Kings Hill 2nd XI won by 2 wickets
Gravesend RF 68 all out in 26.1 overs
Ryan Ambanpola 3/15, Danny Thomas 3/36
Kings Hill 69 for 8 in 23.5 overs
Richard Clarke 20, Dave Sutton 16
Gravesend RF was promoted along with KHCC 2nd XI last season and the 2017 fixture was a wet and rainy affair. That match went down to the wire, with Paul Clifton picking up the final wicket off the last ball of the match (after bowling 5 overs, 2 for 7 to halt the Gravesend RF chase), giving KHCC victory by 2 runs.
The same fixture in 2018. The same weather greeted the teams. And it was another tight match with a nail-biting finish.
It’s fair to say that the hosts were less than enthusiastic to play when we arrived at the ground. A few last minute phone calls were being made to get players to fill the side once it was agreed the game was going ahead. They were one short.
Matt Blewett won the toss and elected to field, with Danny Thomas and Richard Clarke opening the bowling. Rich got some good pace from a surprisingly firm track. After beating the bat a few times the opening batsman got a leading edge to a full toss for a good return catch. Rich also pinged the number 3 in front to end with a very tidy 2/14 from seven overs.
Danny was in his first run out for the season and once he got his rhythm showed good control and wobbly swing. He dismissed the other opener LBW, had a good catch taken by Dave Wardle at mid off and clean bowled a third. And he almost had four, dropping a tough low catch off his own bowling. Three wickets from 10 overs in a row was not a bad way to start the season.
Ryan Ambanpola bowled first change and showed great control with wet ball, getting good loop and a bit of turn. His got his first victim hit wicket leaving Gravesend RF 5 down with not too many on the board. He also picked up an LBW with a fuller delivery and Kevin Ambanpola took a very good catch off the edge to give Ryan figures of 3/15.
Matt came on for three miserly overs, conceding just one run and claiming the important wicket of the experienced Jeff Allen.
68 all out and it could have been about 20 runs fewer, with Kings Hill dropping at least three fairly straightforward chances, even in the wet weather.
Ironically the best half hour of weather for the day was during the break of innings as the players sat having tea. After a shortened break they were back out. Matt had emphasised the importance of sensible batting when chasing a small target and the top order were determined to avoid putting pressure on those following them. Well… that was the plan at least.
Dave Sutton and Tom Rogers opened the batting, with Dave continuing to show his good early season form – very solid at the top of the order. Tom played a lovely cut to bring up the first boundary but knicked behind to a good delivery to get out shortly after. Chris Bryant didn’t trouble the scorers, getting out in the same way, bringing KHCC debutant Ray ‘Iron Man’ Enslin to the crease. He played aggressively but wasn’t able to get much away before he was bowled. Kings Hill were 7 for 3 and needing to consolidate.
Dave Wardle joined Sutton and worked hard to get himself in. He played the shot of the day, a glorious cover drive up the hill for four, only to be yorked the next ball. Rich was in at six and he and Dave looked comfortable together getting through a few overs and picking up boundaries, with Rich playing a few powerful pulls up the hill, to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
When Sutton played on to be out for 16, Kings Hill found themselves at 30 for 5 and the hosts had found their voices and had a spring in their step.
Kev looked solid as usual but got one that bounced a bit to be caught off the gloves. 48 for 6. The rain was getting heavier and the skies darker. Respect to Roy Goodman who umpired both ends for the whole match and kept the teams out through the patchy weather. By this stage, both sides were keen to stay out and push for the win.
Danny had just finished telling us (again) how 10 overs on the trot was not a problem for him when he found himself out in the middle.
Rich decided to try and push things along as the weather set in and the spinner snuck one through to bowl him for a well played 20. KHCC were 52 for 7 and it was officially squeaky bum time all round.
Matt played around one to be bowled, bringing Craig Leach to the wicket at 55 for 8. Craig was making a guest appearance for Blew’s Twos and strode to the middle in shiny new shoes.
A number of the Gravesend RF 1st team had also come down to the field, looking a bit perplexed as to why the game was going on in the rain after theirs had been called off. When they saw the score they soon stared chiming in as their team looked on course for a unlikely win. They were huddled under the shelter along with an increasingly edgy Kings Hill team as well as first team skipper Shaun McMurray who’d arrived at the tea break.
Every run was being applauded. Every play-and-miss was greeted with cheers and chatter, and any time the ball touched the pad there were exuberant appeals.
Danny decided to go on the attack – making the most of anything loose to bring up a few boundaries and quickly reduce the runs required to single figures. Craig defended well at the other end, allowing Danny to pick up the runs. Ryan was last man in and was practising every shot in the book as he paced around on the boundary.
Three runs required. Then two. Then a bye through the keeper to bring the scores level. Over to Craig to cover himself in KRCL 1B West glory with an imperious lofted drive that burst through the hands of the mid-on fielder, allowing a scampered single to win the game. The Kings Hill side exhaled collectively and calmly shook hands as if the result was never in doubt.
There were a few things to take away from the game, and the team’s approach to chasing a smaller target. But the Gravesend RF attack was disciplined and there were not many wickets thrown away. It was more a case of a tricky chase in wet conditions. Either way – the win is in the book and after-match beverages always taste better when the result goes your way.
Three from three!