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Monday, August 28, 2017

Benfleet CC v Basildon & Pitsea cc 4th X 26th Aug 2017

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Penultimate League game this Saturday away at Benfleet against their 3rd XI. Our team sheet looked ropey all week with very few people ticking to indicate that they were available. Joe's game in the 3's was a home game, so after picking up Tim Brown I dropped him off and Tim and I headed for Benfleet for the 12.30 start.

Weather was fine - blue skies and cumulus clouds and predicted 25 degrees centigrade. Got changed and as we got ready it became apparent that we were a couple of blokes down, but the oppo were saying they were in a similar situation. I made a couple of phone calls to see if I could get a couple of people at short notice, but this was to no avail.
As a result of the toss, we were fielding first. We opened with Jai who was playing tomorrow and was only going to bowl 5 overs. He bowled well as did Tony Keep bowling from the North End (A127 end). Once Jai had finished his spell Joey Keep (Tony's son) bowled, not having bowled for 4 years and it didn't go that well and he asked to finish his spell at the end of the 1st over, but the rest of the team encouraged him to continue. As you can see he did better in the following two overs.
 I then came on bowling from the A13 end see below...
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I got the wicket of E.Warwick (Captain), who after having a look at a couple of attempts at my stock Leg-breaks which I wasn't spinning that much... just wasn't coming out of the hand that well, he decided - as they often do, that enough was enough and my bowling was going to be hit back to Tarpots on the A13... A massive swing and a miss at a ball that pitched on off and turned away from the off-stump signalled his intention, so the next ball was one with a lot more over-spin. This one dipped and didn't really turn - cramped him up and he dollied it back to me for a bowled and caught. He looked a little disappointed. I only just caught it - as it was one of those that came straight at me and initially I couldn't tell if it was coming at me fast so I set myself as if it was fast and then realised it was dead slow and it had began to dip so I had to suddenly squat and in doing so twisted my knee.

But, it was the other bloke Joe Owen whose wicket I wanted as he looked more organised and threatening, he'd already hit the ball back past me for 4 with a singular off-drive that evaded both me and the fielder at mid-off. But the majority of his shots came off of pull-shots between fine-leg and mid-wicket region, where with only 9 players, one of whom had already gone down with a bad back from bowling (Joey Keep) wasn't looking too up for it or agile. The other bloke Dave Ayres our chairman - who doesn't play and on very rare occasion come in to help out - but this was the first time in two years - was given the role of sweeper covering the area this bloke saw as his main scoring area. Dave is no athlete, more suited to darts I would imagine - but he pit in a valiant effort, but I leaked runs down there. Not Dave's fault at all, my fault for bowling leg-side where this bloke obviously felt his strength was.

The knee then started to have some impact, along with the fact that I couldn't get the ball out of the hand with any revs on, so I got a bit carted.

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I was followed by Al McIver and Frank McLeod who did a good job getting the remaining wickets. Owen was eventually dismissed for 34 caught off of Al's bowling, edging the ball to Tony Keep at a position around Gully/4th slip area. He was their best bat in this game so was a valuable wicket to take. They finished with 128 for 8 all out - off of 38 overs.

Tea was very commendable and we all made our way back satisfied and ready to bat. The openers were Joey Keep who scored a fair few runs in the last game and the reliable Frank McCleod who usually provides the main runs in our innings and any hope of a win. Frank faced the first ball and the opener was Warwick (Capt) with the kid Joe Owen bowling from the A127 end. Not only was Joe Owen their star batsman, but his bowling was very tidy as well...

Owen accounted for Joey Keep for 2, and Tim Brown and Tony Keep for 10 each. Frank McLeod scored 58 with 11 fours primarily scored off of Warwicks bowling.

