Saturday 1st XI Match Reports – 2017
26th August Cockfosters 199 for 4 beat St Margaretsbury 198 for 8 by 6 wickets
Cockfosters welcomed St Margaretsbury to Chalk Lane looking to complete a home record which had seen them lose just once as hosts this season. Due to early and late dropouts an unchanged side was named, a rare occurrence.
Sam Barker won his third toss in a row and continued the trend of electing to chase, on what looked a decent surface from groundsman Tony Sayers. Tony was given the chance to make first use of it on his return to the bowling attack, however initially seemed keener to test the strips on either side, as a few early extras were offered. Craig Hutchins had started with his usual discipline, and the over after Sam Barker ‘didn’t see’ a catchable slip chance off Tony, cleaned up both the reprieved opener and the number 3.
This brought the key run scorers from the return fixture together, and initially the fluent Williams looked very dangerous alongside the stubborn left hander Tilbury. However, James Stead was to get another important breakthrough as he had Williams feeling at one which went straight on, Tony taking the catch smartly at slip. When almost immediately James enticed the number 5 to leave a straight one, St Mags were struggling at 56-4.
At this point the fifth wicket pair dug in, as Jim completed his spell of 2-16 off 10, and all the other bowlers toiled against determined batting. This allowed both batsmen the right to accelerate, as Anstead in particular began to make Cockfosters look a little ragged as they were put under pressure. Simon Hutchins started the fightback with a tight spell, before Sam Barker removed Anstead for 48, bowled through the gate. After this Cockfosters regained a little control, with Craig returning to take another wicket, and the final score was a slightly under par 198-8. The attack could find no way around Tilbury, who finished 88 not out. Together with his effort in the return fixture, he had batted over 300 balls without Cockfosters finding a way to dismiss him – an impressive achievement.
After a good tea from Sarah, Sam and Steady opened up, but after a pleasing straight drive, Steady was to be caught and bowled off a leading edge. Sam and Chris Holmes rebuilt against some testing bowling from Robinson in particular, before Chris edged behind. In some difficulty at 35-2 in the 15th over, Matt Stead came to the wicket and immediately began rotating the strike, stopping any build-up of pressure. After recovering watchfully to 69-2 at drinks, both batsmen then accelerated significantly, with Matt targeting the St Mags spinners who were struggling to find turn. Sam grew in confidence and even utilised the switch hit/slap to earn a boundary at one point – self-proclaimed as ‘shot of the day’. When Matt finally fell for a run a ball 75, out of a partnership of 124, the match was pretty much decided. Tony came in for some comedy hitting, helped by some generous fielding, before falling stumped to the persevering spinner, and James finished off the win with his second scoring shot. Sam finished 76 not out at the other end.
The total had eventually been chased down with close to 7 overs to spare, and marked a fourth win in succession. Cockfosters travel to bottom club Welwyn next week looking to finish off an excellent season.
19th August Cockfosters 121-3 beat Potton Town 121 all out by 7 wickets
Cockfosters departed for the traditionally dangerous post Cricket Week fixture knowing a win would be necessary to keep the pressure on the two teams above them. Upon arriving in Potton (with Tony taking a brief detour to pick up his whites) it was clear some pretty significant overnight rain had fallen, and that Potton were missing a few players from the return fixture.
Sam Barker chose the right time to continue his tossing form and won an important one, inserting Potton on a pitch still drying. The Hutchins brothers, Craig and Simon, opened up and although the pitch was popping occasionally, Potton’s father and son opening partnership played sensibly and progressed to 70 for no loss with few alarms.
However, this season spin has always played a key role and the introduction of James Stead immediately brought reward, bowling the older Stevens. More importantly, Tony Sayers, after arguing ‘passionately’ for a slip, proved his point, doing the job himself with his diving effort removing key bat Sean Stevens.
At the other end, after an unsuccessful stint from Sam Barker, Tom Hutton immediately found massive turn and uneven bounce. Numbers 3, 4 and 5 were accounted for quickly by Tommy, despite him dropping a catch off his own bowling, and the rest of Potton’s batting line up were to fail to reach double figures, as Tommy finished with 5-19 from 8.5 overs, James 2-26 from his full allocation, and Sam returning from the other end to take 3-15 off 9.
