Under strength Bar wilt in the Heat to promotion candidates Hyde

The hottest day of the year so far welcomed Cheeko’s boys to the quaint Hatfield Hyde ground and it was clear from the start that much would depend on the toss on such a searing day.

Unfortunately, the skipper was scuppered by the use of the £1 coin to toss up (always tails for future reference Cheeks), the Hyde skipper won and Bar were promptly asked to field. The 4’s had arrived with a makeshift side, with a number of the 5th team regulars making their debut for Cheeko and the majority of the regular 4th team batsmen making up the numbers and fielding in the 3rd team. This was all prompted by lamentable availability at 1st XI level, with just 5 first team regulars available. This had an inevitable trampoline effect on availability and the 4th team batting line up just didn’t look strong enough to compete.

The strategy then had to be to try and bowl out Hyde for a low total and chase but they hadn’t been bowled out all season for less than 200 and this looked like a big ask. Rupert Pyrah was once again excellent, demonstrating good control with the new ball and really seems to have found a bowling groove in the last month. His economy is good and his bowling at this level is probably too good for the calibre of batting that he comes up against. Endless balls nip past the outside edge with no luck and it really is a very frustrating place to be behind the stumps seeing all of these close calls. One week the luck will go with him and he will get all 10.

As it was, the start of the show was Stavros Rogers who picked up 5 wickets in 2 spells, with a good spell of classic swing bowling. At the other end, Spencer Randon kept things tight and picked up 3 wickets for his afternoon’s work. The Doctor was expensive and largely ineffective and 5th team regular Brad Swaile showed that he is a star for the future with a good spell of serious heat, picking up a wicket.

Bar eventually bowled Hyde out for 197, their lowest total of the season and afterwards, the Hyde skipper conceded that Bar were the best bowling attack that they had faced all season. It was a manful effort to bowl and field so well in the heat but it too everything out of them. To give credit to Hyde’s batting line up, they have guys that turn up who only bat and that is the only thing that they want to do. The opener who very nearly batted through only batted and this could be the problem that faces Cheeko’s boys for the rest of the season. In a team of all rounders, there is always the incentive that you might get a bowl and so the focus just isn’t there on batting where players aren’t as precious about giving away their wicket as they could be. Hyde’s line up had 4 or 5 players who only batted and as a consequence, dominate teams with weak bowling. I feel that this is an area that Cheeko should be addressing in future team selections.

After an excellent tea, Bar’s batting effort was notable for Stavros Rogers’ excellent 54, dispatching the ball to all parts of the leg side boundary off some very dubious (read throwing) spin bowling. Bar eventually collapsed for 125 all out, with an excellent rearguard action by young Ricky Wood, who showed that he is certainly a batsmen of the future and in your scribes opinion, should concentrate on this area of his game as his specialism for the future.

Next week, the 4’s travel to Broxbourne and hope for better availability to arrest their alarming slide towards the bottom of the table.

This week’s report is my last this season as I am off to Switzerland for 9 weeks of training to become qualified as a ski instructor. Jellybean Taylor is likely to take over from me as match reporter and I am sure that he will do an excellent job. From a personal point of view, I know that I have let Cheeks down with the bat this season but I hope that I have made up for it with improved keeping performances. I sincerely wish everyone in the 4’s and also the rest of the teams at the club an excellent and successful season.

Dave Burrows

Cheeko’s boys close but no cigars in sight

Cheeko’s 4th XI met at the school on an overcast and blustery day to take on fellow mid-table outfit Leverstock Green 3’s and a close match ended in a narrow defeat for The People’s Team. In truth, Bar never had enough runs on the board after being bowled out for 103 but ran the visitors close with, securing 8 points in the process.

The batting heart and spiritual leader of the 4’s, Andy Hughes, was trevor-trampolined up into the 3’s on Thursday night and with Steve Moore’s injury not healing in time, the batting line up looked light but with plenty of bowling at the skipper’s disposal. In hindsight, Cheeko may come to regret the decision to bat on Saturday but in truth, neither skipper knew what to do and it was a bit of a lottery as to how the wicket was going to play.

The two slowest scoring batsmen and the latest opening pair opened up for Bar, Burrows and Taylor who struggled early on with the bounce of Ali and the accuracy of May. It’s no coincidence that the lack of a settled opening pair this year is contributing to early collapses for the 4’s. Wickets started falling at regular intervals and there was little to write about down the order as the top score of the day was Doc Sharma with a quick fire 18. Once Ali and May had finished their long opening spells, the rest of the batting was prized out by the bowling of the youngster Sawyer. The young man had a suspicious action and our recommendation is that someone at Leverstock has a look at his action before he gets too much older or is playing cricket in leagues with proper umpires.

