Detail: 25-04-2021 - Odiham

Result: Won by 6 wkts
Blues vs Odiham

Mullet won the toss and put Odiham in. Alex Keating, on debut had impressed sufficiently in the nets so as to be handed the new ball to ride into battle alongside the fiery Rory Collett. On a very hard ground that sloped away on one side, as soon as the ball passed a fielder it was almost a guaranteed 4. With that in mind both opening bats ploughed away and started slapping the ball around the ground.

After only a few overs, the debutants were treated to a bit of Mullett expert man-management as he swept in to coach the standing umpires on what was to be flagged as a wide. Measuring out the limitations on either side, with a beaming smile the entire time, some kind of agreement was reached and very few wides were given afterwards.
Keats plugged away and managed to force the opener into a false shot. The ball arced highly to point where Sam Robinson plucked it out of the sky and took the catch. First Blues wicket for Keats and first Blues catch for Sam. Collett ran in hard and after some great captaincy from Richard, a fielder was placed perfectly to be picked out by a high shot from one of the bats. Sadly, the sun must have been in the eyes as the catch went down.

Keats can not only bowl but displayed the key recruiting attribute that carries such weight in the social pyramid scheme that is Blues recruitment. Despite being on debut, he was able to fill the last minute vacancy created Saturday evening and convinced his mate Jack Close to come turn out for the mighty Blues. Jack, despite professing to be more of a batsmen, was of course made to bowl first change. With no looseners in sight Jack steamed in and brought up a wicket with his first ball, drawing the batter into a false shot with the ball this time going to square leg where safe hands Sam gobbled up the chance and Odiham were 2 down. New batsmen at the crease. Jack, with his tail up, ran in and clean bowled the batter for a golden duck. Jubilation all round. Jack was on a hat trick ball, so far he had bowled 2 balls for the Blues and taken 2 wickets. The fielders gathered round and the rest of the over was played out without incident, albeit quite an exciting one, as Mullett kept all the lads inside the ring for the remaining 4 balls.

Both bats then struck back and started racking up the runs. Youcef, after scoring far too many runs the week before, was quite rightly made to bowl. Youcef settled into his work immediately and weaved such a spell with the red ball that wickets tumbled all around. In quick succession Youcef had ripped through the heart of Odiham's middle order and took 4 wickets in no time.

With Youcef still bowling and looking like he would take a wicket with every ball, the keeper and slips decided to make life a little harder for Cef. Deep in discussion about the relative merits of the Point-to-Point circuits in the south-west of England, the keeper and first slip did their bit and dropped 2 chances to ensure Youcef would not take a 5-for.

One of the catches is certainly of note. With some slow left arm to deal with the batter hit it high and looping to the area between gully and point. Somehow a Tawney fielding axis had been formed and the ball was hanging in the sky between both brothers. Neither was willing to do the decent thing and shout for it to claim the catch. Harry T, normally very careful to place himself in the vicinity of Alex Pike, for situations just like this, realised he couldn't run the other way. With both boys silently walking towards the flight of the ball, HT just about managed to take the catch before Archie almost ploughed into him. 2 Tawney catches in 2 matches, relief all round.

Not to be outdone Mullett got in on the action and dismissed their opener who had remained steadfast at the crease. The opener looking to go big struck it high and handsome, only for Rory Collett to canter in from the boundary to take a great catch and dismiss the last recognised batsmen.

In amongst Youcef's rampant run, Keats also struck again clean bowling one of the bats. With the new batsmen strolling to the crease still in primary school, Keats had a bit of a dilemma about how to bowl to him. Having obviously not quite decided upon what course of action to take he ended bowling a beamer at 3/4 pace right at the poor lad. Safely all ended well, and the lad survived.

Jack Close was then sent back into the attack and finished up the innings by drawing the last bat into again hitting it high, only for Steve Metson to take his second catch of the day and Jack to claim a 3-for on debut. A superb fielding performance, with HT getting a mention for running what seemed like 10km in the first 20 overs, dashing all over the place and retrieving balls left, right and centre. Sam Robinson made a bowling appearance and did a good job in keeping the run rate down. 2 great debutant performances, with some brave work in the field from Keats using his extra length to prevent a few 4s. Terrific catching and bowling and the oppo were dismissed for 150 inside 30 overs, quite a remarkable feat as on paper we looked a bowler shy.

After an early lunch, Mullett got his abacus out and decided upon the batting order. Archie T, after being denied a go last week was selected to accompany the ever-dependable Steve Metson to the crease and open up proceedings. Steve, playing a classical innings, reminiscent of Athers in his pomp, demonstrated some gorgeous stroke play and soon started finding the gaps and keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

Archie T played a gritty early innings and survived. With some trademark Chinese cuts and slip nutmeggs, he managed to accumulate without ever finding the middle of the bat. After navigating the first 10 overs Archie eventually middled one for 4, only for everyone to realise the Blues' long suffering servant - the Spartan blade did not sound right at all. With a new bat ran out, Archie set to his task with rare abandon and struck a few lovely shots, soon catching Steve up and together the lads got the Blues to 74-0 after 15 overs. The ever-encouraging Harry T as standing umpire, watched every blow of Archie's blade with a mixture of resentment and envy, and decided to assist the bowler and start mocking Archie about not being able to hit a 6. Archie wasted no time in proving him wrong and smashed a clean 6 to silence his seething elder sibling.

At half time drinks, and with both lads in their 40s, mullett worked his magic and told them both they would be retired at 50 and that there was a prize for who could bring up their 50 in the most dashing of ways. Obviously, the inevitable happened and in a few overs both blokes were dismissed in their 40s - Steve for 48 & Archie for 46. 111-1 and then 120-2.

Harry J and Sam Robinson next took up the conch and with only about 30-40 runs needed of 13 overs decided to treat the game as a personal net. Dealing with all sorts of varied bowling the lads took their time and then began to get their eye in. Sam after his customary hockey flick off the legs for 4, decided enough was enough and that he had worked out this cricket lark. Pride cometh before the fall. Vaingloriously attempting to reverse sweep a straight delivery, the castles were duly crashed into and Sam had to depart for a noble 5 runs.

With Fitz striding to the crease, Jenks realised he had better up the ante before the club captain hoovered up all the runs. Boundaries started flowing and soon the oppo brought back their opening bowler to calm things down. Keen to get the middle order into the game, Jenks obliged and missed a straight one, albeit from their overseas pro, and had to depart for 20. 140-3 after about 24 overs.

HT, a few Guinnesses down, then hastily strapped on his pads and walked to the crease. After seeing Archie get all the runs and all too aware that his current average was 5, HT decided to do the decent thing and nudge a single down to third man and get the hell off strike. This earnt an approving nod from the club captain as they crossed on the wicket. Fitz, after having a few early sighters, wasted no time at all and crashed a mighty one bounce 4 to the boundary and the win was wrapped up.

A superb performance by all, with a great bowling and fielding display backed up by a solid batting effort. If we are counting extras, then we saw the lesser spotted century stand for the opening batting wicket, a debutant on a hat trick ball, and Youcef taking a 4-for.

A little awards ceremony followed where Rory and Youcef claimed their trophies and Archie got a round of applause for his 6.

Onwards to Shepperton, which is not a completely new fixture for the Blues but is certainly a ground we haven't played at for 5 years or so. This time Fitz will lead the boys into battle to see if the catching, bowling and batting heroics can continue.

Harry Jenkins

[updated 27 04 2021]