Thursday 6th April sees us fly off for our pre-season tour to La Manga in south east Spain. All the touring party are looking forward to some sun , fun and perhaps some cricket too! After all what happens in La Manga stays in La Manga!
So what may well be the last match of what has been a great season finally arrived. It had been an extended visit by Graces as Saturday saw the thoroughly entertaining photo shoot in the cozy Loughton club house – we can expect the results next month. The photographers came along on Sunday too for some final pics.
A special mention goes to the Graces’ supporters who again turned out in force at Loughton as they have done all season – thanks for being there!
Saturday was a wet day but thankfully on match day it turned out to be a glorious afternoon. Dom lost the toss and the hosts surprisingly opted to bat on what was a very green and slightly damp strip. Graces guessed local knowledge would come into play regarding this decision.
Newton and Asad opened our attack – the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat as we expected due to the green strip and in the second over Leo took a good low catch at square leg off Asad as the ball popped up – 12 for 1 in the 2nd over. The ball then dominated the bat as accurate bowling and the slow wicket saw the score slowly accumulate and wickets fall regularly – most of the host’s batsmen stayed in but were unable to accelerate.
At the 20 over drinks break the score was only 49 for 4 with boundaries being few and far between. This trend continued and it wasn’t until number 8 Mann hit an entertaining quick-fire 30 that the score got going. Manish took a great catch in the deep to see him off. Bizarre wicket of the day was Mendis taking a catch at slip after keeper Kosala got a hand to a chance pushing it up into Mendis’ hands!
The final score was 133 all out in the 40th over – Dom used 8 bowlers with some economical figures. Wickets were shared around accordingly. In previous games South Loughton have been stronger and posted more challenging totals, but this takes nothing away from a good Graces bowling and fielding performance.
After the usual sumptuous tea that we’ve come to expect in Essex Dom and Kosala opened our reply against Andy Battle’s seriously loopy but accurate spin bowling. Patience and concentration were necessary, Dom being caught for 14 in the 13th over.Stuart came in at 3 and after a cautious start started to accelerate the scoring together with Kosala. At drinks they had taken us to 69 and then dominated the home attack with a flurry of boundaries.
After they had both reached stylish half centuries Stuart and Kosala sportingly retired allowing a previously slumbering Jonners and Mahender to come in with about 15 required. Mahender obviously was in a rush as he clobbered 2 consecutive 4s to win the match in the 30th over. So a convincing 9 wicket victory against the ever hospitable hosts. Drinks were then taken in the late afternoon sunshine together with our welcoming home side. So if this is our last game it’s nice to end on a high note especially after the disappointment of having to pull out of the previous game.
Roll on next season!
2 for the price of one! Here’s Colin’s report
Hollywood in Essex
Glorious sunshine and a welcome were order of the day as we arrived at South Loughton, once again accompanied by our photographers and stylists who would make the odd shot but not intensive as the main shoot the day before. Won’t be too long before we can reveal that result but meanwhile on to the square. Despite the rain of yesterday it was not too soft and the outfield had slowed a little.
South Loughton won and elected to bat. Newton and Asad were the first pair bowling to Captain Siddy and Hill. After opening bravado in the first over, Hill tried to slog Asad but just sent a glorious catch to cover and Leo got down low to take it cleanly. Asad was now bowling against Asad but their no 3 took 48 minutes to accumulate 2 before he was run out when Soomro ran and left him utterly marooned with one of us doing the token taking of bails. Siddy meanwhile had been caught behind for 11. Another Hill in place and the grass was growing quicker than the strike rate. Mahender and Manish were now the bowling pair and Mahender soon bowled Soomro and drinks taken 2 balls early.
Into the second half and the bowling changed to Mendis and Robin. Wickie Bolt stuck around for a while for no score before being bowled by Mendis then Robin lured Hill to pitch up and Mendis deftly caught in slip after Niroshan pushed it aloft. Foulser came and went back after 2 overs through Robin’s bowling and at 69-7 we could now give bowling to Leo and …….Dom and his heat seeking missiles that arrive just when least expected. Lance Mann had been providing some beef and reached 30 before he was caught at mid on by Manish and a second wicket for Leo, with Terry also having been caught by Mendis at silly Midwicket off Leo. Our intrepid pair used up the bowling against Andy Battle and Dave Smith who doggedly raised the score to 132. The last ball effort was a good one but in running Dave ran three and caught up Andy at two and so Stuart had to signal ball and wicket at defenceless end. Innings over.
Two wickets each for Asad, Robin and Leo, one for Mendis and Mahender and as well as Leo, Manish was there when the other run out occurred.
A splendid tea was provided, one of the bonus in visiting here and it was time to see if we could win the match, conscious we had slipped last week.
Dom and Niroshan faced the opening pair of Andy and Dave. Andy has a unique spin and trajectory that swings in from both sides and tempts a batsman to loft to waiting hands. Unless they drop the catch and an early lucky escape. Plowing on, the score accumulated gently to the end of the 13th where Andy undid Dom with a catch by Hill at 14.
Stuart now joined Niroshan and the pair steadily played a range of shots off next four bowlers until both were poised to amass 50 ( 100 partnership hardly possible with 34- 1 and target of 133). Stuart swept a fine 6th boundary to get 52 and sportingly yielded to Jonners who had time to get 1 and then Niroshan got his single to also graciously yield to Mahender. Two of his boundaries later the game was over with 9.3 overs in hand and a nine wicket margin.
The score looks clinical but the whole match was played in great spirit and it was a pleasure to relax afterwards in the sun and long shadows with a team we enjoy playing against. This week Dom had much to praise but to much applause Leo was the winner of Man of Match for all round work catching, fielding and bowling with two wickets credited and being there for a run out too.
Despite the distance, it was good to have so many supporters and this makes such a difference. Take a bow guys. Our photo crew were also a tangible benefit.
One final mention to Matthew as 12th man who kitted up at first. As soon as he changed back there was one of those sudden moments where you look at the roller scoreboard then there is a hubbub on the field. Looks like a man down, how? Water despatched assuming heat exhaustion but it turned out to be a case of wicketkeeper lost contact lens, not to be found and so adjustment and rather than get Matthew to change again, Newton went on field to keep them at strength.
Jonners beat me to it in posting a report, but as the end of my season due to travel, in Mastermind fashion, I started so I will finish. For me there has been great team spirit and achievement all summer which is great to experience and shall discuss this more at later awards and AGM evenings.
Graces have been approached by photographers Hill and Aubrey who have invited us to feature in the prestigious Man About Town magazine. It’s an LGBT sports theme – hopefully we’ll have some glamorous pics shortly!