1st XI beat Egham by 4 wickets
Promotion already secured with a convincing win over Sinjunthe week before, the 1st XI’s attention turned towards the title.
What stood in front of the Hill was an Egham side that needed to win to have any chance of promotion themselves. Nobodies’ favourite mercenaries Horsley & Spend were at home to already relegated Alleyn meaning Egham needed to get the job done themselves. A fact they were taking very seriously indeed, with reports of pre-game nets starting at 10am; a full two hours before the start of the match.
The Hill themselves were going into the match knowing that two bonus points were enough to clinch the Division 5 title. This meant either taking 7 wickets, scoring 175 runs or some combination of the two.
Turning the clock back three weeks, the Hill had lost two games in a row to rain. Their place at the top of the league taken by our opponents and a lot of work to do. What followed this ‘sliding doors’ moment were three wins in three, facilitated by excellent squad availability. The team that turned up on Saturday were determined to finish the job.
As both the top spots in the league were still up for grabs, panel umpires were called in to officiate the match. This relegated our umpire Pete to spectating the match, thanks to Pete for his commitment to the team this season.
Unlike the week before the toss was conducted at 11:30am sharp, a welcome return to normality. However, this did nothing to help the HHCC skipper guess correctly, and the Hill lost the toss. Fortunately, the Egham skipper elected to bat. Kindly handing control of the match to Hampton Hill.
The first over of the match was played out by the gentlemen of the two sides. Messrs Ramsbottom, Hepponstall and Robottom. But it was the professional Rob Fullicks who made early inroads into the Egham batting line up.
First blood went to Robottom, who forced Ramsbottom onto the backfoot and to chop on. Fullicks bowled a very miserly few overs offering nothing to either batsmen. However, it was a shorter, wider one to Hepponstall that induced the edge that Baverstock caught low down. This brought Egham’s talisman to the crease – Shivam Mishra. In the return fixture Mishra was dismissed first ball by a beautiful away swinging delivery from James Boulton. It was now 12:27pm which meant Boulton was on the toilet for his first clandestine play cricket check of the afternoon.
Mishra was keen to ‘get off em’ and show why he was the league’s highest run scorer. He did so with a perfectly executed on drive. It was easy to see that he was keen to score quickly, a dangerous game when Fullicks is bowling. Mishra advanced to hit Fullicks off his length but only succeeded in finding a thick edge that was caught low down by James NS at second slip. Egham were 44-3 and the Hill felt confident in wrapping up four more wickets to take the title.
However, Egham’s Dane Gilmour and Tegh Summy offered some resistance and started a period of attritional cricket between the two sides. Adam Mackinney replaced Robottom at the far end. In a short spell of quick bowling with good carry he showed glimpses of the bowler we are excited to see in the future. The left-hand, right-hand combination of the two batters made finding a line difficult and so Kashif Sheikh was brought on to take advantage of a hard and fast surface.
At the top end Fullicks’ 10 was done, returning figures of 2-18 including 5 maidens. A spell which typified his superb performances this season. Replacing him was the skipper James NS, with some off spin.
Kash and JNS bowled well in tandem neither offering any easy opportunities for the batters to score but twenty wicketless overs later and the hill still needed four wickets to clinch the title. Kash exited the attack, conceding 24 runs from 7 overs. Kash has always done the job that was asked of him this season. More often than not that job is to bring us a much-needed wicket, but a spell of run limitation was just what the doctor ordered here.
As the wicket was offering turn at his end, the skipper decided to bring another spinner into the attack. Lo and behold, Richard Bennett took a wicket with his very first delivery. Bennett’s delivery was a ball that spat back at the batsmen and took a piece of his glove down the legside. With swift footwork and strong hands, Baverstock pouched the catch, and the wicket train was off and running again.
