Many thanks to Matt for this match report
This week was Graces’ first home game of the season, welcoming new opponents The Journeymen CC to Broxbourne, on the second pitch. The players were very grateful to get a game in, given the everchanging forecast throughout the week, perhaps forecast by Michael Fish?
Pre match, skipper Adam said it would be “a good toss to lose” with drizzle and gloom surrounding the ground. As it happened, Graces would end up batting first, ably assisted by Chris Wright, who had made the trip down from Northants to umpire the first innings.
Graces had Matt and Chris S opening the batting and swiftly used the small boundaries to their advantage, with Matt finding the boundary with frequency. Some occasional wayward deliveries were well swatted by ‘Mearl’, with the sixth over seeing four boundaries hit in it as Graces stamped their authority early on. Opening bowler Axford tried a change of tact with some short bowling, with Matt pulling for another four, but then being caught on the boundary from a top edged pull the following ball, just eight runs short of his half-century off just 24 balls. 59/1 in the seventh over. Nine runs later and Chris was back in the hut too having been bowled for 13.
Mahender and Leo then saw themselves in the middle and the flow of runs continued. As slower bowlers were introduced, Mahe’s trademark dancing and Leo’s straight shooting saw the boundaries continue to flow. Leo in particular looking dangerous with back to back sixes off young Patel. However, the pair were also looking to take advantage with some quick singles, giving one of the moments of the match. Mahender dabbed the ball behind square and continued to watch the ball fall into the gap, to be swiftly interrupted by Leo’s forceful bellow of “get down there” to encourage Mahender to get the quick single in.
A strong partnership of 66 was finally broken when Leo was caught for 41 and Mahe was caught soon after for 26 leaving the hosts 144/4. Young leggie Patel, would quickly grab his second, getting Dom stumped, leaving Adam and Scott together.
After a period of getting their eye in, Adam and Scott then started to find their flow, continuing the mix of quick running and punishing boundaries, with Scott’s pulling particularly effective. The third 50+ partnership of the innings would happen before Scott was bowled for 39 and then Adam for 31. Kash and John saw the innings to the close, an impressive 222/7 from 35 overs.
With the sun slowly starting to appear, Graces used Chris S and Kash to open the bowling. The pair worked well with Chris pitching the ball up to encourage a misdrive, while Kash’s back of a length bowling kept the batters on their toes. Young Patel was proving a very difficult player to dismiss, even after Adam very sportingly calling him back after he was dubiously given out LBW by his teammate. It would take until the bowling change of Mamun until the breakthrough came, with opener Bloch run out with some sharp fielding to a risky quick single.
Not long later, Mamun had his first, using the grip and spin of the Broxbourne pitch to his advantage to bowl Cox. Not long later, Mahender would get the key wicket of Patel with a superb ball to bowl the batter around his legs for a solid 36. A rebuilding partnership followed from Shah and Giles, seeing off the final overs of pace in the match, before Chris S limped off (not even Wrighty’s ‘magic massage gun’ could keep him on the pitch). This allowed Graces’ 12th man, Martin to make his Graces debut!
With Mahender replaced by Mark, his tempting leg spin would cause just too tempting for The Journeymen, with Shah looping a catch to Matt at mid on. Not to be outdone, Mamum quickly grabbed his second, taking Ferreira’s stumps. However, Mark would quickly catch up, with Matt taking his second catch of the match. U Patel would be the last hope for the visitors and proved quite a handful, clearing the ropes with some big hits. It would all be whether he could keep enough partners. Mark would get his third with another looping catch in the legside, this time from Scott.
Once Mamun had bowled out, Matt was then introduced into the attack. His first over would ultimately end the contest with Axford and the dangerous Patel both LBW in his first over, trying one too many big legside hits. However, the game wasn’t done as dark clouds loomed over, causing a rain delay. During which, Tim’s colourful use of language to encourage another player to attend worked, as suddenly, Mahe would be replaced by Graces’ 13th player of the match, a brief fielding appearance by the post-work attending Michael. A determined last two overs post the rain break by 10 and 11 ensured Graces would not bowl out The Journeymen, they finished 181/9 from their 35 overs. 3-39 from Mark, 2-36 from Mamun and 2-6 from Matt the pick of the figures. A 41 run win, the perfect starter to the return of league cricket next week!