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Match Report vs Usk 21 August 2022 @ Usk (Skipper Richie, report Will)

Usk was the venue for what would prove an historic day for the Casuals. After the midweek match with Glenwood was aborted by a heavy downpour (a first for your author this season) predictions for a similar outcome for the weekend fixture proved unfounded, with Usk luxuriating in a beautiful late summer Sunday. The Casuals arrived in their normal dribs and drabs - “heavy traffic” (in Leckwith) inevitably delaying Steve O. Without a full complement at the toss, Skippers agreed that it suited everyone for us to bat first, as they had more bowling, and we had five players. The pitch was on the far-side of the strip by the tennis courts, meaning one very short boundary, and one longer one but across the square, so the potential was there for a decent total.

Usk had a genuine Sunday side out, some thin youths, some older, less thin clubmen and a 16-year-old girl, but the openers from each end were both pretty tidy; one tall, quick and full, the other a bit slower but left-arm and thus a bit awkward. Rhys and Alex opened up, with Alex’s lady-friend and in-laws watching on attentively/with half an eye/with a complete lack of interest (Alex please delete as appropriate). Both batters were watchful at the start, but some extras through the keeper got the scoreboard going, and then not long after that the batsmen followed suit, with Alex, as we have seen him do routinely this season, latching on to the rather plentiful short/overpitched bowling and hitting a number of boundaries through the leg side.

Rhys kept the fielders on their toes with some assertive running, and with a boundary ball in most overs the score raced along, and after 10 overs stood at 71 without loss. At some point in this opening 10 we also witnessed a run being taken off a direct hit to the stumps, as it was decided no balls would results in free hits, and after getting a chest high beamer Rhys attempted to ramp the left-armer’s next ball only to be clean bowled for a single (it’s an increasingly confusing game, cricket…). The Usk skipper cycled through his bowling, with some slower seam and leg-spin replacing the openers, but not much changed – the boundaries continued to flow, and combined with some Sunday eleven fielding, the Casuals passed 100 in the 13th over, and motored on towards 150 before just short of the mark Rhys was dismissed, bowled by the leg-spinner by one that kept a bit low, 147-1 in the 19th. Will was in next and he and Alex saw the casuals past 150 and through to drinks at 156-1, an excellent platform to build on.

And build we did, keeping the run rate up around 8 an over the score moved towards 200 and Alex moved within sight of his first Casuals ton. It was not to be however, with the slow seamer from the pavilion end getting one to hurry through a little, flick the pad and onto the stumps to remove Alex in the 24th over for an extremely well-made 91. This bought VC Luvvers to the crease, and also saw the introduction of the young girl to the bowling attack. She bowled a slow but very accurate line, and both batsmen were content to work the singles and wait for the only occasional very short or full delivery to take advantage of. At the other end, a right armer with a long run-up and follow-through, reminiscent of a Rhiwbina player of years past, came on, but again, with little risk Luvvers and Will kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely, the 200 coming up in the 27th over, and by the 32nd, when the opening bowlers were reintroduced, it had moved up to 243. A chat in the middle about a realistic target from here mentioned 300, and with this in mind Luvvers and Will both looked to be more aggressive.

After a couple of good overs, this approach eventually led to Will’s dismissal, who having already twice narrowly avoided being out – once dropped at mid-off, before seeing the long-on fielder take a fantastic diving catch only for his momentum to carry him over the boundary for 6 – picked this same fielder out again with a steepler off the opening left-hander, which was taken very easily, but only after the score had been moved up to 281.

After success with the short ball to remove Will, the bowlers tried the same tactic to Luvvers – a bad idea as it turned out, as the next 4 and a half overs went for 50, Luvvers hooking a pulling some big sixes to either side of the ground to take the Casuals well past 300 and on to their highest ever total, but not without some intervening drama. This began with skipper Richie, who had gone in at 5, but didn’t last long as going for a quick single he set off only to collapse in a heap, his achilles twanged, resulting in a retirement which brought ‘historic’ Steve O’Reilly to the crease – historic not just in age, but in deed, as it was Steve who hit the runs to take us past our previous all-time highest score of 314 in the 39th over. There was still time for some more big hitting from Luvvers before his dismissal in the final over for a devastating 80, going for another big hit over midwicket, only to pick out the gun fielder who’d done for Will, who took a fantastic one-handed catch running back towards the boundary. Hands joined Steve O and finished the innings with a ‘textbook pull shot’/’agricultural slap’ (delete as appropriate) to the midwicket fence, seeing the Casuals up to a very unlikely, but extremely handsome 340-4 from 40!

