Category Archives: Match Reports

Report – 22nd June 2022 – NOC AWAY

A Wednesday night, not a cloud in the sky, 11 Blades present; the sort of night when you’d even think 24 overs a side was on the cards.

When a coin was eventually found, Blades won the toss and elected to bat. Wythe and Hamer H faced the quick opening pair on a pitch that had a few surprise bounces in it but both had their eyes in early and made steady progress to 34 before Hamer was caught off one that popped up and at him, glancing a glove on its way to the keeper. Hall took over batting responsibilities in a Blades innings that was being built mainly on ones and twos. Wythe in particular was playing masterclass strokes but kept finding the fielder before finally hitting a four in the 11th over.

The first and second change bowlers both kept coming in at pace but Hall and Wythe were up to the challenge, building a partnership of 51 when Hall retired in the 16th with the score at 84-1. Grimes to the middle then and promptly tonked a four. Then two more in the next over as he batted like he had somewhere to be. Wythe retired in the 18th, followed by Grimes in the 19th having scored 25 including six (yes, six) fours.

Three retirements would surely be a Blades record if this correspondent could be bothered to look through the scorecards. Afzal and Meering saw out the remainder of the innings and Blades finished on a very respectable 128-1

Afzal took the first over and bowled a maiden but that pressure was short lived as the opening pair picked off both Lowe and Afzal, the fifth over seeing two boundaries off Afzal. When did that last happen? The number two retired in the 7th with the score at 43-0, bang on the required rate.

Meering and Kumar joined the attack and had the same luck. NOC moved on to 64-0 after ten overs, exactly half the Blades score at the halfway point. The game couldn’t have been more evenly poised. That was 87-0 after 14, before out of nowhere Meering was hit for five fours in the 15th, and the number three retired. (Three retirements – where did I see that happen before?)

That mammoth fifteenth over hauled NOC to 108-0. 21 needed from five overs and the way the fours were raining down, NOC were already logging on to Wythe, however, was having none of it. In the sixteenth, a NOC wicket finally fell as Hall took the catch of Wythe, and the next ball Wythe splayed the stumps. 2 for 2 in the over. Was a Blades fightback on the cards? Grimes took a catch behind the stumps off Saad in the 17th and NOC had scored 6-3 in two overs. Wythe wasn’t finished, bowling another in the 18th, then Saad did the same in the 19th. NOC had gone from 108-0 to 120-5 but that 15th over still loomed over the match and with one over left, it was nine to win and still anyone’s game.

A wide, some frantic running, and it came down to 3 to win or 2 to draw off the last ball. Lowe and Wythe debated long and reset the field. Wythe delivered…… the batsman connected and set off…. but there wasn’t enough on it. Blades kept them to a single and a blistering finish saw Blades claim it by a single run after an astonishing turnaround in the last few overs. NOC closed on 127-5. Wythe finished with 3-16 to go with his 25 not out in a man of the match performance


Champagne moment contenders:
Lowe going to the middle for the toss without a coin
Grimes retires on 25 including six fours
Wythe 3-16 including 2 in 2 balls


Report – 15th June 2022 – Shirley AWAY

A Wednesday night, a week before the summer solstice. No rain for three days. A warm sunny day that lightly clouded over at about 5.50pm. The day after a famous England Test victory. If you were designing an evening on a drawing board that was perfect for cricket, this is what you’d come up with. Your plan wouldn’t include Afzal withdrawing due to illness at the last minute and Academy product Hamer B having a twisted ankle, but seldom do all the cricketing planets align. Thus it was 10 Blades, including new signing Harry Singh that batted first.

Pitch one at the Sporty has a boundary so wide even Jonny Bairstow would struggle to reach it and the Blades openers were forced  to run every single one of their 7 from the first three overs. With Hamer K bowled in the fourth and Marsh run out in the fifth, Blades were looking to do this the hard way. Even more so in the sixth when a mix up was Rhodes run out and Farmer caught, the latter surprised to see Singh joining him on the trudge back to the pavilion, having injured an ankle that needed the services of A&E.  12 for 4, effectively for 5, after six overs wasn’t in the blueprint. Kumar twunked the first four of the night before being caught in the eighth over.

