We arrived at Goodwood to find the Festival of Speed workers warming up for a match against a team from Winchester! It appeared that the pitch had been double booked and the match was already in jeopardy. After briefing the team, the Chichester Manager confirmed that they had booked the pitch a number of weeks back and we had priority so the match would proceed as planned. Phew!
The parents placed their picnic blankets around the boundary and took in the stunning surroundings whilst soaking up the baking May sunshine, whilst I sweated on the toss and started to form a master plan to counter Chichesters opening bowling attack that tore through our batting line up during our recent cup defeat.
Captain Christian lost the toss for the first time this season, was this a bad omen? Chichester, not suprisingly, opted to ‘have a bowl’. The team talk was simple, we are too good a team to let Chichester bowl though us again and i could sense the players thought that some early revenge may be in the air. However, i felt the openers would have a crucial part to play in seeing off the Chichester attack and keeping the more accomplished scoring batsmen in the higher middle order would be our best approach. As you can imagine there were not too many volunteers so regular openers within their own age groups Toby & Ozzy bravely stepped forward and were set the task of being the lambs to the slaughter! The plan was stay in, forget the run rate and play through the opening 2 pairs.
Toby faced Timmy Wergen who caused most of the damage last time out and saw off the first 5 balls before Ozzy had to face him down. A great ball right at Ozzys feet went between bat and pads and we were 1 wicket down for 3 runs. In came Christian, who had been retired on both of his previous games, to support Toby. They went on to see off the opening pair and it wasnt until over 7 before Toby was bowled by Owen Spicer for 11, but he had done exactly what was asked off him, he had faced their best bowlers and far more than 20 balls. Well done young man. The score had moved onto 36-2.
Christian, who was playing another sensible and classy innings, was joined by Sam Green and with the best of the Chichester attack behind us they began to build a score. Christian was retired once again for 25. Charlie came out to join Sam and they continued to build the score. Sam played some very tidy cricket that allowed Charlie to have a swing. Charlie was ultimately bowled out for 21 runs, the highlight of his innings was a HUGE 6 off a no ball. The score had moved on to 99-3 and Rocco was sent out to keep the run rate ticking over. Soon after Sam was retired for his 25 having played a super innings, and Will came out to partner Rocco. The 2 boys did a great job of pinching the singles and hitting the odd boundary and they added an impressive 20 runs in less than 3 overs, with Rocco finishing on 11 not out and Will 7 not out. MIddleton finished their innings on 119-3, a superb effort and in complete contrast the the previous innings against Chichester.
The highest score against us this season so far had been 88, but we knew Chichester would be up for the challenge and we spoke about keeping the bowling tight and keeping the field well organised to keep the extras and boundaries to a minimum.
Charlie & Will were paired up first. Charlie was looking for some bounce from a fairly dead wicket and started slowly whereas Will at the other end opened with a maiden over. Charlie came back to bowl and excellent 2nd over going for just 2 and Will having bowled 10 dot balls and taken a Wicket in the 4th over of the innings was unfortunate to be hit for two 4’s off his last 2 balls but it had been a great performance from the U11.
Christian and Ozzy were up next and again the task was bowl line and length and keep the run rate suppressed. Christian went for a boundary first ball but then took a wicket after Charlie took a fantastic catch out on the boundary. Having lost his wicket first ball in bat I had a feeling Ozzy would bounce back with the ball due to his amazing character. He didnt disappoint during his first over, he removed danger man Spicer LBW with the final ball. Christian bowled a very consistent 2nd over going for 1 run and Ozzy came back for his 2nd over and did some more damage to the Chichester order when he removed fast scoring Toby Toft. Chichester were now 40-4 after 8 over, super stuff.
Our nemesis Timmy Wergan was now in bat with fast scoring J Kennedy and Katie and Alex were sent in to continue the good work. No further wickets were taken but Katie bowled beautifully against very strong batsmen going for just 4 runs in her 2 overs, really keeping the Chichester chase in check and Spin Wizard Alex bowled a great spell but the odd short ball was sent out and over the boundary, Chichester now 59-4 through 12 overs.
Monty and Sam G were up next. Monty has real potential being so tall and fast and he managed to get a little bounce with some of his shorter balls, whereas Sam spin is always consistent and he puts the batsmen under real pressure. Monty took another Chichester wicket with the 2nd ball of his second over but there were no further wickets and the score after 16 overs had moved onto 86-5. Chichester needed 34 off of the last 4 overs with wickets in hand so it was still game on!
Last up were Remi & Rocco and the pressure was really on Remi having moved to Middleton from Chichester. The Chichester players had been playfully teasing Remi throughout the innings and it would be a big test of her character. Her response in her first over was stunning, a Maiden just when we needed to keep the run rate to a minimum. Rocco stepped up in the fading light to tease the batsmen by moving the ball both ways and he was reward with a wicket and a maiden over, 0 runs from the first 2 overs, awesome stuff. Remi went for 4 off the first ball of her second over but she responded by taking a wicket with her next ball and finished up with 1 wicket for 4 runs. Rocco again bowled some super spin and they could only score 2 off the final over of the game. Chichester finished on 92-7, and i believe the difference was the strength in depth in the Middleton bowling order.
It was a fantastic turn around, having lost by 13 runs and being bowled out a week or so previously , Middleton had won by 27 runs and only lost 3 wickets in the process. Every player played their part in a great match. The return league match against Chichester is only a week away so we need to continue to build the team spirit and concentrate on the challenges ahead.
Batsmen of the Match: Tough call with Christian and Sam both batting superbly and being retired and Charlie scoring well and hitting a huge 6, but I am going to give this to young Toby Barton, he faced down their best and quickest bowlers and gave us the platform we needed to go on and build a score.
Bowler of the Match: Once again a really really tough one to award. Ozzy showed super character to bounce back and take out 2 key batsmen with figures of 2-10 and Rocco bowled majestically in the closing overs with figures of 1-2, but i’m awarding this to the Middleton Girls. Katie De Lillis bowled high up the order against 2 very strong batsmen and kept them under pressure with fast accurate bowling, going for just 4 runs, and Remi Briggs faced down her old team and took 1 wicket for just 4 runs and show them what they are missing.