Cockfosters knew they had been stung before chasing on a suspect pitch at Bushey, so were determined to learn from this and chase properly this time. Sam and Chris Stead opened up, and opening bowler Salmon bowled a mixed over, which was taken for 13 off the first 5 balls, but finished with a peach to remove the in-form Steady for 2. When Sam followed soon after, bowled after the ball hit pad and then the back of his bat, Cockfosters were struggling at 26-2.
Chris Holmes and Matt Stead came together, and with Chris absolutely determined to dig in, and Matt taking the attack to the bowlers after surviving an early caught behind appeal, they hauled Cockfosters to a winning position. When Matt fell for 40 (the highest score of the match) the score had reached 101-3. Tony then applied the final gloss by hitting 18 off his first 5 balls, before the match was sealed with a wide. Chris Holmes again showed maturity beyond his years, scoring an unbeaten 32 from just shy of 100 balls to avert a collapse.
Another win (and another 90 point weekend), which keeps the pressure on the top two who also won. Two league games left to enjoy and make the most of what already can be classed as a successful season!
12th August Cockfosters 69-3 beat Old Elizabethans 65 all out by 7 wickets
4th vs 3rd at Chalk Lane as Cockfosters entertained Old Elizabethans, mindful of the need to address the thrashing they received in the return fixture. Playing on a pitch used before, Sam Barker won a toss and decided to give OE’s first use of the surface.
Lee Robertson and Craig Hutchins opened the bowling for Cockfosters, and after two boundaries in Lee’s first over, there were only to be four more across the entire innings. Craig made the initial breakthroughs (first wickets of the season!), bowling the opener before doing the same to Gomes, scorer of a hundred in the return fixture. When Craig then had opposing skipper Akhtar caught and bowled, and Lee was rewarded for putting the remaining opener under extreme pressure with a poor shot across the line, OEs were four down with little on the board.
After Lee finished his spell with 1-13 (his last 9 overs went for 5 runs), it was spin from both ends, with Sam coming on and James Stead having earlier replaced Craig (3-16). Neither bowler gave anything away, and although keeper Scutt fought hard, most of the OE’s order succumbed to overly aggressive shots as Jim finished with 4-19 and Sam 2-8.
In reply, Cockfosters went out with positive intent, losing Sam and Chris Holmes cheaply, but at the other end Chris Stead was striking 24 all in boundaries. Not to be outdone Tony Sayers struck 36 not out off 11 balls to hurry Cockfosters to victory in under 10 overs, with 60 of those runs in fours and sixes.
A comprehensive win, wrapped up by 4 o’clock, and a perfect start to Cricket Week, especially when it transpired all sides had won for a 90 point weekend. Cockfosters are up to third, just 9 points off promotion, a big three games ahead.
5th August Cockfosters 206-6 beat Allenburys and County Hall 155-10 by 51 runs
Cockfosters entertained Allenburys and County Hall at Chalk Lane with the ground looking brilliant given the terrible weather of the previous few weeks. Still missing the injured Tony Sayers, Cockfosters were fortunate to welcome ex Enfield CC bowler Lee Robertson to the first team, ensuring Tony’s bowling wouldn’t be too sorely missed.
Sam Barker lost another toss against the struggling Allenburys, and Cockfosters were asked to bat first on what would prove to be a slow pitch. Sam and Steady started well opening up, with Steady’s recent form showing as he scored far more fluently. Opening bowler Murnane bowled a tight spell with no reward, as Cockfosters moved past 100 without loss. At this point, a score well in excess of 200 was hoped for, however Allenburys continued to bowl tightly with good field settings, and Sam (31), Chris Holmes, and Matt Stead were to fall in quick succession. Steady, batting well, was looking good throughout, but the Cockfosters batsmen failed to rotate the strike to him. Perhaps frustrated, he was caught behind for an excellent 86.
After this, the Cockfosters lower middle order scrapped to 206, with useful contributions from James Stead, Harry White, Dave Pigden and George Uttley.
