Where are battles won? Apart from the valour shown in the white heat of combat there are the all too often unrecognised hours of training and preparation that go on before the battle even begins.
The Friday evening basked in the slowly setting sun and a perfect evening of cricket was to unfold. The Hemmingford rules would be a key to the encounter, a match with each person bowling 2 overs, no LBW, a free hit on the first ball and retire at 25 runs.
The GCC batted first with the openers Adam and Tony. Tony continued his immovable batting performance of previous weeks and inevitably accumulated the runs till reaching his retirement (but this time not at the local tax payers’ expense). Adam enjoyed himself, launching into the bowling scoring 5 fours in quick succession to place GCC on 53 in just 7 overs. When AP came in we were then treated to batting that had the fleet footedness of Fred Astaire and the punch of Cassius Clay. He positively danced down the wicket to hit the ball; scoring 5 fours of his first over. He was joined the next over by Bagdad (who replaced the retiring TK). There followed quick running between the wickets and more runs till AP hit a magnificent 4 and retired having faced only 11 balls. Bagdad was joined by Dave Crowther, but then a change of bowling brought on the slower spin attack. Runs did not follow and for the first time GCC was tied down. The urge to attack again stranded Bagdad and he was stumped, shortly followed by Dave Crowther being bowled. A collapse looked possible. The fears however were not well founded. Now Tim came in and where Bagdad and Dave floundered Tim made hay. The ball seemed drawn to the middle of his bat and after some 4s, the first 6 of the competition was hit, a powerful and beautifully timed stroke that sent the ball smashing into the scoreboard. One 6 would not suffice and another was soon hit to the clashing sound of ball on fence.
Another retirement and Ludford arrived, his reliable eye for the ball proved successful and a big score was beckoning but he unluckily fell to a catch. Phil, Ferg and Matt saw the remaining overs out giving GCC a score of 159 in 20 overs.
Now, the GCC bowling attack began. A tide of confidence swelled and ebbed as we felt sure of a win. The feeling was soon whipped away by the excellent batting of the Hemmingford openers. There was batting skill aplenty here and this would be far from easy. After hitting four 4s and a 6 the Hemmingford opener retired, Matt and AP our cutting attack now blunted. Some typically aggressive overs from Crowther followed, with the, by now trade mark, two bouncers followed by a Yorker failing to get a wicket. But the arrival of Ludford brought on a new sort of attack. Instead of outward aggression, the bowling tempted the batsmen like a deadly siren with a simple line by the off stump. The balls were hit but they flew straight to hand as AP and then Adam took the catches to give Ludford the dismals his bowling deserved.
Then the captain decided to bring on Baggers for a bowl, the anticipated silence of impending disaster hushed the ground. But here we return to the opening theme. The toil of winter nets and the carefully chosen words of advice from his captain played through his head in a montage as he bowled his first ever over. The wayward balls came but eventually so did line and length. The last ball then brought a wicket from a solid catch from Dave Fox. His second over brought immediate results, with Dave Crowther obliging with a sharp catch. The bowling that remained would now be tidy and effective. Fergus was economical and accurate.
Then arrived spin master, Dave Foster. From the moment the ball left his hand the batsman stood mesmerized like a cobra before a snake charmer. Only 5 runs came off Dave Foster’s two overs but also some three wickets, two bowled and one stumping by Phil. In fact Phil had been exceptional at the stumps all day; an exemplar of reliability. To follow came David Fox and who finished off the game with bowling that smothered and sufficated. And so it was, Hemmingford made 127, well short of the GCC total.