Seconds involved in Beckenham thriller

Kent v Leicestershire, Second XI Friendly (4-day), Day 4


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at Beckenham CCG for day four of our SEF encounter with Kent. Four days, I don’t go away for that long on my holidays. The ground had dried out satisfactorily after yesterday’s rainfall, a strong wind greatly assisting the drying out process.

The umpires had a squint at the wicket and outfield upon arrival, and confirmed that we would get underway on time at 11.00am. Kent declared on their overnight score of 293-3, trailing Leicestershire by 164 runs, the stage was set for a run challenge being set up by the Foxes.

What a day’s cricket we had County declaring on 152-5, setting Kent a target of 317 to win in a minimum of 63 overs.

Kent got over the line from the penultimate ball of the day. All four results had been possible with just two balls of the match remaining and our hosts nine wickets down. Joe Weatherley, Kent’s Hampshire loanee, weighing in with his second century of the match. It made it three centuries in his last three innings I am reliably informed.

A sunny but windy day greeted the players as they took to the field. There were a dozen or so spectators present to witness what was to turn out to be a pulsating days cricket. Eight of them sat on the benches backing up to the CPFC training ground, three were huddled beneath the Pavilion balcony, and one loan soul sat in the 2,000 seater stand at the City End.

A flock of 14 Canadian Geese were also prowling about in the paddock of a house at the City End of the ground. The Croydon to Bromley road on the far side of the ground was bustling with traffic - it was far busier than the three previous days.

Paul Horton had taken over the Captaincy duties as Ned Eckersley had been summoned back up to the FCG on Tuesday for inclusion in the NatWest T20 Blast squad.

The umpires were walking out to the middle when a passing cloud decided to relieve itself of its contents, a sharp about turn and back to the Pavilion. By the time they got back to the Pavilion it had stopped, about turn, off we go again. Only three minutes lost.

Horton and Harry Dearden opened the innings for Leicestershire. They posted a 50 partnership after 11.1 overs. Horton had received one of Grant Stewart’s customary bouncers, and proceeded to drive Stewart’s following ball through mid-off for a four, followed by a perfectly timed late cut in Stewart’s following over.

Dearden taking boundaries off all three seamers used, Stewart, Charlie Hartley and Hamish Kingston. The pair had taken the total to 67 from 15 overs when Dearden (43) was pinned lbw by Hartley.

At this juncture I received a text message that opened up another avenue of pleasure for me. I had asked Mrs J to go to the KPS to get my ticket for Arsenal away next Friday. For any readers not of a ‘football disposition’, you have to get your away tickets from the day they are available, in line with how many ‘away points’ you have got, which relates to how many away games you have been to.

My allocated day was Thursday, you cannot be in two places at once, so Mrs J had big responsibilities on her shoulders this morning. Mrs J texted to say she had secured aforementioned Arsenal away ticket. Top marks!! This was somewhat soured when she informed me that she had called at Tesco on the way home, I was metaphorically licking the wounds on her credit card, as I am left to repair the damage.

67-1 remember? Only 4 runs had been added when Horton (21) was caught at first slip by Adam Ball off Kingston. Neil Dexter (8) gave a chance to short mid-on that was pouched by Sean Dickson off leg-spinner Jan Gray.

At 12.32pm the players were taken from the field as a result of a heavy rain shower. During the brief stoppage I observed that there were only a ‘skeleton number’ of CPFC players on the training pitches. They whole squad had been training from 11.00am until 1.00pm on previous days. They have a Friendly against Schalke 04 at Selhurst Park on Saturday, so probably in a darkened room watching videos of their upcoming German guests.

The players returned to the field, just six minutes being lost, add this to the three minutes lost at the start of the day, and we are two overs down, a minimum of 94 to be bowled on the day. Sam Evans and Ben Raine were at the crease, Evans nudging ones and twos with an occasional boundary, Raine going large.

Raine rattled up 30 from 21 balls. The Sunderland Supremo lambasted seamer Charlie Hartley for three maximums, one of which resulting in a lost ball, Raine depositing the ball in the garden of the flats towards the Croydon to Bromley Road. There was a big fence in front of the garden, so no chants of ‘can we have our ball back please?’

After Benjamin had taken Hartley for 10 in 2 balls, he got a thick edge to one from Hartley when attempting to plunder another maximum. Raine taking one for the team, 131-4 from 26.4 overs with lunch being taken.

Will Fazakerley joined Evans after Lunch, knocked up six in five balls, also perishing in the pursuit of quick runs, caught at first slip by Ball off Gray. 140-5 off 28 overs.

Zak Chappell joined Evans, but did not have to face a ball. Evans took 12 off the final over, of what was to be the last of the innings, from Hartley. Sam improvising with scoop shots behind the wicket. I don’t know if the diminutive little man is in training for an upcoming knighthood, but he certainly did spend a lot of time on one knee in executing his scoop type shots.