The Egham captain walked to crease, his first match back since breaking his finger against HHCC at Bushy Park. A few lusty blows from him suggested that finally Egham’s innings was about to get off the ground but before he could do too much damage, JNS bowled him with a ball that he played all round. The score was 124-5, the first bowling point was in the bag. This meant two more wickets for the title.
The pair of spinners finished their spells in time to hand death bowling duty back to the seamers. JNS finishing with figures of 1-28 from his 10 and Bennett with 1-25. Charlie NS was brought on and Robottom was brought back to bowl the last 10 between them. CNS brought about the 6th wicket, caught by Kash in the deep… 1 more to go.
The moment of glory came courtesy of James Robottom who clean bowled Egham’s last set batsmen to send the Hill players and fans into raptures. It was the crowning moment of a brilliant season for Hampton Hill. The culmination of a lot of hard work and good cricket from a dedicated squad of players.
This paragraph is about to get quite Baverstock heavy… and with good reason. Egham were now 145-7 with around 8 overs to go. To have any hope of winning the game they needed to get towards a couple of hundred runs. In their calculations they certainly didn’t account for Baverstock, the fastest hands in the west. With Bavers up the to the stumps CNS was finding a lovely rhythm and forcing lots of invaluable dot balls. One dot ball too many for the batsmen caused him to throw his weight into the ball in an attempt to hit a boundary. He made the fatal mistake of missing the ball and dragging his foot out of the ground for a split second. Enough time for Baverstock to have the bails off. The next batsmen had the audacity to attempt to steal a quick single to a ball that he nurdled behind square. Baverstock whipped off his glove, ran round, picked the ball up and with one and a half stumps to aim at ran the batter out with a direct hit. Baverstock has had a brilliant season with the gloves this year, but he wasn’t done yet in this game.
With 9 wickets down one bowler’s mind turned to personal milestones. With two wickets in the match Robottom had drawn level with Boulton on 30 league wickets for the season. Despite desperate attempts to take the final wicket and completely ignoring the skippers request to bowl back of the length to save runs, it wasn’t to be. There is a nice symmetry in Hill’s opening quicks finishing the season on 30 wickets a piece. Both have been instrumental to the team’s success this season. Alongside Rob Fullicks there is no doubt we have a trio of seamers that any team would kill for.
CNS wrapped up the innings with a smart caught and bowled returning figures of 3-20 at the death. Egham were bowled out for 170. A brilliant bowling and fielding effort, it’s this kind of performance that has put the Hill at the top of the tree this season.
At halfway the Hill were treated to their first tea since 2019 and as many who read this will know, Egham teas never disappoint.
Confident in the chase the Hill opening partnership of Bennett and Jamie Sones strode out to the middle. In a game filled with sub plots there was another to keep an eye on. The position of highest 1st XI league run scorer for HHCC. Sones started the day 28 ahead of Bennett as favourite. A fifty-run opening partnership put the Hill in the driving seat. It was Sones who was the first to fall for a well-made 28. This meant it was a nervous wait for him on the sidelines. Bennett needed 53 to push ahead.
This sparked a bit of a comeback for Egham who reduced Hampton Hill from 52-0 to 88-4. Tom Coates, Kash and Jake Wood falling to some good bits of cricket. Kash and Wood were both out to some excellent catches.
As promised, this brought Baverstock back into the action. Bennett and Bavs put on 59 runs for the 5th wicket. Taking the score just short of 150. Both batters played some beautiful strokes to find the boundary. But it was the running between the wickets that started to take the game away from Egham. Bavs characteristic busy-ness and Bennett who’s stopping distance is the same as a 7-tonne truck in the wet.
Bennett’s celebrations were muted when he reached his half century. His steely determination for getting the game won was admirable. However, when his score ticked on to 53 and the public address system (Dave Mackinney shouting) announced that he had become the teams highest league scorer, Bennett was a lot more animated. He just about stopped himself before he removed his helmet. Bennett finally fell on 61, scratching one behind and walking off. Our opening batters, Sones and Bennett have both had good seasons. Often the batting conditions have been tricky, and it’s taken a lot of fight to set the platform for the innings.
