How not to have a field day
2nd XI lose unbeaten run at Clyst Hydon
It had to end some time. Winning streaks are there to be broken. It was probably surprising to the rest of the league that it should happen against the league's bottom side. All those present at the picturesque ground in Clyst Hydon can bear witness that the better side on the day deservedly won the game on another belting summer's day. Clyst showed enough talent with bat and ball to plot an escape route from the relegation zone.
The hosts skipper had no hesitation in batting first on winning the toss. Steady but unspectacular progress was made in the first half of the innings, but crucially no breakthroughs were forthcoming for the Sidmouth attack. Opening bowlers Tom Simmons and Fionn Wardrop, together with first change Ed Hurley all went wicketless as they strived to find the right spot on a very dry wicket where only the occasional ball misbehaved. Spinners Daley Holmes and 2nd team debutant Jordan Fowler took over. Each took a single wicket as Clyst Hydon attempted to up the tempo in the middle part of the innings.
The fall of these two wickets brought new batsmen to the crease who had one simple intention; namely to clear the short straight boundaries as much as possible in the final segment of the innings. The boundary length at one end was no more than 40 yards. The other end was 5 yards shorter than that. Carnage ensued. With 8 wickets in hand the batsman had total license to take risks. The over rate went from pedestrian to snail's pace as new balls were sought on numerous occasions as they were battered into the neighbouring fields and the hedges bordering the ground. 7 of the 11 sixes struck in the innings came from the bat of Clyst skipper Ian Sutton - most of these straight over the 'v' - the imaginary shape from the batsman to long off and long on. Tom Simmons and Ed Hurley are now considering careers in farming, having spent so much time in the fields studying the roots of the resident crop.
With wickets still in hand, and such short boundary lengths, the scoreboard whirred towards 300. The innings closed on 292-4 from the allotted 45 overs.
The tea break was a chance for Sidmouth to regroup and start focusing on the task of knocking off the runs. Build a platform and match the Clyst Hydon model in the latter stages. That was the plan. When Nick Mansfield and Anthony Griffiths were both clean bowled within the first six overs a new plan was quickly hatched.
Three members of last week's top four in the batting order were not present here for differing reasons. With this major double setback to digest too, there was a chance for several other players, either batting in higher positions than of late, or up from last week's 3rd team, to seize their chance. To a certain extent they did. Jashan Patidar hit some nice shots, survived a confident stumping appeal (more on this later) and grafted for 25. Byron Knowles timed the ball well, scoring 38, before skiing I waist high full toss which was brilliantly held, at the third attempt, by the overseas player running back from square leg. Tom Wainwright, having excelled with the gloves earlier in the day, made the biggest impact, punishing the bad balls effectively, to make a deserved half century. His gutsy 64 off 62 balls kept Sidmouth in with a shout.
There was one over in the middle of the reply that would be talked about long and hard into the night. Mike Cliff began the over. He looked a little rusty. First ball 5 wides. Second ball 5 wides. Third ball wide. Fourth ball should have been given 5 wides, but was eventually recorded as 4 runs to Patidar, due to the chaos. On delivering the ball a loud crack came from the direction of Cliff's knee followed by a yelp from the stricken bowler. He hobbled from the field, not to return. We wish him a speedy recovery. The bowler was recorded with a economy rate of 90. It should have been infinity. Another bowler was asked to complete, or should that be start, the over. Later in the same over came the decision of not out to the stumping appeal against Patidar.
Requiring 8 an over from the last 10 overs was not insurmountable, but a quick clatter of wickets around Wainwright's dismissal made the task that much harder. Ed Hurley was up for the challenge though. Unlike their opponents, no Sidmouth batsman had yet cleared the rope, until the final half dozen overs. Hurley then did it three times inside two overs as he sought his own field day.
The circumstances were now desperate as the visitors were down to the last wicket. With not many runs looking likely from his tail-end Charlie partner, Ed took one risk too many and his gallant half century was to be in vain, the team falling 20 runs short of their target.
Both sides were guilty of bowling too many wides - 33 in the match producing 62 runs - and that's ignoring the extra runs scored off the resultant extra balls. An area for improvement definitely.
It has to be reported that there was an undercurrent of ill feeling in this game. Sidmouth were not totally innocent on this front. Unfortunately, there continues to be the odd player on the circuit who crosses the line in terms of decent behaviour. It seemed to start in earnest after the not out call from the stumping from the stand-in umpire at square leg (all players were rotating umpire duties; necessitated by the home side being unable to provide one). However, there maybe a history here, so any borderline decision, any umpiring error, or anything deemed as controversial was going to set this particular player off. This is in danger of sounding like sour grapes on experiencing the first defeat of the season. It is not. The experience of playing in this new league format to date has been enormously positive and all games, without exception, have been played in a great spirit. We must remain determined not to let the actions of any single player affect the enjoyment and healthy competition of all the other players. All players, but particularly our young players, must not let their own conduct, or performance, be affected as a result of any provocation.
The two captains and most of the other players from both sides did well to continue playing the game in a good spirit. Even the main culprit toed the line eventually; a stern warning having been administered by Colstan.
The hardest thing to accept is that a volunteer umpire, such as Colstan, is having to cope with unpleasantness on the field of play. Standing at both ends once more - I think for the fourth time this season - it would be easy to come to the conclusion that, if the behaviour witnessed in this game was more common place, we might see such important volunteers disappear altogether. A sobering thought.