What a high-tech world cricket has become.
As Gloucestershire’s S9s assembled at Hawkesbury’s ground, the battery was being attached to the scoreboard and the remote control was placed on the scorer’s table. Even the bails had batteries in them, so that – should they get hit – they could add a little light under the grey skies that had gathered above. To add to the technological feast – as we were without a coin (another sign of the times) – the toss was decided using an app.
Batting first, the S9s lost their opener, Zac Gardner, to the second ball of the match, when he was caught in the covers by Sam Beeley’s outstretched right hand. Brother and sister combo, Harry and Izzy, opened the bowling and kept the run rate down. An early collapse followed, with Hawkesbury’s keeper, Zac Walker, taking two catches to dismiss Matt Page and Henry Polley. He picked up a third when Liara edged the ball, giving Jenna Chappell her second wicket. Charlie, batting at 6, became the fifth player to be caught, this time off the bowling of Evie. With half the team back in the pavilion, the S9s needed a partnership and this they found in the experienced pair of Paul and Dave. Both looked at ease in the middle, guiding the ball through gaps in the field whenever the ball was short enough to hit. Hawkesbury desperately needed to break the partnership but their fielders looked confused: both batters had their own runner, so who should they try and run out?
Paul struck four boundaries before he was caught off Steph Gardener with 35 to his name. (Impressive though his innings was, it was not the highest score of the S9 innings: a certain W.Ides added an impressive 44 to the score.) Dave retired on 22, his downfall meaning that the runners could finally return to the pavilion – a great relief to James, who was getting increasingly redder in the face with every hastily-run single. With Brandon playing some stylish shots in the closing overs, the S9s ended on 136, a useful score on a damp April pitch. Pick of the bowlers for Hawkesbury was Abbie, whose four overs saw her take two wickets for just 9 runs.
Tea took longer than usual as players from both teams abandoned their sandwiches and ordered kebabs from a gazebo next to the pavilion. Matt, the S9 captain and wicketkeeper, hastily downed his freshly-cooked food whilst the rest of his team waited for him in the middle.
When play eventually resumed, Hawkesbury’s innings did not get off to the greatest of starts; within minutes, the battery-powered bails flashed vigorously as opening bat, Will Riddington, was run out for just 1. Things got worse for the hosts as Paul, S9’s all-rounder, teased out Harry and Izzy with his flight and guile. Lisa Cousins, having played some excellent switch-hits, was caught by skipper Matt behind the stumps. Zac Walker played some superb sweeps to the leg-side before he become Paul’s third victim. With five back in the pavilion and just 28 on the board after 10 overs, Hawkesbury were in need of stability.
This came in the form of a superb sixth-wicket stand between Steph Gardener and Nicola Colborn, who steadied the Hawkesbury ship. Gardener hit three boundaries in her 32 whilst Colburn ran a series of well-placed singles in her 12. Throughout the splendid partnership, the S9s remained in good humour, supporting each other throughout – ‘Great stop’ ‘Yours Dave’ With Matt providing plenty of energy and encouragement at square leg, running between the wickets became tricky: at one point Gardener found herself face down on the track at the keeper’s end whilst Colborn deflected a shy at the bowler’s end with her backside. Henry’s spin provided more bounce than expected and Liara’s left-armers were highly accurate, which meant that both batsmen were unable to press on as quickly as they might have hoped. Eventually, Gardener was bowled and Charlie held on to a catch to end Colburn’s knock. With wickets tumbling, all eyes turned to Sam Beeley, on whose shoulders – or bat – Hawkesbury’s hopes now rested. An ugly swipe across his stumps to the first ball that he faced from Brandon put pay to his innings and Hawkesbury were left with too many to chase off the last over. The game ended with the S9s worthy winners by 37 runs.
Report by Ed Riddington