17.10.16 | Match report by Neil Bennett

The second game of the campaign and Barts travelled to Concorde to play Sydney University Vets in round one of the Jack Pace Shield. After the success of week one anticipation was high for the first cup fixture of 2016/17 where getting off to a good start was imperative. Sydney put on a show weatherwise the strong breeze cutting through the 28-degree heat, ideal conditions so early in the season. A key talking point ahead of Sunday’s game was of the hard batting deck Goddard Oval usually offers up and so it proved. Skipper (Rob) Lowe won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to bat looking to take advantage of a flat, firm pitch not to mention a batting line up full of confidence.


This week saw three changes in personnel with Chris Hancock, Sandy MacLeod and Ben Doherty coming into the team. As such skipper Lowe took the opportunity to tinker with the batting positions as Hancock joined (Tom) Hodgson at the top of the order. As history’s shown it wasn’t long before Hancock unleashed his attacking intent with a nicely timed clip over midwicket for a well ran two, shortly followed by a powerfully struck boundary. His aggressive start however came to an abrupt end as he failed to get hold of a lofted drive, holing out to mid-off: Barts one for eight in the third over, Hodgson still on nought.


Joining Hodgson at the crease was MacLeod for his first dig of the season. The opening bowling was accurate, reasonably quick from one end and difficult to get away. Both batsmen responded differently to the attack: MacLeod looking for the offensive outlet, Hodgson as per last week more watchful, happy to block out at the start of his innings. The early exchanges resembled a boxing match, both sides landing a punch and counter punch. The contest see-sawed from play and miss to a well-timed stroke through the ring of fielders for runs. MacLeod was looking the more comfortable of the two, opening his account with a boundary and maximum separated by a smart single. After his much vaunted 98 in week one Hodgson finally got off the mark with an elegant late cut for four. Alas this was to be his only batting contribution this week as two balls later he popped back a slower ball off the toe of the bat for a caught and bowled: Barts two for twenty-six in the seventh over.


In the unfamiliar position of four was (James ‘Fred’) Allen, Barts usual opener. In need of a score it would be interesting to see how he’d adapt to coming in a little further down the order than normal. A bowling change at one end did little to stop the steady flow of runs, Barts grinding out a slither under four an over despite the early loss of two wickets. Macleod and Allen blended together power and placement to find the boundary rope or create easy runs into the outfield. Nonetheless the bowling remained accurate and as MacLeod looked to go through the gears he found himself walking back to the pavilion. Having gained a start (21) MacLeod advanced down the track to the first change bowler. Unable to pull out of the shot he failed to connect with a straight one, leaving a gap big enough for the ball to find its way to middle stump: Barts now three for fourty-two in the twelfth over.

Whispers echoed around the pavilion balcony, Barts found themselves in the all too familiar position of achieving a healthy run rate for the loss of a few early key wickets with not too many overs used. As (James) Bleakman strode to the middle there was an air of nervousness that if Sydney Uni were to inflict another couple of wickets on the Barts outfit they could be scratching around for a sub-par score on an obvious good batting track.


Fresh from his maiden club 50 last week, Bleakman was in no mood to give his wicket away early nor for that matter was Allen. Both set about a mini rebuilding job in the face of bowling changes which brought with it variations in pace seeing the introduction of a spinner and a carbon copy military medium (yet accurate) bowler from the other end. The first priority: safely navigate Barts through to drinks for the loss of no further wickets. To the naked eye the batters appeared to trudge along somewhat however the scoreboard told another story. In the six overs to drinks Allen and Bleakman had firstly preserved their wickets but added a further thirty-one runs to the scoreboard, Barts taking a much needed drink three down for seventy-three after eighteen overs.

After the break the second priority was no early wickets. Despite providing Uni with chances both men remained not out through a pedestrian few overs. It wasn’t until the twenty-first over that the batting performance sprang into life. Allen took on the role of main protagonist, Bleakman comfortable as ever in his role of supporting actor. Allen tore into the spinners determined to knock them out of the attack. He started hitting boundary after boundary forcing the opposition captain and bowler to shuffle the fielding positions. This just played into Allen’s hands as he substituted blunt force for late dabs to third man using pace off the pitch and nudges to vacant gaps on the leg side. Allen was starting to manoeuvre the ball around the field at will and deservedly brought up a well-constructed 50. Meanwhile at the other end Bleakman was playing a vital role of rotating the strike for Allen and frustrating the opposition by offering not even the merest sniff of a wicket.


