WHAT MORE CAN THE GARGOYLES DO?
After one of their best bowling and catching performances ever, in dismissing a powerful Sutton-on-the-Hill CC for a meagre 125 runs, Alstonefield CC somehow managed to make a mess of the run chase and lost yet another close encounter, this time by 14 runs. On a perfect summer afternoon, at the most picturesque of grounds, the Gargoyles couldn’t have got off to a better start, when Alan Hayes interrupted his getting to know you chat with the square leg umpire, to catch Booth off the very first ball of the innings from Tony Guest. When Guest then caught and bowled Trevatt in his next over, both openers were gone with only 9 on the board. New batsmen Fowler and Thomas immediately went on the attack and runs came freely. These two had put on 46 runs, when Ian McKay made the breakthrough, bowling Fowler through the gate. Thomas was striking powerfully, but when he edged Andy Bray, Will Siddons took a sharp catch behind. McKay bowled Prince in his next over and when Rob Handscombe acrobatically caught Land off captain Simon Smith’s devastating leg break, Sutton were 77 for 6. Debutant Shaihid put in a superb demonstration of late swing bowling and was rewarded with a deserved late wicket. Will Siddons was causing the tail problems with his searching yorker length, Smith deceived Land junior with more turn and the innings was wrapped up with McKay’s instinctive reaction slip catch off Siddons’ bowling. Every bowler did their bit and the catching, for once, was faultless. Sutton CC 125 all out and an early tea. Now it was down to the batsmen.
Lacking the veterans Harry Jones and Dave Singleton, there was another new opening pair, as Andy Bray strode out with John Clarke. Bray has been Mr. Dependable this season and would need to be again, given the Sutton attack’s reputation for accurate seam movement. Sure enough, Booth’s perfectly pitched late away swing did for Bray in the third over. This brought Shaihid to the middle. The contrast between his extravagant swishing and Clarke’s resolute ‘thou shall not pass’ technique could not have been more stark. Shaihid played himself into form and was able to inject some life into the run rate. Meanwhile, Clarke was putting in a long shift. Eventually out for 5 after 21 overs, he had shown made sure there were wickets left for the final assault. Once Shaihid had been caught behind, with the score at 69 for 4, with 20 overs to go, Smith and Siddons went about finishing it off. Both looked in fine touch and both found the measure of the attack to register 4 boundaries each, but both perished without reaching 20. Suddenly, the pressure was on. Neil Shotton, Rob Handscombe and Tony Guest couldn’t cope with the pace and movement of the Sutton attack and we were down to the last wicket, as Tony Spybey joined Ian McKay, with 19 runs needed off 7 overs. Still the win was on. 5 runs later and a Spybey heave failed to connect and as the ball struck the immaculately clean pad, immaculately positioned in front of middle stump, it was all over.
An enthralling match, with bowlers ascendant. Captain Simon Smith has to find a way of winning these tight ones, and he’s running out of summer.
SUTTON-ON-THE-HILL CC BEAT ALSTONEFIELD CC BY 14 RUNS