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Kingswood Vs Venturers, Wednesday May 27th

Kingswood 119-9, Venturers 115-7

At one point we had an 86% chance of winning this match, according to Kingswood’s slightly flaky iPad app; but it didn’t know who we were or that we aren’t much good at cricket. So it’s not much good at prediction. Its predictive text gave us names like Made-up, Correctly, Kappa and Standing. A few of us and most of them had already done a lot of standing by the time the match started, while the rest waited in cars in Bathwick, texting occasionally to say that they hadn’t moved since the last text. We finally got started at about twenty to seven, but decided to stick with twenty overs as the weather was for once good. It is normally very cold at Kingswood. After the Monkton Combe match two weeks earlier we were in any case used to cold.

Ian (correctly) took the new pink ball, easy to spot but difficult to judge the distance of, and swung it substantially. Kingswood’s team usually includes a proper cricketer from somewhere. This time it was an itinerant South African, who looked alarmingly competent. Instead of just blocking Ian out and hoping for better luck elsewhere, he unfurled a lofted off-drive hit with some power into the gap between the bowler and mid-off. Gregory has long arms and a reputation for taking difficult catches and fluffing easy ones. He reached out to his right and collected it, putting himself for the time being at the top of list for Catch of the Season as we had only caught two, both sitters, up to that point. He looked surprised, claiming not to be. A sharp inswinger from Ian brought a second wicket and the Kingswood captain commented “perhaps this isn’t going according to plan”. Jamie’s slower ball did further damage. Another attempt to attack Ian resulted in a small skier to cover, taken calmly by Bruce. He looked unsurprised, while claiming not to be. Indeed, he claimed not to have taken a real catch in a proper match before. Also surprised by his own adeptness was Jamie, who deliberately deflected a drive onto the stumps and ran out the non-striker.

Five down for 22 after six overs. How could we lose? Gregory and Bruce still kept things tight at first, and although that didn’t last, Gregory got an LBW decision despite having no support from the wicket-keeper (Simon), who was looking into the setting sun and had no idea where the ball was. At this stage our luck ran out. We put down a straightforward catch (a harder one had gone down earlier but the batsman had not lasted much longer), and both bowlers shaved the stumps. The batsman who got the benefit of all this was later withdrawn under a rule the bowlers didn’t know about, imposing temporary retirement at the end of the over on reaching 30, which in his case meant 36 not out. The other batsman edged a simple catch to Jack, but Simon forgot there was a slip and punched the ball out of Jack’s reach. By the time he put a long hop from Chris into long leg’s hands he had done significant damage. Jamie got a second catch from a miscue off Sunny near the end.

The score looked gettable. Sunny is a slow starter but if he gets going is hard to stop. The thirty rule would stop him but for once we had more batting than that. And indeed he and Jamie made steady progress and drove the win predictor to unrealistic heights. In a 20-over game with a worthwhile score to chase, though, steady usually isn’t quite good enough. From time to time there needs to be an expensive over, to balance the inevitable occasional cheap one, and this we didn’t get until too late. Kingswood used nine bowlers, but eight of them could actually bowl so that didn’t help us at all: in fact it was probably good strategy as it prevented anybody getting used to anything. We hoped that Sunny would reach thirty near the start of an over: he did, but got stumped trying to get as much as possible from the rest. Jamie fell to a good catch by the South African. Kapil and Ben both played sensible supporting innings and Ian G made enough at the other end to keep us close, but it wasn’t until the seventeenth and eighteenth overs that we started to score rapidly. Even then, five wides played a part. Needing eleven off the last two and seven off the last should have been all right, but the light had gone because of the Bathwick traffic jam. The predictor, not understanding this, gyrated wildly. It came down to whether anybody (Ian or Simon by now) could connect with the South African’s last few balls. If we did then Kingswood would be the ones unable to see it, but we didn’t, and Simon and Chris got bowled by the last two.

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