|Date||9 June 2018|
|Venue||Chelmer Park, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 8RL|
|Result||D (Chelmsford 177-9, Brentwood 159-8)|
Chelmsford 177-9, Brentwood 159-8
A match that for large parts of the afternoon looked likely to produce another Brentwood win ended in a draw that felt more like a defeat.
Apart from two rain abandonments, the previous 22 matches played by Brentwood had remarkably produced victories and, although the run had to end some time, this was a frustrating way for it to happen.
After allowing Chelmsford to slip off the hook and recover from 80 for seven to post a respectable total, Brentwood collapsed from a commanding 134 for three and were left hanging on for a draw.
It was not the news captain Ryan Pocock would have hoped for as he lazed on his beachside sunbed, dreaming of maximum points for his team and a place on Love Island for himself.
With a much-changed side that was short of experienced batsmen, stand-in skipper George Wingrove lost the toss and was asked to bowl first on a baked Chelmer Park pitch.
The in-form Paul Degg took the new cherry and claimed a wicket in his second over when Abhyankar top-edged a catch to Ash Medell, who was replacing Pocock behind the stumps.
Ollie Valentini, making his seasonal debut, opened at the other end and gained reward for a lively spell by having opposition captain Paul Keaney caught behind wafting at one outside off stump.
Despite a lightning outfield and short boundary on one side, runs were in short supply and this was all achieved despite Brentwood having only 10 men for the first 45 minutes. Luke Wells eventually rolled up after a morning spent karting and, when he came on to bowl, had enough wheels to catch the edge of obdurate opener Davis with his very first delivery - a third catch for Medell.
Chelmsford took drinks at 65 for three after 25 overs knowing they needed to put their foot on the gas. This pressure resulted in a wicket with the first ball after the break as the dangerous Fard Waqar squirted the ball to backward square, went for a suicide single and was well short of his ground when Degg’s throw smashed into the stumps.
Peter Bainbridge caught the edge of Rycroft’s bat and Wells clean bowled former Brentwood member Matthew Thorpe-Apps to put the visitors firmly in control. Louis Barrell, making his third-team debut, joined the party by bowling Shahid in his second over to have Chelmsford reeling at 80 for seven after 32 overs.
However, Micky Burns swung his bat effectively and started a fightback that withstood the return of Degg. Valentini came back into the attack to end the 50-run seventh-wicket partnership but the lower order continued to find runs and, despite Burns holing out to Luke Brailey off Wingrove for 45, the score improbably edged past 150 and then on past 175.
The innings ended at 177 for nine after 50 overs, leaving Brentwood grumpy that they would need to work harder than expected to keep their winning run going.
After a modest tea (crisp sandwiches for the vegan), Brailey and Medell started the reply, both opening for the first time this season. Brailey has approached batting in 2018 in the style of a scalded cat so his team-mates were keen to stress the importance of “playing yourself in”, yet suspecting that their words would go unheeded by the teenager. So, it was a very pleasant surprise when Brailey played a largely conventional innings, mixing watchful defence with some sumptuous drives, and reminding everyone of what a talented batsman he can be when he applies his mind to it (does this sound like a lecture? Sorry, but being the father of two teenagers of my own, I can’t help myself).
Medell holed out playing a half-hearted drive for 11 and Nigel Bacon fell in much the same way for 27, bringing his run of big scores to an end. The loss of Bacon, by some distance the most experienced batsman in the side, might have caused a wobble but Brailey continued in impressive style as he was joined by No4 Barrell.
Apart from some kamikaze running that caught even the “scalded cat” Brailey by surprise, 14-year-old Barrell looked very polished, particularly strong through the midwicket area.
The pair kept Brentwood well ahead of the required rate and after 25 overs, the score was 108 for two.
Brailey, unfortunately, was showing signs of weariness (it’s not easy being mature), played a loose shot off left-armer Davis and edged behind, departing for 39.
Barrell was joined by fellow youngster Louis Morris and the pair were together when drinks arrived after 28 overs with the score 134 for three - just 44 needed off the final 17 overs.
It seemed a simple task but the Chelmsford bowlers, Davis and Shonagh Keaney, kept a line so tight that the batsmen felt impelled to force the issue. It became a sorry tale from hereonin: Morris trapped lbw moving across his stumps, Jack Payne yorked, Barrell (for an excellent 40) miscueing a catch to midwicket, Degg doing the same to mid-off, Wingrove caught behind. Brentwood were suddenly 146 for eight and the chance of victory had gone in the space of five overs.
There was still time for the comical sight of No10 Valentini arriving at the crease and telling No8 Wells the captain’s order was to play for the draw, only for Wells to respond by slashing a four through the vacant second slip area and then drilling a drive for three through the covers.
However, Wells reined himself back in and the pair hung on grimly through the final over to save a modicum of pride and ensure Brentwood maintained an unbeaten run that goes all the way back to August 2016 and a defeat at, of all places, Chelmer Park.
The result leaves Brentwood joint top of the table with Upminster, who will be their opponents on Saturday at the unlovely setting of Coopers School. It’s a big one.
Report by Peter Bainbridge
|Name||Squad number||Position||Runs||Dismissed||Wickets||Overs bowled||Runs conceded|