LILLEY (92-6, Hammond 24 not out), Bourne End (103 all out, Hammond 6-24), MATCH ABANDONED AS A DRAW, BAD LIGHT
The Ken Hammond show was cut short, with Lilley just 12 runs short of victory, after the umpires, batsmen and fielding side agreed that light had become so bad that it had become too dangerous to play on.
It was a tough call on a Lilley side that had delivered some of their best cricket for a while, notably in the field, in extraordinary conditions.
Lilley arrived at the ground to the bizarre sight of an outfield which would have been better suited to grazing cattle than Lilley’s prime thoroughbreds. Bourne End’s grass cutting equipment had died during the week and as a result the outfield was shocking. The wicket, which yielded so many runs last year, was a story in itself; bumpy, uneven, damp at one end, it didn’t look like the sort of wicket that would have Geoff Boycott salivating at the prospect of batting on. Bizarre then that having lost the toss, Lilley were asked to field!
GT and James Ashby opened up again and once again endured the sort of luck you would expect in this Ken and Tim-fest of a season. GT particularly was unlucky, beating the outside edge for fun, finding the edge through third slip area and seeing a scorcher of a chance put down by the athletic Perry at short-ish backward square leg. His twelve overs went for just 18 runs, but the number of authentic strokes contributing to that figure was negligible.
Off to sulk in the covers went Ashby, muttering “Bloody Hammond’s going to take five now” and sure enough, Mr Kipling obliged. Hammond’s exceedingly good pies accounted for Proctor as he rocked back and pulled a Midland Mainline long hop straight to the safe hands of Perry at mid-wicket. He then followed it up by clean bowling Hill, who had played and missed virtually all of Ashby’s spell – it’s one of those years! With GT bowling well, Perry was pacing like a madman in the covers waiting to get into the action and curtail Hammond’s romp up the wicket charts. Perry eventually got his chance, but found Bourne End skipper’s Ahktar in full flow.
Hammond meanwhile was at it again, this time the impressive looking Escuber holing out to Taz Qureshi at mid off, a neat palmed in the air and caught second time catch. Perry bagged his first wicket at the other end, Brad Tompkins, who kept the gloves despite the return of Taz, obliged with the simple catch after Ahktar ballooned one up. He then added an lbw and a simple catch by GT at point to his list of wickets, as the two leading wicket takers for Lilley this year battled it out for supremacy. Bourne End, comfortable victors in last year’s match, were feeling the heat.
Not to be out-done, Hammond bounced back with two more wickets, two smart catches off an outside edge and an under edge by Brad Tompkins behind the stumps to give the big man his second five wicket haul of the year, much to his delight. Perry again dug deep and clean bowled Scillitoe, to leave him within a wicket of a five for, but ruthless Hammond clean bowled Turin to end the innings, posting figures of 14 overs, 4 maidens, 6 for 24. Perry, for the record, bagged 4-30 from nine overs.
Tomsett and Perry set off chasing the target well, moving along steadily in the early stages. Bourne End tightened the screws however and really piled the pressure on the openers with some tight bowling on an uneven wicket, increasingly offering variable bounce. The funeral march run rate saw Lilley move from 18 without loss in the 7th over to just 27 without loss by the end of the 19th over, 9 runs in 12 overs. This was largely thanks to Scillitoe, who bowled unchanged throughout the innings from the road end, bowling four maidens in five overs at one point.
Tomsett (11) and Perry (17) were both put out of their misery in quick succession and Taz Qureshi and Brad Tompkins followed for 1 each as Lilley slipped to 34-4 from 27-0. Ashby and Hammond then set about upping the run rate, Ashby making ten before popping one to mid wicket. With big hitters in the middle order, Lilley were still in with a shout as GT proved, leathering two Hill deliveries for four in one over as Hammond worked the ball round at the other end. Tompkins was caught for ten, bringing in in form Steve Eyres with Lilley 67-6. Hammond unloaded some great shots and Eyres looked comfortable and assured as he supported the big man comfortably.Lilley were closing in on victory when, with light and visibility getting worse by the minute, Ahktar made the decision to bring himself back into the attack. At medium pace on an uneven pitch and in this light, it was a questionable decision and left Hammond fuming. Unsavoury comments were made and then, perhaps the straw that broke the camels back, Hammond smashed the ball with some power into the covers at one of Bourne End’s fielders and only amazing reactions and evasive action stopped the ball thundering into his skull and leaving the match with a very serious injury.
With the above in mind, the umpires, batsmen and fielders consulted in the middle for a few moments before agreeing to abandon the match as a draw because of bad light, Lilley just 12 short of winning the match.
Frustratingly close, the way it was going Lilley would have walked out winners, but the right decision.