

From there the Tadworth innings declined, with the flow of runs drying up to the extent that only a further 22 were gleaned from the final five overs, and four wickets falling in the final three overs as the home side attempted some increasingly desperate stroke making. Ian Gregg (3-20) was the major beneficiary, including two clean bowled in his final over.

The Badgers innings also got off to a brisk start, with opener Pat Redding in fine fettle and mixing his usual ones and twos into the gaps with some hits over the top for four. His opening partner Graham Ward was caught at the wicket in the fifth over, whereupon Pat was joined by Steve Pitts who picked up where he’d left off on Sunday, completely unable to find the middle of the bat. However, the pair were able to work the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking along very nicely much to the increasing desperation of the fielding side. The hundred partnership came up with one ball left in the eighteenth over, by which time just ten runs were required from the last thirteen balls.

When Pat’s innings came to a close on 85, castled off the second ball of the penultimate over, that requirement was down to six from ten balls, but poor old Darren lasted just two balls, Barry whiffed on the next two, and six runs were still required when the final over started. Fortunately Steve was able to take charge, and after scrambling four runs from the first three balls, he clubbed the fourth to the boundary over the heads of the drawn-in fielders to win the game with very little to spare. It is a measure of Steve’s struggles, and Pat’s dominance, that the four was only his third in an unbeaten 35.

8th July – Woldingham Village: 145 all out   Badgers: 148 for 5

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[This report courtesy of Darrell Pitts]

(After an enforced week off and the sour taste of the previous weekend’s game, it was a welcome return to normality (in Badgers terms) this week at Woldingham Village. Many of the team had been at the Surrey Twenty20 game the night before, and were somewhat the worse for wear, but it didn’t seem to make too much difference to the general team performance. Given the fact that we had a midweek match and therefore an extra report was required, I thought I’d give Darrell the chance to write his first ever match report – proud parental Ed)

The Badgers got off to a good start by winning the toss and electing to field on a warm sunny day. It is a typical Badgers move to field through the heat of the day. There were a couple of streaky moments from the Woldingham opener wafting at several good deliveries from Ian Gregg (5-50). After six overs steady run scoring the wicket gates opened and three wickets fell in the next two overs for no runs, and Ian earned his reward for some good bowling with a double wicket maiden.

After that salvo none of the batsmen lasted long, with wickets falling at regular intervals as the Badgers worked their way steadily down the Woldingham batting order. Indeed there were no larger partnerships than the one between the opening pair, as the batsmen were unable to get control of the game.

Some sharp catching saw off the Woldingham tail, skipper Mark Gordon taking three, earning Rakesh Dawar, Graham Ward and Darrell Pitts a wicket each. The innings was closed by a fantastic diving left handed catch by Ian Gregg off Sahil Dawar. This left the Woldingham top scorer Glover unbeaten on 34, and gave the Badgers a total of 146 to chase in their innings.

The Badgers innings started with Paul Little getting out to the Woldingham bowler Hamilton (4-61), who bowled the entire innings at one end. After seven overs of steady scoring the Badgers suffered a mini collapse. The Ward brothers and Sahil Dawar, who looked uncomfortable at the speed of the bowling, falling in quick succession for 15 runs. This brought Ian Gregg (26) to the crease and he and Steve Pitts put together a 51 run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Mark Gordon (29 no.) and Steve then saw out the remainder of the innings, remaining largely untroubled by the bowling, and acquiring the runs required with two overs to spare. Steve was left three runs short of a half century, and had the chance to get it and win the game, but was only able to gain a single before Mark smashed a four to end proceedings.

25th June – Croygas: 134 for 8   Badgers: 138 for 6

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[This report courtesy of Graham Ward]

There was a long build up to this week’s fixture – England’s World Cup draw with Sweden ensured that this conference arranged fixture created a direct conflict of sporting interest. England were playing Ecuador at 4pm and in order to accommodate the football fans the cricket fixture was brought forward to midday, for a 35 over contest. Starting 30 minutes late (or 90 minutes early – depending on how you look at it) the Badgers got off to a bright start despite a Croygas opener taking advantage of the very fast outfield and short boundary on one side with some well struck shots. Mark Gordon made the breakthrough and then Ian Gregg joined the party with some castling of his own.