CNS walked out to bat at number 7 and was an unfortunate beneficiary of a ball that never got up on a pitch that was getting a little tired from a long season. This meant the skipper walked to the crease at 8. In conjunction with Baverstock he guided the Hill to victory. Baverstock hit the winning runs. A deafening silence befell the ground as Egham realised, they had come up short in the defining game of their season. The result almost guaranteed that Horsley & Send would go up in 2nd place, proving that Mother Cricket doesn’t always get things right.
Hampton Hill’s season was finished, and they had achieved exactly what they wanted to at the beginning of the year. Overall returns of 18 games, 11 wins, 1 winning draw, 2 defeats and 4 lost to rain is something to be very proud of. The Hill also played out an entire season without conceding 200 runs in an innings which is a superb effort and shows the dominance that the Hill bowlers have had all season. This is an exciting time across the board for Hampton Hill Cricket Club, bring on 2022.
Player of the Match: Rich Bennett with a superb 61
2nd XI lost to SinjunGrammarians by 40 runs
We were put into the field against SinjunGrammarians knowing that a win would leave the Hill as the highest points scorers in all of the Surrey Championship.
Mike Murton who had been superb all year got the ball rolling when some pretty agricultural batting finally ran out of luck spooning one straight to George Barrett. The very next ball Murton cleaned up the new batsman leaving him on a hattrick and Sinjun 27-2.
However, Sinjun throughout built little cameo partnerships at a good rate despite economy rates from James Everett, Ian Exworth and Sam Fullicks all under 2.5 runs per over. However, Everett being the only one of the three to get anything out of it picking up 3 wickets.
The Hill had Sinjun 95-6 before the tail wagged and wagged hard. Their number 9 who really could have been a 4,5,6 with some devastating hitting including a 6 over cover which would have cleared most boundaries.
The Hill were going to have to chase a decent score for once chasing 200, HHCC bowled well however the visitors batted superbly towards the end.
Sam Fullicks and John Cadogan opened the batting and got us off to a solid start before Sam got an absolute seed from their opening bowler flicking the top of off, this led to a large send-off with the bowler running all the way to the man at point. JC also shocked the majority of the team when he hit a six on his way to a good 30.
Robbie Coates was the star with the bat looking like he had all the time in the world to make a fine 59 off 66 deliveries, the main problem was that there were no batsmen that could stick around with Robbie.
Hampton Hill ended up 39 runs short in a tough day at the office however it wasn’t to overshadow all the hard work we had done all year in a title winning season.
Player of the Match: Robbie Coates with a fine 59 and a run out.
3rd XI beat Chessington by 8 wickets
With nothing to play for the 3XI took on relegated Chessington in what proved to be a very one-sided affair.
Having ‘won’ the toss Chessington batted first & looked steady for the first few overs until Tahir brought one back in to take the leg stump. Ryan was just too quick for them & couldn’t quite get his line right. Tahir had the other opener well caught by Bushy at slip having dropped one earlier. Joe passed the edge but as has been the same all season the ball didn’t take it or when it did it didn’t go to hand. It was the introduction of Mr Steptoe senior into the attack that brought further wickets all bowled. Ryan came back to claim his only wicket having deserved more, before JJ was called in & took 3 for nothing & was on a hat-trick. Tahir returned to claim his 30th league wicket leaving him top of the division bowling.
We made very short work of the chase for the loss of 2 wickets Oisin playing round a good one & JJ getting himself bowled with 2 to win just after posting his 50. Max was a little worried at ENS charge the first ball he faced but manged to flummox everyone as the ball flew past leg for 2 byes.
All back at the club by 4 o’clock to watch the 2s.
Still waiting on the League to decide promotion spots. Will those 4 rained off games be the turning point.
