The Midweek T20 Mustangs marched into the semi-finals of the Surrey Slam South West Championship following victory in an entertaining game against the Ripley Highwaymen on Ripley Green last night. Cheered on by a boisterous travelling contingent, we won by what appears to be a comfortable margin of 29 runs but in truth the game was in the balance until the last couple of overs.
We elected to bat on what looked to be a good pitch and Callum Black was soon into his stride pulling anything short into the pavilion and having the locals running for cover. In no time he had moved to 49 and, in attempting to cruise serenely to his retirement at 50, he tried to pinch a quick single into the covers and cruelly ran out his partner Chris Dillon. With Black subsequently retiring one run later after his excellent half-century, having two new batsmen at the crease inevitably led to a slight loss of momentum. The change of ends at 10 overs also seemed to make things more difficult with the top end appearing to induce a lot more bounce for the bowlers. Ben Isaac and Sam Robinson did a good job of consolidation and pushed the ball around the field nicely to keep the scoreboard ticking over whilst Flack delivered a few lusty blows. However, all three were back in the hutch by the 14th over courtesy of some outstanding wicket-keeping by the Ripley gloveman, a hat-trick of stumpings standing up to the medium pacers. The general consensus amongst the travelling support was that Ripley just shaded Horsley & Send in the battle of the keepers. These dismissals brought Dave Dean and the elegant James Searle to the crease. Dave combined some powerful hitting with aggressive running and James played some lovely shots, the highlight being a dance down the pitch to stroke a drive between mid-off and extra cover to the fence. Whilst this partnership was blossoming, the crowd was beginning to swell in anticipation of the appearance of the Mustangs No. 8 at the crease. The pubs and coffee shops of Ripley emptied out to see if Ollie Hind would complete the surely unprecedented “Olympic Rings” of five ducks in a row. He was even wearing the number 5 on his back as if he was resigned to his fate. Ollie pushed forward to his first ball and nicked a regulation chance to the invisible hands of the non-existent first slip and jogged through for a single and a celebration worthy of a century but to the disappointment of the onlooking throng. Some late hitting from Alex Yalden and Ben Hook took us up to 177-8 off our twenty, a total that we thought was probably above par but certainly not one we could be complacent about defending on a ground with a short boundary and a fast outfield.
The Highwaymen made a solid start in reply taking 29 off the first 3 overs before Alex Yalden struck courtesy of an excellent catch by Ben Hook at long-on. Ripley continued to keep up with the run rate and at 75-1 after 9 overs the match was beautifully poised. The turning point was the introduction of Ben Wyatt into the attack, a somewhat unknown quantity who hadn’t played any proper cricket for a few years and whose preparation for the game consisted of dismissing three 10 year olds with a tennis ball in the garden on Sunday afternoon. It proved to have been an ideal warm up as he proceeded to bamboozle the Ripley batsmen (not to mention our own keeper) and clean bowled three of them for the concession of just 15 runs from his 4 overs. Ripley still had some dangerous batsmen to come however and needing 50 from the last 4 overs with 6 wickets in hand, it could still have gone either way. The game swung back firmly in our favour when the Ripley captain smashed a Ben Hook delivery back into Ben’s knee which then deflected on to the non-strikers stumps to run-out their dangerous left hander. This made the angry Ripley captain even angrier and he tried to take it out on Sam Robinson in the next over by clubbing one back over Sam’s head over only to see his certain six intercepted by Chris Dillon running round from long-on out of the gloom to take an unbelievable catch a foot inside the rope. That was the game and it was left to Hook and Robinson to clean up the tail.
So an excellent game of cricket and we will now play either the Effingham Ships or the Oakwood Hill Lumberjacks at Home in the Semi-Final on a date to be arranged sometime before the 26th July. Look out for the fixture on Pitchero and sign up if you want to play or come along and support.
Thanks to Paul Reynolds for umpiring and to Steve Isaac for providing the music (there is talk of upping the speaker wattage for the Semi-Final!) and to the those that made the long trip from Horsley to cheer us on.
Men of the Match: Callum Black (50*), Ben Wyatt (3-15)
Champagne Moments: Chris Dillon’s running catch on the long-on boundary, Ben Hook’s knee deflected run-out, Ollie Hind’s Olympic Ring avoidance.