Away v Sutton CC – friendly – lost by 6 wickets

Gander Green Ln, Sutton SM1 2EG

Graces go south / It all goes south for Graces! – lost by 6 wickets

A rearranged fixture saw us go south of the river to visit Sutton CC for the first time – our chairman was very happy with this geographical choice! This club was formed in 1857 so have a bit of a head start on us! As you’d expect with such a well established club they have first rate facilities with a large clubhouse and a beautifully kept square and outfield.

Sutton player , Sam Schofield , was involved with arranging the game – he’s part of the LGBTQ+ community and has been aware of us for a number of years. He even arranged a gazebo for us decorated with a rainbow flag!

As ever we were accompanied by our large contingent of supporters and not forgetting our faithful scorer Colin. Adam had come along to watch and kindly umpired all the match! The weather conditions were perfect , about 23 degrees with some clouds.

As we prepared for the game we couldn’t help but notice that few of our opponents looked older than 20 – always a bad sign! Manish won the toss and decided to bat on the flat looking track – Unusually he opened himself with Jesant against the young seam bowling attack. 

Things were going well until the third over when Jesant was caught and bowled for 5 bringing Mahender in at 3. The bowling was accurate but responsible batting took our score to 43 in the 10th over when the skipper was LBW for 12 including a classic straight drive for 4. 

Dom sportingly walked after gloving to the athletic keeper Joe (more of him to come) – Jonners in at 5 then hung around with Mahender scoring 12 including a rare 5 after an overthrow reached the boundary.

As our innings progressed we became very aware of the super fast outfield – anything that passed a fielder raced away. The youthful home team were unsurprisingly full of beans and chased everything. Jonners fell when the score was 85 bringing in chairman Leo in the 17th over

Mahender meanwhile was taking advantage of the very true strip patiently seeing off the good balls and putting the loose balls away. This was to be our best partnership and our supporters enjoyed Leo’s crunching drives and Mahender’s cuts. Our score was rapidly progressing and we were looking good until Leo was runout going for a second run – it was an unbelievable direct hit from the deep.

A disbelieving Leo had to depart for a rapid 31 with our total now at 157 for 5 wickets off 26 0vers. Mahender had advanced to a swashbuckling 72. The match was now poised – we had 14 overs and 5 wickets left to compile a defendable total.  Mahender was however soon bowled for a great 80 unable to stop the deflected ball rolling agonisingly back onto his stumps. At this point Sam Schofield came on and showed everyone how to do it as then he ran through the remaining Graces batsmen with a horribly accurate spell. 

Only Stuart reached double figures (19) as we were all out for exactly 200 in the 34th over – we committed the cardinal sin of not using all our overs. Would this be enough?

After a BYO tea we took to the field with Sanjeev and Ari opening our bowling – the first over went to plan but after the second over we were in a state of shock. Joe Lunn the young wicket keeper, was number 2 and he proceeded to take 17 off this second over. This ,unfortunately for us, set the tone as he took the attack to us showing a wide range of shots most of which sped over the now huge seeming outfield. In what seemed no time at all he reached his 50 in only the 7th over – his opening partner had scored 6!

Manish rotated our bowling to find an answer to this attack but nothing worked as Joe just punished the loose balls as his score mounted in double quick time. At this stage we were wondering how we were going to avoid a 10 wicket loss. In the 13th over we thankfully finally claimed our first wicket (not Joe!) seeing his opening partner (Griffin) LBW for 28 – their score was exactly 100 in only the 13th over.

The number 3 batsman (Neal-Smith) also liked to hit the ball and shared a rapid 50 run partnership before keeper Scotty caught him off Jesant for 27 – the total was 150 after only 20 overs. To huge cheers from the watching home supporters Joe then reached his century. He had only given 2 very difficult catching chances and it was a hugely entertaining innings to watch even though we had a lot of chasing to do. It turned out that this was his first ever century.

Mahender finally caught him off Jesant for 104 – any hopes we had of turning the game around then faded as the next batsmen showed their ability – Stuart took a nice catch and the winning runs were hit in only the 26th over for the loss of 4 wickets.

Joe treated everyone to champagne in the clubhouse as Graces mingled with the very hospitable home players and supporters. We were thankful we batted first as we could have been chasing 300! We’d certainly like to return next season (as long as they include some seniors!)