County declaring on 152-5 from 29 overs. Evans 35*, Chappell 0*. Leicestershire leading by 317 runs, with a minimum of 63 overs remaining an asking rate of 5.03 per over.

The scorers had their own asking rate at the time. The previous day, longstanding Kent follower Joan had given us an industrial size box of her homemade rock cakes (she gives the ground staff at Canterbury rock cakes as well, so we are not the only ones on her radar). To demolish this lot by close of play we had to consume two an hour each by close of play. No problem, mission accomplished with time to spare. Joan, they were lovely.

Dickson and Zac Crawley opened up for Kent but first innings centurion Crawley (15) was soon creeping his way back to the Pavilion, edging a ball from Fazakerley to keeper Richard Bell.

Enter Weatherley, him again, also a centurion in the first innings, not out as well. First ball from Fazakerley was clipped to short mid-wicket, fielder jumps up, gets a hand to it, drops it. I would not wish to point the finger or name names, but for a taller chap it would have been a comparatively easy catch.

A further 10 runs had been added when Dickson (30) was trapped lbw by Ben Mike. Kent 48-2 from 12.1. Weatherley and Ball then developed what was ultimately to be a match defining partnership.

Their 50 alliance came up from 53 balls after 20.5 overs with the score on 98-2. At tea Kent were 119-2 from 25 overs, 198 needed from a minimum of 38 overs.

After tea, Ball went to his 50 (7x4,2x6) from 62 balls, their 100 partnership came at the same time, 148-2 from 30.2. Shortly afterwards Weatherley went to his 50 (4x4, 2x6) from 63 balls, 154-2 from 32.1.

At this juncture a chap named Pete (very popular name), requested admission to enter my lair. Heard you like your football then mate? Very pleasant conversation ensued. Pete being a big Charlton Athletic supporter, goes to all their home games, home to Bristol Rovers tomorrow, not going to Exeter on Tuesday night for their League Cup game (c’mon Pete rules are rules).

Anyway, we discussed Charlton down the years, my visits to The Valley, his to Filbert Street that was etc, etc. Anyone reading this may just think I have a cricket match to score, that’s just a drop in the ocean. PR Man, Liaison Officer, the list is endless.

Weatherley and Ball recorded their 150 partnership with the score at 189-2 from 44.5. We then had a wicket with the last ball before the last hour is called. Ball (85) clipped one to Chappell at mid-on off Manthorpe, 212-3 from 47 overs. Kent needing 105 to win from a minimum of 16 overs.

Jordan Cox (2) edged Mike to keeper Bell. Hamish Kingston joined Weatherley, and the pair took Kent to within touching distance. Weatherley, on 99, edges a ball from Fazakerley, towards the slip area, but no slips in situ.

Keeper Bell scampers across picks up the ball, and throws it to Fazakerley. Kingston at the non-striker’s end wanted a quick single to get Weatherley to his 100. Yes, no, wait, family friendly platform this website, so will not mention the next word.

Fazakerley gathers keeper Bells throw, removes the timberwork from the top of the stumps. Kingston (27) run out, Kent 282-6, requiring 35 to win from 5.4 overs.

Amidst all of this tension the sprinklers fire up on the nearest of the CPFC training pitches, the blustery conditions giving the eight spectators sitting at that end of the ground a bit of a dousing. They are too engrossed in the cricket to move.

Weatherley went to his 100 (7x4,2x6) from 129 balls, 283-6 from 57.4 overs. This to go with his 135* in the first innings, great four days for Weatherley.

Hartley (12) lbw Fazakerley, 307-7 from 59.5 overs. A further 10 needed from 19 balls. Weatherley (111) chips one up to Chappell off Manthorpe, 309-8 from 60.3 overs, 8 needed from 15 balls.

The scores become level byt from the first ball of the last over Grant Stewart (4) is caught at mid-on by Chris Jones off Manthorpe. Last man Gray comes in 1 to win, 5 balls to go. Fielders all stopping a single.

Three dots from Manthorpe, then from the penultimate ball of the match Gray strokes one through the cover area for four. Kent 320-9, win by one wicket. What a match, 76 overs lost to weather on day 3, plus a further 3 overs lost today.

All credit to captains and coaches of both sides for serving up some wonderful entertainment for the hardy band of followers and ensuring that the game was kept alive right to the end. That willing workhorse Manthorpe picking up 4-86 from 15.5, Mike 2-57 from 13, Fazakerley 2-68 from 11. Also, special mention for Neil Dexter, who returned figures of 8-2-17-0. It was good to see him back in the fold.

Phew, but no chance of a lie down for me. Split loyalties tonight, NatWest T20 Blast game at FCG and a friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach (even astounded myself at my spelling capabilities there) at the KPS.

It’s the FCG for me tonight, then tomorrow off to Forest Green Rovers v Barnet to maintain my record of having been on all 92 League grounds. It’s a hard life. Domestic duties on Sunday to keep Mrs J happy, BBQ duties in the garden - don’t worry I keep looking through our patio doors to check the Test score on TV.