Cue Galpin and Hurst steadying the ship and stopping the collapse, but despite some fine stroke play, finding runs hard to come by. The eleventh over saw a classic ChamMo contender – Galpin set off for a straightforward single and was a yard shy of grounding his bat when Hurst, still in his crease, turned him back. A charge back to the striker’s end saw Galpin safely home, having run 43.5 yards for no score.
Galpin was bowled in the 13th for  total of 4 that deserved more, and Meering joined Hurst at the crease. The pair set about what I’ll generously call a widely shared out bowling attack which allowed Tras to get amongst it too. In the sixteenth, the reason for Hurst’s reluctance to run became apparent when he called for Rhodes to cover his Dashing Duties, having sustained an injury. It rained fours in the latter overs before Hurst became the second Retired Hurt of the match – a first for the Blades, and Hamer B joined Meering at the crease to demonstrate his batting ability.

A combination of a huge pitch, some accurate bowling and a pandemic of injuries had kept the scoring down though and despite Meering and Hurst both in double figures the Blades totalled a below-par 69-6.

So, a mountain to climb but Blades reached base camp in the first over as Hamer K caught the opener for 2 off the bowling of Kumar. The batsmen set about Hamer B, finding the boundary with big shots, and even Kumar was hit for 10 in his third over. Swashes were being buckled in the middle, and buckles swashed into the bargain and after just five overs, Shirley had rushed to 35-1, halfway to their target. Rhodes came in for the same treatment and the number two retired in the sixth, to be followed by the number three by way of a huge straight six. Shirley had motored to 60-1 after eight, neediNg ten to win from twelve overs.

Right on cue, Galpin stepped up and bowled a maiden. Shirley had promoted their own Academy product up the order and her batting, along with the batsmen at the other end leaving her a generous share of the strike, brought the scoring rate right down but with wickets and overs in their hands, it was only a matter of time. Galpin’s third over was also a maiden but the slow accumulation of runs was completed with a huge four in the fifteenth and the inevitable Shirley win came with a total of 71-1.


Champagne moment contenders:
Galpin running two on his won for no score
Meering’s hard low four
Galpin’s first over maiden


Report – 9th June 2022 – Knowle AWAY

In an alternative Universe, this week would have seen the start of the football World Cup in glorious sunshine and this November would be dark, cloudy and threatening drizzle. Yet in this crazy post-truth world, the World Cup is going to be in November in blazing temperatures and The Blades rocked up to this match at a North Walls ground blanketed in semi-gloom. An unprecedented 10 Blades were on site before the 6pm start and fielded first in this 18-over race against the light.

Fay H and Farmer comprised the opening attack, bowling on a green pitch that suggested little in terms of bounce. The option to give 2 runs for wides and extras helped the score tick along as well as the over rate, although a clearly very classy Knowle batting line up needed little assistance as they started off at 6 an over. The number two in particular decided boundaries was the way to score, helping himself to four of them on the 6th and 7th before retiring with the score at 55-0 from 7 overs. The rate fell back after that. Kaur and Meering joined the attack and in the 12th came the breakthrough in bizarre fashion. The batsman, running a hopeful single of a shot that broke the toe off his bat, was found out of his ground when the fielding throw to Meering missed his hand but deflected off him onto the stumps. They all count, and finally one was back in the hutch at 81-1 in the 12th. Cue ten minutes of mayhem as Kaur clean bowled two in the 13th and Meering took another from the other end in the 14th. Suddenly it was 85-4 and the Knowle lower order were scrambling for their pads. Knowle returned to their previous form in the 15th – eight from it including a four – but wait, who was the yellow-capped eleventh Blade arriving? Afzal was brought straight on for the 16th over and splayed the furniture with his first delivery, using the post-wicket celebratory huddle to bid his team mates Good Evening. 95-5 then, and game was, contrary to earlier expectations, on. Or at the very least, leaning a tad less towards off. Hamer B assumed the responsibility for the 17th and was unlucky to be the victim of some late-innings run-chasing. A run out in the final over saw a 6th wicket fall but overall a decent club side had built a solid total of 127 for 6.

