Captain Beefy gives us his weekly thoughts on the First XI…
Week 6: Alton (A)
The week and days leading up to this weekend’s game were not straightforward as the team seemed to change every time I opened my emails or made / received a phone call. It was to be expected, with Darren getting married and other guys having pre-arranged plans. Lewis was available, then Wheater got injured and he was going to Sussex, then the night before the game I got the message that he was playing for us. Ben Ashkenazi was in the side, then a side strain against the Kiwis meant he was out. Not the best news, as it meant we now had a lack of recognised seam bowling resources.
The team was finally agreed on and finalised and ended up being one of the youngest sides I’ve captained since my days in the under 15s. That is with the notable exception of Neil, who replaced Ed Freeman as the side’s senior member and pulled the average age of the side up slightly.
Nobody’s favourite trip of the season is away at Alton because it seems to take an age to get there. It certainly did for me on Saturday. I arrived just in time to do the toss. I won and we bowled first. I then remembered that we had a team of all-rounders and part-time bowlers.
We bowled and fielded tidily up to lunch, with Alton 108/1 from 41 overs at the interval. Cameron Robertson performed very well on debut. In the 21 overs after lunch however Alton amassed over 120, through a combination of tired bowling and fielding and clean striking. A few uncharacteristic dropped chances also compounded matters!
A chase of just over 230 in 60 overs (approx.) definitely did not feel beyond us. Ben started in typical fashion – trying to hit the ball out the ground from ball one. After Ben departed, Lewis and Ryan batted well together. Ryan making 50 and looking in good touch, but his wicket seemed to signal the end for us. Until the tenth wicket partnership of Trestrail and Robertson, there were no partnerships with batsmen finding ways of getting themselves out! We were eventually 9 down with about 45 minutes left in the game. Neil and Cameron battled admirably, as Alton crowded the bat and sought any opportunity for a wicket. Cameron (as well as he had played) was finally dismissed, caught by a close catcher. We were 5 minutes short of a draw.
It was an awful feeling to get so close and yet be so far from salvaging something from the game. We therefore go into the next game knowing we need to improve but also knowing that if we play as we played before lunch, we can be successful in all day cricket.
On to next week and a home fixture against the Hampshire Academy.
Week 5: Burridge (H)
Saturday was a big day for sport, with the FA Cup and Premiership Rugby finals on. Lymington Sports Ground was also set for an important meeting. The game against Burridge was significant for us, as we looked to finish the first round of 50 over matches in good League position.
The win would put us in a slightly more comfortable position as we approached the middle round of the season and all-day cricket. The format we’ve struggled with in recent years.
We were also all very aware that this would be Darren’s last game for some time, as after this week he has to serve two weeks on the naughty step, and then is unavailable due to work commitments. We therefore were keen to ensure Darren was sent off with a win under his belt.
Burridge have not had the best start to the season and we did not want to give them an inch with which to turn their season around. I won the toss again and chose to bowl. The wicket felt firm and had a green tinge. It had the look of a classic Lymo deck with plenty of bounce and a bit in it for the bowlers early on.
Matt and Ben started well, making use of the wicket and getting some early breakthroughs. After the introduction of Grandfather Freeman we had Burridge in trouble. The Freeberg Express found some form and picked up two wickets, including Burridge’s pro-contract player Joe Gatting – another First Class scalp for Freeman to add to the pile, which also includes Glen Maxwell. He then duly hobbled off to fine leg to find his zimmer frame, his body having broken down. Felix and Darren bowled exceptionally well in the middle overs and wickets continued to steadily fall. Ben Ashkenazi came back at the tail end of the innings and made an important late breakthrough. The innings was finished by a sharp Cameron Grierson run out from point. Burridge’s 170 was not a big total but would pose difficulty if we did not bat sensibly.
Cam and Ryan opened and both started nicely. The innings slowed however and we were 60-1 after 25 overs. Darren and Lewis however ensured victory, both making fine half centuries. Lewis didn’t fancy seeing us over the line, so Matt and Darren had the honours of being at the crease when the winning runs were scored. We finished the game with several overs to spare, to win by a comfortable 6 wicket margin.
It was a good way to send off Darren, who gets married on Friday (Congratulations Charli and Dazza), and leaves us nicely placed at 4th in the League going into the all-day format.
Week 4: Bashley (A)
This Saturday we travelled to Bashley for another titanic New Forest derby.
Our recent record at the BCG hasn’t been as impressive as we would like, however after last week’s result everyone was confident.
The rumours throughout the week were that Bashley had prepared a spinner’s paradise. I was therefore not surprised by what I was greeted with on arrival.
For the first time I won the toss and we duly batted – I didn’t like the idea of batting second on the prepared wicket. Bashley opened with seam and made a few early inroads with the ball. However following the seamers’ token overs at the start the spinners held onto the ball for the rest of the innings. Lewis, Felix and Darren batted nicely against the spin. Wickets, however, fell as the innings progressed and a late flurry of runs saw us reach 192-9 after 50 overs. I wasn’t too displeased with the score because of the quality of our bowling attack. We, however, didn’t quite have the same spinning resources, with Darren playing the role of the team’s only spinner. Neil is therefore currently taking applications for the team’s second spinner! Editor’s note: Peter Tapper is back from his honeymoon, I believe.
