U7s & U9s v Basingstoke

The U9 girls are currently unbeaten for the season. Word of these warrior queens has clearly reached Basingstoke, whose team folded completely rather than take a hammering. This gap in the fixtures had been ear-marked for a U9 battle of the sexes, but their fierce reputation had also scared away all but the bravest U9 boys (Sid, Caspar, Angus and Ralph). Luckily a band of fresh-faced upstarts knew no fear and stepped up to take the field.

Sides were formed, with the core of the U9 girls being joined by younger brothers Sam O and Noah, the U7’s and all-stars’ very own Boadiceas, Eloise and Sophie, plus (having won the toss and opted to bowl) Orlando and Aran who wanted to get some cricket in before heading off to parties elsewhere.

For those of you not familiar with the format, teams start on 200 runs. Players bat together for four overs. On the fall of a wicket five runs are deducted and batters stay in but change ends. Runs and byes are scored as normal. Wides and no-balls add two runs to the score, and aren’t bowled again. Umpire Jonny Orange made it clear that he’d be very generous with wides and no-balls for the U7s, so players would have to move their feet and earn their runs.

Freddie and Angus found Cecily immediately on the money with two wickets. Aran kept it tight before Angus took a liking to Olivia’s bowling with a couple of nice fours pushing the pair back above 200. Noah kept things in check and the first pair ended on 206. Rory and Milo blitzed 21 from their four overs with Rory in particular showing a distinct lack of respect to Hope and Flora, with fours off both sandwiching a big six. Some good communication also stacked up the singles. Flora bowled well and after the boundaries came a deserved wicket. Sam and Orlando bowled well to peg back the big-hitting pair – 227 after eight overs.

Ralph came to the wicket with Bede and immediately played a couple of the best shots of the day – proper cricket shots for four from decent balls by Sophie – before both had to play sensibly and see off some tidy bowling from Eloise and Gemma (a fast, straight maiden - one of only two all day), before another wicket for the rampaging Cecily nudged the score back to 238 after 12. Arthur and Henry also found it hard to score runs against this mean attack, but they protected their wicket well against the returning Olivia (only conceding a single), Noah, Hope and Flora. They stole a few singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over and then Henry finished with a glorious four. 249 after 16.

Caspar and Sid then came out to muscle the score along – Caspar with two fours and a six (taking on board Jonny’s advice that he was allowed to hit the ball back into the off-side!) and Sid with a couple of fours of his own. Sam, Orlando and Sophie kept their chins up and delivered dot balls inbetween the boundaries. The biggest gasp from the packed house so far came when the newly-arrived Melita charged in like Dennis Lillee and showed someone’s been practising something other than cartwheels. Great over! 276 after 20. Sam and the returning Freddie had a couple of overs to swing and increase the score, which finished on a very competitive 290.

The Oranges kicked off the chase, with Caspar opening the bowling. After a quick single, Sam was out first ball, but bounced back to hit two lovely fours in a plucky knock. Rory and Milo bowled as a pair as well as they had batted, with Milo getting a wicket from his last ball. Freddie restricted the usually big-hitting Gemma to singles so at 209 after four overs they were behind the required run rate. The Hornes picked up the chase, with Noah listening to his sister's frequent calls and demonstrating his famous hoovering technique to run his bat in and avoid a couple of close run-out shouts. Sam bowled nicely and Henry restricted them to ones and twos before the in-form Hope opened her shoulders and whipped a couple of loose balls from Bede to the boundary, who had otherwise bowled nice and straight. There was a good battle between Hope and the very impressive Angus (who takes after his namesake Fraser with his persistent line and length). Hope smashed another four before playing all round a straight one to be out on the last ball – you have to play straight and keep those ones out. 228 after 8 and roughly on track.

Cecily and Flora were next. Sid took a lovely caught-and-bowled to dismiss Cecily before Flora avenged her mate with a lovely four. This pair kept the scoreboard moving with some sharp singles and well-called byes despite some tidy bowling from Ralph, Arthur and Caspar, punctuated by a nice four from Cecily. 244 from 12 – a bit to do. Olivia and Eloise had to see off the power-pair of Rory and Milo (the other maiden-over bowler – well done) before plundering a four each and then the miserly Sam, who only went for thee runs from his two overs – good effort. The wickets had dried up and at 261 from 16 it was game on.

The game needed something big and it got Melita and Sophie. Henry bowled nicely, before a four from Sophie off his last ball dented his figures. Bede sent down a tight second over, with Melita restricted to just the one scoring shot – a nice four of her own. Angus bowled beautifully again to just concede a single. Then, the passage of play that was the talk of Sunday lunch tables across North Hampshire. Jonny had advocated the use of lighter plastic bats to parents at half time, and bang on cue Sophie smashed the most enormous six off Sid’s first ball. It’s still coming down now. As scorer, I then had the perfect view of Sid’s face, which had revenge tattooed all over it. It was a wicket from the moment he started his run up; fast, straight, out. Advantage Sophie, but only by one run – great cricket! 278 from 20 overs.

With Orlando and Aran off partying, it was up to Noah and Flora to head back out and try and knock off the remaining 13 runs to win from the last two overs. Ralph kept it really tight again and just conceded three runs. Ten needed off the last. Up stepped Arthur – a time for heroes. Flora found the boundary again – seven runs from the first three balls and suddenly they were favourites. No-one told Arthur – a big dot ball and a single to Flora took it to the wire. A wide or a no-ball would have lost the game but Arthur ran in, bowled straight and Noah could only dig it out and speed through for the single to tie the game. A perfect result!

Thanks to Jonny for brilliant organisation and umpiring, to Annabel for the fab cakes and home-made elderflower, to Olly for scoring and to Conrad, Alasdair and all who kept batters entertained. Most of all thanks to you all for giving up your Sunday mornings and getting people there so we could run a match.