So a challenging target for the gallant Blades, in fact a victory would be the highest domestic second innings total for 24 years, but thoughts were of nothing but waving the willow, punishing the pill, and Seeing What Happened. Marsh and Webber strode to the middle and What Happened was Marsh striding back to the pavilion to the sound of tumbling timber after the first ball. These things happen though, and thanks to a wide, Blades were 2-1 after the first over. These things happened again in the second when Farmer was caught LBW, and then happened again again as Fay H joined Marsh in the Primary club. Oh, and then in the third too when Webber was caught, swiftly followed by Hurst who – in the unluckiest and bizzarest dismissal of the night – was out of his ground when Kaur’s drive hit the bowler’s end stumps, and he was on his way back without facing a ball. Five for five, the sort of score that would have brackets if it was on the videprinter. Hamer K was next to the middle and his 21 partnership with Kaur at least meant Knowle’s open top bus was put back in the garage for a while. Kaur was caught in the 6th with the score at 26-6 and Meering took his place, sharing a 23 partnership with Hamer K.
Hamer K was eventually bowled for 17 in the tenth over, his skipper’s innings bringing much-needed respect to the Blade scorecard. Rhodes was next in, and saw the fifty up for the Albanian massive before he was caught next over. Brief cameos from Afzal and Hamer B followed but the chubby lass had been warbling for a while. It was all over in the fourteenth, and in an evening crammed full of Unbelievable Jeff moments, the lad E X Tras came out top scorer with 18 in the Blades total of 56 all out.


Champagne moment contenders:
Afzal arriving during the 15th over, taking a wicket with the first ball of the 16th
The pavilion cheering the Ten Up in the 4th over
The lad Tras finally showing his class and top scoring for The Blades


Report – 11th August 2021 – Quilter HOME

There have been a few firsts this season, and this week was no exception. This fixture was the first time The Blades had played at the VT Sports Ground, next door to The Mackoy Stadium and home to still reigning Wessex League champions Sholing FC who, to this correspondent’s disappointment, weren’t training tonight so there was no chance for fangirling and autograph hunting – and also the first time we had a debutant donning the gloves. And although not exactly a first, the pre-match warm up was something that hadn’t been seen for a good ten years.

With both sides fielding ten, this was a sixteen-over clash and Blades were first to wave the willow. Hall and Grimes opened, but that became Grimes and Webber before a run was scored when Hall was caught. Indeed, only one run was added to what was technically the “total” when that became Grimes and Hurst. Webber’s NO call was overruled and he found himself Run Out without facing and Blades on 1-2. Not a great first over. Grimes hit two fours into the bushes from consecutive balls in the next over and although there was some tight bowling from Quilter, runs were beginning to come, Blades advancing to 25 when Grimes was caught on the rope in the sixth. Hurst and Humphrey kept the scoreboard ticking along with some big boundary shots and by the time Hirst retired his batting masterclass in the 8th over, Blades were on 45-3.
Fay’s cameo of 11 included a huge six, then Sharman and Rhodes both came and went but the scoreboard was still moving along to 82-6 from 13, a total which would have been higher but for some excellent fielding from Quilter. The fourteenth was a 2 wicket maiden which saw Meering caught and Humphrey bowled, and Hurst returning to the crease to join Davies for the last wicket stand. And what a stand it was as 20 were added on the last two overs, including 12 for Davies alone in the last before being caught on the penultimate ball. An innings which had started in less than glorious fashion garnered a respectable and defendable 103-9.

Fay and Humphrey opened the bowling and were giving very little away as Quilter made a slow start. A simple catch for Hurst in the second meant that Quilter were 17-1 after four overs. Virtually all the runs were coming from the number two batsmen and he set about Fay in the fifth to bring them up to 31-1 from five but Blades were relieve see that also brought his retirement. The change of Meering and Davies also bowled well but were up against cultured batsmen who could pick off any half chance.  At the halfway point Quilter were 52-1: Exactly half the runs required already chalked off and only one wicket down. The tenth saw the next breakthrough as Humphrey took a clean catch in front of the media centre and in the same over Rhodes saw a diving catch chance in the covers that he had no right to reach. But reach he very nearly did, only to see the ball evade his grasp at the last moment.

The number four retired in the 11th – two retirees shows the ability of the batting line up. Meering was the pick of the bowlers with his three overs going for only 12 before – ouchie – he dislocated a finger. But within an over, his calm self-repairs saw the finger back in place and taped, and Meering back on the boundary fielding and returning the ball to the keeper’s gloves like it ain’t no thang.
With three overs remaining, twenty were needed for a Quilter win – a run a ball. Finely poised for a photo finish. Sadly though, these all came in the fourteenth as Quilter sprinted over the line and a fine match that, in all honesty, was probably going to be edged by Quilter, drew to a premature close with a six that went over the fence onto the hallowed Sholing FC turf. Quilter ended on 105-3.