These two have bowled very impressively together all season and there was little surprise when they produced a superb spell that reduced Croygas to 30 for 5. However the Badgers were quick to recall the last time they played here, when Croygas recovered from 6 for 3 to a match winning 257 for 7. Enter young Sahil Dawar, who produced the play of the day when the batsmen risked his arm and the thirteen year old threw down the stumps at the keepers end, from mid-off. C’est Magnifique. This left the home side on 32 for 6 off just eight overs.

Skipper Polley (54) then came in for the home side, and they put on 73 for the seventh wicket, with the Badgers’ change bowlers, Graham Davenport and Simon Fox, unable to find their length. The Shark was brought on and was supported superbly by Matthew Mann, in his second game, who took a steepler at long-on. While a few runs were scrambled by the Croygas batsmen towards the end, the innings was wrapped up, aided by a sharp stumping by Steve Pitts, for 134.

A quick turnaround saw Steve and Simon open the innings. The football supporters were a little concerned to see them not attempt to knock off the runs in less than 15 overs, but they built a solid partnership and Steve was a little unlucky to be given out to a ball that, word has it, may have a pitched outside leg stump. The changing room furniture was duly rearranged.

Badgers lost two more wickets, but then the recently much missed Patrick Redding (35) steadied the ship, ably supported by Graham Davenport (31), from whom we saw the whole repertoire of leg side biffs, and their partnership of 50 was both measured and entertaining. The atmosphere had proved friendly until a couple of umpiring decisions were (noisily) questioned, an act that the fair spirited Badgers found difficult to stomach, and which therefore added an unnecessary edge to the game. Three wickets then fell for thirteen runs just as the target seemed to be within their grasp, and it was left to Graham Ward and Ian Gregg to see the Black Caps home with some well struck shots, including a square cut by Graham that he won’t ever tire of reminiscing about. Greggy clonked the winning runs with a hoick into the delirious travelling Badgers’ supporters area. Waydahussle.

11th June – Tadworth: 209 for 8 dec.   Badgers: 143 all out

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Another blazing hot afternoon, and humid too, for our first visit to Tadworth since August 1983. The Badgers would field first, but struggled a little from being a man down for the first hour or more due to Darrell Pitts contracting an ear infection (in the middle of his GCSE exams, hence a visit to the doctor was more important than playing cricket) and last minute replacement John Larkin having to travel from the wilds of Essex. Having said that, the opening bowlers kept things under control, with Ian Gregg doing sterling work yet again, turning in ten overs that cost just 22 runs and accounted for one of Tadworth’s openers. Greggy’s son-in-law Bill Jenkins (1-34), making his Badgers’ debut against the club whose first team he represents on Saturdays, also bowled a long tidy spell as first change, but the batting side slowly started to exert themselves and the scoring rate climbed ever upward.

Whilst none of the Tadworth batsmen made a half century, several of them made significant contributions and the bowling became increasingly wayward as the afternoon wore on. Graham Davenport (2-47) was one of the victims of that acceleration and Matthew Mann, another debutant, also suffered. The innings ended on a high note for the Badgers, with Mark Gordon clinging on to the most amazing one handed diving catch at long on, but Tadworth immediately declared their innings closed and tea was taken with the visitors looking at 210 to win (although the scorebook was a bit of a mess and the score could have been anything from the 202 that the batting scores added up to, through to the 218 tallied from the bowling analyses).

The Badgers reply got off to a solid enough start, with opening pair Steve Pitts and Richard Ward both making 37 and sharing a stand of 69. Tadworth’s Hobbs slaved away at one end without the success that his control deserved, and he troubled both openers on a regular basis. There was enough loose stuff at the other end to keep the scoreboard ticking along at more than four an over though, but it was the introduction of slow bowler Patel (7-53) as second change that completely altered the course of the game. With no pace on the ball an increasingly weary batting side struggled to score fast enough whilst not taking the risks that would cost wickets, and one by one they succumbed, mostly to miscued shots that found the waiting hands of the fielding side.

Both Graham Ward (17) and Graham Davenport (15) contributed some big hits, but whilst the scoring rate picked up to a level that might have been good enough to win the game, the wickets continued to tumble and the end came at 143 with six and a half overs still to be bowled in the last hour.

