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Bradford Town vs Venturers, Sunday June 21st

Venturers 171 all out Bradford Town 172-6

Bradford Town play at the ground the other side of the road from Victory Field. It is a pleasant place, separated from a tasteful housing development and the station by a hedge, which grows luxuriantly on a compost of rotting cricket balls. We fed it three during this match. The ground is attractively undulating, which makes it very hard to predict which way the ball is likely to go. Into the hedge is a good bet.

Roger steered the first ball to third man for a single, which became two when the throw ended up at square leg, via the stumps. The second ball was very wide down the leg side: Roger, instead of ignoring it, scooped it to fine leg. Matt nearly ran himself out without facing a ball at all, and after a short and frustrating stay was bowled off his pads by another harmless leg-side delivery. Chris M, meanwhile, had struck a sweetly timed off drive, and never timed anything again for the rest of his innings. Kevin came, and soon afterwards went, and it was left to Rahul and Chris to stop the rot. The bounce was very uneven and the slow bowlers operating up the steep slope were extremely hard to get away: Rahul ran several short singles and sharp seconds, not always remembering to inform Chris before doing so. Somehow there was no runout; but neither batsman was able to get the ball away. Rahul was bowled by one that literally did not bounce at all: it actually rolled after pitching, rather short of a length. Fortunately Roger remembered that such things are now forbidden and correctly called it a no-ball: the bowler took this in good part, realising that the behaviour of the ball had been ridiculous.

At the half-way point Chris was LBW, and Fluffy, Rahul and Alex W followed rapidly afterwards. Around this time we were beginning to think that 100 might be a good score provided nobody from Bradford slogged successfuly, but were also thinking that we might not get that many. Adam fed the hedge a little, realising that he wasn't likely to be around for long on such a pitch, and Nigel ran hard; Thyagarajan connected once but then got stumped. Gregory joined Nigel with 114 on the board and more than ten overs to go.

To begin with they pushed the ball around and tried to run singles, but as Nigel's confidence grew he began to hit the big blows we should have been hitting much earlier, and Gregory confined himself to blocking and giving Nigel the strike. Once Nigel had realised that he wanted the strike, and learned from Rahul that it is best to talk to your partner, they became quite good at that, even taking a single agreed in advance by eye contact. Once Nigel was facing it became simpler: he simply swung very hard through the line and hit the ball cleanly, usually for four. Somehow the hedge wasn't feeling hungry, so there was no let-up for the bowlers; and in the last six overs Gregory faced only eight balls, no more than two consecutively. Nigel bounced on to fifty, was dropped a couple of times, and finally holed out at cover for 57 off the third ball of the last over. The last-wicket stand was also 57: Gregory had made three of them, fewer than the extras, of which there were over 30 in all.

The moment we tried to bowl, though, we ran into trouble. Nigel opened down the hill in the hope that he was still inspired, and Adam up it; but Adam struggled with the slope and Nigel tended to underpitch. As the pitch was more reliable in the middle than at the ends that simply fed the hedge, given that Bradford had two capable opening batsmen. We didn't have enough runs to afford that, but we didn't react: Matt, captaining, persisted with Nigel, who was at least threatening. But too many runs leaked away. However, Thiyagarajan bowled tidily when he replaced Adam, until he produced a slow full toss which was sent soaring towards the station. The hedge licked its lips. Chris Middup made a catching gesture, which seemed strange as the ball looked likely to pass far above him; but he was right, and it came to him chest-high as he waited on the boundary. Thiyagarajan was removed before his luck could run out, and Fluffy did something less outrageous but rather similar to the other opener, the excellent catch being by Adam.

The trouble was that we were in the sixteenth over and the score was already ninety, and the hedge had claimed another ball: only Chris had prevented it getting several more. Fluffy didn't like bowling up the slope much either. Gregory, who might have, had just started to bowl down it. He did it quite well, and Alex bowled even better up, but neither of them got wickets and with a required scoring rate of barely three an over wickets, immediately, were what we needed. But against unhurried batsmen it was impossible to create any pressure. A miscue off Gregory looped out of Nigel's reach; a fluffed drive off Alex dropped short of the bowler; but there was little real danger and there were enough runs. We were sliding towards a quiet defeat when Adam was given the top end and found the right length. He moved the ball around at pace, and with unpredictable bounce, and not only broke the partnership but took two more wickets, all bowled by quick seaming deliveries. With three overs left the last remaining batsman tried to hit the six runs they needed in one go, off Matt, and was stumped; but Adam's next over, though still good, contained one hittable ball and a push for a couple finished it off.

 

Fixtures & Results 2009

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