Captain’s knock makes the difference in low scoring thriller

Kilve entertained Fitzhead at Sea Lane on a warm spring day, and upon arrival were greeted with a firm but lively track, and after winning the toss the away skipper had no hesitation in putting the home side in.

With an unchanged side from the previous week’s win at Wembdon, Kilve openers Peter Stone and James Payne took to the middle with the hope of setting a big target for Fitzhead to chase. Unfortunately it didn’t start that way, as Payne (5) gloved down the leg side while trying to tickle one down to fine leg, and Stone didn’t hang around long either, out the next ball trying to drive S. Bellinger but only succeeding in getting a thick outside edge to slip for 2.

The two quick wickets brought G. Stone and E. Martin to the crease to begin a rebuilding job, but it didn’t last long as Stone was well held at slip, trying to late cut to third man for 1, before Ed was drawn into driving a ball that he should have left alone and was caught behind after scoring 8.

With Kilve wobbling and hardly into double figures it was up to Mark Girling and the skipper Chris James to at least get the score past 50 and do that they did. Although the Fitzhead bowlers were well on top, the pair left well and punished the bad ball, James the slower starter but Girling was soon carving the ball through the covers and point to get the score moving along.

Unfortunately Girling perished after scoring 20, being caught by the keeper off the bowling of Nurcombe whose accurate off-spin was proving hard to get away, leaving Clemenson, so often a rock in times of need with the bat joining James in the middle but he to soon departed as he drove uppishly off that man Nurcombe again and was caught in the covers for a quacker.

Dave ‘Rabbit’ Rowsell was in next and again another wicket fell quickly as he found the hands of Burton off the bowling of veteran M. Burns after scoring a solitary 4.

Young Sam James joined the captain in the middle and despite his tender age he looked untroubled and was just starting to get his eye in when he received a full toss from Burns that should have been picked out of the car park, but he only succeeded in top edging it behind to Wike for 7.

At this stage Kilve were in serious danger of posting a score well under a hundred, so with just two wickets in hand the skipper decided enough was enough and began a counterattack that saw the Fitzhead fielders fetching the ball from the boundary rope with increasing regularity. He especially took a liking to the left arm of Shapland, hitting 17 off one of his overs which included powerful hits all round the ground.

Although James was rotating the strike with the calmness of a player beyond his years, Calder at the opposite end was playing his part too, blocking when needed and looking to get the skipper back on strike as soon as possible. With the score sitting just over the hundred mark Calder top edged the ball behind off Burns and was caught for 5, a score which didn’t do justice to his contribution.

Ryan Penwell, the sausage-fingered assassin was last man in, and he managed to stick around to see the skipper hit his maiden 50 for the season, and what a contribution it was considering the circumstances.

With almost 5 overs left, Penwell was content to give the strike to James but things didn’t quite go to plan – Ryan certainly knows which end of the bat to hold and upon receiving a juicy long hop from Burns he could have put the ball anywhere he wanted but only succeeded in middling the ball to Nurcombe at midwicket, one of only two fielders on the leg side to leave the skipper stranded on 52* and the Kilve score sat at 114 all out – every single wicket out by caught dismissal. It was a monumental effort though considering the team were 54-6 at one point but surely it wouldn’t be enough to defend on warm day and a fast outfield.

After a textbook Kilve tea it was essential that the home side took both early wickets and restricted scoring opportunities, so the skipper opted to open with Gary Stone’s spin at the Sea End, and he was into his groove from ball one – the new cherry offering extra bounce and zip.

Clemenson opened up at the Village End and things couldn’t have gone any better, with Graison tempted into a wide slash that saw the ball fly through to Stone himself at 1st slip for pretty much the perfect start. R. Bellringer saw out the rest of the over which saw several near misses zip past his outside edge.

At the other end, Stone was rewarded for his efforts when he castled the dangerous Shapland first ball of his second over for a duck, the ball skidding into his timber before the batsman was able to block the ball.

It was pretty much the perfect start for the home side as both Stone and Clem continued to bowl superbly, the Fitzhead batsman playing and missing countless times to balls that were a gnats whisker away from finding the edge, and although there was along way to go in the game the pair bowled so well that the scoring was around one an over for the first 12.

Stone bagged his second wicket of the match when he bowled Burns through the gate for a solitary run, but unfortunately Clemenson was unable to make a breakthrough, having the sort of game that on another day would have rewarded him with at least a 5-for.

Kilve skipper James opted to keep the same combination of seam and slow bowling so James ‘Badger’ Payne replaced Stone with his ‘Yardy Darts’ and the impressive Sam James replaced the unlucky Clemenson.

Again both bowlers were right on the money from the off and Sam made the next breakthrough, his probing line outside off tempting R. Bellinger into the drive and he feathered through to Stone at first slip, a really good low catch to a nick that was a couple of inches off the turf.

Payne was next in the wickets column as he had the skipper Burton trapped plumb in front for 6, before he was rotated to the other end to make way for Penwell at the Sea End, replacing Sam who took 1-18 off his 7 overs.

The tight lines and lack of scoring chances meant that the Fitzhead side were looking to steal a run anywhere they could, but it resulted in the downfall of Nurcombe for 10 after a mix up between him and R. Shapland saw the batsman not even in the frame when Martin whipped the bails off from a good throw from Sam James.

Payne, now bowling from the Village end then removed Shapland by bowling him for 12, and having Wike expertly stumped by Martin for 2 to leave the Fitzhead score sat on 46-8. He then had D. Rawles well held by Girling at mid on for a duck to leave Kilve within one wicket of victory and it was Penwell who got the breakthrough, the dangerous big-hitter S. Bellinger holing out to Stone at long on who held on superbly for his third catch of the game to give Kilve the win in a low scoring game by 30 runs.

It was a monumental effort by every single Kilve player, and the team spirit shown throughout was first class – not once did the players look beaten or did heads go down and it was a typical gutsy captains knock that proved the most crucial part of the contest, the Kilve skipper giving the bowlers something to play with, and his marshalling of the troops was brilliant. Well done everyone!

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