Sunday 19 May 2019, Chobham.
Valley End beat St Anne’s Allstars by 8 wickets.
Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell
The long wait is over. After eight months without cricket and buoyed by a record intake of new players and a great pre-season, the Allstars stepped into 2019 with renewed confidence. After a false start the previous week when our opponents cried off, Valley End, as they always do, welcomed us to their newly refurbished ground. As one of the strongest opponents on our fixture list, they were to prevail as usual – but it was still an enjoyable way to begin our season.
As the sun began to break through the morning clouds, I won the toss and had little hesitation in deciding to bat first. But the pitch, used the previous day, was to prove far from the road we’ve seen at Valley End in previous years, uneven bounce making it more difficult for batting than expected. Pete Cresswell and Paul Burgin got us under way, but both were to go early, Paul bowled and Pete feathering a catch behind. Ed Heelas, making a welcome return to Allstars cricket, stepped to the crease and made light of the conditions as he unveiled some stylish cover drives. Vish Sharma, on his Allstars debut, started promisingly but was a little unlucky to edge to the keeper to give Giddings his second wicket.
Sam Perera, the second of our debutants, counter-attacked from the off with some sparkling shots as the score passed 50. But the loss of Ed and Sam either side of the drinks break was a blow the innings couldn’t recover from. Left-armer Dale bowled both Iain Wilson and Dharani Ronanki, and the tail could only provide some brief resistance as we were bowled out for 76. With more than 10 overs unused, Valley End sportingly asked us to bat again, with lowest scorers going back in first: after a quick clatter of early wickets, Dharani took advantage of the second chance to add a few handy runs to get us to a total of 99.
Early wickets was our only hope, and Ed, opening the bowling, continued his excellent all-round performance by bowling Valley End skipper Ray Ferris with a shooter. Martyn Langridge soon found his customary accuracy and followed up by knocking back Bolderson’s stumps. Sam replaced him and bowled his seamers to good effect, and Joe Silmon continued where he’d left off last season with a testing spell of leg-spin. But we didn’t have nearly enough to defend, and Valley End got home with plenty overs to spare.
Valley End were generous hosts as always, and treated us to a sumptuous barbecue after the game. A great day out against some great guys.