On the day a new record high temperature in the UK was set in Kent, Lilley produced a sizzling display to see off Ivanhoe in Hertfordshire.
Having won the toss is extreme heat, Lilley opted to bat and make the opposition bake in the sun. The plan started to fall apart at the seams early on though as Ashby edged behind in only the second over. Centurion of last week Neil Hanley and the returning Peter Rogers looked to be setting themselves nicely before the former mis-hit a back foot stroke and was caught, with Lilley languishing at 29-2. Brad Tompkins returned to some of the form of early season, but he was bowled by one which nipped back through the gate for 13.
Younger brother Gareth continued his recent improvements with the bat to steady the Lilley ship, puting on 50 for the fourth wicket with Rogers. Rogers battled hard in the heat, never really seeming to cut loose – a sure sign that the wicket was perhaps not the best for timing strokes. His near two hour stint at the crease in the sweltering heat was finally ended for 41 in the twenty ninth over and partner Tompkins soon followed for 24, both bowled. Bizarrely, an almighty storm then engulfed the ground, but play continued. Mik Carman (4) and Steve Eyres (1) were both bowled in quick succession before Mellor (4) and Taz Qureshi (12 not out) boosted Lilley’s score with some late hitting. Mellor’s demise preceded Collinson and Paddington, who continued their personal battle for love, money, fame, riches and indeed runs by each grabbing a run each (both more than the Captain, er-herm…). Honours to Paddington this time round, his was a ‘not out’.
With only 126 on the board, Lilley’s bowlers were always going to be tested. Gareth Tompkins and Ashby took the new ball and to good effect. Ashby was hit between gulley and point for two fours in his first over by M. Parnell, but took revenge in his second. A length ball jagged back in at the batsman and Rogers adjusted to go towards the leg side behind the stumps, however the ball cannoned into Parnell’s glove and behind, where Rogers flung out his right hand to pouch the catch. Fellow opener, left hander Evans, had spent three overs playing and missing at Tompkins so he can claim the assist for Ashby’s second wicket, clean bowled for five. Bridgman followed next ball, leg before and the skipper was robbed of a hat-trick as he struck L. Parnell plum in front with the hat-trick ball, only to be denied by the home umpire. ‘Outside the line’ he told me in the pub afterwards.
Ashby and Tompkins ran out of puff in the heat, so after a brief flirt with the idea of Steve Eyres bowling a long stint, Lilley turned to their two spinners, Hanley and Taz Qureshi. Hanley’s first over of orthodox left arm finger spin was rusty, but despite some early tap, he bagged the important wicket of S. Parnell (and yes, there are a lot of Parnells in this team..), caught in the gulley by Eyres. Hanley bagged his second by trapping Frey leg before, but the runs continued to flow. L. Parnell had his second life off the bowling of Qureshi this time as he mis-hit an ugly drive to Mik Carman at mid off, only for the usually safe pair of hands to fumble and drop the chance.
Hanley at the other end produced his best delivery of the day, bowling Patel with a pearler which clipped the top of off stump. Taz then got his deserved first wicket, finally removing the stubborn resistance of L. Parnell, lbw, and possibly the fastest decision I’ve ever seen from umpire Dave Carman. Or any umpire. He accidentally likened Taz to ‘Shawn Wayne, the aussie spinner’, so naturally, the name stuck for the rest of the spell. In all fairness, Qureshi bowled beautifully and could easily have had more wickets with his leg spin here. Taz now has 20 wickets for the year, in reaching the milestone passing Ken Hammond who had just 18 before leaving for Canada. “Ahh, but Ken has been gone for ages, Taz must have bowled more overs” I hear you cry…not so. Eight less in fact.
Ashby brought himself back into the attack with Lilley still leaking runs, needing three more wickets to win, but with Ivanhoe needing just 26 runs for victory themselves. The move reaped instant reward as he clean bowled his opposite number Phil…you guessed it…Parnell. Qureshi (2-16) grabbed a deserved second as Kenchington dragged on for nought and Ashby (5-14 in 8.2 overs) completed his five wicket hall and wrapped up the match by clean bowling Christie, leaving Ivanhoe 21 runs short of victory and making it five wins in six for Lilley and unbeaten in six. Indeed, the last time Lilley lost was mid-June, Ken’s last game for the club. Who’d have thought?
Onto next week and the Bus team. United Counties Bus. Tickets please.