4th June – Stoke D'Abernon: 107 all out   Badgers: 108 for 6

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Upon arrival at Stoke D'Abernon this week, and chatting with their skipper, I discovered that they were running two Sunday sides, one of which was off to Ashtead, and the other staying at home to play against us. It turned out that they had an even bigger spread of ages than we did, with their skipper being 70 and the youngest member just 13 – compared to Allan at 66 and Darrell at 15 – but it also meant that they perhaps weren’t quite as strong as they have been in previous meetings. However, rather like those late nineties Hook Norton teams, you suspect that once some of the youngsters add a few years of experience they will present us with an even bigger obstacle – and they didn’t exactly disgrace themselves this time.

In fact, after the first few overs toil on a hot sunny afternoon, it looked like the Badgers might be chasing a massive total, with the opening pair having realised fifty runs from the first seven overs in impressive style. Ian Gregg (3-29) and Mick Willmott had opened the bowling, but Mick was hampered by a short boundary on one side, dictating which end he bowled from, leaving him needing to turn the new ball against a slight slope. A silly run out, nicely executed by first change Mark Gordon following through, put a kink in Stoke’s progress, but opener Furze (43) continued to play some very nice shots, including several perfectly executed on-drives, and the score continued to mount.

The turning point of the innings, and probably the key moment of the match, came in the thirteenth over of the innings – Greggy’s seventh – when Furze chased a wide ball that he most certainly could have left alone and snicked it to the keeper. From that point onwards it was downhill all the way for the batting side – Ian’s last seven overs cost a single run and included all three of the wickets he took (not bad for someone with a bad back and a red head!!) whilst Mark (3-25) bowled nearly as well at the other end – as Stoke collapsed from 71 for 1 to 90 for 9. A couple of big hits from skipper Johns saw the score past the hundred, but the home side’s innings eventually subsided to 107 all out from 32.5 overs.

There was some confusion during the turn around between innings, and with both the captain and vice-captain going out to umpire and the rest of us with no idea exactly when tea would be taken, nor what the batting order was beyond the first four, no one was really sure whether we were playing out ’til tea or not. As it was we certainly didn’t do a good job in that arena, and opening bowler Kalam (3-26) made life difficult for all the batsmen. The Ward brothers opened together (for the first time for the Badgers, according to Graham, but he’d obviously forgotten Merrow back in September 2004) and Richard (31) feasted on some poor bowling at the other end from Kalam, although he did ride his luck, being missed three times by the same fielder at mid off.

Tea came with four wickets down, but either side of the break Paul Little (30) entertained us all with some big hitting, with all of his runs coming in boundaries (although he did have to run a three for Pat). He and Patrick Redding (22 no.) put on 38 for the fifth wicket and calmed any nerves before Pat saw the Badgers home with four wickets to spare and the last hour still moments away.

28th May – Badgers: 173 for 9 dec.   Dormansland: 62 all out

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I was speculating in conversation with one of the Dormansland players (Peter Grant perhaps) who had asked me, whilst I was umpiring at square leg, when the two teams had first played, that this might be the fiftieth fixture between us. Fortunately I was wrong with my guess, and also with my answer to the original question – since I gave 1960 when it was actually 1962 – so we have a chance to celebrate that fiftieth meeting in a suitable fashion when we play them next year. The most amazing thing about Sunday’s game was that we played at all, with the weather having been awful and parts of the outfield still very soggy indeed. The pitch, however, was in remarkably good nick and provided a decent opportunity both to the bowler prepared to put the ball in the right places and the batsman prepared to be patient and wait a little longer to read the pace of the ball.

The Badgers were put in to bat for the first time this season, and the opening pair of Steve Pitts and Simon Fox (36) were extremely watchful against two very different opening bowlers. The scoring rate was stuck around two an over for the first twenty overs, with Steve’s lack of footwork letting him down halfway through that time, and it wasn’t until number four Paul Little (39) started to open his shoulders that the scoring rate picked up a bit. Simon and Paul added 53 runs, with the last 41 of those coming in just six overs as Paul clouted two sixes and four fours before having his stumps scattered playing a defensive shot.

