Sidbury chalk up eighth straight victory
PUBLISHED: 13:03 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 09 July 2019
Security concerns prevented Countess Wear Cricket Club from hosting Sidbury this weekend, fashioning joyous enthusiasm amongst those who prefer spending their Saturday afternoons at the pantheon of cricket venues: the Millfield, writes Barney Stone.
Upon unhitching the rickety gate that shields the ground from outside interference, players and spectators alike were met with, as is now commonplace, a panoramic view so idyllically Devonian that cricket bags were slung to the side in amazement. Tender loving care on the eve of the occasion ensured that the pitch was capable of hosting back-to-back fixtures; indeed, prior to the commencement of proceedings, second-in-command Josh Reed hypothesised that the outfield would 'go like a carpet'.
With Sidbury boasting a strong batting line-up, Countess Wear's decision to send the home side into bat first was welcomed with open arms.
The seasoned combination of Ben Pollard and Phil Grove at the top of the order sought to add early impetus whilst maintaining more than a modicum of control. Pollard played wonderfully for his knock of 0; the loss of his wicket came from a booming cover drive that was surely threatening the parked cars beside the neighbouring pond, had it not been for a smart catch in the infield that was made to look routine!
Whilst Pollard looked inquisitively at his bat during his walk back to the pavilion, Olly Pyne adorned his pads and set to work.
Sidbury's top run-scorer this season made light of Countess Wear's consistent bowling attack; his 72 runs from 49 balls were accrued without even batting an eyelash as he continued his blistering form.
The loss of Grove brought Josh Reed to the crease. Controversy has become synonymous with Reed in recent weeks, and the events that were to follow only added fuel to Reed's internal fire.
After a tentative start, masked by a pretence that he was 'playing himself in', Reed seized from his cricketing locker some deft shots and gap-piercing drives that were simply world's away from his usual stroke play.
After amassing seven runs, Reed received a high full-toss that he slashed into the waiting arms of the opponent lurking at gully; incandescent with rage, Reed glared at anyone and everyone, searching for the no-ball signal that everyone in the ground thought was imminent.
It was not forthcoming and Reed was dismissed in controversial circumstances. The home changing room was in danger of rigorous rearrangement, and the outcome was only avoided by the efforts of several mediators bravely seeking to subdue the beast.
Once Reed had run out of expletives to use on poor souls nearby, skipper Alex Paget strode out to the crease.
The pairing of Paget and Pyne looked ominous for all who sought to bowl at them as Sidbury's total rocketed north of 150.
With the departure of Pyne, Barney Stone was brought to the crease. Alongside Paget, this partnership yielded over 100 runs and put Sidbury into a commanding position. Twenty minutes later, Sidbury had been bowled out for a total of 256.
It was a total that looked unlikely to be breached. This viewpoint was evidently shared by Countess Wear; what followed was a frustrating afternoon for Sidbury with the ball, as the away side refused to undertake any serious attempt at challenging the required total.
Stone and Olly Derryman opened the bowling for the home-side; the former picked up a couple of early wickets, whilst the latter continuously challenged the outside edge to the delight of the packed slip cordon. Before long, Countess Wear had two batsmen set at the crease.
To upset the opposition's apple-cart, Paget opted for the two-pronged attack of Stephen Howe and Reed. This quickly payed dividends; Howe's six overs went for a measly seven runs, boasting an economy rate so austere that it was reminiscent of the coalition's rationing measures during the Second World War.
Meanwhile, fuelled by rage, Reed threw on his headband and charged in from the boundary ropes. As Reed observed, possibly in slow-motion, two catches going down from his bowling, it was possible to see both his brow furrowing in pure hatred and his eyes filling with despair. He will have to bounce back after his mid-season retreat to Mallorca.
After drinks, Chris Fitzhenry got the all-important breakthrough in his over, trapping Countess Wear's opener in front of his leg stump to the delight of the Sidbury faithful. Combined with Paget from the other end, the pair quickly ensured that the result was a formality; Fitzhenry grabbed himself three wickets in total, whilst Paget secured another brace to add to his impressive collection.
As the sun began to set over the Millfield, and the taste of Devon Red cider wafted in the air, Jasper Fitzhenry seized the match ball and began an impressive spell that inspired plaudits from all in observation.
From his four overs, Fitzhenry bowled a consistent line and nagging length; going at only a run an over, his spell was aptly crowned off with a delivery that left the bails flying.
Countess Wear ended their innings on 150-8. Without deliberation, Chris Fitzhenry was awarded the coveted St John's School 'Man of the Match' award for his impressive spell that ensured the points were staying with Sidbury.