Player of the Match: James Johnson with 3-0 and a fine 52
4th XI lost to Kingstonian by 1 wicket
On the last league game of the season, the 4XI faced the Kingstonian’s 5XI on a deck that can only be described as horrific. With grass cut for rugby and a deck that looked like the remnants of a battlefield, the hill truly had their work cut out for them.
There was more of an agreement then a toss as both sides wanted to do what the other did not. So the hill went in to bat, and after a quick single from the first ball, things looked like it could be a good day... until the second ball, with Owens chipping it back up to the bowler. Sam Rogers went in to steady the ship, caught behind. With the skipper still halfway through padding up, he hastily donned his gear and went out to the middle, not really expecting to be there, facing a hat trick ball in the first over and luckily for him, he survived. With Farooq and Sykes, surviving conditions similar to Nam, runs were not coming quickly. With some scratchy runs at best, Sykes fell to the sword on 13, with Farooq reaching 19 before falling. Out came Gav and Mallet to save the day. Both handling the bowling and horrific deck superbly, rotating strike, the runs came slowly, but surely. With Gav reaching a well-deserved 50 and Mallet with his highest ever score of 48* the Hill had well and truly battled their way to a respectable 150 off of their 40 overs.
I wasn’t sure how the report the next innings as it was by far the most unsportsmanlike 40 overs I have ever witnessed while playing for the Hill. Which I have to admit was not one sided, although this seems a current theme against this oppo.
However, I would like to commend the team on how well they fielded and bowled.
With openers Daniel Mackinney (1/26) and Louis McCartney (2/30) getting the Hill off to a flying start, getting both openers out for a combined total of 1, both bowling their 8 overs at a good economy rate. The change of bowling saw Jamie Hillier and Nigel Harman join the attack, both bowling superbly, only to go for runs from the one bat who could hit the ball properly and in his credit was taking his shots well, although was put down twice from two difficult chances. Farooq was bought into the attack and bowled incredibly, taking 3 wickets with an economy rate of 1.25 over his 8 overs, managed to take the scalp of the danger man. Once said batsmen was out the hill could smell blood and everyone knew the game was far from over.
And this is where things took a turn for the worst. With countless leg before shouts in the air, 4 of which I have been told were as plum as you could possibly get, and 2 edges to the keeper, which were heard from the boundary. It was clear the umpires were not interested in playing in the spirit of the game.
A shoutout here for Lewis, as once again he kept superbly and didn’t let this affect his game one bit.
As the hill realised there were only two options for wickets, they continued to battle with Nigel taking 2 and Gav taking 1. This meant the Hill only needed 1 more wicket to win the match, with all 3 of Farooq, Nigel and Gav having the last wicket on many occasions as described above, the game was only going to be decided by restricting the runs.
And the Hill came so close to achieving the this, taking the game to the last over after some superb bowling and efforts in the field.
However, the runs were not on our side, with Kingstonian only needing two off of the last over. Their resident cat spooned it up into a gap and the ball trickled passed the short boundary the game was done, and they “won” by 1 wicket and 5 balls to spare.
I was genuinely gutted for the team as everyone fought so hard, just to have a win stolen from them. Moral victories don’t always feel that great on days like this.
Player of the Match: Gavin McCartney 52* and 1/3.
5th XI lost to Epsom Methodists by 5 wickets
When the oppo turned up at St James', it was somewhat of a surprise to see familiar faces in the shape of Niall Carr, Will Exworth and Ben Porter, resplendent in their HHCC kit, but playing for the opposition! And to rub salt into the wound, Epsom won the toss and put us in.
From that point on it became difficult for the Hill, with tight opening bowling restricting the runs to less than 20 off the first 12 overs. With the fall of the openers Nish and Neil, the skipper and vice were brought to the wicket and with the opening bowlers seen off, the run rate stepped up. And the pair were going along nicely until Epsom turned to their HHCC turncoats, Carr and Exworth. First, Niall got Keith for a quick 34 off 38 balls, then The Ex got Howard for 26. The run rate slowed up again after that, with only Adam, with 13 not out at the end of the innings being able to ratchet it up at all. In the end 131 off 40 overs was never going to be enough...
