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SATURDAY XI v HYTHE & DIDBEN - 22nd April 2017

The Costa Del Reading Rooms welcomed Hythe and Dibden for another pre-season friendly on Saturday, and they were greeted with another stunningly good track, accompanied by a lightning fast outfield.


A couple of changes from the previous week saw the return of the Haddock (Chris Vickery), and a debut for Tav senior, who stepped in a the last minute to make up the eleven. Thanks Graham.


Skipper won the toss and decided that fielding first would give his bowlers the opportunity to test their skills against a strong looking opposition line up. Del and Edwards Senior took the new ball and it was tight stuff at both ends as the openers were hypnotised by the metronomic accuracy of the early overs. 


The breakthrough came when Jon had the opener caught in the covers playing the wrong shot to his tried and tested dibbly-dobblies.


The second wicket arrived when the batsman decided an ugly swipe across the line was the best option to counteract Del’s bowling, this resulted in the ball swirling into the air off the top edge towards fine leg where Edwards senior was standing. Unfortunately for Jon it wasn’t exactly where he was standing. Calling on all the pace he could muster, Jon pumped his little legs to get himself into position to take a fine catch. In the post wicket huddle the feeling of the team was summed up perfectly by Edwards Junior, "We thought you were going to stack it Dad!” 


The opposition skipper was then sent back, bowled by the Candyman and Curdridge had made a good start with the opposition on 45-3 as Del and Jon completed their spells.


Skipper was a little light for bowling options and reached deep into his bag of creative options and decided that as the batsman were tied down, he would be able to sneak in a few overs of spin to make up the fifth bowler. Jack’s newly manufactured off-breaks were picked from the menu and two decent overs followed. Unfortunately for Jack this was then followed up by a third over that prompted an abrupt end to the experiment as the ball was dispatched to various parts of the ground. 


At the other end Mike Punt followed up on his promising showing the previous week with another good spell that deserved more than the one wicket that it yielded. Although this was partly his own fault dropping a relative dolly off his own bowling which triggered a spot of carry on cricket where the batsmen managed to run three with ball only travelling ten yards from the stumps.


The batsmen had the foot on the accelerator now and Curdridge did well to keep down the rate through a combination of tight bowling and good fielding that will set the standard for the upcoming season. Al Bollard did a good job behind the stumps looking every inch the part, that is until he was asked to get back to his feet following any dive to reach a wide one when he looked more like an Anthony Joshua victim attempting to get back to his feet.


Next came a collectors item, Dynamite Del Candy was prowling in the covers and used his lightning reactions and dazzling pace to swoop on the ball before whizzing it back over the stumps to run the batsman out by a yard. Cue another case of rubbing eyes all round to check that really happened.


The introduction of Dan Tav to fill a gap for one over proved to be a masterstroke as he sent down a fine over of seam bowling that calmed skippers concerns that he may be called up on to bowl. David then finished up at the groundsman’s hut end with his gentle medium pacers that woke up the batsmen and Tav was switched to the car park end to continue his spell. David had too much for the tail and cleaned up the last few batsman ending with 4-33 from his spell.


The innings closed with Hythe posting a competitive 195-9 from their 40 overs.


Tea taken, Sian and Jack opened up for Curdridge and a mixture of good shots and quick singles had the scorecard ticking over nicely. Jack then got a good one and was sent back bringing last weeks star to the crease. Unfortunately for Tav, it was not a repeat performance and following a few lusty blows he also had his stumps rearranged sending him back.


The Haddock then came and went, and Hythe were into the middle order. 


Five, six and seven (Messers Bollard, Leigh and Janes), would not look out of place in the front row of a rugby team, and there wasn’t going to be a lot of delicate cricket for the following overs. 


Prop Bollard didn’t stick around long, and Skipper made his way out to join Sian at the crease. The mandate was ‘let’s consolidate for a few overs Sian and not play any risky shots’. Having had a one ball sighter, Skipper then decided the slow left armer needed to be put into Skinner’s field before following this with another six that took one bounce in the car park and was last seen bouncing down the hill towards Botley.


Sian fell for a decent 17 and David strode to the crease for what would be the critical partnership with Curdridge up with the required rate, but losing wickets on a regular basis.


More balls were sent to the boundary as a promising partnership was growing until an interesting incident occurred. Skipper decided that an easy one was on offer as David tucked the ball into the leg side and made his way to the other end, only to find David still checking where the ball had gone and planted firmly within his ground. By now Skipper was three-quarters down and despite calling on all of his braking power, he was left stranded as the bails were removed at the bowlers end. Post match analysis was inconclusive on ‘whose call was it’ and it was agreed that it was one to put down to experience, with the silver lining being that it happened in a friendly.


David continued to apply some beef to the bowling, and there was plenty of overs in hand, but the tail failed to wag long enough for David to get us close. The innings closed with Del the last man out on 125. David left stranded on 39.


The game was a good test for Curdridge against a strong side, and on another day it could have been a lot closer had one of the upper order Curdridge batsman stayed at the crease for a decent stint.


Man of the Match: Four wickets, a catch, 39 runs and a run out (of his own skipper) means David takes the award this week.

Champagne Moment: Dynamite Del Candy with his run out from the covers


Next week we welcome Gosport to the home of cricket, 1.30pm start, all welcome

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