Camden 3rd XI 2014 Match reports


Proficient win for ten men of the Thirds

And so to Elsworth. An unusually controversy-free encounter ended with a proficient win for the Thirds who, after winning all of their (two) run chases last year, are fast dispelling the myth that they can only be successful batting first. The promised monsoon failed to arrive, although the playing of the game at all owed much to Elsworth’s pitch cover. Instead of the expected green and soaking track, the captains tossed a coin over a straw coloured, flat and slightly damp surface, and the ten men of Camden III ventured out onto the pleasant village field at the behest of the home skipper.

And then back to the pavilion again after a nasty squall swept the field of play after just a few overs. In that time the Thirds, who had taken only two scalps last week at Steeple Morden, were tidy but wicketless. The ten-minute rain break afforded the opportunity for a switch – fifteen-year-old debutant Greg Mellor (0-15), after an encouraging short bowling spell, wresting the keeping gear from Duncan Gibson, who would bowl later. Aussie Tom Duesbury replaced Mellor and at the other end Ali Austin’s leg spin replaced Andrew Redfern’s seamers, after the recently coiffeured but still sadly bearded philosopher complained of tightness in the upper buttock region. Duesbury’s pacey, skiddy deliveries bowled two of Elsworth’s top order and at the 20 over point the hosts were 80-2. Martin Baker replaced Duesbury after the drinks break and Ali Austin finished a promising spell with 0-19 from six. After three overs from Duncan Gibson (0-15), Redfern returned and he and Baker set about pegging back the hosts. No ‘big overs’ followed, and when Redfern removed the left-handed opener Farnell for 62, a flurry of late wickets helped to keep the hosts in check. Baker’s ten overs yielded 4-36, with catches for Gibson, Mellor, Nick Austin and one for Baker himself. Redfern ended with a parsimonious 1-26 from his ten, and Duesbury (3-28) returned for the last over, claiming a third victim via a second catch by keeper Mellor. Elsworth closed on a stuttering 152-8, and tea and scones were taken in the pavilion.

New opening combination Gibson and David Warren (unable to bowl due to a shoulder injury) took the score calmly to 34, before the latter fell leg before for 1. Debutant Alex Fear shook off twelve years of rust to play some accomplished strokes, and with Gibson picking up the pace with some brutal pulling and driving, the score reached 95-2 at the 20 overs drinks interval. One run later, the partnership of 61 ended when Fear (15) became the second LBW victim of the innings, his protective box being trapped in front as he attempted drive on one knee. Shortly after Skipper Steve Robinson reached the wicket, Gibson’s excellent knock was curtailed when he slapped Elsworth’s McClure to point for 62 (from just 54 balls). As is his custom, Vice Captain Andrew Redfern took his time in reaching the crease, pausing to stub out his fag, trim his facial hair and stiffen his floppy hat, before quickly hitting his stride with a series of powerful strokes. With Robinson (20 not out) going steadily, the two Cambridge Assessment men added the 57 needed for victory with few alarms, the ominous looking clouds above declining the chance to spoil the Thirds’ victory charge. The visitors made it home with over 10 overs to spare, Redfern capping a classy all-round performance with an unbeaten 34 (22 balls), including an emphatic straight six.

Afterwards at The Poachers, the Thirds celebrated the seven-wicket win by downing Gibson’s generously supplied Cornish Tribute. ‘Great teamwork on the pitch, as well as with Gibson’s beer jug,’ commented One Show reporter and Observer green columnist Lucy Seagle. She continued, ‘It was all about partnerships in the Camden innings, with stands of 34, 61 and 57 seeing the boys home.’ Talking of partnerships, David Warren, dashing bachelor of Cambourne parish, appeared to be attracting the attention of the comely barmaid until he remembered his annual date with Eurovision and exited stage left. ‘Not sure I’d have voted for Conchita Wurst’s Phoenix from the Flames. I thought the Polish entry had much more artistic merit’, he said. ‘I miss Terry Wogan too’, added an emotional Wazza.

Man of the Match: Duncan Gibson


Bionic batting from Austin steals the show, while bowlers toil.

