Sanford match report

Where pilgrims walked
By Tony Grant
Sanford CC v St Annes Allstars CC, Sunday May 25 2014
Sanford CC won by four wickets
For centuries, pilgrims walked across the windswept plain which now accommodates Sanford Cricket Club.  They did so with a lightness of heart: after days of plodding along the North Downs Way, from Winchester towards the holy city of Canterbury, rest was finally in sight, in the shape of the ancient and beautiful St Martha’s Church, which still overlooks the ground today and was a recognised stopping place on the road to Canterbury.
Today’s visitors, the St Annes Allstars, lost the toss and were put into the field. Sanford arrived with only eight players and Jimmy Scott accepted an invitation to play for the opposition to even up the numbers. Whether the skipper, Gren Thompson, later regretted parting with this diminutive asset is not recorded, but Jimmy went on to field like a demented terrier, bamboozling some Allstars with his bowling: ‘Are they leg breaks? Does he spin it both ways? Does he, in fact, spin it all?’ He also scored runs which were to prove crucial late in the day.
Tony Grant opened the batting with Paul Burgin and together they put on a useful fifty-odd for the first wicket, TG’s block or bash policy eventually earning him 30 runs. As Smallpiece wheeled annoyingly away from the London end of the ground, runs accumulated, albeit rather slowly. 
Andy Reid scored a creditable 26 before being dismissed by the wily Scott, Venay Jethwa played a beautiful innings complete with sparkling strokeplay for his 46 and Paul Nicholl posted a punchy 22. Haroon Khalid’s first, but by no means only, moment of controversy came when he was run out without scoring. Our man was clearly short of the crease, but the bowler fumbled the ball as he went to remove the bails and so when the finger went up, it was viewed in some quarters as a controversial decision. 
Vital late runs were added by the skipper Gren Thompson and by Martyn Langridge and the Allstars retired for a very welcome tea of egg and tuna sandwiches, mini cakes, pork pies and sausage rolls with the score declared at 170 for 8.
T Grant b Smallpiece 30
P Burgin c and b Cooke 5
A Reid b Scott 26
D Halladay b Watts 3
V Jethwa  c Forbes b Field 46
P Nicol c and b Warrior 22
H Khalid run out 0
G Thompson not out 20
V Seth run out 3
M Langridge  not out 9
TOTAL 170 for 8 declared
Smallpiece 11 3 26 1
Cooke 8 1 14 1
Watts 5 0 31 1
Scott 7 0 40 1
Warrior 8 2 25 2
Field 6 1 30 1
We were fortunate that the sun shined on us all day, providing us with at least a hint of warmth.  Doubtless many of those pilgrims of yore were less fortunate with the conditions, trudging doggedly over this massive plain, sometimes, even in Spring, in freezing conditions, their heads bowed into the bitter, driving wind. 
This, they say, is the second highest cricket field in Surrey. The highest is at Coldharbour on Leith Hill. But that one at least is surrounded by trees which shelter the players from the weather. Here, there’s no protection from the elements and the wind howls in directly and unimpeded from the Ural Mountains of Russia. I took to the field wearing a tee shirt, three cricket shirts and a long-sleeved sweater. It should be noted, however, that the skipper, hailing as he does from the north of England, opted for nothing more than a thin shirt.
Commanding such a lofty position means the views from this ground out towards Gatwick and Heathrow, to London, the Wembley arch and even as far away as the hills of Buckinghamshire nearly fifty miles distant, are spectacular. Closer by, on a neighbouring field carpeted with daisies and buttercups, polo players languidly exercised their ponies.
The pilgrims will have emerged from St Martha’s spiritually renewed for the task ahead, the final march on Canterbury. We emerged from the pavilion a little heavier after, in my case anyway, too many sandwiches but no less resolved to tackle the task ahead with vigour and commitment.
Their pursuit of our total was thwarted for a while as our opening bowlers largely contained Sanford’s enthusiasm. Martyn was tricky and, as ever, accurate; Haroon bowled with great energy and effectiveness, although visibly and audibly less than pleased by several ‘no ball’ calls from the umpire. Both he and Martyn took two wickets and so, perhaps, eventual victory was beckoning.
This was a time game and eventually, the home side was left 20 overs to score just over 90-runs. It was anyone’s to win.  Our  bowlers were supported by some excellent fielding.  Fine catches were taken by Vivek, Martyn, Dave and Paul. Venay’s wicket-keeping was outstanding.  But middle order stands of 38, 24 and 36 proved crucial for the home side which, with just the final six balls remaining, needed 4 for victory.  There was a single and a couple of balls later, a boundary. The match was lost.  
Had any of those pilgrims been passing by, they may well have paused, reflecting it had been a fine game, played sportingly. They’d have observed the sides were fairly even, there was (mostly) good nature on all sides, they’d enjoyed a good tea in each other’s company and the match had gone down to the final over. All this would surely have warmed them as they set out once again on the long road to Canterbury.
Alex ct Seth b Langridge 9
Dave b Khalid 38
Morley ct Nichol b Thompson 24
Cooke ct Langridge b Khalid 9
Warrior ct Halladay b Grant 36
Young not out 19
Scott b Langridge 16
Watts not out 4
Smallpiece  did not bat
TOTAL 171 for 6
Khalid 9.2 1 60 1
Langridge 7 0 27 2
Thompson 7 1 28 1ccc
Seth 3 0 23 0
Grant 5 0 19 1
Nicol 3 0 9 0

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