Detail: 06-08-2023 - Ashford

Result: L by 99 runs
Blues v Ashford

To anyone who has kids in school it is a mystery as to why so many childfree Blues choose to go on holiday in August when, as any parent knows to their cost, European flights and accommodation cost twice as much as in June and September.

Add the more unavoidable problem of so many Blues being of an age when their mates (or girlfriend's mates) are getting married, necessitating weekends at weddings or stags, and despite a 113-strong club Whatsapp group finding an XI at this time of year involves trawling far and wide.

Yet when Jack gave Glenn the hospital pass of match-managing Ashford in August it didn't seem a problem as 14 players had declared their availability on the spreadsheet. It turned out only five were actually available, and two of those didn't really want to play.

Eventually, after much cajoling, eight Blues were convinced, Henry Giles talked a mate into it (as Jamie recalled, 'he asked what I was doing Sunday? He mentioned cricket. He didn't say it was 40 overs'), and two excellent ringers were secured from Kew and Richmond.

Ironically, after a sodden Saturday, we suddenly had more offers Sunday morning, but they'd missed the ark.

Ashford looked promising. Subsidised bar with Sky Sports, changing rooms, nets, parking, but we had an inkling the afternoon could be a long one when their skipper, on hearing we'd played neighbouring Spelthorne the previous week, laughed and said, 'they were so bad, we had seven slips'.

'Well, they beat us' said Jenks senior.

Sensing a short game if we batted first Glenn opted to field. By then we'd discovered a damp patch on the crease that ultimately meant all but one over was bowled from the pavilion end, which at least made the 40 overs pass more quickly, with less running into fielding positions required, and meant anyone in front of the wicket could find distraction watching the planes taking off from Heathrow.

What might also had made the fielding session quicker was if the skipper hadn't taken off our best two bowlers prematurely, but we'll come to that.

It began well enough. Twelve overs in Ashford were 31-3 with Glenn having taken two for seven, one a skied c&b, and caught the other (off Hugo's first ball). Gilo had bowled well without luck, Blues were chirping merrily, the ground fielding was excellent.

At 20-over drinks Ashford had moved up to 86-3, and with Glenn having failed to pouch a third catch a dangerous partnership was developing. On came Chellis and Indie (our Kew recruit, worrying good given we play them in a few weeks, and at 18 the youngest Blue in many a year).

Nine overs later Ashford were 115-7, Chellis having taken four and Indie bowled tight and threateningly.

At this point we should have been merciless, foot on the throat, grind them into the dust, take no prisoners (other cliches are available).

But it was Sunday cricket, Gilo deserved a wicket, our other ringer, Hamza had looked good in the nets, Hugo had been promised he'd come back, it didn't looked enough for all our batsmen to get a knock - and, yes, I had two overs left as well.

Hamza did bowl well, without fortune. The rest of us, less so, especially the skipper whose last two overs disappeared for 29. Painful. Even Chellis wasn't treated with respect when he was generously given the last over to get a five-fer (sorry Charles).

It would likely have been different had an edge from their top-scoring, free-hitting No.9 been taken at slip off Gilo. The remaining six overs went for 65. As we're not into scapegoating at Blues the culprit will remain nameless (DM for details).

Still, 199 looked gettable. The wicket was good, the outfield drying out, we batted all the way to Gilo at No.11. And spirits were perked up by an excellent, munificent tea.

The Jenkins brothers opened. Unfortunately, with the ball so did their first team bowler (presumably seeking a game after Saturday's washout). While Jenks Junior shrewdly batted at the other end, eventually carving his way to 17 in a welcome sign of the beginnings of a return to form, Jenks Elder, Blues leading run-scorer this season, was bowled for an 11-ball duck.

Indie came in and swung the bat, and was looking good having reached 19 when a swirling skier was surprisingly held onto. Ashford turned to spin twins, and by drinks we were 50-5, Ed, Si and Jamie having departed.

Youcef, in for a long time, not a good time, dropped anchor. This at least meant wickets stopped falling, despite his and Hamza's best efforts to run each other out, but the run-rate was climbing faster than the bank base-rate.

Hamza, having reached what proved a team top score of 25, was caught trying to accelerate ('Youcef told me I should start teeing off', he revealed). Cef, after 12 singles in as many overs, went having an uncharacteristic hoick. So did the skipper (less uncharacteristically) for a third-ball duck as we quickly folded. All out for 99, to lose by 99, very flaky.

But we'd had 73 overs cricket, we'd all batted (if briefly in several cases), used seven bowlers, and spent a pleasant hour in the evening sunshine drinking driver-friendly 3.5% beer afterwards. As Ben Stokes keeps saying, it's about the entertainment value, not the result.

Batting: Hamza 25, Indie 19, Eddy J 17, Youcef 12.
Bowling: Chellis 4-24, Glenn 2-36, Hugo 1-37.

[updated 30 11 2023]