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Holton CC President's game

Sunday 12 July 2009

 Original report by John Simpson

Captain's XI too strong for President's


Once a year the Club turns out against itself, in a celebratory match which pits the current Holton team against a selection of former players and friends. That’s the theory at least, and this year it proved to be more or less the case, with Holton names from the past lining up to do battle with the current team, with the President’s XI strengthened by only three or so of our current players.


This year the President himself was unable to be present, so Neil Robinson, the Holton vice-captain, skippered the President’s team. Neil had been roving around the ground the previous evening, looking for inspiration, when he noticed that the covers weren’t on. Rain was forecast, so he quickly rustled up a small band of Holton stalwarts and the covers were rolled on to the pitch just in time to prevent Saturday’s night’s heavy downpour from ruining the pitch.


The rain had held off for the most of Sunday morning, and two teams gradually arrived for a bleary-eyed 11 o’clock start. As usual, the match was to be conducted under the watchful eyes of two County umpires, and they were soon into the action.


Holton won the toss and elected to field, wary of a damp patch that had soaked a large spot on the pitch on a length at one end. But just as the umpires were about to call ‘play’, a light drizzle started to descend. A quick reccie of the sky indicated that the rain might get heavier, so the umpires advised that we rush the covers back on and retire to the pavilion for a while until the rian subsided. In the event, this turned out to be exactly the right advice, as for twenty minutes a heavy shower watered everything in sight. At last it stopped, and the umpires stated that play could commence after a short break for the ground to absorb the water – at 11.45.


So it was at a quarter to twelve that the President’s openers, Nick Bicks and Alan Banyard, strode out to confront the massed ranks of the Holton XI. Guy Burford turned to his regular opening attack, and Graham Hawkins and John Kelly were soon peppering the batsmen with their deliveries. As it happened, some of these deliveries were rather wayward, and Nick and Alan took some pleasure in starting to rattle the scoreboard along. With ten overs up, the President’s XI had advanced to a healthy 37 without loss, and with Matt Johnston and Malcolm Hills padded up, the Holton XI started to fear a runfest and the dangers of facing over 200. But a change of bowling saw newcomer Adam Clemson bowling medium pace uphill, and he tempted Alan (18) into an aired drive to Guy at mid-off. 38-1, and the might of Matt Johnston at the crease, fresh from an outing with Tiddington 1st team on the Saturday.


Before long, Adam had a second wicket, bowling Nick Bicks (16), which brought Malcolm Hills to the crease at 47-2. These two threatened to be the powerhouse of the President’s batting, and for a while they began to lay into the Holton attack, setting themselves fair for big scores. At twenty overs the President’s total had moved on to a healthy 84-2, when Guy brought himself and John Simpson on. Within a couple of overs both Matt and Malcolm were back in the pavilion, and Richard Squires and Derek Marlowe were facing the Holton attack.


Then disaster, as Richard called for a non-existent single, only to be left stranded halfway down the pitch as Graham Hawkins hurled the ball back to Simon Switala behind the stumps for a run-out (108-5). And soon after Derek snicked a fast delivery from Guy behind for another catch, and the distant prospect of a big President’s total had all but failed.


At thirty overs it was time for lunch, and both teams repaired to the pavilion to a meal of cold meats, salad, desserts, and cake laid on by the Club but provided through the kind offices of the Banyards, Robinsons, and others.


After due time for digestion and discussion, the President’s innings continued. There was still batting to come, and Phil Woods struck some stern shots through the Holton in-field on his way to 15, accompanied at various times by his captain Neil Robinson, Josh Hills, and Mike Shorthouse. But with Phil bowled at 137-9, and Mark Deacon hastily inducted as the President’s No 11, there was little scope for a major resurgence, and the President’s innings closed on 142 as Mark was trapped lbw by Graham Nichols.


President’s XI 142 all out (38.4 overs)

Nick Bicks                  b  Clemson                                   16

Alan  Banyard              c Burford b Clemson                    18

Matt Johnston               lbw Simpson                                23

Malcolm Hills               c. S. Robinson b Simpson             27

Richard Squires            run out (Hawkins)                          0

Derek Marlowe            c. Switala b. Burford                      1

Phil Wood                    b. Kelly                                        15

Neil Robinson               b. Hawkins                                    8

Josh Hills                      c. S. Robinson b. Kelly                  0

Mike Shorthouse          not out                                          10

Mark Deacon               lbw Nichols                                    0

            Extras                                                                   24


Graham Hawkins     9-2-26-1

John Kelly               9-1-33-2

Graham Nichols       6.4-0-18-1

Adam Clemson        5-0-31-2

Guy Burford             5-0-17-1

John Simpson           5-2-13-2


Fall of wickets: 1–38 (2), 2-47 (1), 3-89 (3), 4-96 (4), 5-108 (5), 6-113 (6), 7-130 (8), 8-133 (9), 9-137 (7), 10-142 (11)


Run rate: 10 overs – 37 runs; 20 – 84; 30 – 117


The plan was the Holton would bat for twenty overs, and then we would have tea. After tea, the match would be played to its conclusion (up to 45 overs).


