Dear Friends and Members of Portsmouth Cricket Club
As a nation we have a
reputation for being obsessed with the weather, and you can understand why. Consider
the railway network and the reasons why trains are cancelled - it’s too cold,
the wrong type of leaves on the track and most recently it is too hot – the net
result is that even commuters use mobile weather apps to see if they are going
to get home.
As cricketers the weather watching becomes part of the sport,
considerably more so than our football, rugby and hockey colleagues who do not
care if it is raining. Maybe those of us charged with washing kit may think
otherwise, but the average rugby player welcomes a bit of the wet stuff as a slightly
muddy field hurts less than rock hard one.
The past few weeks has had keen
cricketers frantically checking their weather apps in frustration as the record-breaking
weekday temperatures gave way to rain at the weekend, leaving a number of
players swapping their bats for paintbrushes.
However, at St Helen’s Portsmouth
CC is relatively lucky, a combination of sandy ground, a keen breeze (the
experienced PCC fan knows that visiting St Helen’s without layers of clothing is
foolhardy even if the temperature scales are nudging thirty degrees), covers
and excellent preparation by the ground keeping team mean that more often than
not we get the game on.
Last weekend with heavy overnight
rain continuing through to mid-morning it was unsurprising the thirds match was
called off, but at St Helen’s we managed to get the game on and pretty soon
after the start the outfield didn’t look or feel like there had been any recent
rain at all.
For the cricketing fan yet another reason to be a member of PCC
News Letter is Edited by PKE
Disclaimer: Before we proceed with this week’s report, I would just like to confirm that The View’s editor isn’t a faux-eccentric, faux-intellectual, grammar Nazi, who hasn’t demanded that every non-titled male player be named with an ‘Esq.’ at the end. The use of imperial measurements will be left to writer’s discretion.
PEAS IN PODS
The losing run has been snapped at two games (and with it any more alcoholism-related references), as 4th placed Pompey 2s travelled to and triumphed over 5thplaced Bransgore, in a tighter contest than the twenty run margin suggests.
Despite persistent rain in Pompey, it was blue skies and bone-dry in the New Forest. It could have been the sight of a grassy pitch, or a few bleary-eyed visitors that may have prompted the Bransgore captain to field first upon winning the toss.
However, it appeared that hosts’ opening bowlers had woken up with thick heads, as Nicky Wyatt and Jamie Mitchell (and Extras) got Pompey off to a flyer, racing to 50 for none after 5 overs. The change bowlers were swiftly called upon, and it was their use of the spin-friendly pitch with variable bounce that made batting as hard as the Brexit for which we’re heading - accounting for Wyatt for a quick 32, and Mitchell for a laboured 23, in between which, Jordan Palmer-Goddard, was Micky H’d - by someone who isn’t Micky H - adjudged lbw whilst metr..sorry, yards *wink* down the pitch, for 4.
With the score at 94 for 4 after 22 overs, the innings was threatening to turn ‘a bit Rowledge’ (see last week’s report) as James Holder joined Dom Wood out in the middle. But as the old saying goes, “a week is a long time in Hampshire League Div 2”, as 15 boundary-peppering overs later, the pair had added 85 in challenging conditions, before Holder departed for an elegant 45, and Wood shortly after for a richly deserved 50.
Ishy Ahmad (14), and Paul Hungerford (19) scrambled 30 runs in the latter overs, two of which were hilariously compiled:
- Hungerford nudges to point;
- Ishy takes off for a single;
- Hungerford sends him back, opportunity for a run out at the non-striker’s (Ishy’s) end;
- Wild throw at non-striker’s end;
- Hungerford calls Ishy through for another run, run out opportunity at wicketkeeper’s (Ishy’s again) end;
- Wild throw at wicketkeeper’s end;
- Hungerford calls Ishy through for another run;
- Fielder puts a stop to the madness by opting against attempting run out at non-striker’s end;
- Ishy collapses in a heap at the non-striker’s end, having run the equivalent of three runs, where he could’ve/should’ve been run out at least twice, for the net result of two runs, that go onto Hungerford’s score;
- Combination of howling laughter, applause, the odd shout of “buzzeeerrrrrrrs”, and regret that the sequence wasn’t recorded for social media release, among team mates on the boundary.
All such mirth and merriment amounted to Pompey sitting down to tea, having accumulated 228 for the loss of 8 wickets.
In response, the home side made a decent start to their pursuit, and at 72 for 1 after 15 overs, they were comfortably keeping up with the required run rate. However, the drinks break at 15 overs may have broken up the concentration of Bransgore’s batsmen, as James Holder added to his early scalp by striking twice in the 16th over, and once more in the 18th, to leave the hosts at 78 for 4, and to end his 9-over spell with 4 for 38, underlining an excellent all-round performance. In the following over, Paul Hungerford managed to deflect a straight drive back onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end, to manufacture one of those horrible run outs, made even more so as the unfortunate Bransgore batsman had yet to face a single delivery.
With the hosts losing 4 wickets for 11 runs, in the space of 4 overs, many would be forgiven for thinking that Pompey had done the hard work, and could now coast to a comfortable victory. Although, anyone jumping to that assumption, haven’t watched an awful lot of Pompey 2s this summer, with the middle overs proving fruitless for tweakers Lee Hungerford and Ethan Randall, as the next Bransgore pair stopped the rot, and ably reconstructed their run chase, putting on 101 over the next 20 overs.
As the death overs approached, the game was as finely balanced as Olga Korbut, with the home side requiring around a run-a-ball, one big over either way at this point could indelibly decide who’ll be victors or vanquished. Consecutive tight overs from Randall and Lee Hungerford helped push the required rate nearer 8 an over, inducing risky shots, and risky running from the set Bransgore batsmen - as the hosts scrapped for every run, the visitors were unlucky to have a couple of run out decisions go against them.
It took until the return of Ishy Ahmad for Pompey to make the all-important breakthrough, leaving the home side on 185 for 6 – needing a further 45 from the last 5 overs. With each dot ball and single taken, the required run rate increased, thus forcing the New Foresters to swing for the surrounding hedges. This enabled Paul Hungerford to pick up two wickets from the last two deliveries of the 43rd over, both from outfield catches – one of which being a screamer from Palmer-Goddard, who made good ground to his left before rising like an oversized salmon on the mid wicket boundary, to pluck the travelling cherry above his head.
Ishy followed this up in the next over with 2-in-2 of his own, to deny Hungerford a hat trick opportunity, and to wrap up a hard fought win for the visitors. Curiously, with the margin of victory being 20 runs, Pompey had conceded 8 in wides (a vast improvement from the 33 at Bishop’s Waltham), compared with Bransgore’s 28.
A return home awaits Pompey’s finest, as they host new local rivals Emsworth this Saturday.