With the field now spread far and wide Bleakman began cashing in on some runs also, content with ones and twos he left the bludgeoning to Allen, his personal tally slowly building. Such was the nature of the attack from both players that between overs twenty-four and twenty-seven they were going at ten runs per over. Between twenty-eight and thirty a more sedate yet no less healthy six runs per over. By this point Allen had abandoned much thought of running twos and threes favouring the stand and deliver approach. It rarely let him down as he moved swiftly into the late seventies. With the University skipper adopting as ultra-defensive fielding formation the boundaries dried up for Allen momentarily. Having pushed a couple of twos out to the deep he reverted to hunting out the big shots. Unfortunately for him he succumbed to a straight one not before compiling a superb 85. Allen and Bleakman had put on 112 for the fourth wicket and any murmurs of a batting collapse among the ranks had long been forgotten.


With five overs remaining Bleakman was joined by Doherty to see the innings home. Doherty looked comfortable with the job in hand from ball one. Both batsmen began to put the fielders under increasing pressure with some backyard ‘tip-and-run’ cricket. This is not to suggest they were taking unnecessary risks instead used pinpoint placement to nullify the likelihood of a run out. Sensible cricket saw these two operate at a run-a-ball for the last five overs, no less than skipper Lowe had requested. As the remaining deliveries went by Bleakman and Doherty had pushed the Barts score onto 186 for the loss of four wickets: an excellent return. Doherty’s innings was a faultless cameo (11no), however Bleakman with more time at the crease had put together another not out innings of substance (44), further adding to his reputation as Barts “quiet accumulator”.


Barts retired to the changing rooms at the main interval with a healthy score on the board, it was now over to the bowlers to perform. Sun block and zinc applied, Barts took to the field. In another new opening partnership Doherty took the new ball alongside (Neil) Bennett. From the get-go Doherty was on the spot. His metronomic bowling looked threatening from the first delivery. Indeed, with only the fifth ball of the innings he struck, luring Uni’s opening bat into a check drive who only managed to pump the ball back from whence it came, Doherty snaffling the return catch with ease. He was complimented ably by the contrasting style of Bennett who instead looked to test the bounce of the pitch back of a length. What followed was a miserly six overs from the pair including three maidens. It wasn’t until the eighth over that Barts were to strike again. Bennett set up the number three batsman perfectly with a combination of deliveries seaming into the right hander only to take one away. The resultant delivery left the batsman no option but to play, feathering a catch to keeper (Sam) Gawarthy: Sydney Uni two for twenty-three from ten overs.


With heat playing a part and an arsenal of bowlers at his disposal skipper Lowe made a change bringing himself on for Bennett. With his usual box of tricks, it wasn’t long before Lowe was in on the act with an angled in delivery from around the wicket to the opening left hander who neither played forward or back instead getting an inside edge onto the stumps. At the other end Doherty continued on his merry way, hitting the right areas, beating the bat to end his allotted seven overs with one wicket for the concession of only sixteen runs: a fine all round display.


Lowe was now joined by (Robbie) Peseta. Uncharacteristically Peseta got off to a bad start conceding fourteen runs from his first over allowing Uni to jump to fourty-seven after fifteen overs. Unflustered by this and demonstrating all of his experience Peseta adjusted his line and length accordingly. The alterations made an immediate impact as Peseta took his first with a brilliant caught and bowled. While others equally close to the ball failed to pick up the tracer bullet of a drive, Peseta was dialled in and plucked the sharp chance like he was shelling peas. Magnificent.


The Lowe and Peseta partnership continued building pressure by bowling in the right areas equally supported by sharp, energetic fielding. Play felt more like a test match for some time as Uni appeared disinterested in chasing the total set by Barts. In truth they were trying, they simply didn’t have the answers. By drinks they’d crawled to four for fifty-one after eighteen.


Barts remained switched on and patient after the break giving little away. That patience and accuracy was duly rewarded as Peseta struck not once but twice in the twenty-first over with a double wicket maiden. His first of the over trapping the batsman right in front, the second a clinical delivery, borderline Yorker length that was simply too good.


Not long after this excellent double breakthrough both Lowe and Peseta completed their fine spells: the score now six for sixty-one from twenty-one overs. Unfortunately for Uni if those batsmen left thought things might get easier they soon realised this wasn’t the case. Completing the smorgasbord of bowling talent on display was (Rob) Pigden and (Sandy) MacLeod. It was evident Uni were unlikely to chase down the runs required to win but Pigden and MacLeod had the very important role of taking the remaining wickets to improve the Barts statistics by the conclusion of the game.