Simon was inspired to add a maximum of his own, although some comedic running between the wickets saw Rakesh Dawar run out after the second mix up in the same over, but perished a couple of overs later and it was left to Patrick Redding, batting at seven, to shepherd the lower order and to keep the score ticking along during the last dozen overs of the innings. This he did so effectively that when he fell, to the first ball of what turned out to be the last over, three short of a second half century of the season, the run rate was up to four an over, and with Graham Ward clouting nine more from the remainder of the over the innings closed at 173 for 9.

When it came turn for the home side to bat, they never got to grips with what was required and they too were unable to score at a decent rate. Ian Gregg and Mark Gordon kept them pegged down, with just 28 runs coming from the first 21 overs, and the simple virtue of bowling straight resulted in six wickets falling during that period, the first five of them clean bowled.

[During the drinks break one of the dismissed batsmen was heard to comment that three of them had got themselves out by missing half volleys. I shan’t report Mark’s exact reaction to that comment when I relayed it in the bar after the game, but suffice to say that figures of 11 overs, 5 maidens, 4 wickets for 17 runs tell you all you need to know]

A brief flurry of hitting greeted the introduction of the change bowlers, but Darrell Pitts also concentrated on bowling straight, and after he ended the 26 run seventh wicket partnership by hitting the stumps when the batsman whiffed at a ball that held its line against the slope, the rest of the wickets fell to him in fairly short order. He finished with figures of four for ten and Dormansland had capitulated with seven overs still left to play, finishing on 62 all out, seven of whom had their stumps knocked over.

13th May – Surrey Seamers: 208 for 7   Badgers: 125 for 8

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Our first CCC arranged fixture of the season, and let’s hope that we don’t have to resort to their services for too many more, because it seems that in recent times we always end up with a mismatch, one way or the other. This one got off to a fairly inauspicious start, with the opposition discovering that they only had one set of stumps, and we only carry a single spare stump now that we don’t play any home games. A complete set of new stumps was procured in quite short order, however, and the limited overs contest got underway on a typical council recreation ground pitch – you know the sort these days, wicket preparation apparently involving the application of a close shave with the mower in the middle of the week hence producing a surface that is over-grassed and not overly flat.

Sadly the Badgers bowling attack never really exploited the conditions with Ian Gregg struggling to control the swinging ball in his opening three overs and Allan Butt being victimised by a couple of big hits down the line and an overly zealous interpretation of the wide rule in relation to balls outside leg stump. Change bowlers Graham Davenport and Darrell Pitts didn’t fare much better, although Graham did earn the distinction of being the only Badger to hit the stumps, and whilst none of the Surrey Seamers batsmen went on to make a big total, partly because several of the lower order insisted on retiring to let others have a crack, they nearly all scored freely and the run rate hovered around five an over the whole innings.

With the Badgers ground fielding also suffering a little because of the bumpy nature of the ground, the only real highlights of the first half of the afternoon were several good catches, including skiers clung on to by Allan, Darrell and Patrick Redding, plus a complete misjudgement of another by Mark Gordon which resulted in a tumbling one-handed grab to redeem the situation. Mick Willmott (2-39) bowled well until being clobbered for eleven in his final over, although he too was a victim of the interpretation of a wide, with the batsmen taking big swishes over the top of balls that were then called wide because they’d passed leg stump. The end of the forty overs saw the total at 208 with seven wickets actually taken (plus three voluntary retirements).

If the bowlers had been guilty of failing to make the most of the pitch then the batsmen were equally culpable of failing to come to terms with what was required against some aggressive swing bowling and some tight spin bowling. With the honourable exception of Patrick Redding, the top order simply crumbled under the demands of the bowling attack, and when Patrick was dismissed for 51 (arguably distracted by a belated acknowledgement of the half century from the boundary), 24 overs had been required to amass 82, and most of the rest of the total came courtesy of extras.

By the time Steve Pitts and Graham Davenport scraped together 35 for the eighth wicket the game was pretty much over and done with, and the opposition continued their policy of inclusion by giving a bowl to a fellow by the name of Rajesh, who had trouble with his radar and took fifteen deliveries to complete a single over, including a no ball for one that bounced three or four times before reaching the batsmen. When Steve was dismissed (by a blinding caught and bowled, I might add – self-aggrandising Ed!!) with just over six overs left, the weather had decided to get involved and the rain was heavy enough for the scorer to be unable to keep the book dry, so the Badgers almost unilaterally abandoned the field of play.

