VI-Kings false start
By Chris Hudson
The youth might just save them
Reigate Priory VI-Kings (149-9) lost to Horley 2nd XI (235-8) by 86 runs.
To paraphrase the editorial in this month’s Wisden magazine, bad games, over time, cease to be traumatic and eventually become merely…instructive.
The 6th team at RPCC are possibly entering an instructive phase of their history as they struggle to find their identity in the post-Andy Newbold era. Sometimes cohesive teams gel around a great player or two and other times they might find their strength in each other- like a chemical bond (that’ll be a Covalent bond for all you A level chemistry students). Having said all that, this was not a particularly bad game. Well, it could have been much worse.
Not having played Horley before it was incumbent upon the skipper to adjudge relative team strength on recent form, physical appearance and vague email reassurances before choosing what to do at the toss. In the end, he bottled it and offered the opposition a chance to set the total to chase- effectively conceding the toss.
The VI-Kings had been bolstered with some new talent from the U15s and U14s this time. The likes of beau dethridge, Arnav Patnaik, Jack Sandler, Morgan Stannard and Ned Littlemore were in the ranks and would be the difference between just turning up and making this match competitive. Charlie Chovil opened the bowling and was finding a reasonable line early on with not much success. Horley’s starting batsmen were seemingly adept at milking the channels between cover/extra cover and point/slip. At the other end, Patnaik was causing some problems for the oppo and it seemed only a matter of time. Indeed, he managed to induce one of the openers to nick off to the keeper in the final over of his spell. First change saw Morgan Stannard and Ned Littlemore get to work and despite Horley’s attacking approach more chinks started to appear in their amour. Stannard held on to a stiff c&b to grab the second wicket. Next up was Jim ‘Tokyo’ Harmer, that stalwart of VI-Kings fixtures and the kind of bowler who can usually burgle a couple in the middle phase. This was not his day sadly and after a couple of meaningful overs he politely informed the skipper that his knee might benefit from a rest (in the slip cordon). That other part time bowler of the 6s, Mark ‘Snapper’ Waine was having much more luck from his spell and not only enticed a thin edge off the settled half centurion but then proceeded to clean bowl another big slugger with some beguiling loft. Things started to look interesting at this stage. Jack Sadler put in a shift with his spell and was unlucky not to be rewarded. Horley seemed to be able to bat all the way down and the team did brilliantly not to let their heads drop as the runs accumulated. However the return of Chovil and Patnaik saw more wickets falls and this created a sense of momentum for the VI-Kings going into the interval. Particularly satisfying was the arrival at the crease of a young gun for Horley (our lads were aware of the damage he could do from their own league matches), only for Chovil to fool him into playing early and chipping one back to the bowler. Small mercies.
Not much enthusiasm for opening the batting in the Reigate dressing room. Apparently all the youth were ‘tired’ from fielding and needed a lie down. Sigh…
No matter, Hudson would take the shine off the new ball and he was accompanied by Dethridge to do a job in the first 10 overs. There was rather a lot of chat from the Captain on the way out to the middle about playing patiently and padding away a few overs to help the team recover. Hudson’s second ball faced was smashed with all the ‘patience’ of Michal Bevan and- you guessed it- went straight down Mid-off’s throat. Um, what were you saying skipper? Soon after, Beau was the victim of an over enthusiastic umpiring decision for 5 (they always want to be part of the bloody game Umpires). Boon and Harmer tried to steady the ship and looked to be succeeding for a while. However, a sterling catch at short leg dismissed Boony and Harmer ran himself out attempting a second run that was never on, even when he was fully fit. At this point the VI-Kings were 4-27 and talk in the clubhouse turned to rides home and beers at Park Lane. However such defeatist sentiment has no home in the VI-Kings. The next few batsmen played with confidence and guile to reverse the circumstances. Sadler (40) and Littlemore (33*) starred but Waine, Patnaik, Stannard and Chovil all reached double figures and created an impression of a good team who simply underperformed in the top order (insert winking emoji here). Small victories were noted along the way including [virtually] reaching 150 and playing all 40 overs. Not a bad game at all and should they invite us back we might just surprise them next time.
Ultra posse nemo obligatur