Champagne moment contenders:
Davies explosive final over
and six
Hurst’s 29 not out

Meering fixing his own dislocated finger and going back out to field on the boundary


Report – 27th July 2021 – Brookfield AWAY

After last week’s HowwetwasthepitchreallyafterallthatrainGate, it was a pleasure to arrive at Riverside to a dry pitch and an evening so sunny that we probably could have fitted in 40 a side. OK, maybe 22. With both sides a couple short as the hour of 6pm arrived, stand in skipper K-Dog negotiated Blades batting first, and battle commenced.

Marsh and Webber started the innings in brisk enough fashion, marshalling the score to 15 in the third before Marsh was caught at square leg for 6. Webber continued the attack, hitting the second four of the innings in the next over but was then back in the pavilion having been caught for 10. 23 for 2 was soon 25 for 3 then 26 for 4 as both Kumar and Shedh were victims of the Brookfield “See how many we can catch in one innings” Challenge.
Tubb was the next catchee at 34-5 in the seventh and although the Runs For column was ticking along at a reasonable rate, the Wickets Down column was chasing it annoyingly closely.

A wide pitch with a dense outfield was doing Blades no favours. Boundaries were at a premium and Blades were forced to rely on running their runs, although to be fair Tras was having a decent knock too.
All that changed when Grimes came to the middle when the fifth wicket fell though. It didn’t so much start raining boundaries as lightly drizzling them but at least they were coming. Three of them in the eighth helped Blades to a respectable 49-5 at the end of the ninth. K-Pup was supporting Grimes well and showing good technique – the Blades Academy clearly teaches them well – but the runs weren’t coming for him. He was unlucky to be C&B in the tenth to a spectacular diving catch. There were murmurs around the media centre that perhaps another bowler wouldn’t have tried quite so hard against a Colt batsman and he was perhaps thinking of his figures, but to be fair it WAS a good take and they do all count. 50-6 at the halfway point was probably about par.

K-Dog replaced the Pup and he joined Grimes in keeping the runs ticking over whilst building a partnership. Brookfield were beginning to turn the screw though and a maiden sixteenth meant Blades were 68-6 having scored only 18 in the last six.
Grimes retired next over with an impressive 25, leaving Hamer to bring the innings home with Humphrey.
It had been an innings of two halves, with the flurry of wickets around the mid point, and the scoring in the second ten overs had slowed.  Blades innings closed on 93-6.

So not a huge total but a rate of around five an over would be needed on a pitch that offered the batsmen little, and an outfield that offered less on the occasions the batsmen could get the ball away. It was very much game on.

Humphrey Sr and Lowe opened and although they both had a couple of expensive overs, the rest of their respective spells was tight enough, and Brookfield had only made 22 when a run out brought the first wicket at the start of the fifth.
A routine catch off Lowe for Hamer at short extra cover (or thereabouts, positions aren’t this correspondent’s expertise) in the sixth and another run out in the seventh and the ancient Cricketing Gods of Dukwuthe and Luës were beginning to smile down on our gallant heroes.

At the halfway point, Brookfield were 50-3, matching Blades run for run.
From that point on though, Brookfield seemed to flick a switch and although they were struggling to find the rope as much as Blades had, they were running the ones and twos. I would say they kept the scoreboard ticking over but we didn’t have the numbers to do that so they kept the Brookfield scorer’s ECB scoring app ticking over instead.

The twelfth over saw the biggest four of the night which took two bounces before arriving in the media centre – smart fielding by the scorer preventing loss of life – and shortly after the 4 and 5 batsmen both reached their retirements, the number 5 hitting the evening’s only six back over the bowler’s head.

They may have been back in the shed but their work was done and the game was as good as Brookfield’s. 92-3 after fifteen overs meant there were only three needed and five overs to get them in. Humphrey Jr and Grimes made them work for the final runs and they didn’t cross the line until a leg bye mid way through the seventeenth brought them to 94-4.

Overall a decent Blades effort in an enjoyable and generally close match but it was the Brookfield middle order wot won it, the Blades total being around the twenty short that some pundits had suggested at the break.


Champagne moment contenders:
Grimes hits three furs in the eighth
K-Pup’s respectable 0-6 with the ball

Grimes 25 not out


Report – 23rd June 2021 – Knowle Village AWAY

Baking hot sunshine greeted the Blades’ first visit to North Walls this season as a shuffled Blades line-up battled the ever-joyous Winchester traffic to face Knowle village. Fay senior and junior making their first appearances of the season.

