Kings Hill 2nd XI won by 70 runs
Kings Hill 153 all out in 39.3 overs
Richard Clarke 42, Dave Wardle 24
Belvedere 83 all out in 36.1 overs
Ryan Ambanpola 5/22, Mick Saul 3/7
The KHCC 2nd XI had the opportunity clinch the league in their penultimate fixture of the season, away to Belvedere. With good availability and a strong-looking side on paper, the team were confident that they could put in a performance worthy of their spot on the top of the table.
Belvedere won the toss and put the KHCC in, on an interesting looking pitch under heavy skies. The story of the top order was ‘got in and got out’ with most making starts but finding it tricky to push the scoring along. The two openers clearly knew their home conditions and kept to the basics – good line and length getting a bit of grip off the track and allowing some variable bounce to make things tricky.
KHCC found themselves in trouble at 63 for 6 and in need of a partnership reach a competitive score. That rescue act came in the form of Rich Clarke and Dave Wardle, who combined quick running between the wickets with some beautifully struck boundaries. As the score started to build and the awkward nature of the pitch revealed itself the home team spirits flagged. Rich was out for 42, worth far more in the circumstances, and Dave followed soon after for an important 24.
Danny Thomas played a few aggressive shots before being given out LBW and Ryan Ambanpola struck some lovely boundaries in a rare trip to the crease for him this season. This late flurry pushed the score past 150, a fantastic recovery and boost for the morale of the visiting team.
A good start in the field would be important and Rich opened the bowling. His spell lasted just one ball as he pulled his calf and was immediately out of action. He stayed on the field, with Kings already down to 10 due to a family emergency. Mick Saul stepped up to take over from Rich, while Danny Thomas opened from the other end.
19.5 overs later the pair had combined to bowl through their allocation with a savvy combination of swing, cutters, changes of pace and nagging accuracy to make the most of the conditions. The KHCC fielders backed them up with energetic ground fielding and good catching as Matt Blewett and Kev Ambanpola moved the field around to plug gaps and limit scoring opportunities. 20 overs completed for just 30 runs and four wickets.
After drinks, it was over to the spinners. Ryan Ambanpola got turn from ball one while Matt was his usual accurate self. Ryan started picking up wickets and while he seemed disappointed to pick up a few from full tosses, he’d earned them from what he was bowling in between. A few desperate swipes late brought some late runs to the lower order but it was too little too late and Matt took the final catch off Ryan to give the young man a fifer and Kings Hill the win.
Rich’s 42 stood out on the scorecard and there were a number of smaller contributions that combined to produce a competitive score. In the field it was a real team effort. An exceptional spell from the openers, pressure on every run and holding onto catches all around the park (Matt’s sharp effort at slip and Dave’s diving effort at square leg worthy of special mention). Ryan’s five-wicket haul capped off the day and over a few drinks back at the club the team reflected on the realization that they’d won the league and could look forward to their final game at home next week, hoping to end on a high.