In reply Allenburys made a solid start against some solid bowling from Simon Hutchins and Lee, as they reached 50 without loss. The introduction of spinners James Stead and Tommy Hutton (“30” this week and with an army of well lubricated supporters supporting him football style) then saw a couple of important breakthroughs through mistimed shots. This brought Allenburys skipper to the crease, and as always, pressure on the bowlers as any ball in his slot disappeared. A threatening partnership developed with the left handed number 3, before Sam brought himself on for Tommy (to some discontent from Tommy’s fan club) and managed to take 2 early wickets with wrong’uns.
Allenburys’ skipper continued to hit boundaries however, including a ridiculous flat six to the longer side of the ground, before finally mistiming one where Jim took an excellent catch off Sam’s bowling. After this, Allenburys continued to go for the win but could not get hold of the spinners, with Sam taking 3 more wickets with wrong’uns as part of final figures of 6-38. Fittingly, Tommy was to take the final wicket, caught mid off, to the delight of the crowd, who greeted him off the field to an enthusiastic chorus of happy birthday.
A brilliant win, in front of a large crowd. New recruit Lee rightly brought attention to Cockfosters excellent fielding throughout (special mention to Dave Pigden sweeping), and the table now shows Cockfosters 5th but just 25 points off leaders Berkhamsted – all to play for!
29th July Cockfosters 128-9 drew with Berkhamsted 15-0 (match abandoned)
Cockfosters arrived at Berkhamsted to steady rain and a terrible forecast, but some positive umpires and a willingness from both captains to get going saw them start as early as possible with the game reduced to 94 overs, 50 to the side batting first.
Sam Barker lost a crucial toss (shock) and Cockfosters were batting on a surface giving plenty of assistance. Berkhamsted’s overseas Greener was soon using this extremely effectively, taking three early wickets, including Sam bowled to a good one and Matt Stead to an even better one. After this Berkhamsted’s accurate spinners began to work their way through the middle order, with most batting time but unable to rotate the strike or transfer pressure. Two exceptions to this:
1) Harry White didn’t bat time as he left a straight ball (learning from the South Africans!)
2) Chris Stead both batted time and scored all around the wicket as he played an innings of true class.
The lower order scrapped with some useful hitting from George Uttley and James Stead giving Steady company, as he moved to 78 not out at the end of the full 50 overs. The other 10 batsmen mustered 50 between them as Cockfosters ended on 128-9 off 50, Greener finishing with 5 wickets.
After tea the rain started falling (a little later than forecast), and Cockfosters only got 4 overs in with a wet ball. Given the timing of the rain, Steady’s innings proved crucial, as without it Berko would have had time to chase what would have been a total well under 100. With no rain, 128 would not have been a simple chase, but given the conditions and wet ball this was a lucky escape.
22nd July Cockfosters 78-1 drew with Totteridge and Millhillians II (match abandoned)
Cockfosters welcomed Totteridge hoping to get more cricket than the return fixture, when the game was abandoned without a ball bowled. We did, by 23 overs. Brief details were as follows:
T&M won the toss and inserted Cockfosters on a pitch wet in places from where the covers leaked
Sam Barker got out early chasing a wide one
Chris Holmes and Chris Stead looked very comfortable reaching 30 odd each unbeaten, including a dismissive pull shot which nearly carried all the way from Holmes, and the usual attractive cover driving from Steady.
Then it rained.
15th July Bushey 140-10 beat Cockfosters 67-10 by 73 runs
Cockfosters arrived to a rainy Bushey unsure of their chances of play, however the pitch was covered and the rain relented enough to allow a prompt start without any overs lost. Given the overhead conditions Sam Barker won the toss and inserted Bushey, a decision he’ll think twice about next time he plays here!
Opening bowlers Tony Sayers and Craig Hutchins started solidly, before the game came alive in the 5th over, Chris Stead taking a diving catch one handed down the leg side to give Tony a breakthrough. The next ball was short and wide, and the batsman only succeeded in patting it to cover for an easy catch. Hat-trick ball – Tony shoved it down leg, the batsman got a tickle, and Steady did the rest for an ‘untypical’ hat-trick!