At this point I scuttled off to get my dry clothes from the car but was surprised on returning less than ten minutes later (it was a public rec. and I’d parked down the opposite end from the pavilion) to find most of the rest of the team already changed and trying to decide where to go for the evening. A very unsatisfactory ending in my opinion, since we showed no desire to see if the rain would relent, but I can see no alternative other than to declare the game a ‘no result’ despite the fact that we were on the losing end of the contest in pretty much any way you could measure it.

7th May – Broadbridge Heath: 129 all out   Badgers: 130 for 6

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The first game of a new season is always cause for celebration, but we may not play a closer or more exciting finish than the conclusion of this particular contest. The day started with the weather looming as a potential factor in proceedings, but despite some very dark clouds and the odd spot of rain in the run up to tea, it ended up as a lovely sunny evening in which to enjoy the climax to an entertaining afternoon’s cricket. The wicket was a typical early season affair, very green and soft on top, which would make run scoring hard work and no one on either side achieved any great degree of fluency.

Both Allan Butt (1-27) and Ian Gregg induced false shots, including clean bowling their first victims of the new season, but Allan was a little wayward in length, as was first change Graham Davenport (1-33), and the batsmen were able to take advantage to at least keep the scoreboard ticking over despite Greggy’s stinginess at the other end. Ian closed his spell after eleven overs, suitably enough with a wicket maiden, during which he conceded just twelve runs and took three wickets. That third wicket was the result of a tremendous one-handed, over the shoulder, running catch by Mark Gordon moving rapidly from mid on towards long on, in the over after Allan Butt had snared another running catch at deep backward square.

Graham Ward (1-17) replaced Ian and struck with only his second ball, snaring a skied return catch, at which point Broadbridge were struggling at 63 for 6. However, the Badgers lost control of the game a little at this point, with neither of the Grahams able to exert any control and Broadbridge number six Johnston able to make hay, hitting seven fours in his 36. Graham Davenport was replaced by Darrell Pitts (2-29), and despite a wayward first over he was able to break the 47 run seventh wicket partnership by removing Johnston and then adding Broadbridge’s skipper just two balls later. Mark replaced Graham Ward at the other end and wrapped up the innings with two wickets in the 27 balls he delivered as Broadbridge’s last four wickets fell for the addition of just nineteen runs.

Broadbridge’s innings had finished twenty minutes or so before the scheduled tea interval, and it was a good job it did as the Badgers’ reply got off to a pedestrian start in the face of some tight bowling, with Graham Ward taking eighteen balls to get off the mark and Simon Fox (34) having a scoreless spell of seventeen deliviries early in his innings. The first wicket fell two balls into the fourteenth over with the score on 22, and even the arrival of Patrick Redding (38) didn’t see an immediate improvement in the scoring rate. However, Pat and Simon slowly got on top of the bowling and when the last hour started the requirement was 73 from the final twenty overs.

The next six overs saw that reduced by 35 runs but the return of young quick bowler N Baker paid immediate dividends for the home side with Patrick being trapped in front from only the third ball of the new spell. The wheels then fell off the Badgers wagon as the middle order came and went without troubling the scorer unduly and when twelve year old Sahil Dawar joined erstwhile skipper Steve Pitts at the wicket we still needed to find fifteen runs from the last six overs. The young man kept his cool impressively and judicious rotation of the strike saw the total inching ever nearer until an egregious error by the senior partner saw a single taken off the last ball of the penultimate over to put Sahil back on strike with three runs still needed to win.

[Just as an aside, and I hope I don’t embarrass the young lad by revealing this, I was very impressed by Sahil’s (outward) calm and confidence during these final overs, and he demonstrated that he was still thinking about the game even under the pressure of the situation by calling a mid-wicket conference after two balls of the final over to ask me if he should throw his wicket away to bring Mark to the wicket. My (rather too equivocal, in cold words on the page) response to this suggestion was that I would never ask him to do that and to play it as he saw fit, and to be honest I was hoping that he’d edge one either side of the keeper and bring up the winning runs with a boundary!!]

The spectators must have been on tenterhooks, but a scrambled single off the penultimate ball, after a prod towards the close fielder at short cover, gave Steve the opportunity to clip the final delivery away and chase through for the two runs necessary to secure the win. A close shave, but a fun way to start the new season.