Kings Hill 2nd XI won by 73 runs
Kings Hill 187 for 8 in 40 overs
Mick Saul 58, Rich Clarke 42
Gravesend RF 114 all out in 28.3 overs
Mick Saul 3/14, Danny Thomas 3/36
Top of the table Kings Hill 2nd XI came into this fixture looking forward to continuing the recently established excellent rivalry with third-placed Gravesend RF CC 2nd XI. This was the fourth game in the last two seasons between the two teams. In the first three, there had been one comfortable Gravesend win followed by Kings Hill sneaking home in two absolute classic nail bitters at the rugby club. What would this one hold?
Skipper Matt Blewett won the toss, in seriously hot conditions, and elected to bat first. After weeks of blazing sun, the outfield was concrete rock hard and the grass scorched white, however, credit must go to Peter and his grounds team for their hard work in preparing a wicket, which whilst essentially a good batting track had enough live grass to keep the bowlers interested.
Kings Hill started solidly in determined fashion with openers Tom Rogers and debutant Ben Fewson battling against a lively and accurate bowling attack who were finding hints of swing. Unfortunately, after the ball was dropped into the point area, Tom was found short trying to sneak a quick single. A fine piece of fielding saw a strong arm whistle the ball over the top of the stumps and he was run out for 7. Ben played some excellent shots and was looking to just be getting set for a big knock before he slapped a full toss straight to the fielder and he had to depart for 21.
Dave Sutton came in and helped to build the innings with watchful defence before being bowled for 10. Richard Clarke and Mick Saul created the foundations for the bulk of the innings with an excellent partnership. Both combined careful defence with powerful shot making. Both not only accumulated runs but did so in a comfortable and assured manner which gave a sense of authority to the team’s innings. Rich went for a well compiled 42 (taking his average year to date to a Bradmanesq 91).
Mick continued on to reach his maiden 50 for the club before departing for an invaluable 58. Mick picked up many boundaries in his knock and his timing of the ball was of the highest quality. In fact, many fine shots were hit straight to the fielder and he and his new bat look in grand form. Nick McGeorge and Danny Thomas helped add extra runs at the end of the innings and Kings Hill finished on 187 for 8.
Discussion over tea was that the home side felt they had posted at least a par score though perhaps were 20 or 30 short of what might have been. However, the total had been accumulated through a solid team batting effort in the face of some really tight bowling and the wicket was offering enough for those who hit the right lines and lengths.
Gravesend RF innings started with Kings Hill’s pair of Dannys open the bowling. It soon became evident that with some cloud cover now overhead, and with very humid conditions, that Kings Hill’s pair of swingers were going to be a handful. Both bowled excellently, both found movement, and their combined effort of 68-4 off 17 overs set the tone for the innings and really sealed the match. Danny McClean (32-1 off 10 overs) repeatedly beat the outside edge whilst Danny Thomas’ (36-3 off 7 overs) left arm inswing was highly effective. Danny’s fine bowling was coupled with him taking a fantastic caught and bowled. The ball was hammered off the middle straight back to him, who in his follow through somehow managed to cling on to a top quality catch. The ball was hit very hard and all were grateful Danny had held onto it, otherwise, a trip to A&E might have been the alternative outcome.
Mick Saul as first change was excellent and his wicket to wicket gun barrel straight approached led to a very tight spell of 14-3 off 6 overs, with all of his victims cleaned bowled. This spell, following up from the opening swing twins sterling effort, really hammered the nail into the Gravesend innings and squeezed out any potential fight back. Mick had also taken a fine catch at point and he completed a fine personal all-round match with his involvement in a run out with Ben Fewson.
Ben had a very strong innings behind the stumps, keeping cleanly whilst offering lots of encouragement. His quick thinking led to a dismissal at the non-strikers end and helped establish the firm stranglehold in the middle of the innings. Kings Hill controlled things well in the field and Gravesend RF never really looked like they were going to chase down their target. Wickets kept tumbling at very regular intervals and Gravesend RF never really had a chance to build the meaningful partnerships that were required.
Skipper Matt took a wicket with an LBW towards the end, leaving the final glory to be taken by Ben Clarke. Ben charged in for 9 deliveries and he got his just reward for some sharp bowling as the last wicket fell to him. An outside edge flew to Richard Clarke who took a fine catch at slip to finish the innings.
Overall it was a committed fielding effort by Kings Hill. Despite a number of players carrying injuries (therefore with limited mobility) there was some excellent catching. However, there were a couple of drops, including Danny Thomas’ completing his newfound party trick (he did exactly the same thing again a few weeks ago at Holborough ) of dropping one right on the boundary for six. However top marks go to him for his comedy hat throwing on the ground straight after as an act of faux frustration.
In the end, the 73 run victory felt about the right margin for what was, by the finish, a comfortable victory. After a solid innings with the bat, the Kings Hill boys combined well once again as a bowling/fielding outfit to ensure that Gravesend were never really in the game when trying to chase.
Mick Saul’s fine personal match (58 runs, 3 wickets, 1 catch, 1 run out) was a highlight, and the players enjoyed a good drink celebrating, sitting together outside under a glorious Kings Hill late evening setting sun, reflecting on another excellent 2’s team effort.