NO DISGRACE, NO LAST PLACE
Wooden spoon avoided thanks to terrific team effort
Chippenham (20pts) 242-8 beat Camden (8pts) 186-8 by 56 runs
On the face of it, there wasn’t anything to play for at picturesque Chippenham. The Thirds had already sealed relegation before this final match of the season, while the hosts had already wrapped up the Junior 1 North title. On closer inspection, however, two points for the visitors would guarantee avoiding the ignominy of finishing bottom of the league. The chances of achieving this modest goal were greatly advanced at the toss, where Chippenham elected to bat first. The pitch looked a little damp, and Captain Redders admitted that he would have bowled first – although not without a little trepidation. After all, it would mean bowling to the champions’ champion batting line-up. First up, Bobby East – the league’s top run-scorer, with 824 at an average of 91.56. Caught by Hodsdon – a skyer off the bowling of Farid – the teenage batting prodigy could only manage 16 here. A win. Get them where you can. A four-pronged seam attack of Tarun, Farid (1-53), Ritish and Adil bowled well, but without reward until Ritish found the edge and Hodders snaffled another catch. 114-2 in the twenty-third over. Enter Harry Grant – the league’s second top run-scorer, with 587 at an average of 146.75. Caught by Sutton off the bowling of Tarun (1-38), Grant could only manage 41 here. Another win. With Baker having taken some tap, the score had risen to 199-3 in the thirty-fourth over. 204-4 in the next, thanks to a wicket for Karan. It wasn’t Hodders’ neatest stumping, but it saw the end of Henry James (343 runs, prior to this innings, at 42.88) for a fine 70. It was also the moment that ensured a second point. Even if winless Newmarket won, there would be no wooden spoon for the Thirds. ‘Deadly’ Derekar (2-42) picked up another wicket in his final over, with Sutton taking another catch. By this stage, the hulking figure of Joe Heather (288 runs at an average of 96) had entered the fray. Bowled by Ritish – tasked with coming back on to bowl the final over of the innings – he could only manage 18 here. Another win. And Ritish, with five balls to bowl, wasn’t done with winning. Fourth ball, Prathyush took a catch – his first for the Thirds. Next ball, Adil with the catch. The last ball of the innings, Ritish on a hat trick. It wasn’t to be, but figures of 4-34 were some consolation. For once, the Camden lads didn’t need consoling after a session in the field. Safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to take the field for a while, they could also be satisfied with keeping all-conquering Chippenham to 242-8. Another win.
Sutton (426 at 35.5) began the reply in inimitable style, playing out a maiden. At the other end, better late than never, Hugo Batley was making a first appearance of the season. The Nottingham student was soon showing what the Thirds have been missing – one sweetly-timed cover-driven four off the bowling of Heather, in particular. It was a surprise when Batters (39) was bowled – in true Thirds’ style, missing a straight one – in the thirteenth over. 65 for the first wicket had put the visitors in a strong position, however. And it was the eighth fifty-plus partnership of the season, a seventh involving Sutton. The bearded opener has been a model of consistency this year, and again failed to go on – caught behind for 32, chasing a wide one. By contrast, Redders’ season has been one of feast and famine. Two fifties, but little else to report. The skipper stuck around here, but found little support at the other end. Prathyush (10) and Adil (0) fell in the same over, and when Ritish (5) holed out, the Thirds had stumbled to 116-5 in the twenty-sixth over. Redders (28) responded by smacking a six over forward square leg, but then missed a straight full-toss. Karan (7) was run out by a prodigious throw from the boundary, before Farid and Hodsdon added an entertaining 29 for the eighth wicket. Farid (22 from 17 balls) hit one cracking six into the trees over long-on, but was stumped going for a repeat. An eighth bonus point assured, it was left to Hodders (23*) and Baker (7*) to see out the remaining three and a half overs. A win? Not technically, but 186-8 is the highest score of the season, and there is no shame in losing to the better team. 56 runs might even equate to the barest of margins. Winning is relative, after all.
Chippenham are worthy champions, and proved to be generous hosts. Washing down the barbecue fare with a few drinks, watching the sun go down on another cricketing summer, Captain Redfern’s side could reflect that this maddening game wasn’t all bad. Who knows – next season, the Thirds might just be in a league more befitting of their many talents.
Man of the Match: The Team