On Saturday Eastry were away at Goodnestone to take on Wickham and Stodmarsh CC. I arrived twenty minutes before the start time to find only one person at the ground, Captain Aaron(aero) Friend who, I am now led to believe, had been out to examine the middle and measure every possible distance from the middle to the leg side boundary. Eastry arrived thinking that a score of 56 off 40 overs might be competitive after our own Groundsman scouted the ground during a recent match.
Eastry batted first in a 40 over match and I quickly found myself being treated to a show of destructive boundary hitting from the non-strikers end as Aaron quickly found his feet on a difficult surface that was not quite coming on. After a non-spectacular opening stand of 46 I chipped one up to mid on. Robin Smitt looked in good knick but took on a surprisingly good arm and was run out. Soon afterwards Kevin was caught at gully off the bowling of one of Wickham & Stodmarsh’s academy players. As players fell at the other end, Aero really started finding his range, hitting boundary after boundary between square leg and mid on. The opposition placed a large number of fielders along the rope and even tried bowling leg stump lines, but time after time Aero dissected the fielders. He was given a reprieve in the 60s when a fairly simple chance was put down at mid-wicket but this was the captains day as he showed that preparation and early arrival is key. Dave Waring, Dicky Swain, Matt Sumner and James Wethered all came and went. James was adamant that his departure was for the greater good and so it proved as the captain found a superb ally in attack in Dan Dawkins who, sadly, went about showing us all how we should have batted on the track, with superb fours through the covers and aggressive strokeplay. His knock of 29* also saw the captain through to a magnificent 100 and gave Eastry some much needed momentum going in to the tea break. Aero ended 119* in one of the finest knocks I have seen playing for Eastry CC.
In reply Wickham and Stodmarsh batted sensibly, having to weather some quite superb deliveries from Dan Betts who bowled immaculate lines with good pace. A sharp catch from Aaron (having a handy game) got the breakthrough but at the other end Ollie Hayward was batting very well indeed latching on to anything loose or particularly full and sending it to the ropes. A superb pick up over long on was one of the shots of the day, bringing him 6 to the longest part off the boundary. If only Dave had the inspiration of his very own puppy watching he might have avoided maintaining the unlikely trend of having been hit for a 6 in every game this season. Despite these lusty blows Wickham were always behind the rate as Dan Betts and Dave settled in to a steady opening partnership with good line and length. N Lawn was picking balls off middle stump and despatching them to the boundary with shots you expect to see from Eoin Morgan or Joss Buttler. The game was certainly in the balance as long at Hayward was at the crease but it was the introduction of Andy Betts that swung the game in Eastry’s favor. Whilst not quite as quick as Dan these days, Andy bowled superbly just back of a length and his lack of width meant that Hayward found himself suddenly struggling to score to the back-drop of Lionel Ritchie and a series of romantic power ballads that echoed from the marquee in front of the main house. If Aero’s knock was as good as I have seen for Eastry, Bettsy’s spell was as good a bowling performance and his 8 overs for just 21 culminated in Hayward coming down the crease and missing one to be stumped; just the one wicket then but the crucial break through from our point of view. It is also worth mentioning that at the other end Matt produced some great leg- spinning deliveries from the pavillion end that helped build the pressure on the batsman. From there the game did look to be Eastry’s. Robin bowled with wide variety including some beauties amongst them to pick up two wickets and Dicky bowled very well too as the batsman tried in vain to accelerate towards the target of 212. Matt Deveson, fresh from his matinee performances, replaced Kevin and was lively in the field. After a fine cameo with the bat, Dan Dawkins turned a couple square and the Wickham & Stodmarsh innings ended with a ruthless catch from, who else, Aero at midwicket. Sadly C.Hayward could not bat after a hand injury sustained whilst fielding, probably a good thing from our point of view if he bats like his brother.
A good win for Eastry, keeps The Pigeons cooing, on this occasion by 64 runs in a glorious setting. Great to see James Kenton up at the ground as well and a thank you as always to our magnificent team of supporters and to Emma for producing another immaculate techni-colour score book.