FIRST TIME LUCKY FOR THIRDS
Rare Sutton wicket mars terrific team win
Cottenham (6pts) 154 lost to Camden (20pts) 174-6
An April start, but you wouldn’t have known it at sunny Cottenham, where Camden were asked to bat first. In Dean Vale, Cottenham possess the quickest bowler in Junior 1 North, and the Jamaican was a real handful on a dry pitch where the ball was going through the top. But Sutton and Adler dug in, seeing off the new-ball spell and taking the score to 80 at drinks. Sutton had amassed 16, meaning that the former fruiterer was not only being outscored by the Big Aussie Unit, but by extras and overs, too. A foundation was being laid in the dust, however, as it was unlikely to be any easier batting second, and the visitors had plenty of batting to come. It wasn’t long before that theory was being put to the test – Adler falling for an excellent 40, and Bulusu (5) trapped in front by one that kept low. The arrival of Redfern appeared to galvanise Sutton, who coaxed his skipper into running a two, before hitting an equally rare boundary. A third wicket partnership of fifty-one had taken the score to 147 when Redders (19) offered a steepling catch, bringing Nick Harrison – making his league bow after an impressive outing in last week’s friendly – to the middle. Alas, it was to be no repeat – Vale returning to clean up the debutant for three. The same method did for Sutton (54), leaving specialist finishers Robinson and Mitchell looking for quick runs. Evidence suggests that they were hard to find, with the former-ex-former all-rounder red-inking four from thirteen, and the portly run-machine run-out for three from fifteen. To the delight of Richie Benaud impersonators, Hodsdon scampered two twos from the last two deliveries, and Camden – aided by 42 extras – could be satisfied with 174-6.
Further satisfied by cake, the visitors took the field in good spirits, if not health. The Mitchell Gambit had worked last year against Madingley, but this wasn’t (yet) the time for burgling a few overs from a comedy part-timer. Instead, Redders took the new ball with Kelsall – the pair finding alarming bounce and, soon enough, accuracy. Kelsall trimmed the off bail with a terrific in-swinger, and two more wickets – a catch in the gully for Harrison and an LBW – followed for the bustling education executive in a decisive spell of 8-1-16-3, leaving the home side in trouble at 45-3. By this stage, Vish had replaced Redders, and looked to have got in on the act when a feather went through to Hodders, only for the batsman to loudly proclaim – before the umpire could make a decision – that it hadn’t carried. After a brief confab, the decision was not out – despite the square-leg umpire having told Mitchell that he thought it had carried. Hmm. No matter, Vish (1-35) was soon to have his man – a leading edge carrying to the bucket-hands of Adler at mid-on, whereupon the mild-mannered pacer felt the need to offer some forthright opinions. Perhaps sensing a rabbit, or a chance to sneak a few overs before the big-hitting Vale arrived, Redders (2-25) returned, and was rewarded with a caught behind and another smart catch from Adler at mid-on. At the other end, Cottenham’s number five was showcasing some seen-it-on-the-telly switch-hits off the bowling of Wallman, who by now had replaced Kelsall. The young off-spinner was to have the last laugh, however, claiming a leg(?) before as the batsman was swept off his feet. The scoreboard read 86-7, but this game wasn’t done yet. Vale certainly didn’t think so, taking the score to 125 before being stumped off the bowling of Wallman – the one-man youth policy holding his nerve brilliantly, finishing with figures of 2-42. Effectively over as a contest, the game entered into what is known in American sports as ‘junk time’. Any time that Sutton is seen bowling can certainly be classified as such, let alone when his occasional off-spin takes a wicket. History will record Sutton’s first Thirds’ wicket since the far off days of 2002 as ‘bowled’, but it should be noted that the ball – slowly drifting down leg – was swept onto the stumps. All that was left was for Bulusu (1-23) to wrap things up with another stumping for Hodders – reward for the granite-jawed Marlburian’s tidy work on a capricious surface.
Last season, it took until June to record a first win – in the same fixture, coincidentally – so this felt like progress. “Progress?” scoffed the unavailable Fox-Teece. Surrounded by dirty nappies and empty cans of cider, the Fenland crooner went on: “Sutton took a wicket, for f**** sake.”
Man of the Match: Ryan Kelsall