The return of the cricket season felt a little surreal - as if it had advanced by stealth, gently nudging aside concerns over football relegation and play offs, and laughing in the face of the late spring chill. In fact, the Thirds arrived at the picturesque recreation ground in Steeple Morden, Hertfordshire, in a blaze of early May sun.

The loss of regular wicket keeper Justin Lee to gout, and soon to be spliced vice captain Andrew Redfern’s sliced left thumb (diced with knife in kitchen accident), meant adjustments to a batting order already bereft of Jon Adler, who was bolstering the Seconds at Newport. Asked to bat first on a slow, drying surface, club President David Mitchell and Addenbrooke’s oncology supremo Ramesh Bulusu took the score to 33 before the latter, having just unfurled an exquisite late cut boundary, was bowled for 7. Reminiscent of late period Mike Gatting, with exaggerated knee-flex and a hyperactive backlift, Mitchell (27), was next out, the ‘faintest of nicks’ to the keeper being reported to environmental health authorities by a deaf man in nearby Ashwell. Steve Hodsdon followed soon after for 11 after missing a grass cutter and the Thirds were 66-3 in the fourteenth over. Duncan Gibson, who had smote his first ball over square leg for six, and Skipper Steve Robinson, elected to consolidate, guiding the score to 83-4 at the 20 over mark. Perhaps showing veteran opposition spinner Jarman a little too much respect, the middle order men had reached 98 before Gibson launched a mighty blow off the white-haired tweaker and picked out, according to home side, the best catcher in the team, just in front of the boundary rope. David Warren departed for 4 but a perky partnership of 46 between Robinson, employing the scythe over mid on and the square cut to reasonable effect, and Baker, who worked the ball into the gaps, took the score to 154 before the skipper was bowled for 46 with a little more than two overs remaining. Enter young Ali Austin. The pocket rocket leg spinner dealt deftly with deliveries destined for his head, stroking three raucously cheered boundaries on his way to 14 not out from just 12 balls. With Baker undefeated on 17, the innings closed on 180-6, a creditable effort for the first game of the season on a wicket with the consistency of drying, occasionally exploding porridge. The opposition certainly seemed to think it a challenging total, and the Thirds, buoyed by Baker and Austin’s final flourish (26 runs in 13 balls), went to tea with a lightness of step and hopeful hearts.

How wrong we all were. Without dwelling on the details, Steeple Morden cruised home for the loss of just two wickets, with more than five overs to spare. The scorebook records that Morden opener Carlton carried his bat for 115, and in truth the Thirds looked unlikely to take wickets on a surface that, while still occasionally low, had dried out sufficiently to make batting more straightforward. Bulusu (1-16) and Gibson (1-10) claimed the only victims (both bowled), and the hosts’ proficiency with the willow was such that a couple of difficult half chances were the only scraps offered to the frustrated Thirds. The bowling, shuffled but not stirred, was blunted by Morden, steady spells from Warren (0-34) and Redfern (0-34) going unrewarded, and spinners Baker (0-31) and Austin (0-36) feeling the force of Carlton’s strokeplay at times. When Robinson’s (0-10) two tame projectiles were despatched for consecutive boundaries, it was all over.

After the good natured encounter, the teams convened at the local hostelry and were regaled with tales of Ramesh Bulusu’s rise to fame on local television news, who were covering a new medical initiative at Addenbrookes. Ever the gentleman, Ramesh refused to kiss and tell when pressed about the nature of his relationships with certain About Anglia presenters. Rival BBC local news breakfast presenter Sam Naz later commented, ‘It was good to see the boys back in action again, and I’m sure that the Skipper will ensure that James Fincham and Nick Austin get more of a game next week. I particularly missed Tim Little and Alec Armstrong, who were twirling and seaming for the Seconds.’ Her weather forecasting colleague, Georgina Burnett smouldered, ‘Though it was sad to see Robbo - once proud opening bowler of the team - belted so effortlessly over the ropes at the end, at least bowling himself prevented the introduction of Mitchell at the other end. Nobody wanted to see that.’

Man of the Match: Steve Robinson