Richmond's under 11Bs beat Chiswick and Whitton by 3 wickets in a tight game at Old Deer Park and it is fair to say that, without their under 10 team-mates, they might well have been on the end of a defeat. There were a number of sparkling performances (including a bowler taking 4 wickets in a row, a feat that has been achieved just 39 times in all recorded first class cricket, just to underscore its rarity value), but the boys were also guilty of some sloppiness in the field and some cross-batted swipes, when solid defence was called for.
Our guests Chiswick won the toss and elected to bat, and, after a couple of sighters, Oisin pierced with his third ball the defences of one of their borough players with a peach, backed up by a sharp spell by James J. So far so good. But within 7 overs, the score had raced along to 48 for 1 (extras ultimately added a barely believable 57 to the Chiswick total) and we were staring down the barrel of a possible target of 140. At that point Jack F (making up for two howlers on the boundary; long barrier, that man!) bowled a wicket maiden (Rory taking an excellent tumbling catch at point) and suddenly the scoring rate slowed, such that only 26 runs were scored over the following 8 overs as Thomas S and Archie L applied the brakes, and Chiswick's keeper-captain got bogged down. This all set the scene for a rather desolate collapse for Chiswick, in which Thomas T took two wickets with the final balls of one over and followed it (5 overs later) with two with the first balls of his next over. All bowled, as the batsmen failed to work out how to deal with Thomas' skiddy pace and lethal accuracy. The Chiswick dressing room found it hard to keep up with events as, rather poignantly, batsmen came and went, some forgetting in their rush to get to the square to bring their gloves. Chiswick finished on 101 for 6, which felt pretty under par to most observers.
8 overs into Richmond's innings, 102 looked a mountain to climb, with the scoreboard a sickly-looking 48 for 6. Skipper Jack N sat on the burning deck as partners came and went, with only James G having hung around long (including in his innings one delightful flick through gully). But the Chiswick coach had taken a leaf out of Sam Torrance's front-loading in the Ryder Cup and had bowled out his two admittedly very fine borough-quality bowlers in overs 1 to 8, leaving himself rather underpowered for the remaining dozen. The back-up pacemen were no match for Jack's cool talent and insouciance, and Archie's steady hand, and while Archie perished just before the winning runs were hit, Ned was on hand as a trusty number 9 (think: Hoggard/Trent Bridge) to ensure that defeat was not grasped from the jaws of victory.
Victory by 3 wickets with a full 6 overs to spare underscores the fact that Richmond, even when wickets were falling in a clatter early innings, had kept up with the rate easily. The lesson to be learnt for next time is that a rate of 5 an over is easily within the compass of these boys if they can see off the best bowling that their opponents have to offer with staunch defence, and that the bad balls will come at some point. Equally, had Chiswick had just a bit more depth in their bowling, Richmond probably would not and should not have been allowed to recover from 6 down after 8 overs. Thomas T kept the match ball after his purple spell that he might never match again as long as he lives. A special mention to Osian as well, who was keeping for only the second time and did so tidily and (just as importantly) chirpily.