|Date||1 July 2017|
|Venue||Chelmer Park, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 8RL|
|Result||W (Brentwood 209, Chelmsford 182)|
Brentwood 209, Chelmsford 182
Brentwood win by 27 runs
Brentwood continued on their merry way by winning at the home of perennially powerful Chelmsford.
Half-centuries by Janhoi Bean and Jack Payne took Brentwood to a useful score on a slow pitch, before the bowlers strangled the life out of a valiant Chelmsford reply, with Paul Degg claiming a five-wicket haul.
Those were the headlines. As ever, there were several back stories. Possibly most notable was the cause of the absence of the Calypso king Dave Balroop, bizarrely unavailable because he had to judge a gingerbread man competition.
Also absent was inspirational captain Ryan Pocock, who was attending a wedding at London Zoo (we hope the pandas are very happy together).
Thus, there were a few changes in personnel as Brentwood sought their eighth successive victory. As we all know, it takes at least two men to replace Pocock, so in came James Welham to replicate his skippering magic, and Bean to fill his presence behind the stumps.
Bean happens to be a handy bat, too, and after Welham had won the toss (under direction from Pocock texting from the penguin enclosure), he opened the Brentwood innings with George Bull. Bean evoked the spirit of the absent Sir Harry ‘Hotspur’ Hobson (away on the crusades) by launching himself at the third delivery and sending a top edge high over slips. Two balls later, he played a similar shot and was fortunate to see a difficult swirling chance spilled at backward point.
From that moment, Bean settled down and made Chelmsford pay with an innings of some elegance.
Bull also played a couple of sumptuous cover drives and it was something of a surprise when he aimed a cross-batted swipe at left-armer Skepelhorn and edged behind for 11.
No3 Welham was off the mark with a lofted extra-cover drive that rocketed to the ropes and launched a couple of mighty sixes over the longest boundary at midwicket. With the score rushing along to 70, Welham then played a peculiar sweep-type shot at Essex women’s player Shona Keaney and was bowled for 29.
That brought to the wicket Nigel Bacon, in mourning after his beloved Warsop Mega Hot Spot Super Dooper Venom had cracked in the nets before the game. Weighed down by having to carry an unfamiliar, and far cheaper, weapon, Bacon looked oddly out of sorts. He was put down at square leg before off the mark, and struggled to lay bat on ball for several overs.
With the scoring rate drying up, Brentwood reached drinks in the 23rd over at 105 for two, a good platform to push on towards a challenging total on what was a stickily slow track. Just as Bacon was starting to find some fluency, he belted the leg-spinner’s long hop straight down deep square leg’s throat to depart for 21.
At this point, Bean told the umpire he was going to bat through and was warmly encouraged to do so. Unfortunately, after reaching his 50, the Bermudian was run out, trying to regain his ground after turning for a second and being sent back.
That made it 135 for four after 30 overs. Jack Payne had been dropped early on and survived a confident appeal for a stumping before settling. With Luke Brailey in positive form, the young pair put on 30 in quick time before Brailey was bowled by the off spin of Nick Bailey for 16.
Payne shepherded the rest of the innings in mature fashion as the lower order came and went. Payne passed his 50 in the penultimate over and was left high and dry when the final wicket went down with two balls of the 45 overs to spare.
Brentwood took tea in good heart despite being reminded of the absence of the talismanic Balroop by the haunting presence of mini gingerbread men at the table (possibly a deliberate attempt by the home side to destabilise their opponents).
Paul Degg (downhill) and Peter Bainbridge (steep uphill) opened the Brentwood attack, both inducing some plays and misses with ample away swing. It was Degg who made the breakthrough in the seventh over, removing Harry Green thanks to a smart catch at first slip by Bacon. Degg then bowled No3 Cheverall for a duck in his next over, to make the score 25 for two.
Wells replaced Degg at the top end, while Bainbridge continued up the hill (possibly into the wind, as well), gaining reward for a tight spell in the final of his nine overs when trapping opener Vohra lbw for 19.
The required run rate, which had started at 4.5 an over, was steadily creeping above six by this point and after 22 overs Chelmsford had laboured to 66 for three.
Former first-team skipper Bailey, however, was a dangerman and smacked Wells for two fours in the following over to confirm the fact. However, the fifth delivery found the edge of Bailey’s bat and flew low between wicketkeeper and first slip. Bacon thrust out his left hand and seemed as surprised as anyone when he raised it with the ball safely grasped, prompting delirious scenes.
With drinks taken, No 4 Gary Chidley was joined by the experienced Paul Keaney and ensured Chelmsford did not go down without a fight. Chidley passed 50 but was never able to cut loose, tied down by a naggingly accurate spell from Harb Pabla. Chelmsford needed 100 from the last 13 overs, at which point Pabla bowled nine successive dot balls to stifle their ambitions.
Keaney fell for 35 when well caught in the deep by Reece Pinchback off Bull. Degg then returned to the attack to apply the coup de grace, bowling Chidley for 73 and then adding two more quick wickets to finish with five for 37.
The honour of taking the final wicket fell to Payne in the last of the 45 overs, care of a stumping by the exuberant Bean, who had been convinced he should have had at least five others during the course of the innings.
As well as Bean’s impressive wicketkeeping, it had been a superb all-round fielding performance.
The win puts Brentwood 57 points clear of Chelmsford in second. Next week, they aim for the clean sweep of Premier Division rivals when they host Harlow in the final match of the first half of the season.
Report by Peter Bainbridge (into the wind)
|Name||Squad number||Position||Runs||Dismissed||Wickets||Overs bowled||Runs conceded|