Following months of chat, speculation and the roping in of happily retired men using Springboks as bait, the newly formed Bidborough thirds got their season off to a flyer with a well deserved win over Cudham Wyse.
This team, of course, has been formed to give the youngsters from the excellent junior section a crack at men’s cricket, and their collective performance showed it to be a wise decision.
After 13 overs, and with only eight runs on the scoreboard, it appeared that we’d be in for a heavy defeat. Owen Blackhurst wrapped up the Worst Decision of the Season Award by leaving a straight ball that castled his off stump and Clint Hillhouse hung around for a classy 20 ball duck. Setting the tone for the day, though, was Zac Braithwaite.
The skipper had asked Blackhurst and Hillhouse to take the shine off the ball for the youngsters, but in reality Zac did it. Batting for 20 overs and scoring his runs with a ballsy late cut, he demonstrated excellent technique in a partnership with Paul Eames that gave the middle and lower order a platform to build on.
Rodger Poulsom, in his own words broken from the Rugby Dinner, upped the scoring rate coming in at five, and Shane O’ Donnell, newly promoted to U15s captain, batted with intelligence and aggression to score 23. With Jordan Masters and Josh Patterson having a late swing, we reached a 152, a total that appeared impossible 90 minutes earlier.
The bowling display was incredible. Josh and Laurence Mayne bowled with rare control in the opening 16 overs, and although neither of them got the wickets their accuracy deserved, they strangled the Cudham openers and racheted up the pressure.
Despite seeing double and confessing to mid-off that he was sweating pure jaeger, Rodger bowled nine overs on the bounce to take four for 11, Dylan Hillhouse got one, and two runouts broke the back of Cudham’s middle order. Then came the spinners.
Or spinner. Ben Gibson has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, but his figures of three for three off two don’t tell the full story. His first ball in men’s cricket was a full toss that was hooked high in the air, landing in the skipper’s hands. His seventh was a beautifully flighted delivery that was again caught, and he won the match with another waist height bunger that did for their number 11.
The whole team fielded well, and O’Donnell kept beautifully on his senior debut. He also played his part in one of the most ridiculous things you’ll ever see on a cricket pitch. With the ball lobbed skywards and looking to drop near square leg, he set off with a loud cry of ‘Shane’s’. Everyone heard it. And by everyone I mean people three towns down. It was such a loud call that it scattered the pigeons congregating at third man. One person, though, didn’t hear it.
Dylan, racing in from midwicket and temporarily deaf, only had eyes for the ball until the last minute when his senses returned and he saw Shane. Launching into what can only be described as a straight red card offence, he clattered the keeper at shin height. Remarkably, despite a half pike and somersault, Shane held the catch.
“I was only focused on the ball,” he said in the car afterwards. If there was ever a quote that summed up the performance of the youngsters yesterday, that was it.
All in all, a great start and performance from a group of lads who will be the backbone of the club in years to come.