And it seemed the day would end pretty quickly with Epsom off to a fast start, however extremely economic bowling from Andrew and Howie, tied them down and the Hill were back in the game. Will ably supported the tight bowling, and when he took a steepling catch at long on, removing dangerman Niall, there was still hope, ... In the end though, The Ex stayed in and sensible batting from the other Epsom batsman meant they reached the total with 4 overs to spare. If only they hadn't had those Hill players, what might have been...
Player of the Match: Howard Campion for a fluid 26 and then 2 wickets for 16 off a full 8 overs.... Not bad for a geriatric!
Sunday Home XI lost to London Theatres by 81 runs
After the final league games of the season had taken place the day before with both the 1st XI and 2nd XI being crowned champions, 11 of the Hill’s finest took on 11 men pretending to be cricketers. Little did the Hill men know that these actors were so good that they were able to mimic the likes of Steve Smith and Kohli. The actors took themselves off to a very good start to reach 180 off 25 overs before Sam Fullicks struck with a good catch by Will Aust. Up to that point Goubert, Coates, Oliver, Exworth, Aust and Senior Fullicks had all tried their best to claim a scalp. The Hill then struck again only a couple of overs later through youngster Toby Reid with a very solid caught and bowled in his first over. The actors continued to bat at a solid rate before Ryan Exworth claimed the last of the Hill’s wickets with a great slower ball that the batsmen top edged which Woody gladly got his gloves too.
It was a tough 40 overs in the field for the Hill, the heat and some solid batting putting them on the back foot, but they stayed resilient and kept the pressure on. A few chances went down that should have been caught but otherwise a solid fielding display.
Coates and Thornley headed out to bat requiring just over 6 an over. Coates fell in the 3rd over and was the first victim for the Hill to be claimed by the spicy deck, which had also claimed a few victims the day before. Thornley and S Fullicks continued the chase again sticking to the run rate. Sam Fullicks fell to a top edge sweep, Thornley fell for the oldest trick in the book, playing for the spin, and snicked off to the keeper. Then the second victim of the deck came to an unfortunate Jake Wood who was looking very strong. A ball exploded off a length to catch woody’s glove too balloon to the keeper. Quite literally an unplayable ball for him.
Senior Fullicks and Max Goubert then built a very solid partnership of 59 runs, with some beautiful shots mixed with some questionable running. Goubert fell for 18. The Hill were at this point someway behind the run rate and had very little time to get it. Unfortunately, Sykes, Exworth, Reid and Oliver were all unable to add more than single figures to the chase. The standout batsmen of the day had to be Senior Fullicks who hit a blistering 66 (68) which included some delightful, lofted shots over the covers. The Hill’s chase came to an end reaching a very respectable 197 off 37 overs.
Player of the Match: Rob Fullicks with a fine 66 off 68 deliveries
Sunday Away XI lost to Merrow by 4 wickets
The Hill won the toss and batted first on a good wicket and a quickish outfield. Sandeep led the way with a rapid 69 striking the ball to all parts. Momentum was maintained by Farooq with 42, Dharamvir with 48* and Taz with 22. Tommy Rance hit the last ball of the innings through point for 4. 212/6 from 35 overs was a competitive total but contestable given batsman friendly conditions.
Taz and Tommy took an early wicket each but Rohan Bali with 69, Jack Baldwin with 65 and Olly Clarke with 49* were the backbone of the Merrow response. Our champagne moment in the field was an excellent slip catch held inches off the ground by Manj. Farooq, Dharamvir and Felix Rance bowled well in the middle overs as did Taz and Tommy at the death, taking a wicket each. However, Merrow got over the line on the second last ball. A good close game.
Player of the Match: Sandeepan Senapati with a excellent 69