The Badger Lowe is nothing if not a traditionalist and duly lost the coin toss. Knowle opted to bat and, further sticking with tradition, Afzal took the fresh cherry. Tradition the theme then, Knowle were treated to typically miserly stuff from Afzal with just one scored from the first over. K-Dog opened from the other end and Knowle were 7 for 0 from the opening 2. The pudding wicket was clearly slow and regularly keeping low.

However, one of the Knowle openers quickly got their eye in and the pitch didn’t seem to bother him – Afzal getting milked for 12 in the next over. It’s rare to see the main man taking quite a beating but it was happening at both ends. I don’t recall the last time an opener was walking back to the pavilion with 25 not out in the middle of the 5th over.

Afzal and K-Dog toiled away but Knowle found themselves on an ominous 44 for 0 off 6. Knowle were adopting the “go big or go home” Lance Kluesner mentality but maybe a shade to soon. The other Knowle opener went for an Afzal delivery that turned out to be a yorker and the stumps were inevitably splayed.

Our Newportian skipper then made a change and brought Saad into the attack who bowled a fine over and went for just 2 runs. The Badger then backed himself and, despite going for a few runs, brought the second as another Knowle batsmen threw the willow at a straight one and then had to get straight on the phone to DFS for fresh furniture.

In the next over Hall took a routine catch off Saad’s bowling and suddenly our heroes looked back in the game. At the 10 over halfway stage Knowle were on 62 for 3. A strong start but the wickets were tumbling. Knowle continued to take healthy swings at a variety of deliveries and regularly found the middle but they all seemed to be falling safe or to the Skipper – which essentially meant they were falling safe. Lowe got under three chances that were, admittedly, travelling – but none would stick. He was dropping balls like a contestant on Danny Dyer’s The Wall – check it out, good clean fun – but to be fair to the Badger, none were as easy as this –

Where were we?  Oh yes, Blades cricket – Blades struggling. However, Hall and Juggy combined to create a run out but Knowle were now on an eye watering 108 for 4 with 5 overs to come. Hall and Meering  kept things tight and in the 18th over the “Barrier” conjured up a caught and bowled and almost got another after that. A Knowle colt came to the wicket and batted well for a couple of runs and whilst the run rate appeared to slow a little, there was sufficient Knowle bat wafting at the other end to see them end on 133 for 5 off the 20. Oof.

A slow wicket, keeping low and a big pitch made it look an ominous total. 

Hamer and Hall lead the Blades response and found the going tough – straight and accurate bowling on a slow pitch with long boundaries. That runs were hard to come by somewhat underlined just how good the Knowle opening batsmen were. Runs were slow to come by indeed – Hall hitting some fine shots but on a few occasions the ball stopping short of the rope. Hall and Hamer did a lot of running to see Hall to his retirement for a very fine and well-earned 27*. Hamer followed Hall back to the pavilion almost immediately getting bowled off his pads to a swinging delivery for 11.

Blades found themselves on 51 for 1 in the 12th and, frankly right up against it. K-Dog and Harry Fay were at the crease now and wasted no time getting amongst it. Boundaries remained at a premium but the runs came a little quicker. 68 after 14 overs still leaving surely too much to do. Acutely aware of this, K-Dog was caught at mid-wicket going after one which brought ‘Juggy’ Marsh to the crease.

The Blades returning academic Harry Fay edged the scoreboard towards respectability with a mighty heave to cow that brought about what was easily the biggest six of this Blades season. Possibly trying to repeat the trick he was sadly clean bowled next ball.

Meanwhile, the Newport Express had been working on his catching – catching some rays umpiring out in the middle – but it was time to come in and pad up as he would soon be needed. The Barrier was out all too quickly bowled for 2 or possibly 3 – I can’t read Afzal’s scoring, this bloke must be a doctor or something.

Now, Harry Fay claims to be studying business at University but one wonders if in fact he is actually studying witchcraft with Potter’s crowd. As Fay senior took the crease, Harry, with fine precision, predicted that his Dad John would “just hit it and run” and he wasn’t wrong…… John hit it, set off and at around halfway realised that Marsh wasn’t interested in the dodgiest of singles – Fay sprinted back to his original mark but didn’t quite get there, effectively running himself out. Colin ‘Crazy’ Johnson, formerly of this parish, holds the record for run out involvements but I don’t think he ever brought the sword down on himself. This is just how the day was going for our heroes.