Bushey were 12-3 and the situation soon worsened with another wicket for Tony and a run out for Chris Holmes, earning a return to the 1st team after impressing in the 2s. However, from then on, Bushey played positively, punishing a few loose offerings from Tony and taking advantage of some overly positive field placings against Jim Stead. Tony finally made the breakthrough to achieve his first five wicket haul for the club (a long, long time coming), and then the spinners brought control, as Bushey fought to 140 all out.
Bushey’s number 4 batsman was heard to comment this was above par, and it soon proved, with the pitch becoming more and more variable in bounce during Cockfosters reply. Both openers were soon gone, Steady bowled by one that kept a little low, and Sam bowled off bat then pad. After that there were no real partnerships to speak of! Chris Holmes, coming in at number 3, watched a succession of batsman come and go (most unluckily George Uttley to a grubber off the 7th ball of an over), finishing 12 not out as Bushey’s openers bowled through and shared the wickets between them. Chris’ strength of mind and defensive technique was a rare bright spot in a day to forget for the batsmen. After four wins in a row, this was a reminder to keep standards high if promotion is to be a realistic goal this year.
Saturday June 24 – St Margaretsbury 185 for 9 lost to Cockfosters 186 for 2 by 8 wickets
Cockfosters travelled to St. Margaretsbury looking to build on a convincing win last week and finally establish some consistency after a slightly erratic season thus far. The first problem was ensuring eleven players were present for the start time, given Michael Levy was in a race against time in escaping from work commitments in Baker street and making it to St. Margaretsbury by public transport.
Sam Barker lost the toss again, was asked to field, Mike arrived at 12.55 and after quickly (by his standards) changing, we had eleven for the first ball of the game. Tony Sayers bowled with his usual pace and accounted for the dangerous opener, caught at gully by James Stead off the shoulder of the bat. Unfortunately, that was to be the only early breakthrough as all the seamers used struggled on what was clearly an excellent batting pitch, with number 3 Williams in particular playing some excellent shots in racing to fifty.
Spin was quickly introduced in the form of Tommy Hutton and Sam Barker, who managed to land his first attempted googly perfectly and got Williams caught behind (and stumped) for 53. Tommy then began to work his way through the middle order from the other end (his chosen description was ‘destroyed’), as the other opener was completely becalmed by very controlled bowling. This sequence of wickets included a ‘no look’ slip catch from Tony who seemed a little shocked to see the ball coming in his direction.
Tommy (3-43) was then replaced by Jim who continued the good work, as St. Margaretsbury reached 129-5 off 38 overs at the second drinks break. That no acceleration was achieved was credit to continued discipline from the spinners and the returning Tony (3-23), who added a flourish to the innings by uprooting first off stump, and then middle stump, in successive deliveries, before an excellent yorker was comfortably dug out by number 11 (perhaps the first time ever Tony was too predictable).
Credit should go to St. Margaretsbury’s opener, who battled through the innings to end 60 not out, but Cockfosters were delighted with the total given a flat pitch and lightning outfield.
After an amazing pulled pork based tea, Sam and Steady opened the batting and punished anything loose, racing to 32-0 off 4 overs, before both fell in reasonably quick succession for 18 and 20 respectively, Sam to an exceptional slip catch from the unbeaten opener. This brought Mike and Matt Stead to the crease, and both settled in well. Matt struggled initially after 3 weeks off, but was perhaps encouraged by some sarcastic commentary from the fielders, as the next ball was drilled through the covers for 4.
Both batsman then accelerated significantly, not letting either of St. Margaretsbury’s spinners settle, and reached the target in the 40th over with no further losses. Matt finished 69 not out, while Mike made it two unbeaten fifties in two weeks with 70 not out. An almost perfect performance (some fielding to work on) led to not much movement in the table, but the gap being closed on a few sides in the top half. On to Welwyn at home next week!
Saturday June 17 – Potton Town 137 all out lost to Cockfosters 141 for 1 by 9 wickets