It’s fair to say with victory in some form or another in the bag the Barts fielders took their foot off the gas a little as the remaining batsman managed to hit some runs. After a quick refocus and words of encouragement play tightened up again. With the same pressure applied by the earlier bowlers, matched by good fielding first Pigden then Macleod looked likely to take the final wickets needed. Pigden opened his account with a brilliant clean bowled wicket to wicket delivery that would’ve troubled a top order batsman let alone a tail ender. Not to be outdone, MacLeod seeing the advancing batsman pushed through a dipping off-break delivery that evaded the bat and with the finest of touches dislodged the bails.


There were however four overs remaining and two wickets left for the Barts to take. Neither bowler was able to make the breakthrough in either of the next two overs. Twelve deliveries remained and the pressure began to mount. The team needn’t have worried: if Bleakman has a growing reputation as the “quiet accumulator” then Pigden is fast becoming known as the “finisher”. As he did last week Pigden kept his cool, stuck to his wicket to wicket bowling strategy and clean bowled the remaining two tailenders taking his tally to five for the season! Both bowled excellently and further demonstrated the strength in depth Barts now possess, where everyone who picks up that ball is capable of taking key wickets.


So the report card reads one from one in the JPS cup competition as Barts amassed four for One-eighty-six and managed to bowl Sydney Uni Vets out for one hundred and eighteen. An excellent team performance all round. Perhaps what’s most telling about this Barts victory is that in fact it’s THEY who have learned from past matches. Where previous there was a tendency to capitulate when a few wickets went down or take their foot off the gas as they approached ten wickets neither seemed in evidence on Sunday.


This truly is the beginning however. From next weekend on the standard of opposition rises hugely but Barts have the tools, the players and the right attitude to meet these weekly challenges head on and should celebrate each success as it happens.


The final comment for this week’s report is a special mention for one of Barts newest members, Dan Luoni. Only eleven players can take to the field at any one time and as Barts squad of talented cricketers has grown this year it means not everyone can play each week. Despite missing out this Sunday Dan showed his support by trekking out on the train to support at Concorde and furthermore ran the scorebook while the Barts were fielding. From those eleven fortunate enough to play Sunday we’d like to say a big thank you Dan for turning up. It was great to see you, your help was invaluable and you embody the mateship this club is founded on.


8.10.16 | Match report by Neil Bennett

To mark the start of the 2016/2017 season the mighty Bart's traveled to Paddington CC for the traditional curtain raiser.


The opposition wasn't the only consistent feature of the opening weekend, the track and outfield resembled any one of those we've seen over the past 8 years: ugly in appearance but plays pretty well. The weather didn't deceive however with overcast and windy conditions making it a real 'two-shirt' affair. 


Barts saw 3 new members make their full debut: Ben Martin-Henry, Ben Bruscella and Dan Luoni with one returning member post a four year hiatus, Tom Hodgson.


Paddo won the toss and elected to field, Bart's batting with a new opening partnership of Hodgson and (Fred) Allen. The first up bowlers were steady if not spectacular and while Hodgson was circumspect, Allen was hitting his stride early notching up singles and boundaries via some powerful stroke play which included a top edge hook to deep square leg which sailed over the rope beyond the street and into the houses opposite the ground. His charge was to be short lived though with a 5th over dismissal, missing one bowled at Yorker length tailing in: the score on 16.


Hodgson barely off the mark was joined by (James) Bleakman who strode to the crease after a morale boosting 43no in the previous weekend's pre-season friendly. The wicket-taking opening bowler buoyant after his early success was proving harder and harder to get away as the deliveries ticked by. Thankfully for Bart's an early change of bowler at the other end provided some light relief in the form of some wayward spin bowling. With a stiff breeze from the Waterloo end in principle this was the right call from the opposition skipper. Unfortunately the errant direction of his tweakers deliveries allowed Hodgson and Bleakman to chip away and better still hit boundaries with increasing regularity.


Steady enough until the thirteenth over (1-41) the game began to change in one frankly devastating over. With Hodgo well into his innings and timing the ball effectively he decided to knock the first change spinner out of the attack. His over: FOUR, FOUR, FOUR, FOUR, SIX, SIX! BOOM! Hodgson moved the Barts total from 41 to 69 in the space of 6 balls, banished the bowler to fielding for the remainder of the innings and taken his personal tally to 51 and a well deserved half century. After this spike in excitement the lads settled down adding a further 10 runs to the total by drinks (17ovrs). 


During drinks instruction from skipper (Rob) Lowe was clear: play your shots, accumulate sensibly and with wickets in hand launch at the 25 over mark. Broadly speaking Hodgson and Bleakman followed this blue print. By the 25th over the partnership had added a healthy 50 runs, the total now 1-129. Bleakman was proving the perfect foil for the big hitting Hodgson, rotating the strike, dispatching the bad balls for four and protecting his wicket.