Blades needed 51 off the last 2 overs and I’m afraid it is difficult to give this story even the faintest whiff of climax. Marsh and Saed gave of their best but the Blades were well beaten on 93 for 6


Champagne moment contenders:
Hall’s 37 not out in difficult circumstances
Andy ‘Safe Hands’ Lowe shelling pea

Harry Fay’s soothsaysong prediction


Report – 16th June 2021 – Shirley AWAY

There have been a few firsts this season, and this week we had – well, not a first but a first for a long time – namely, several Blades having to stand down due to over-subscription of players. The eleven that made the cut gathered at the Sporty (ten of them ready by 6pm – another first?) in anticipation of 20 overs each way against an always useful Shirley side.

The Newport Badgerstrain, making a first appearance of the season, set out his stall early by winning the toss and electing to bat. Marsh and Hamer K headed to the middle to engage battle. This correspondent had barely written their names in the notepad though before Marsh was returning, caught first ball. Not the start we wanted. But Webber took over and promptly tonked two fours off the over. But it was to be a mere fleeting cameo as next over he was back in the pavilion, caught for 9. Hamer was LBW for 8 in the fourth and whilst the rate was ticking over nicely, so were the wickets.
K-Dog had taken over from Webber and Kumar joined him on Hamer’s demise. Between them they played some glorious shots, Kumar claiming his weekly six in the process, and their partnership was at 42 when it was ended only by Humphrey’s retirement on 26. Tame was next up, getting off the mark straight away with a 4 as the pair kept the 6+ run rate moving. Tame sadly only made 5 before being bowled in the 11th but with the score at 78-4 the numbers were in Blades favour.
Kumar was dismissed for a splendid 16, quickly followed by Saad and Lowe – caught and bowled and caught behind respectively – and suddenly we were 7 down and in danger of not batting out the 20 overs. Cometh the hour though, cometh The Barrier. Thou shalt not pass, he declared and set about the bowling. Afzal and Hamer B came and went at the other end and with 3 overs left and 103 on the board, Blades had got through their full batting line up. meaning Humphrey strode back to the square. Another 23 were cultured from those three overs, both batsmen ending the innings undefeated; Meering with an impressive 24 and K-Dog with an imperious 37. Both with asterisks of course. Despite a wobble around the 10th to 14th overs during which this correspondent lost track of the over count, such was the tumblefest, Blades had powered to an excellent 130-9.

The clouds were gathering as Shirley began their innings, and the wind was beginning to blow. Thunderstorms and rain were forecast but there was full expectation that the match would run its course.
Afzal and Humphrey opened the attack and Afzal was first to strike in the third and only 7 on the board. Both bowlers kept the lid screwed, glued and nailed on, only allowing Shirley 20 from the first seven overs. In the eighth, Shirley found where the boundary was for the first time, and then rather decided they liked it, finding it twice more in the over. Was this the belated but half-expected charge beginning? In a word, nosireeBobbyGee it wasn’t. Next over Hamer caught the number two off the bowling of Lowe, then Saad clean bowled the next with his second ball. By the tenth it was 40-3, Shirley well behind the 70 that Blades had amassed by halfway. It is a sign of the accuracy of the bowling and the efficiency in the field that the next four didn’t come until the 11th over. Not only were Shirley falling fatally behind the rate, they were lucky not to be more wickets down. Lowe had waited under a huge skied shot for long enough to think about it, not think about it, think about it, think about what to have for tea, do the crossword, pop to Sainsburys for his week’s shopping, have a quick nap and still be underneath it. I counted three juggles but it may have been more. The batsman was already walking but by the fourth juggle, with Lowe now on the floor, it had slipped from his grasp and the batsman stayed.
Another chance was much quicker – so quick in fact that it zipped between Marsh’s gloves behind the stumps before he had a chance to bring them together.
Saad took the fourth wicket in the 14th over but with only 60 posted, there was surely no way back for the home side. Occasional rain drops were falling, the gloom was gathering and it was becoming a race to finish the game.
Meering and Kumar were the final change and all hope of an admittedly fanciful victory evaporated. It’s true that this coincided with Shirley sending a schoolgirl in to bat but although sportingly the Blades attack gave her a decent chance, neither she nor her colleague-in-pads could get the score board moving. Meering’s 0-2 from 2 and Kumar’s 0-8 from 3 tell the story of the innings’ end, which bookended Afzal’s 1-10 from 4 at the start.
Shirley never got going in their twenty overs, mainly due to the accuracy of the Blades bowling, and as a result fell a long way short on 81-4. Not since 2003 when Blades won by 55 runs had there been such a margin of victory.