After an excellent lunch prepared by Mme Kennedy and some impromptu French lessons from Spencer Randon, Bar attempted the near impossible, to win the game defending only 103. There was some early success for Bar as Roy Rogers encouraged the slightly unfit Rance to snick one behind to ‘keeper Burrows. He was clearly unhappy with this decision and perhaps this had a bearing on his later decisions which had an effect on the outcome of the game. This brought Turner to the crease (who was a startling dead ringer for JellyBean Taylor) who was clearly Leverstock’s gun batsman. He scored 32 and was smashing the bowling to all parts but for some reason, couldn’t fathom the bowling of Rupert the Pirate. He was eventually bowled with a jaffa of an inswinger and there was a feeling within the Bar camp that they had little batting left.

This proved to be true with only 3 of the remaining batsmen scoring double figures. This set up a tense finish with Cheeko’s boys convinced that they had Ali caught behind from an excellent take from Randon’s bowling but the young man had the nerve to stand there and claim that he hadn’t hit it, while the villain of the piece, Rance, kept a straight face whilst he gave it not out. This caused much anger from the Bar boys and left a very sour taste in the mouth from what was otherwise a very enjoyable game.

Afterwards, the Leverstock captain came to apologise to Cheeko for the conduct of Vance and the reaction of the Leverstock players after the game was not one of a team that had just squeaked a narrow victory and 30 points. If ever there was an incentive to try and play a higher standard of cricket and get neutral umpires, this was it and the 4’s can only hope for the services of Breezy on other future occasions.

The 4’s next match is away at Hatfield Hyde and sees the return of Andy Hughes and hopefully Steve Moore.

Match report – 5 June – PBCC 4’s vs Old Camdenians 2’s

Captain fantastic saves the day

Having only played for Potters Bar for two seasons, I haven’t really had an opportunity to see Cheeko’s captaincy for what it was until the latter stages of Saturday’s game against the Camdenians. One was wondering what all the fuss was about until the moment when single handedly, he took contol of the game from the visitors and never gave it back. That he didn’t win the game with the decisive action that he took is down to the type of declaration cricket that we play and how it rewards teams who block out for draws.

Late on in the game at around the 40-over mark, it looked like Bar had let the game go despite posting an excellent 169 on a slow and low wicket, thanks largely to the ‘Uzi’d up’ Luke Watling. At this point the skipper started to pull the strings and with two men set back to counter the excellent straight hitting from the Camdenian’s lower order, started to restrict the run rate and frustrate the visitors. This led to two wild hacks that were calmly caught in the deep by Roy Rogers and Cheeko himself, taking responsibility with bucket hands.

Cheeko forced this situation on the Camdenians after he had noticed his team becoming increasingly agitated at the assorted antics of the visitors. At a suitable juncture that your scribe cannot remember (but was no doubt a wicket from a dubious hack into the leg side) he calmly gathered his troops and told them to calm down and let the game come to them. This had a galvanising effect on the team and powered them to a 12-point draw result, with Camdenians falling 14-runs short with 2 wickets left.

He delivered his message with the gravitas of a field marshall, high on a hill overlooking his enemy, plotting their downfall. He runs games like an supersized Napolean, moving his troops around and pulling strings until he gets the desired results – that more games haven’t been won under his stewardship of the 4th XI is more to do with opposition’s desire to see us not get 30-points, something that I feel is becoming more prevalent in the league.

There was little to note of the Bar’s batting effort apart from Luke Watling’s second successive 50 in two weeks. Once again, at better than a run a ball, he smashed 64 and effectively saved the game for Bar. The progression that he has made as a cricketer over the last two years in excellent and he is becoming an important part of Cheeko’s promotion push this year.

Napoleon’s new favourite opening bowler with the old ball, ‘Jellybean’ Taylor, chipped in with figures of 11-overs 1-13 to get Camdenians well behind the rate and he was well supported by Roy Rogers, with a rare opportunity to bowl with the wind at his back (11ov 1-26). The run rates were very similar in both the Bar and visitors innings and it was down to the rest of the bowlers to keep the bowling tight and try and force a victory. Ishy Moore was effective but expensive in the context of the game but bowled the Camdenians gun Doshi with a jaffa and ‘keeper Burrows snaffled an excellent one handed catch for his second (4ov 2-15).

Bar squandered numerous run out half-chances and there were a number of catches that could have gone to hand but didn’t. In the end though, the squeeze that the skipper put on saved the game and kept Bar in the hunt for the top spots in the league. Only the future will tell how important the skipper’s calm effectiveness was but I have a feeling that the 12-points. Our thanks on Saturday also go to Ian Breeze who umpired the whole game from both ends in humid conditions.

There is no music video for your musical enjoyment this week but instead I bring you the trailer for the Swedish ‘Wallander’ feature length film. May I draw your attention to Nina Zanjani who is the hot brunette police chick. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo9PddzNH1Q

Next week, the 4th XI visit the Harpenden Dolphins for the rematch of yet another blockathon from last year.