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Match report vs. Clytha 7th May 06, The Moat (Skipper on the Day - J. Furnham, match report by A Furnham)

Fresh from 3 wins inside a week the Casuals made the now annual trip to Clytha but this year earlier than normal. Despite many new faces arriving this season, the eventual line up had only one new member in Smitts playing. This of course meant that a wealth of experience was on show.

As usual the players arrived in Clytha in plenty of time, with the weather very warm indeed which led Steve to have some pre match alcohol while sat on the grass outside the pub. Sadly the weather was never any better all day.

The game was delayed when the resident cows (bullocks as Muff told us) refused to move from the gate and then later the cows actually got inside the field when a latecomer opened the gate…. The highlight of (A) Furnham's day was not while sat in the car surrounded by cows - that's for sure. After skipper Hood won the toss and decided to bat we finally got going about 2.50 pm with 35 overs per side.

Chris Ryde and Smitts opened up and it became clear straight away that the pitch was not going to be a death trap like last year. It also became clear that the bowling from the oppo was a bit rusty. It was their first game of the season and straight away wides raced away in the top scorer stakes. It was not easy for the batters as they had no idea what was coming next. The wides were real shockers but suddenly out of nowhere a quality ball would come down. It was one of these unfortunately that got Smitts out as his eyes lit up and tried to launch it. Despite only getting 5 it was enough to see the now recognisable "Smitts hit" when he does catch it and races away for four. There will be many more. 17 for 1.

Steve( with two young Arsenal fans in tow) was next in with memories of last years 4 sixes in a row. He didn't quite make it but a couple of lusty blows before he hit it up in the air and was caught for 13. A good partnership of 37 to take us to 54 for 2. Chris Ryde followed soon after also being caught for a well made 18 which also included a most welcome 5 due to overthrows. The bowler who is known as Snowy had taken all 3 wickets despite some of the biggest wides you will ever see. 57 for 3.

S Gough and P Stephens were now at the wicket with both of them looking in no trouble at all. Stephens played a straight drive off the back foot which would not have looked out of place on a first class ground. Gough as ever just piled up the runs. Stephens did survive a chance at short extra cover which would have been an outstanding catch as he hit it with extreme power. Apart from that he looked in total control until he got a really good ball and was bowled for 13. 91 for 4.

This brought M Stephens to the crease and looking to continue his fantastic early season form. This form somehow eluded him last season but no such trouble in 2006 as he continued to look like a batsman high on confidence. Gough of course was looking much the same despite the introduction of Andy Norman who is their best bowler. Gough had made an easy 35 when he called "Come one" from the non strikers end. It was not the best of calls but our level you would still expect to make it but the throw was a good one. Gough only called himself a "C*nt" once as far as I could tell as he came off although the term "Japs eye" was to be heard as well. Probably the only person who could have got Gough out was himself which is what happened. 137 for 5. This was in over 23 of 35.

M Foote came in for his first bat of the season which was all too brief as he was caught in the covers from an excellent catch for 0. He was unlucky as despite making decent contact he hit it straight at one of the few fielders who could have caught it. 138 for 6. Kevin Mavely also came and went too quickly as he was LBW for 1 which left us 149 for 7. We still had about 10 overs to go but with wickets tumbling the score of 200 to 220 that we knew we would need now looked in some doubt.

M Stephens had now been joined by skipper Hood who was also in form after his 50 last Monday. The class and experience of these two batters showed as they took the score past the 200. Stephens reached his first 50 since Rogerstone in around early August 2004 and was most welcome. There was some confusion as to when he actually reached the landmark due to some dodgy scoring from some guy who spent most of the time lusting after the blonde helping him. 50 he did reach though and even Gough applauded despite groaning when his score of 35 had been passed.

Stephens was eventually bowled for 58 near the end of the innings and reached the boundary with the immortal words "I'm Fucked". Tiredness probably the main reason for his downfall. The stand had taken us to 211 for 8 with the help of some of the most inconsistent bowling imaginable. Gaffney managed to bowl balls on a perfect length, ones that rolled, ones that went straight onto his feet and threatened to take your head off- all this in the same over.

There was just enough time for the Casuals oldest member to play two lovely shots for 2 not out and for the unflappable Hood to hit several more boundaries to take him to 28 not out and the final total to 229 for 8 in 35 overs. Of this total 173 were scored by the batsmen and out of the extras only 6 were leg byes or byes. Wides and no balls were a huge help.

There is no food at half time at Clytha but there was still time for M Stephens to tell us exactly how many runs he has scored this season which turns out to be more than the whole of last year. He also rolled off how many sixes, 50s etc and then told me he would be unbearable later. He also explained how one shot in particular gave him wood.

