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Half-term report

Posted in ECB ACO

The first weekend in June was warm enough to afford me the rare luxury of standing in consecutive games in sheet sleeves.

Victory for the underdog in a top versus bottom Everards Leicestershire County Cricket League game was followed by a comprehensive win for Bourne Town in the R&DCL, despite the absence of their two leading batsmen who were on Minor Counties duty with Lincs.

One of their opening batsmen, it transpired, was a young South African who is on an exchange cricket scholarship at Eton College and plying his trade, on Saturdays, with Datchet in the Thames Valley League, which is a feeder league for the Home Counties Premier Cricket League.

Resurgent Leicestershire 60+ maintained their 100 per cent record before a hugely enjoyable game, between two teams without a win between them so far, ended in dramatic fashion off the penultimate ball when an injured bowler, who had been replaced earlier, was entrusted with the last over only to bowl a no-ball and then concede the winning boundary.

The victors, Rothley Park, might now be looking forward to the rest of the season particularly as Charlie Dagnell, the former Cumberland, Warwickshire and Leicestershire fast-medium bowler is due to join their ranks.

Dagnell is an interesting character who, after his retirement from first-class cricket, attempted a career in American Football with the Leicester Falcons, playing at quarterback.

Four boundaries in the first over of the match heralded my return to the lovely Finedon Dolben ground for the first time in more than a year, but it was not enough for the hosts to stave off a six-wicket defeat at the hands of a determined Eaton Socon, who were thus able to avenge an earlier defeat and move to the top of the table in the process.

A third appointment in as many days produced a terrific under-17s District Final, which ended in a tie. I have to say that I was not immediately sure how to determine the winner but a quick reference to the rules of the particular competition resolved the matter.

One of the coaches was a South African wicketkeeper-batsman enjoying his second spell of club cricket over here, having previously played in the Norwich area.

Prior to that he had spent two years playing in Holland where, apparently, the standard is improving all the time particularly as more and more grass wickets (rather than matting) are used. The Netherlands, of course, did very well in the YB40 last season.

Leicestershire Over-60’s excellent form continued when, after the long trip to Hadleigh, they completed the double over Suffolk thanks, principally, to their tight, efficient, miserly bowling unit which gives little away and shares the wickets around.

Twenty four hours later, the 50+ side just got the better of their Northants counterparts when the rain, which had been threatening for some time, finally arrived and curtailed play at a point when their run-rate was marginally superior. This was thanks, mainly, to a debutant who was playing Premier League cricket just two seasons ago and marked his presence with a belligerent unbeaten 86 including 52 in boundaries.

A rain-ruined, otherwise incident free ELCCL match, will be remembered for the fact that I was obliged to award five penalty runs to the batting side when a young fielder was dispatched to the pavilion to collect an additional sweater for a team-mate, but both left and returned to the field of play without permission and then proceeded to field the ball.

A quick return to Finedon saw a tremendous game of cricket as the hosts, who were behind the asking rate for virtually the whole of their innings, somehow managed to reach their target with just three balls remaining, much to the delight of a biggish crowd on a glorious mid-summer’s evening as the clock ticked towards 8.30pm. The run chase featured a thunderous switch hit which almost dismantled the boundary boards.

The day had started in somewhat sombre mood as a minute’s silence was observed following the sudden and quite unexpected death of the father of one of the Finedon players just a few days earlier. It was, perhaps, fitting that Jon should be at the crease when the winning runs were scored.

My colleague and I chatted away with players from both teams well into the late evening and I look forward to an early return to what is arguably my favourite ground, a visit which is scheduled for my birthday.

All-conquering Leics. 60+ maintained their unbeaten record in dramatic fashion, scampering two runs off the last ball to inflict a cruel defeat on Beds 60+ who fought tooth and nail but just could not hold on. Thirty eight runs had been needed off the last four overs and then 21 off the last two but a couple of maximums put victory in sight.

A spell of four appointments on consecutive days included a journey down the A1 to the R&DCL outpost of Eaton Socon. This trip had been long anticipated due to the reputation of the teas. Well, the food did not disappoint as we extended the interval between innings to take full advantage of the culinary delights on offer.

Driving home, I reflected that the quality thereof matched any I have experienced over the last three or four years. Sadly, I am not due to return this season.

Somehow, during this hectic period, I found time to watch one of my grandsons, Jacob, enjoying the Kwik Cricket experience at Market Harborough Cricket Club.

According to one of the coaches, he has ‘good hands’ and mainly hits through the line. I am very hopeful that he will persevere although I am doing my best not to be seen to be interfering.

A day-off followed when I participated fully in my elder daughter’s 40th birthday celebrations before the month closed with a R&DCL John Wilcox Trophy quarter-final match at the splendid Uppingham Town Ground.

All too soon, we have reached the half-way point in the season but I can reflect on the fact that I have lost only two games to the weather and those were on consecutive days in mid-May.

July already looks a busy month with appointments on the first two days, including a trip to Norfolk, followed by my birthday and then some time spent on the east coast with one of my daughters.