The Holton batting order saw Hugh Kitchin and myself take to the field looking for a target of 143 (at a minimum of 3.2 per over). That seems a gentle pace, but we have been known in the past to collapse in the face of modest targets. The President’s opened their attack with their prime medium bowlers Matt Johnston and Malcom Hills. Matt bowled fast and meanly, and Malcolm bowled meanly. Both Hugh and I had some difficulty scoring freely as the attack pinned us down and overs started to mount up.


Hugh was, however, making some headway, and with ten overs up we were on 25-0 – hardly electric, but not far off the required rate of 3.2. We’d seen the opening bowlers off when Neil brought on two old wilies – Mike Shorthouse, bowling off his traditional blistering run-up, and Richard Squires, taking a more leisurely approach but maintaining his old accuracy. It was Mike who made the breakthrough, clean-bowling Hugh with a peach of a delivery, for 13 (34-1).


Holton had some strength at the top, though, so it was with little concern that we watched Phil Knox approach the crease. With me playing a supportive role (as I like to see it!), Phil took to pulling the ball long and hard to leg, and pushing it through the in-field on the off. As the tea interval arrived, we had moved slowly to 52-1 off our twenty overs, leaving just 91 to score in the remaining 25 overs after tea.


By now the sun was shining strongly, and the memories of the earlier rain had disappeared. But the pitch was still slow, and the President’s bowling had remained tight, with Matt Johnston in particular making good use of the slower ball.


The post-tea run rate had risen to 3.65 per over, and this should have been well within our sights. But immediately after tea Phil pushed forward to a straight delivery from Malcolm Hills and was given out lbw (52-2). A slight tremor of concern arose in the Holton ranks. But we need not have worried, as at No 4 we had Simon Switala, well known for his sturdy drives and faint cuts behind.


By now, we were moving along at about 4 an over, and on 30 overs had reached a total of 92-2. And there was plenty of batting left should a collapse ensue. Neil rang the changes with his bowling attack, and late in the day turned to Phil Wood, who proceeded to bowl fast and accurately, pinning the batsmen down from one end. In another moment of inspiration, Neil called to Josh Hills to bowl, and with his first ball Josh dislodged Simon’s off bail: bowled for a good 31 (128-3 and only 15 needed to win). Simon Robinson then came in, and proceeded to hit a long three out to mid wicket, bringing Holton within runs of victory, and then the final curtain came down with a single to short mid wicket, the batsmen scampering between the creases, and the target met.



Holton & Wheatley 143-3 (42.5 overs)


John Simpson           not out                    54

Hugh Kitchin            b. Shorthouse          13

Phil Knox                 lbw M. Hills            12

Simon Switala           b. J. Hills                 31

Simon Robinson        not out                      4

            Extras                                         29


Did not bat: Guy Burford, Graham Nichols, Adam Clemson, Martin Shields, John Kelly, Graham Hawkins


Fall of wickets: 1-34 (2), 2-52 (3), 3-128 (4)


Run rate: 10 overs – 25, 20-52, 30-92, 40-134


Matt Johnston          9-2-22-0

Malcolm Hills           9-2-20-1

Mike Shorthouse      4-1-7-1

Richard Squires        6-1-22-0

Derek Marlowe        5-1-20-0

Phil Wood                5.5-1-12-0

Alan Banyard            2-0-10-0

Josh Hills                  2-0-8-1


As with many President’s games, this was one which reached its conclusion without the spark that enlivens some of our other games. Mostly we know how to bowl at our own club colleagues, how to set fields for them, which of them will try for a lively second run and which will not! But despite this, it’s often fun to bowl at batsmen you’ve only seen on your side, or to face the searing attack of bowlers whom previously you’ve only encouraged from the field. But it is perhaps the only game of the season where both teams sit down and chat together over tea, and as a social occasion it is second to none.


The evening continued with a barbecue, and the Club is indebted to Robert and Sonja Barter once again for allowing us to use their garden for the occasion. As the sun shone on, Alan Banyard gave a short speech about the Club, lamenting the absence of our President, and the umpires recalled the game (‘dour’) as the winning captain, Holton’s Guy Burford, collected the victor’s trophy. As the evening and the barbecue cooled, players and guests started to set off into the sunset, thinking about the Club’s prospects next Sunday, against Isis.



John Simpson


Chairmans Note:


Modest as ever, John has failed to mention that he deservedly won the man of the match trophy (chosen by the umpires) with a score of 54 not out and 2 for 13.