We started nicely with a couple of quick breakthroughs. Ben was looking sharp. Darren, Ryan and Felix bowled tidily in the middle and I even picked up a token wicket; but Bashley continued to tick the score over. Ben injected some life back into the game with a couple of quick wickets to bring Bashley to seven down, but a solid lower order partnership for Bashley saw them over the line with one over to spare.
Not the result we wanted but we pushed Bashley to the end. Next week is the last of the 50 over games and we’re all keen to get back to winning ways!
Week 3: Sarisbury Athletic (H)
League newcomers Sarisbury were our opposition for this week. I say newcomers, as Sarisbury are new to the Premier Division, but their ranks are littered with players who have played a lot of Premier League cricket, some having played for Lymington.
The lads were looking forward to our first home game of the summer and the prospect of seeing Johnny Jumpers again! Aussie Ben was especially looking forward to the introductory handshake and ‘grilling’ Johnny bestows on all new Lymingtonians.
The game itself was entertaining. We batted first and made 192 all out. Ben Rogers started well, and reacquainted himself with the neighbours, sending a straight drive for six into the houses at the town end of the ground. Sarisbury however made steady breakthroughs at the top of the order. The middle order of Darren, Cam and Matt batted nicely and steadily built the score. Cam made 50 in a mature and very necessary innings. It would turn out to be match-winning.
Sarisbury came close to chasing down our 192, but fell 22 runs short. Their Zimbabwean number 4 made 74 and looked like chasing the score almost single-handedly. And when we were reduced to 10 men (leading to some confusion over the rules regarding the number of fielders permitted outside the 30 yard ring), we were struggling. Enter Benny Ashkenazi, who clearly had other plans. His re-introduction saw him, in partnership with Dazza, skittle out the lower order and lead Lymo to a glorious home win.
Week 2: South Wilts (A)
Saturday saw us make our second away trip of the season, this time to Salisbury to play South Wilts.
We have had a good record at the Bemerton ground over the last few years, largely due to our overseas pros scoring big runs there. The team was confident this weekend, having put in a strong performance last week and we were all excited to see what South Wilts’ Big Bash player – Ryan Duffield – had to offer.
Somehow I, once again, lost the toss. South Wilts elected to bat, but that was fine because I wanted to bowl. Things however didn’t start too well for us, as Tom Morton looked to be aggressive against Matt and Ben. South Wilts raced away from us, but after grandpa Ed (aka. The Freeberg Express) nicked off Morton, we fought our way back into the game. Our over rate was quite slow, but Dom’s off breaks and Ryan’s medium pacers helped get us through quicker. Matt and Ben bowled well at the death, with Matt collecting 4-fer. By the end of South Wilts’ innings, we had restricted them to 263/9. This was a good total, but at one stage they looked set for 300+.
The wicket didn’t play badly, although there was some seam movement if you hit the wicket and put the ball in the right areas. Unfortunately for us, that is exactly what South Wilts did and our top order crumbled. Duffield bowled well, with some pace and also threw in some bouncers to keep things lively. Lymo’s innings ended at 148 ao, which was disappointing as it was 2 rus short of another bonus point – Matt can talk you through the final dismissal. The mood however wasn’t too low after the game, as Chris Jennings and Matt Metcalfe hit back at South Wilts towards the back end of the innings with a 50+ run partnership. Both batted positively and counter-attacked against South Wilts’ bowlers.
Overall, it wasn’t a shining performance, but there were positives to take and with our first home game next week, the boys are looking forward to welcoming Sarisbury to the Sports Ground.
Week 1: St Cross (A)
Saturday was the first league game of the summer and a potentially rain-affected day at St Cross was in prospect.
I had the strongest batting line up that I think I have ever played with for Lymington. Matt Metcalfe batted 11. New additions Lewis McManus and overseas bowler Ben Ashkenazi were set to make their league debuts for Lymo and I was excited to see what they could add to the side.
I duly lost the toss and we were put into bat. I wanted to bowl first. As the clouds were starting to clear, the pitch was dry and I had a long batting order, batting first wasn’t a disastrous result.
We lost early wickets, but Darren and Felix, batting at 5 and 6 respectively, did superbly to steady things and build a fluent partnership that lasted much of the game. Darren sent his first delivery over the sightscreen for 6. Things looked good for the rest of his innings. Cameron (unselfishly) ran himself out and Darren carried on. Felix supported Darren well and joined in with a few powerful shots himself. Darren continued clearing the ropes, running hard between the wickets (?!!) and striking the ball cleanly to bring up a well-earned maiden Southern League century. Felix also made a chanceless half century. Towards the back end of the innings, wickets fell, but we continued to score quickly, finishing on over 300. My first time (I can remember!) scoring over 300 in 50 overs in Lymington colours.
After tea Matt and Ben Ashkenazi took the new ball. Both started well (despite a few wayward fresh-off-the-plane deliveries from Ben!) and we made early in roads into St Cross’s top order. St Cross offered a few glimpses of what their order could do, but the combination of the rising run rate and the confidence of Lymo’s bowlers meant that St Cross were never in the chase. Ben Ashkenazi finished with 2 wickets, Ryan Scott burgled two, Matt picked up one and Darren capped off a masterful display with a five wicket haul.
Great game. Bring on South Wilts.