With Frank batting I'd gone looking for lost cricket balls which looked as though they'd be easily found having been given up on far too easily. Couldn't find any and when I emerged from the trees and got back to Dave who was scoring, found myself 2 wickets away from getting a bat which is very unusual. While I was getting my pads on, one wicket went down and shortly after getting padded up with Owen getting through our batting line-up like a hot knife through butter Tony Keep was caught off of Owen's bowling for his 3rd wicket.

As Tony came off I asked what was happening and he said "Just straight and accurate". I joined Jai and faced the first ball off the other bloke bowling from the A13 end... L.Wheeler. As Tony said - straight and accurate, varying the speed. I was initially very nervous, just not wanting to get out, there were loads of overs on the board and we only needed about 30 runs. I remembered the disastrous game where I joined Lee and played across the line and got bowled when we only needed a similar amount of runs. Within the first few balls off of Wheeler I missed one, that must have just missed the off-stump and noticed where my bat had gone in relation to the ball... I'd played across the line, bringing the bat down diagonally from my back-lift -past the point of impact - mistiming it with the bat swinging through towards mid-on and not the bowler! I stood and re-calibrated my brain - realising that this bloke at least and probably the other one at the other end were bowling straight and accurately and if I didn't rectify this I'd be out.

Joe my younger son has worked with me on this and the solution is to have the bat in my back-lift behind me almost pointing towards fine-leg. I then seem to bring the back down and through the ball - with the bat pointing towards the batsman, so I put that approach into action and it worked. The kid Joe Owen was as described.. accurate with some variations. Most of it was straight, but looked as though it was supposed to be off-breaks, some turned a little and then every now and then he'd try and bowl what looked like leg-break out of the hand. Frank was umpiring and was saying - just get bat on ball and take your time, the runs will come. At the other end Jai was playing with more fluency and was obviously less risk adverse than me so was making runs, so that for me was the basis of a plan. I'll just block, and help see off the threatening Owen The key thing was not to lose a wicket with so many overs to play with. I've previously batted with a bloke in a partnership of 90 +  runs and won a game that had been given up on. In that game I scored no runs, he scored all 90, I just blocked , so I can stick in there and soak up the goading and jibes while the other bloke scores. I figured if Jai lost his wicket G-man and Dave Ayres might then play his role?

It worked okay, at drinks it worked out that we needed a run an over. Owen had run out of overs and another bloke came on and he was nowhere near as threatening. But the bloke at the A13 end (Wheeler) was still a bit tricky, trying all sorts... slow, loopy, faster, all very accurate, but then every couple of overs or so, he pushed one through outside of off, not sure if it was intentional. There were about 3 and each one I played at I missed, with what seemed to me a high chance of the ball being edged through to the keeper, but he didn't see the potential, so went back to bowling at the stumps... A kind of you miss - I win approach. Over by over, the total came down, the batting and the approach taken flattering the bowlers figures, but in between the maidens Jai was hitting singles and 2's and a couple of fours. With only 4 required and the field up around our gills I saw the opportunity to hit the winning runs off of Wheeler, first a couple hit through backward of square leg and then one in the gap between square leg and mid-wicket for 4. I rarely get to bat, so it was nice to get a bat and bring the team home for a win and be the one that scores the winning runs!

Once home writing this up, I looked up Joe Owens stats on Play cricket and found out a little about him...

This year he's bowled 134 overs. That includes 21 Maidens, He's taken 43 wickets!!! with his best being 5 for 20. He's only been playing adult cricket for 2 years and he's had 2 x 5 wicket hauls and his economy is 3.39 and his strike rate is 18.79. His average is 10.63 and his contribution to the team as a bowler is 26.71% of the wickets. So he's no slouch with the ball. But he doesn't look that massively threatening, but he's definitely accurate and if you miss he is going to hit the stumps, he varies what he does, so I'm guessing if you go after him, it's definitely going involve quite a high level of risk as Tony, Joey and Tim Brown discovered.

His batting was okay and on this day he was by far their best playing with the ball and the bat. So I have come up with a cunning plan as I'm bound to play against him again next season, or if don't Joe will. See the plan Here

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