Was 229 to be enough? P Stephens bowled the first over which was excellent with Foxy at the other end picking up a wicket with his first ball. Steve behind the stumps running to take the catch. Pauls second went for 16 and he asked to be taken off. It was obvious the kid could bat. It was also obvious that if you bowled a bad ball then you would be punished.

Foxy however then took his 100th wicket when M Stephens took the catch after moving himself to the perfect position. A proud moment for Foxy and he didn't have to wait long for number 101 and this was very important. Andy Norman who has done some damage against us in the past couldn't cope with the change of pace and hit it up in the air to the safe hands of Muff as it was not his own bowling. The ball seemed to be up in the air for an eternity as the gravity of this wicket was not lost on us.
Now all we had to do it seemed was keep the young kid off strike.

This was easier said than done and his fellow partner despite seemingly unable to play an off side shot started to inflict damage on us as well. The scorebook does not have score for fall of wicket or score after each over or final bowling figures so it is hard to be exact about what happened but I do remember they were 80 off 10. Muffy, Kevin, Goughy and M Stephens all bowled well despite their figures probably suggesting otherwise. For example, it appears that M Stephens bowled 5 overs for 41 but he probably only bowled a handful of bad balls. I couldn't tell you exactly how much the partnership was (anybody?) but it was lots and the situation was starting to look bleak. There was the thought though that one wicket could change it all.

The wicket that came was not the one we wanted but most welcome as Jones was bowled by Andy Hood for 40 after nicking one onto his stumps and then into Steve's hands just in case. Hood had dragged us back into the game and despite some lusty blows from the other end the required rate had crept up a bit so they were on about 190 after 28. The kid had by now passed his 100 and instead of seeing the game through seemed intent on bashing his way to victory. He survived a difficult one that Chris Ryde could not really be expected to catch and soon after was bowled by Hood for an awesome 122. Could he depend on his team mates to see it through.

The game had now turned on its head and as P Stephens came back to bowl over 32 they needed about a run a ball. At this moment the Casz were favourites but at the end of it the momentum had gone the other way as 13 was taken off it. Hood though was not about to give up as his last over was a wicket maiden with an LBW. His final figures are something like 5 -1-14-3 which in the context of the game are truly remarkable. Hoods performances over the past week have been of the highest class.

Even better for the Casz was the fact that the real Paul Stephens turned up for over 34 and of the 8 needed he only gave away 2 and took the wicket of the guy who hit him a few times in the previous over. The 2 in that over should have been none had Furnham junior (A) fielded the ball properly and run either batsman out. Instead he fumbled it and while on the floor threw the worst throw imaginable (well not quite as bad as the one he threw over the boundary last year) which passed through the middle of the wicket for an overthrow. A shocking piece of fielding which was not his first fuck up of the day as earlier he tried to protect the boundary. Most of the time he did ok but twice he badly let his bowler down and despite the shocking outfield he has no excuse.

While making that crap throw in over 34 Furnham had other things on his mind. Skipper Hood had made a small error and Furnham (A) was going to have to bowl one over at the end. The wonderful over from P Stephens had left 6 (I think) left to win. It was now dark and had started to rain so it was not easy for the new batsmen. Furnham (A) however has been unable to bowl this season and was not supposed to today but duty called. He had not turned his arm over for about 6 weeks and that was in nets bowling leg spinners that didn't turn. Last year Furnham won the game with a four and was a hero. Would it be the same this year or would he be a complete and utter twat and ruin our day.

Thankfully Furnham manage to get them straight against some lesser batters and the upshot was four needed off the last ball. Casual fingers were being bitten as they mostly patrolled the boundary. No worries as the batsman could only mange to get a pad on it and somehow out of nowhere The Casuals had won. For the second year in a row Furnham (A) had done bugger all in the game but came in to it just at the end to play a part in the final blow. When being interviewed afterwards he confessed that he was a lot less nervous than he was when surrounded by lots of cows earlier in the day.

The rain took over as we packed up so we finished just in time. Many players commented later that it didn't feel like we had won as we were on the back foot for so long and looked like getting thrashed at one point. Wides and no balls were probably the difference in the end as they scored quite a few more runs than us off the bat.

An excellent serving of food back at the pub finished off an excellent days cricket with the result still sinking in. Foxy told us all how proud he was to have taken wicket 100 while Mark actually left some food (which Furnham (A or J - probably both) had) though he promised he would have a Chinese later. Smitts had about 20 tomatoes on a single plate and there was one bird with a seriously fit body for our viewing pleasure.

The first week in May has been a good one for The Casuals and we can only hope that this continues. With so many batsmen hitting runs early season and TH to come back, things are looking good for the team in 2006.


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