Champagne moment contenders:
Humphrey’s 37 not out
nothing else this week came close


Report – 2nd June 2021 – NOC AWAY

“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Elbert Hubbard couldn’t make the Blades second fixture, taking on NOCS at Southampton Sports Centre, but if he had he would have doubtless said “if life gives you a massive pitch, 9 players and two of them colts – try and make it look like a game of cricket”. But maybe something a shade more pithy.
And so it came to pass that a patched up Blades took on NOCS with no less gusto than is normal but with some understandable apprehension.

NOCS won the toss and, with scant regard for the Blades predicament, asked our 9 brave heroes to bat first. K-Dog and MC Hamer took to the field and made a steady start against some tricky movement but mostly unaggressive bowling. However, Hamer got through an attempted hook shot too quickly in the third over and absolutely skied it. Fielder standing at mid wicket initially looked unconfident but ultimately held on.
This brought Jim “Jimmer Thirsty” Hurst to the crease who was quickly joined by James “Juggy” Marsh as K-Dog ‘got a good one’ from the NOCS opening slow right arm. Blades really up against it early doors but, dear reader, don’t fret just yet. Hurst and Marsh showed the way with some absolutely imperious batting, each helping themselves to plenty of boundaries with some beautifully timed fours. Both Blades seeing their way safely to retirement, each scoring 26.
Kieran Tame – remember him? – making about his third Blades appearance in 20 years, came to the crease to support Juggy at the end of his innings. He was joined by The Barrier and these boys continued the good stuff with plenty of scoring and each hitting fours – Kieran’s so big it felt like it should’ve been 6 but the pitch really is that big.
Both untroubled throughout and carrying their respective willows, Blades reached 97 for 2 at the end of 18 overs. A slow start led to a decent total but it felt short given the pitch size (and team size!). At the close of innings, 10 year old debutant Keir Humphrey – padded up and ready to go – looked disappointed not to be getting a bat but his story wasn’t to end there..…

Blades took to the field fully aware of the challenge ahead of them. Big pitch, not enough bodies and, in all probability, not a big enough total to defend. Good then that they were joined for the second half by another debutant in Zia Saad brought in on a loan deal from the Afzal academy of cricketing medicine. As is now customary Afzal took the first over and was backed up at the other end by K-Dog.
Now, what you don’t want at the start of such a challenge is the local Lordswood youth on the boundary, kicking off with each other over who pushed who. Yet that – guttural language normally reserved for cruelly dismissed Les Ormes batsmen – was our soundtrack, at ear splitting volume…….

After a steady start the quality of the opening NOCS pair became brutally clear. 7 for 0 from 2 became 19 for 0 off 4 became 32 for 0 off 6. Afzal was then hit for consecutive fours for the first time in this correspondent’s memory. What is the opposite of a champagne moment?
At 42 for 0 off 7 K-Dog brought Juggy in to the attack and Marsh might’ve wished he’d picked someone else. Blades were helped ably by E.X.Tras in their innings with an over of “absolute filth” (as Wikes would’ve said) from some lad who hadn’t bowled for two years. Marsh is such a nice guy that he opted to make the NOCS lad feel better by showing it can happen to anyone, even a seasoned campaigner such as the Juggster.
53 from 8 looked very bleak for the Blades. Around this stage “epic bants” were kicking off on Twitter as the King of Sping, usually infamous for his on-field chat, took on the role of keyboard warrior and called out K-dog for not giving the youth a go. Meanwhile, on the field, Juggy pulled it back with a fine recovery over whilst   the Barrier was keeping it tight at the other end, despite a four from the other NOCS opener to bring up his retirement.

At 85 for 0 K-Dog did indeed turn to the youth and Keir “needs a nickname” Humphrey took the ball for the 14th over. The first ball produced a dot and the second, keeping low and nipping back in, made a mess of the batsman’s furniture. Cue absolutely insane cover safe bedlam. The new batsman then edged the third delivery but stand-in ‘keeper Hurst couldn’t make it stick – very tricky chance to be fair. Every other ball a dot and the ten – yes TEN – year old takes a wicket maiden. Absolutely remarkable but, taking it in his stride, he then took another wicket in his next over, completely untroubled by a couple of boundaries. At the other end Hamer Junior was bowling for just the second time and would’ve had a maiden if his dad was a bit more awake, the 6th ball going for a couple that maybe could’ve been stopped. Billy’s second over brought a couple of almost half-chance catches but no dice and NOCS got the winning runs though it took longer than most expected – the youth policy creating their own script and an exciting finish.
“King of Spring was right” t-shirts on sale soon.

