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2003 - Results
29th June - North Croydon

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West End: 125 all out

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 N. Haworth  33 Gunn  4-12
 B. Pudney  23 Gould  4-12
 H. Turner  10 Ackerman  1-19
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North Croydon: 100 all out

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 R. Ackerman  30 A. Barrett  4-10
 G. Curnow  12 M. Oliver  3-10
 A. Goulding  9 M. James  1-7
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West End win by 25 runs

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     We'd first faced North Croydon seconds at their ground last year after being put in touch through the CCC. Then we were comprehensively beaten thanks to some big hitters in their ranks, however this year both teams had seen changes in their respective line-ups. The recent widely varying weather conditions had not been too kind to the prepared strip and both captains evaluated the surface before the toss, which was won by the visitors. In view of the rough patches and the occasional crack (although the latter were thankfully not found on a length) West End were put into bat to "see what the ball will get up to".

     Johnno and Ian opened West End's account in steady fashion, neither quite sure what the pitch might do. North Croydon's opening bowlers kept a tidy line, Ackerman's forst four overs being maidens while Gould was hardly free to hit. The eigth over saw a couple of deliveries to Ian keep desperately low, the second of which skimmed the ground under Ian's bat and into the stumps. Matt Oliver came to the crease, his considered approach potentially good for a lengthy partnership. That didn't happen this time as his third delivery cut in very sharply from outside off stump and Matt, whose normally good judgement told him it would miss the wicket, was bowled. He would make up for this disappointment later though. Then, the very next over saw Johnno bowled behind his legs by a ball he thought was covered and we were 3 for 12.

Inspecting the dry wicket  Johnno's sterling defence Not easy times for Ben . . .

     The all-new partnership at the crease was Ben Pudney and Neal Haworth. Ben got straight off the mark with a couple of quick twos, but also ably demonstrated his bent to 'have a swing' at the ball early on, however he settled down quickly after a couple of well-timed yelled-out comments from the pavilion. This helped Neal who was also looking for a good spell at the crease. The opening bowlers were replaced by a medium pace seamer and a spinner, a potentially devastating combination especially on our wicket. Ben and Neal ably fended the good deliveries off and took advantage of the bad ball; the scoreboard ticked over in a gentle but relentless fashion from 20 in the 10th over to the fifty in the 15th, one over from Beckford realising 12 runs. In fact, both his overs totalled 19 deliveries but took more pressure off West End. Despite a couple of lulls, the hundred came up in the 30th over.

. . . then breaks free with a 4  Neal, not to be outdone Ben: "Okay then, take that!"

     Ben and Neal's partnership eventually totalled 79, when Neal played and missed to a ball from spinner Gunn that cut viciously out from leg to bowl him. Adie Lamberth belted a four first ball, while his third was belted high up to be caught in the covers. Now Cap'n Beefy occupied the crease with Neal (not the same, one of course!) and upped the scoring rate by bashing a couple of powerfully-hit boundaries. His demise came when stepping back to the opening bowler who'd returned at the Pavilion end. With a big swing he missed the ball completely while the ball failed to completely miss the wicket. Ben was caught LBW by a ball which he thought was pitching on leg and after a nice little cameo by debutant Mike James for a quick 10 the innings closed early and tea was taken.

     125 is an attainable target on our pitch and North Croydon set off in similar fashion to us, with the exception that their wickets were intact despite tight, mean opening bowling salvos from both Barrett and Weston. The batsmen looked as comfortable as they could on a strip that had worked fairly in their favour when fielding earlier and runs trickled slowly, but surely just as ours had in the early overs. West End eventually achieved the breakthrough when Curnow, their no.1, was eventually caught by Johnno behind the stumps off a good'un from Neal who is fast maturing as our preferred spinner. Beefy Turner managed another wicket by trapping Hughes with a successful shout for leg-before. Ackerman, the remaining opener displayed solid defences; virtually nothing got past him. Slowly but surely, North Croydon's batsmen at the other end fell one by one but infuriatingly kept the run-rate going. They also had the advantage of more time, the "twenty overs" was called with twenty already having been bowled.

The bowling was challenging Ben Pudney and Neal Haworth's partnership totalled 79 

An inspired change of bowling changed the scene somewhat as Matt Oliver came on at the Streets Heath end and sealed it up during his seven overs. Before long he tempted Ackerman who was completely beaten by his spin and a subtle change of pace, the ball rattling into the stumps as a result. New lad Mike James replaced Beefy and sealed that end up too, taking a wicket into the bargain. Matt finished his spell with three wickets for only seven, an excellent performance. Parmenter was another bowled while Beckford was caught at mid-on, Barrett edging forward toward the ball in trepidation before diving forward to take the catch, amazing everyone present who just before had descended into silence. West End were within sight of the winning post, if only they could get the remaining men out before their target had been obtained.

Neal played some nice shots  Ben actually defending! Presentation to Martin Weston

Barrett came on to bowl and straight away got a good length, clean bowling Harrington and then Gunn two balls later. The next ball - last of the over - flew off the pitch and caught the edge of Gould's bat, Ben Pudney taking a good catch in the slips. Now we needed the last wicket to win - nothing else would do - but this took a few overs of dug-out deliveries and good luck from the batsmen until the inevitable thankfully happened when Barrett took out the no.11's leg stump to finish on 4 for ten. West End had engineered a good victory, thanks to Cap'n Beefy's resilience in the field, tight field settings and bowling changes. With three successive wins under our belt, we certainly looked forward to the next three months! Vice President Martin Weston was due to come on tour to Cornwall with us, however due to injuries received the Sunday before he sadly missed the trip. Thankfully is now on the mend, and to help him on the way, we presented him with a tour shirt.


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