Saturday June 20 2015 – Sampfords, Essex
JUDD STREET TIGERS 170-6 lost to SAMPFORDS CC 212-1 by 42 runs
Sunday June 21 – Little Eastons, Essex
JUDD STREET TIGERS 122-7 drew with EASTONS CC 273-4 dec
It proved another tough weekend for the Tigers on their short tour of the Essex countryside, heightened only by some stiff resistance in the Sunday game against Eastons, where Steve Rennie and Matt Webster blocked out the last 17 overs to force an unlikely draw.
Injuries, holidays and late dropouts meant the team had to take the field with less than a full side yet again, the bowlers and fielders suffering accordingly, particularly on Saturday, where they endured for the most part persistent drizzle against a pair of highly efficient opening batsmen, Hughes (111*) and Sellers (76) putting up 174 for the first wicket in just 22 overs. Luckily for the tourists a heavier spell of rain drove the players from the field after 26 overs, at which point tea was taken and the match shortened from 35 to 26 overs under the Higgs-Boson system.
The Tigers’ reply never looked threatening despite 27 from Mike Delanian, 33 from Chris Wright and 32 not out from Simon Warren, the score only reaching 170 thanks to the employment of some comedy bowling in the last few overs. The team then decamped to Great Dunmow for some drinking, late night curry and the inevitable snoring competition in the Saracen’s Head hotel.
The weather had improved considerably by Sunday afternoon for the match at Eastons, where the home side enjoyed a feast at the Tigers’ expense. Matt Webster put in his usual formidable effort, taking three wickets, including two sharp caught behinds by ‘keeper Ian Porton, who has recently relocated to the Wright-Herbert Refuge for homeless cricketers. At one point Eastons were 37-2 and later 90-3 before the inescapable massive partnership (see below) by the gangly Ahearne (102* – his maiden ton!) and Scott (96) carried the total to a mammoth 273 from 37 overs.
Poor Mike Herlihy, who had driven up from London to upgrade the tourists from nine to ten, was rewarded with an afternoon spent farming the ball on the cover boundary, followed by a rare duck. The Tigers’ reply was so limp it was barely breathing, with the notable exception of Mike Delanian, who struck a typically pugnacious 41 from the first 54 runs (7 4’s) and a rejuvenated Steve Rennie, who batted 28 overs for his 30 not out. The rest of the dismal innings succumbed to a mixture of good bowling and comic dismissals, sinking to 89 for 7 when Steve was joined by Matt Webster. In the corresponding fixture in 2014 the last wicket pair of Matt and Steve Bignell saw the visitors to a dramatic win after another batting collapse. This year Stevie B was not required as Renster and Buttocks batted out the last 17 overs with the field closing in for the kill, both showing the kind of assiduity sadly lacking in the more senior batsmen. Eastons managed to send down 41 overs in a little over two hours (including 22 in the last hour), compared to the Tigers’ 37 in two and a half hours, although much of that was spent retrieving the ball from the gardens of nearby houses!
So, at least the weekend ended on a slightly less negative note (as opposed to a positive one), but the bare facts cannot be hidden at the moment – just one win all season for the Tigers, unable to put out a full side for the third match running (and for the fourth time in 9 games 2015). The bowling lacks penetration, the batting lacks application and members are lacking availability. In the last three matches the bowlers have conceded a total of 751 runs in 103 overs for the prize of just 9 wickets. These have included three centuries (plus a near one) and batting partnerships of 208*, 174 and 183. Whether this is a temporary crisis or a longer term malaise remains to be seen.