08th June -v- Cudham Wyse at Cudham Rec
On a day when Summer finally arrived Crusaders had to content themselves with the better end of a draw in their timed game with Cudham Wyse. Darren and Spud skirted the crowds flocking to Biggin Hill for the Air show, in time for a couple of exquisite pints of Harvey's in the Blacksmiths Arms and awaited the arrival of the rest of the team. Fortunately Cudham had planned for a 2.30 start which meant the late arriving Crusaders were inadvertently on time. Wajih lost the toss and we found ourselves inserted, on a pitch that was dry and grassy on top but soft under the surface. Fears that it would be a difficult pitch to bat on were soon justified, as Cudham's openers exerted immediate pressure. Don was bowled, Danglers presented a return catch and Chand slashed to slip to leave us reeling at 11-3. The Rock joined Wajih and together they compiled the first meaningful partnership of the day. It was however slow progress, with the 30 added taking another 13 overs. Fortunately whilst the cricket was not vaguely interesting, those spectating were treated to an array of aircraft overhead. Another flurry of wickets saw the demise of Johnny Ggg (14), Waj (16) and Damon and all of a sudden we were teetering on the brink at 45-6.
Spud joined Jabs and the pair added an unbroken partnership of 94 for the 7th wicket, with a combination of caution, good running between the wickets and the occasional big shot. Jabs continued his fine form with the bat, surviving a chance on 49 to register his second fifty of the season, with Spud remaining 31 not out at the close of innings. Disappointingly Cudham had managed to bowl only 38 overs in that time, which in Test Match cricket would surely have earned them a poor over rate fine from the Test Board.
Teas seem to be getting better week by week, with a fantastic arrangement topped by Scones and Cream. A team photo minus sulking Chand was taken and then we set about the task of containing runs and taking wickets. It was soon apparent that Cudham would have equal difficulty accumulating runs. Despite the slow pitch Danglers had enough in the tank to unsettle batsmen and he settled into a fine spell of hostile bowling. Spud had a brief spell from the other end, before Alex replaced him and was unfortunate not to get a wicket, with Don chesting a sharp chance from their best bat. The damage was being done at the other end, with Darren looking very James Anderson like at one stage, with all the opening 5 wickets. Alex took a fine catch at second slip to start the ball rolling and two good catches from Damon continued to put the pressure on. Aftab replaced Alex and got the important wicket of Barnes, who repeated his earlier shot, but this time Don was equal to it. A few lusty blows and Cudham gave themselves a glimmer of victory. Needing about seven per over fow the last 12 overs they edged closer with a mixture of quick singles and the odd hoist over the in-field. Spud returned at the opposite end, removing the final decent bat that Cudham had. Attempting a quick single, Aftab swooped at cover and threw to the bowlers end. Despite the throw not being very good Spud showed remarkable agility, dexterity and spatial awareness, weighing up the possibilities in a split second, before miraculously diverting the ball on to the stumps for a superb run out. It was fielding of the highest order. Cudham survived a couple more scares, with Damon spoiling an otherwise good day with the gloves with desperately poor drop. Matti reduced our hosts to eight wickets down, but Cudham fought well to secure the draw at 113-8.
More beer was quaffed in the Blacksmith's , with jugs exchanged and the promise of a repeat fixture next year. Discussion turned to next week's Lincolnshire tour and concerns that Aftab is going to hustle us out of our hard-earned cash. Shame these students can't find an honest way to make a living.