Hodgson was taking more and more chances looking to move the score along, inevitably throwing up a couple of catching opportunities to the opposition which they failed to take - a century beckoned. And still, JB at the other end was content to be watchful - the quiet accumulator. 


A couple of singles saw Hodgson move to 98 and there was a real belief among the spectating Barts a century was inevitable. Alas one lusty blow to the longest part of the ground (wide long on) didn't quite evade the fielder and fence: CAUGHT after a brilliant 98, a mix of brutal shot making and timing finesse. Not bad considering it's been 4 years between innings.


6 overs to go, the score 2-144 and the introduction of debutante (Ben) Martin-Henry. He faced an unenviable task having witnessed a 130+ partnership, sat in the stands the pads on the entire time and now expected to accelerate the score to even greater heights. Fortunately Bleakman removed some pressure by playing a more attacking role and Martin-Henry showed nerve to get off the mark with a comfortable single followed by two well struck boundaries. 


The men batted out a chance-less last 6 overs amassing a further a 56 runs which included a solid debut 22no from Martin-Henry and an excellent maiden 50 (53no) from Bleakman. In fact bar one half chance JB had gone his entire innings without looking like getting out, this was just as pleasing as his final total just what you need from your first drop batsman. 


So there it was 2-200 and the first part of the story was complete: HISTORY MAKERS. As far as records and memories could extend this reflected the highest 35 over total the club has achieved for the fewest number of wickets. 


After a quick turn around Barts took to the field full of confidence having a posted a huge score. Skipper Lowe took the new pill supported by (Neil) Bennett from the other end.


Proceedings got off to an inauspicious start as three of Lowe's first four deliveries went for boundaries. Although Bennett's first over fared better there was a still a boundary struck. It wasn't until the fourth over that Barts made a breakthrough: Bennett with a quick delivery that seamed back as the batsman shouldered arms then clattered into his off stump.


Things got better in the wickets column as (Dan) Luoni took a sharp catch at mid-wicket to a well struck blow: Lowe picking up his first. Despite this bowling success the run rate was healthy for the opposition and things improved as Lowe and Bennett were driven, carved and belted for boundaries by the senior opener. At 10 overs Paddington were 2-59 and well in touch with the required run rate. At this point skipper made a bowling change introducing another debutant (Ben) Bruscella. It proved a good move as Bruscella steadied the ship with some deceptively quick and accurate deliveries. One further bowling change saw (Rob) Peseta partner Bruscella and they began to mirror each other bowling wicket taking deliveries and supressing the run rate. Nonetheless the dangerous opener was still there and it wasn't until one ball before drinks that Bruscella finally got his man, spreading the stumps of the senior bat who'd been dealing solely in boundaries and raced to 63. The timing couldn't have been better as Barts walked off 3-91 for the break.


Moments after refuelling and back on the field, Peseta got in on the act offering the #5 batsman no chance removing his off bail with consummate ease. Bruscella and Peseta just kept going, dot balls, scant hittable deliveries driving the run rate up. Although miserly neither managed to take another wicket before a change was made with (Rob) Pigden and Luoni getting their chance. 


Pigden was straight into his stride his first over going for one and beating the bat multiple times. By the time Pigden and Luoni took the ball Paddington realised to mount a serious challenge they needed to hit out more and this they did. Despite from conceding boundaries Pigden and Luoni remained calm under pressure while keeping the ball in good areas. This paid dividends first for Pigden via a brilliant clean bowled then Luoni luring the number four into a miss-timed on drive, the high catch taken in the field by Bennett. Pigden then worked some magic in the field with a quick pick up and throw followed by a smart stumping from (Sam) Gawargy. 


With five overs remaining and Paddington still had an outside sniff requiring 52 runs with three wickets remaining. Luoni then took his second and final wicket of the innings but he'll likely apportion more praise to Peseta who took an absolutely stunning low catch on the boundary rope all in the fading light. To see out proceedings Lowe returned to join Pigden. The Paddington batsmen became increasingly desperater for boundaries. Lowe delivered a masterclass in death bowling and was rightly awarded with a second wicket of the day courtesy of a well delivered slower ball.


It was left however to Pigden to deliver the killer blow. What was already a good spell of bowling was elevated to excellent as he too picked up a second wicket of the innings. And there was the HEART BREAK, Paddington albeit for fleeting moments throughout their innings would've believed they could mount a challenge yet the Barts put together a real team performance in the field, with ball in hand and remained focused for the entire time. 


It may only be one game down but if this is and should be a sign of what the Barts can deliver then 2016/17 promises to be a very, very exciting season! And the club will get to test this theory next week as we play our first cup match of the season against Sydney Uni Vets: a challenge we can surely rise to.