01 September 2015 By Sam Duke
Alitex arrived at Kew Green brimming with energy, excitement and expectation under typically English grey August skies. The wicket looked fair, the outfield fast and abrasive. The local knowledge suggested that, “it gets very gloomy, very quickly”, Alitex won the toss and elected to bat.
Tom Hall and John O’leary strode purposefully to the wicket looking to impose themselves on a bowling attack that included no less than three members playing in non-white tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt combos. Any batsman worth their salt would be encouraged by this sight and confidence was high as John stroked an early delivery to the boundary to get the innings rolling. Appearances can be deceiving though and this proved the case as John, Chris Sawyer and Jess were taking the lonely stroll back to the pavilion thanks to some impressive bowling from Kews new ball pair.
In the meantime Tom was doing an excellent impression of someone who had played before and with Dan Clements batting belligerently at the other end the score was soon rattling along. Tom was retired upon reaching 27 bringing John Stein to the crease who batted assuredly but perished looking to accelerate against some tidy bowling. Fresh impetus was provided by AJ who having survived an unusual run out decision began putting bat to ball in true death or glory fashion. In the pursuit of quick runs the innings ended with a clatter of wickets but thanks to the efforts of Hall, Clements, Powney and extras Alitex had reached a promising total of 116/9.
The fearsome pace duo of Clements and Lewis Mathers opened the bowling for Alitex and there was early success for Dan before he nobly volunteered to let someone else have a go. This was the cue for an impressive second wicket partnership for the hosts who batted diligently, waiting for the odd half tracker or full toss and capitalising unerringly. Mark Cooper used his height to good effect but with the captain struggling with his rhythm Kew looked well set to win comfortably at the halfway point of their innings.
Adam Duffy and Jess then entered the fray, Duffers bowling commendably if with an unusual action. Jess did a great job of slowing the tempo making each delivery an event a la Shane Warne. This coupled with a couple of retirement’s stalled Kews progress and with a handful of overs left, plus the diminishing light, Alitex were back in the game.
It was a time to stand up and be counted. Chris Sawyer eagerly accepted the invitation to bowl and the sight of “White Lightning” marking out his thirty yard run up can only have invoked dread in the Kew batsmen. After a couple of probing overs from John O’leary, AJ threw down the keepers gloves and picked up the gauntlet bowling with good pace in the gloaming. One delivery reared from a good length to pass the bewildered batsman at shoulder height. Tom bowled cannily to claim a vital wicket and the game was taken into the final over, a fitting denouement to a keenly contested game. The Kew batsmen were not to be intimidated though and a flashing drive to the cover boundary brought them victory with a couple of balls to spare.
A hard fought and deserved win for Kew in the end, the hosts were competitive and gracious in equal measure and earn extra commendation for the post match supply of burgers and refreshments.
As for the Alitex XI, they deserve great credit firstly for posting a respectable total and secondly for clawing their way back into the game with the ball. It looked to be slipping inexorably away halfway through the Kew innings and it says a great deal about the side that the game went to the last over. In the final analysis it was probably only rustiness in the field that cost Alitex the game and the team can be proud of their effort and conduct throughout.
A special mention to Glenn Cuff who ferried half the team to and from the venue without getting a game himself and to Jim Barker who umpired fairly and faultlessly through both innings.
Thanks again to our hosts, the evening was a great success and we look forward to a repeat fixture next year. A word of warning for prospective opponents though, Tom has decided that in the future Alitex will be recruiting staff almost exclusively from Antigua, Lahore and Perth. Well played everyone.
Thank you to Ed for the great match report!