Kings Hill 2nd XI won by 6 wickets
Belvedere 108 all out in 34.5 overs
Matt Blewett 4/13, Jack Cook 4/19
Kings Hill 112 for 4 in 31 overs
Tom Rogers 51, Marc Kimpton 20
Grey clouds and a moderate temperature greeted the 2nd XI at the Kings Hill Oval, as the side looked to continue their long unbeaten run, this week against Belvedere. Skipper Matt Blewett won the toss and inserted the opposition looking for early gains on a track, which whilst green on top, was rock solid underneath. The players huddled together and welcomed Andrew Boxer making his debut for the club.
Ray Enslin briskly sent down the first delivery of the match which was promptly cracked for four by Belvedere’s left-hand opener; the 2’s certainly knew at this point they were in a contest. A contest is an apt way to describe the tense battle between bat and ball for the first half of the Belvedere innings. Both opening bowlers, Ben Jackson and Ray, tested the opposing opening batsmen. However edges didn’t quite carry, balls looped into gaps, and their near misses were interspersed and countered with some fine shots to the boundary. However, backed up with enthusiasm in the field, tight bowling meant that runs were hard to come by. After 15 overs Belvedere hadn’t lost a wicket but had only accrued 54 runs. Honours were even at this point. What happened next would be key: the introduction of spin.
Jack Cook came into the attack and his slow left arm immediately started to cause issues for the batsmen. Conceding just one run in his first over, Jack had certainly built pressure. Next over, another bowling change introduced leg-spinner Ryan Ambanpola who took a wicket with his second ball. With beautiful flight, he tempted a big drive, which resulted in an edge which flew swiftly to Matt at slip who took a good catch. Kings Hill had their breakthrough. Whilst it had been a tight beginning, the 2nds knew now was the time to go up a gear.
59-1 soon became 71-2 when Jack was rewarded for his fine bowling when he took his first wicket – Kev Ambanpola taking a lovely catch behind the stumps. Kev kept magnificently all innings and his glove work off the slower bowlers was, as usual, exemplary. This moment was the catalyst for the collapse which then occurred for Belvedere, as they saw their solid start swiftly fade away. With Jack and Ryan bowling beautifully, runs dried up totally for Belvedere. Singles became impossible. This pressure certainly played a part in the wickets tumbling which fell at very regular intervals. If the first half of the innings was a balanced affair, then Kings Hill certainly dominated the second. The ball was spinning sharply, and the bowlers were inducing bounce in conjunction with guile and variety. Suddenly it felt like this game was being played on a turning pitch in Mumbai.
54-0 became 108 all out in a blink of the eye as the Kings Hill spinners all chipped in with wickets, including skipper Matt who swapped bowling duties with Ryan and introduced his off-spin. The combination of complementary spinners proved too much for Belvedere. The skillful bowling unit were backed up with some good fielding, including Tom Rogers taking a ball hammered to him at cover and Marc Kimpton nabbing a truly excellent effort. With Matt keeping things tight, Belvedere’s hard-hitting number 8 tried to launch him straight down the ground, however too much bottom hand came into the shot and the ball swirled high in the grey sky. The ball steepled and appeared to have gone about 10 yards over Kimpton at deepish mid off. At this point Kimpton showed remarkable footwork to somehow get to the ball and demonstrated excellent handwork to complete a fine catch, which was well appreciated by his teammates. With Matt picking up 4-13, Jack 4-19 (who also had a couple of huge LBW shouts turned down) and Ryan 2-15, the spin dream team had worked their magic and facilitated a fine turn around, leading to Kings Hill walking off at the end of the innings with smiles on their faces and a sense of momentum behind them.
Players enjoyed a delicious tea (the brownies were noteworthy) and after a quick turnaround, Kings Hill started their chase aware that the ball was likely to grip and turn as evidenced when bowling. By this stage the temperature had dropped, the winds had built and there was a dark sense of cold drama as the innings began. This melancholic atmosphere was mirrored by the first ball. Run machine Tom endeavoured to leave alone a sharp delivery however inadvertently allowed the ball to run off the face straight to first slip. Disaster loomed. However things aren’t always as they first seem and rather than being safely pouched and the 2nd XI talisman batsman receiving a golden duck, the chance was put down. How crucial this would prove as Tom didn’t waste this second opportunity.
Openers Tom and Jack built a very solid start to the innings and both looked very in control for the main, though there was the occasional play and miss. Jack was soon into his stride. He carefully defended deliveries whilst also stylishly launching several balls to the boundary in a cultured and languid fashion. After a very secure opening partnership, it was almost a surprise when Jack attempted a cut shot and was caught in the gully for 17. Belvedere were delighted at this as they sensed a chance in that match. However, this was denied, as Tom and Mark grafted hard together to chip away at the runs required. Both showed excellent determination to stick together and accumulate, whilst facing some very consistent and probing bowling. A fine partnership of (?), with patience and diligence personified, was finally ended when Kimpton lost his off peg to a slower ball which just clipped the top of the stump. This partnership really secured the match for Kings Hill as they had slowly but surely marched their side towards victory.
Kev came in, and batted very calmly and correctly until the end. Tom completed an excellent 50 comprised of a mixture of careful defense coupled with blistering punches to the boundary before, with just 7 runs required, he suddenly he tried to launch a delivery to Maidstone resulting in him being bowled. Paul Clifton came in, with the chance to grab glory hitting the winning run, however unluckily could only manage to chip to cover for a duck. The batsman crossed and the very next ball Kev drove beautifully over mid-on and Kings Hill completed a 6 wicket win. A fine squad victory was completed and the 2nd XI continue on their winning streak thanks to contributions from all in some form. Whilst bowling, the combination of slow left arm, leg spin and off spin had been key coupled with a strong team effort in the field. The 2nds batting unit approached their chase in a sensible fashion and Tom/Mark partnership proved decisive. Well done to all for another fine victory.