Casuals Batting
R Davies, bowled, 38 (3x4s)
A Heath, bowled, 91 (11x4s)
W Mason-Wilkes, caught, 66 (7x4s, 1x6s)
G Loveridge, caught, 80 (12x4s, 3x6s)
R Holliday, retired hurt, 4
S O’Reilly, NOT OUT, 6
J Hodkinson, NOT OUT, 4
L Warren, DNB
D Lewis, DNB
P Stephens, DNB

Extras: B14, LB7, W27, NB3, Total 51

BYOT: I had the remains of a Baba’s Jumbo Wrap (available here:– would highly recommend to any hungry Casuals.

With 340 on the board, skipper Richie took the sensible decision to ice his Achilles on the sidelines, as the remaining Casuals, led by VC Luvvers, took the field. Dan and Liam opened up, against the tall opening bowler and the keeper, using a bat that we learned had belonged to Joe Root(!). He made some good use of it initially, slapping a couple of boundaries and a six straight into the sight screen, but in the fourth over this aggressive approach proved his undoing. A full ball from Liam was drilled low to mid-on, where stood a well stationed Steve O, who planted his feet, and with just a slight bend in the knee, tilting like a crumbling sea stack, the Old Man of Usk stooped and claimed the catch. His 112th catch for the Cazh, this drew him level in the all-time list with leaders Dan and Will, a fact Steve was clearly unconcerned with, if his characteristically understated celebrations were anything to go by.... Most annoyingly, Steve managed to repeat the trick just a couple of overs later, with a short ball this time, again from Liam, looping gently to him in the same position for an undroppable 113th pouch, and outright all-time lead – reports suggest Steve’s celebratory roar continues to echo around the Usk valley.

Dan struck next, getting what looked like the key wicket of the other opener, who feathered one through to Jim ‘safe’ Hands behind the stumps. A couple of balls later he’d got the number 5 bowled, leaving Usk reeling at 47-4 in the 9th. This bought a change at either end, with Pabs replacing Dan and a rather jolly Steve replacing Liam. Pabs’ first was a wicket maiden, the number 4 LBW from the final ball, deceived by a swingy one that looked very adjacent. There was a wicket in the following over, but it’s really not worth reporting here either who took it or how it was out (editor’s note: C&B O’Reilly).

Brief resistance was mounted by the number 7 and 8, who took Usk through towards drinks, before in the 19th a leg-sidey one from Pabs was well-taken by Jim who whipped the bails off and his optimistic shout for a stumping led to a triggering from the opening bat now umpiring (he’d had 2 or 3 pints at that point and looked like he was ready for home). This brought the young girl to the crease, but in the next over, correctly spotting the scoring opportunities provided by Steve O, she only managed to chip a sweep to Pabs at square leg, who took a good low catch. Drinks were taken with USK 94-8, and the next over, Pabs’ last, brought the wicket of the number 10, who clipped one straight to Luvvers at midwicket. The final pair saw off a couple of overs from Alex and one from Rhys, before in Rhys second over a push to Will at mid-on led to an optimistic call for 2, with Will getting the ball in quickly enough to run out the number 11 and bring the innings to a close. Usk 127ao, with the Casuals winning by a mammoth 213 runs!

Casuals Bowling
D Lewis 5-2-13-2
L Warren 5-0-34-2
P Stephens 6-1-24-3
S O'Reilly 5-0-16-2
A Heath 2-0-17-0
R Davies 1.3-0-15-0

After some pastings in recent years at the same venue, this was a comprehensive victory for the Cazh, with a record-breaking batting performance backed up by good bowling and fielding. Post-match celebratory pints were enjoyed my most outside the clubhouse bar, except those who had to dash off and leave half their kit behind (@Rhys and @Alex).



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