For once this season hard working 4s skipper Stephen Oliver had a selection headache ahead of a must win game at Copthorne in Sussex Division 8. He eventually decided on strong looking 11 and giving himself a well-earned rest. He told me, ‘I am carrying a long list of minor knocks at the moment so it will be nice to sit this one out and do some umpiring’
There is no getting away from the fact that after 11 losses on the spin our 4s were losing ground at the wrong end of Division 8. A trip to third to bottom Copthorne was the perfect opportunity to grab that all important win and momentum going into the 2022 business end. In a tight game of cricket there was more 4s frustration at the end.
On the absolute perfect day for cricket 22 players turned up at sunny Staplefield. In dry and warm, but not stifling temperatures the ground looked in superb condition. Ringed by country lanes with a pub at each end Staplefield is the chocolate box quintessential English village cricket ground. Copthorne have been ground sharing for several seasons awaiting drainage renovations to their own facility. The good news for them is that they will be back home for the start of 2023.
After winning the toss Nomads had a bowl. Darren Hick soon found the surface to his liking. He bowled with menace and purpose on route to 2 for 29 off the allotted nine. Ombassshi Grech Cato produced the Nomads champagne moment with a fine catch running back over his shoulder. That moment reduced the hosts to 20 for 3 and looking in bother. However, their Skipper Stewart Cook took hold of the situation and went on to play the perfect skippers inns. His 37 may not have been the most exciting you will ever see but it was very important. Luke Owen bowled a very steady set of seven mid inns overs for 20 including two maidens. Youngsters Will Hutchingson (31 for 2 off 8) and Sam Musto were given ‘death over’ responsibilities which they carried very well.
Copthorne were never allowed to run away with things as Nomads kept their bowling tight and extra’s down to a minimum (18). Special mention to our young keeper Jack Bunday who was tidy and was rewarded with a catch and a stumping.
Tea taken with the host on 163 for 6 off 40 overs.
Perhaps the game was done and dusted in a frenetic opening three overs to the response. Our top order seemed to be hell bent on getting on with things. On a tricky surface that led to three skied shots and a match defining 11 for 3. However, young Arjun Kolani (U15s) showed the way with test match like qualities. Leaving, defence and playing the ball late all served him well as he started to accumulate runs. The inns was given some real ooomth when Luke Owen smashed three boundaries in an over and a six in the next on route to a quick 25.
With Arjun (63) anchoring an end it looked for a tantalising moment that Nomads were going to pull off an unlikely win. The ground hushed as Hick smeared one to the boundary and then expertly pulled the next for another. With just ten runs needed there was jubilation for the hosts as Darren was rightly trapped LBW in front of his stumps. 154 all out and just 10 points.
Bowman said ‘Many thanks to Copthorne for hosting at beautiful Staplefield. Good luck with the move home next season. Having spoken with their skipper Stewart after the game he was very complementary about our youth players. He said not only are they a great talent they play the game in good spirit and are very polite.
In the end it was very disappointing to have lost that one despite Man of the Match Arjun’s half century. It’s meant that our 4s are now at least three wins away from safety. With just six matches left its going to take the ‘great escape’ to avoid that trap door!’