|Date||19 August 2017|
|Venue||Brentwood Cricket Club|
|Result||W (Brentwood 111-2, Hutton 108)|
Brentwood IIIs 111-2, Hutton IIIs 108
Brentwood win by eight wickets
Just in case there was any doubt about the destination of the Premier Division title, Brentwood sealed the deal in authoritative style against struggling Hutton.
The 20 points from their 14th victory from 15 games (the other match was rained off with Brentwood well on top) leaves Ryan Pocock’s side with an unassailable 100-point lead three games from the finish line. Even Devon Loch could not throw this one away.
The headline act in the latest trouncing was Dave Balroop (again), whose 10-over spell of five for 12 killed Hutton hopes and initiated a spectacular collapse.
The visitors had rather surprisingly elected to bat first on a green-tinged wicket and initially made a decent fist of setting a respectable total.
Paul Degg and Peter Bainbridge regularly beat the bat but Brentwood had to wait until the 10th over for a breakthrough. Bainbridge’s long hop was rocketing to the boundary until Harry Hobson at short extra cover bravely reached out to take the latest in a series of stunning catches.
Degg bowled No3 Steve Hammond with the penultimate delivery of a fine eight-over spell to make it 55 for two, and the late-arriving Balroop - coming on as second change!! - opened his account by bowling opener Mudasar Nazir with a trademark inswinging yorker for 34.
Hutton, however, would have been quite content to take drinks after 25 overs at 95 for three, looking to post 200-plus runs and bag the eight batting points crucial in their quest to avoid relegation.
As it was, they collected zero points as they were skittled in a remarkable 10 overs that brought seven wickets and just 13 runs.
The collapse featured four more Balroop wickets – three to yorkers that scattered the stumps and one superb diving catch by Hobson at second slip.
In the middle of those, Jack Payne gained reward for a good spell when Luke Brailey held on to a running catch in the deep. The final nail in the Hutton coffin was hammered in by George Bull who took two wickets in his one over, the first from a dollied catch to James Welham at mid-on, the second to a full-length diving catch at second slip by Ewan Smith.
So, it was a rather surprised Brentwood side that trooped back to the clubhouse after 35 overs for an early tea, contemplating a similarly early return for a celebratory session in the bar.
The reply, as expected, was short and sweet. Smith unfortunately missed out on the fun, hitting a crisp boundary from the first delivery of the second over but two balls later pulling a long hop straight down midwicket’s throat.
Welham joined George Bull and was off the mark from his second delivery, smashing a four back past the bowler from a waist-high full toss.
Bull looked comfortable against a friendly attack and clipped some pleasant shots behind square before, on 17, offering up a return catch that was smartly taken by Joe Hills.
At 31 for two, that brought to the wicket Nigel Bacon and he wasted no time in laying into some mixed offerings from an increasingly despondent Hutton, striking his third and fifth deliveries to the boundary.
Welham smashed off-spinner Stuart Rasburn for a huge straight six into the stingy nettles at the bottom end and Bacon hoisted him over midwicket for another.
The end was swift, Welham smacking four consecutive fours off Rasburn to bring up his own 50 and wrap up victory in the 18th over. Welham’s unbeaten 54 included eight fours and two sixes, Bacon’s 31 made up of six fours, one six and one single.
The jugs came thick and fast as the champions watched the closing stages of the match on the main square, hoping a little of their own magic might rub off on the first XI. The 1s sadly could do no better than a draw but at least the result took them to the top of their own table for the first time this season (just think how well they might do with Balroop opening their attack).
Considering the third XI have often been in a relegation struggle in recent seasons, the turnaround in fortunes has been little short of miraculous. The question has often been asked over the past weeks, “What has made the difference?” and as a regular for the past 13 seasons, please allow your obedient scribe to pinpoint a few factors:
A) General availability through the club has never been better – thus, we have benefited occasionally from the appearance of second-team regulars Richard Walford, Billy Hull, Keerat Pabla and Janhoi Bean who have made crucial contributions.
B) Balroop’s availability has been better than ever, and likewise his bowling – 28 wickets at 7.71 apiece (as opposed to 20 at 17 last season) confirms him as the best bowler in the division.
C) Along with the Calypso king, a rejuvenated Bainbridge (23 wickets at 12), a more-available Degg (16 at 17), a previously overlooked Luke Wells (14 at 19), a year-older Bull (10 at 17) have formed the best bowling attack in the division, regularly dismissing the opposition for under 150.
D) As well as Bull, fellow under-17s Jack Payne and Luke Brailey have come of age, regularly fulfilling their rich promise.
E) The under-17s have added a youthful vigour to the fielding, which has undoubtedly been the best in my 13 years in the side. Special mention here also to Hobson for his stunning catching.
F) Mick Davis has come out of retirement: as much as the former first XI captain’s 322 runs at an average of 40 have been welcome, he offers invaluable experience in a sometimes youthful side (his advice to Brailey in particular has often been hilarious).
G) Sir Ryan Pocock. The captain’s laidback style and desire to have the side playing with a smile has helped bring out their best.
So, there you have it. Forgive me a few indulgences in this missive, but I fear my season is over due to work commitments and this could be my last chance to express how enjoyable the season has been.
As the song goes, this Brentwood side have walked on water.
Report by Peter Bainbridge
|Name||Squad number||Position||Runs||Dismissed||Wickets||Overs bowled||Runs conceded|