Sidbury claim 10th straight Tolchards Devon League success
- Credit: Archant
After spending the last week meticulously covering the intricacies of a voyage through holiday-maker infested roads, Ben Pollard had arrived at this precise timeframe for his journey from Exmouth’s TSB Bank to Axminster Cricket Club, writes Barney Stone.
At 12:50pm, Pollard shot an anxious glace towards the customer clock. It was time to execute his strategy.
Risking redundancy, the Sidbury opener scooped up his belongings and desperately galloped towards the exit, leaving customers bemused by such a hurried exit from a member of staff. Time was of the essence! A feast of runs were due to be served up in a distant corner of East Devon, and he wanted in.
En route, Pollard would have heard over Sidbury's version of Test Match Special' (TMS), that skipper Alex Paget had elected Simon Rowe to open the batting alongside Olly Pyne.
After a magnificent midweek performance that teetered on the verge of match-winning, the unthinkable befell Sidbury's innings in only the first over; Pyne had been trapped leg before wicket, and, as if they had stumbled into some apocalyptic nightmare, onlookers were forced to pinch themselves.
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After taming his own initial bewilderment, Rowe quickly recognised the importance of steadying the ship.
As he watched 'Windy' Miller adjust his glasses and stride out to the crease, a wry smile must have crept across his face.
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They were about to turn back the clock to yester years, to a time when friendlies against touring sides were all the rage, and Branoc ran like the ancient rivers of Babylon.
Before long, it was raining boundaries. Taking it in turns to exchange blows, Rowe and Miller put on a quick-fire partnership of 62. Whilst the early dismissal of Pyne must have been interpreted by the home side as a slice of divine intervention, any suggestion that Sidbury's batting attack was about to wither away in submission was instantly quelled.
Although Miller soon became victim to a stunning catch, Sidbury were in the driving seat.
By this time, Pollard had dusted himself down, adorned his cricket regalia and taken guard out on the crease.
Despite a promising start to the fledgling partnership of Rowe and Pollard, the former was prematurely dismissed just short of his half-century. Then, Joe Gosse entered the fray.
After a three-year long sabbatical to take in Britain's finest music festivals, Gosse came out to bat determined to excise the cricketing demons that haunted him during the build-up. The combination of Pollard and Gosse turned out to be potent; the pair put on 70 runs for the fourth-wicket, and the boundary ropes were in danger of erosion from the persistent barraging.
Before long, Pollard was informed that he had reached a half-century; relieved to know that Josh Reed would be off his case about a personal batting tutorial for at least another week, Pollard raised his bat to salute his adoring followers on the side-line. However, a switch had evidently been turned inside Pollard's brain - he now considered himself somewhat of a batting protégée. Letting his imagination run wild, Pollard was probably envisaging IPL lights basking upon him and teammate Virat Kohli saluting him from the other end.
However, he was almost instantly dismissed by a ball that warranted a defensive stroke, but instead received a wild swing that sought to deliberately endanger the local population of birds that inhabited the surrounding trees. To make matters worse, Pollard was informed that, contrary to his own understanding, he had not made his half-century. Falling one run short, Reed's batting class will now have one additional pupil on the list for this week.
With Pollard gone, Gosse continued to find the boundary rope. Given that this was the first time he had grasped the willow for some time, his knock added serious impetus to an innings that threatened to easily breach the 200 mark. Upon his departure, Charles Ackerley was joined by Barney Stone at the crease. On numerous occasions, the pair were caught in deep discussion over the importance of clear communication in running between the wickets. Ironically, this variable was to become central to the pair's dislodging; having caught the smallest of outside edges, off the bowling of arguably the slowest of Axminster's bowlers, Stone had convinced himself that there was at least a single to be had, maybe even two. In fact, the ball had travelled probably less than two feet from the wicket keeper. Twisting and turning, as if part of some ritualistic dance, confusion was clearly rife. Unfortunately, Ackerley bore the brunt of Axminster's swift fielding and he was cruelly run out.
Run outs were soon to become a key component in Sidbury's innings. Indeed, Alex Paget fell victim to a deflection onto his stumps at the non-strikers' end, whilst Seb Fitzhenry was brilliant run out after a prolonged pummelling of his bat's middle. Once Chris Fitzhenry was almost run out, Stone was quickly identified as the common denominator in such catastrophes; fortunately, Reed also runs a boot camp to iron out such issues. After bolstering Sidbury's total past 200, Stone was dismissed and Olly Derryman took the reins to leave Sidbury on 239 by the end of play.
The drama continued into the tea break. Despite an array of sweets and savouries, satisfying the mandatory ratio for any spread seeking approval, the Axminster team was suddenly crippled by an age-old dispute - 'why didn't you let me bowl, skipper'?
As the player's car wheels were heard furiously spinning against the gravel of the car park, Sidbury went about planning their defence of 239.
Barney Stone and Olly Derryman opened proceedings to devastating effect; after 35 minutes, three men were back in their pavilion and the scoreboard was flailing at 34-3. Despite innumerable wides, no balls and a monstrous clattering for six, Stone managed to stun the Axminster fight back via figures of 4-35.
Later, a valiant batting display from the home sides' crop of up-and-coming talent drew plaudits from all, especially given the tendency of Olly Pyne to offer up some choice words of wisdom during the bowlers' run up. However, the introduction of Windy Miller provided the hammer blow.
Utilising his crafty and beguiling spin, the veteran perplexed his opponents all ends up; finishing with three wickets, for only one run conceded, his figures seemed somewhat expensive given his magnificent performance.
Chris Fitzhenry was brought on to put the icing on the cake. As in commonplace, Fitzhenry's ability to generate jaw-dropping lateral movement ensured that Sidbury had the final wicket in double time.
Bowling Axminster out for 78, Sidbury claimed victory by a margin of 161 runs. Barney Stone was awarded this weeks' St John's School Man of the Match.
The next league game for Sidbury is not until the August 3, Millfield meeting with Topsham St James 2nd XI.