NOC score 98-2


Champagne moment contenders:
Keir Humphrey wicket maiden from first over on debut
K-Dog taking Twitter shade from GT
Hurst and Marsh partnership
The Lordswood youth and the mystery of “who pushed Emily”


Report – 25th May 2021 – Crawley AWAY

After a couple of cancelled fixtures, the Blades season got under way at Crawley Crows, an idyllic Constable painting of a ground in the Hampshire countryside. A capacity crowd of four humans, three dogs and fifteen million midges packed the huge terrace in anticipation of a top notch evening of cricket. Traffic congestion resulted in delayed Bladery, and the pragmatic decision was taken for Blades to bat.
Whythe and Farmer opened the batting and Whythe flicked the first Blades score of the summer off his legs. E X Tras got amongst it early doors too as the opening pair began to score but a direct hit run out found Whythe short of his ground in the third and we were 5-1.
Marsh joined Farmer for a fine partnership of 29 including the first boundary of the season as March chunted a low four through cow in the seventh. This was followed next ball by a dropped catch – albeit a tricky diving effort – and then a further four with a beautifully timed flick behind square leg by Farmer. Marsh was bowled for 11 at the end of the 7th with the score on 34, to be replaced by Webber whose 12 included the first 6 of the season.
Farmer was caught at mid-on in the ninth and at the halfway point Blades – admittedly helped by what we could fairly call Second String Bowling helping Tras to a good knock and testing the scorers’ ability to fit multiple extra deliveries in a small box in the book – were poised nicely at 50-3.
Hurst replaced Farmer and, partnered by Webber and then Hamer, knocked a cultured 12 that this correspondent felt deserved twice as much. The next bowling change after the 13th saw a much more miserly attack reduce the rate and although the wickets stayed intact, Hurst and Hamer were struggling to get much away on a slow pitch. When Hurst was bowled, Humphrey knocked a cameo six in the last two overs, the final being the debut over from a female rookie bowler. Blades, despite a slow-down in the latter half, had done enough early on to post a decent – but gettable – total of 101-5.

Afzal-Galpin is by now a legendary opening attack, and Blades opted for this trusty pairing. Whythe caught the number two off Afzal in the second and Crawley were restricted to 18-1 from the first five overs.
The sixth went for a few including what looked destined to be a huge six but it fell ten yards short and a combination of the height of the shot and the heaviness of the pitch meant it stopped, not even making a four.
The next over though belonged to Afzal, a catch by Hurst giving him a wicket maiden, assisted by a run out off the fielding of Marsh. 34-3 from seven overs – behind the rate but still evenly balanced.
Wythe and Humphrey came on for the first change and, whatever the cricket equivalent of parking the bus is, that’s what happened. “Oh god they can all bowl,” remarked their scorer behind me. “Yes they can,” was the resigned reply from his companion. 16 scored for 1 in the next six overs and the pendulum of fate was looking kindly down on the Blades.
Marsh joined Humphrey at the next change, then Whythe took over from Humphrey as his spell ended, but the Scroogesque attack continued. That was fatally combined with a revolving-door installation in the pavilion as all Crawley’s attempts to chase the total resulted in Blades catchery or furniture demolition. By the end of the 14th Crawley were at 53-6 and BetFred were already paying out on a Blades win.
The final over began at 66-7. Gary Sobers could have won it from there if we’d been playing in Swansea but the great man wasn’t selected and Crawley hopes vanished as Whythe caught and bowled, then bowled, Crows to 66-9. A hat trick ball would wrap it up. Last man in was in fact the last woman in, as the bowler of the last Blades over stepped up to face the rest of the last Crows over. The ground was abuzz – Whythe was on a hat trick but would gentlemanly decorum be observed too? Whythe delivered a strong ball, but to cheers from the home contingent, the hat trick ball was fended away. Next ball the cheers were even louder as the red pill was despatched effortlessly towards the pavilion, falling just short of a majestic four. Whythe brought the innings to an end, and Blades had recorded only their second first match victory of the last ten seasons. Despite a minor flurry near the middle of the innings, Crawley never looked close to the win, and closed on 69-9.


Champagne moment contenders:
Marsh direct hit run out
Whythe on a hat trick in the last over
Reiss of Crawley surviving one delivery then hammering the next