2nd XI Away v Burton Salmon

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v Burton Salmon
17th August 2019

Somewhat belatedly your correspondent writes.

Sometimes you have to just accept that on the day the best team won. Burton Salmon have been top of the table all season long and this match showed why. They certainly have the best bowling attack in the division and after winning the toss and inserting the Gates they proceeded to demonstrate this fact. Any batting side that is 6-3 inside 5 overs has to recalibrate it’s targets for the innings. In this regard it was a real positive that we managed to bat out the 40 overs. The graft started with a 64 run partnership between the skipper (41) and Ray (21). When these two fell in quick succession it precipitated a mini collapse. Sam (13*), showing good application and PD (23*) with some dash saw out the overs.

116-7 may not seem like much of an innings, but it represented a performance of genuine grit and fight given the attack were up against.

Once again Sam showed real hostility with the new ball and was good value for the two wickets he picked up in his opening burst. That brought together two batsmen at the top of the divisional averages. At this point we needed to take any chance offered. Unfortunately a couple of really difficult chances went down. Burton Salmon were proceeding serenely to the target when Ray pulled off the catch of the season to give Finn a well deserved wicket.

Although ultimately well beaten, Crossgates showed real desire to compete. Yo paraphrase Annie Schwarzenegger ‘We’ll be back’.

Man of the match: Skipper
Fielding point: Ray

2nd XI Away v Kippax

By Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v Kippax
3rd August 2019

Geologists will tell you that Yorkshire is a county made up of gritstone. From Brimham Rocks near Pateley Bridge, to the Cow and Calf at Ilkley everywhere in the broad acres can be found true examples of Yorkshire grit. But no truer embodiment could be found than in Crossgates 2nds on Saturday at Kippax on Saturday.

For the first time in a long while, Crossgates did not have a full eleven to take into the field; a shortfall that was to prove vital in the end. Despite this the ten who played put up the best battling performance of the season.

Winning the toss, the skipper chose to bat on a roasting hot day. It soon became apparent that the strip was not the road it appeared to be, with hit the deck bowlers in particular getting the ball to stick in the surface. Nevertheless the skipper and Laxa proceeded sedately to put on a 50 opening partnership. Laxa was unfortunately run out, soon to be followed by the skipper flagging in the heat.

Will and Ray added a sensible partnership of 70 before some late order dash was provided by Zaheer, PD, Paramjeet and Kulvinder. The outstanding effort on the batting front came from Will. Pacing his knock perfectly, he combined solid defence with some mighty biffs for 6 and his first 50 for Crossgates is further testimony to his development as a quality player and the cerebral way he approaches the game. A total of 170-6 certainly gave us something to defend.

It did not seem so at first as Kippax got off to a flyer, scoring 63 from the first 11 overs. Here was where Crossgates needed to hang tough. A change to Zaheer produced a wily breakthrough. This was followed up with a really effective combination of Will taking pace off the ball from one end with the welcome return of Kulvinder, using the conditions well by employing his height to pound the surface. This pairing bowled 15 overs and took 5-56 between them. The fielding was starting to turn the screw with the skipper pouching a neat catch in the deep and Laxa a tidy take behind the stumps as well as having a good shout for the key bat turned down.

A couple of difficult chances to George and Finn went down but even this illustrated the grit of the team. It would have been easy in the tension of a close game for younger players to want to hide. But on the contrary, these were only chances because of both lads really attacking the ball.

Having chipped away at wickets the game was starting to edge away from us. Being a man down meant an inevitable gap in the field. At this point, Ray came back for a second spell. Having taken some tap in his opening burst, Ray showed the grit that was characteristic of the day to pick up 2 quick wickets.

With 6 runs needed, a top piece of work in the field by George effected a run out. Last man in. He survived an almighty appeal when struck on the pad from Ray while playing no shot. Two overs later the Kippax tailenders struck the winning runs  to end a valiant effort by Crossgates.

Our ten men took a team near the top to the wire. Heads never dropped when they got off to a flyer. Every one of our players made vital contributions, whether with bat, ball or in the field. This was a defeat that felt like a victory. Up the Gates!!!!!

Man of the match: Will Bradley

Fielding point: George Warner

2nd XI Home v Church Fenton

By Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI at Home v Church Fenton
Saturday 20th July 2019

Cricket is a team game. Yet cricket involves individual contests. But ultimately to be successful, cricket needs to be a game of partnerships. This is traditionally seen as applying to batting but is equally relevant to bowling. Saturday’s match against Church Fenton was decisively turned by a crucial batting partnership and a vital bowling partnership.

Losing the toss looked to be a fatal blow on a pitch that was showing signs of the effects of the previous day’s rain. Sure enough wickets soon tumbled as the skipper and Will were caught as the ball caught in the track.

Now came the decisive batting combination. In a truly effective partnership the components complement each other. This was certainly the case with Adil and Shabby. Adil displayed immense patience, taking 11 overs to open his account. At the other end Shabby took the long handle from the outset.  This proved to be a highly entertaining and effective union as they put on 126 for the third wicket. When Shabby was finally out for an excellent 80, Adil stepped on the gas, finishing with a carefully paced 78*. He was joined by Zaheer, who contributed a handy 23*, including a valuable 6.

The good work done here allowed Crossgates to set a challenging 200 for Church Fenton to win. Much depended on an early breakthrough as Church Fenton have a formidable front five. Now the second key partnership kicked in; with Sam supplying pace and hostility, perfectly blending with PD’s stump to stump accuracy. These two blew away the upper order to put Church Fenton behind the chase. When the middle order looked to push on, Will contributed two wickets at crucial times. The way Will worked out the batsmen just added to the growing evidence of his cricketing brain and justified the decision to make him acting vice captain on the day.

Zaheer and Finn bowled tidy spells and Rick chipped in a wicket to keep the momentum going Crossgates way. The ground fielding was solid with catches for Adil and Alex Bambrook, with Alex also effecting the run out that administered the last rites to the Church Fenton innings.

This was a great win against a top side, built on partnerships that were more Morecambe and Wise than Cannon and Ball ( one for the older readers there). Up the Gates.

Men of the match: Adil and Shabby

Fielding point: Alex Bambrook

2nd XI Away v Walton

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v Walton
13th July 2019

Apologies dear readers. This week’s match report is both late and briefer. The reason for this is that amongst the many calamitous decisions made by the skipper this week was the failure to remember to collect the score book at the end of the game. Given the skipper’s Alzheimer’s, this is an essential aide memoire to the details of what has unfolded.

Faced with hazy memories your correspondent will cling to the positives. First amongst these was an outstanding innings of 91 by Adil. This really has been his season. In three of his last four innings he has made his best score, a heroic effort. He has refined his batting to combine great selectivity with his big hitting. The way he shouldered responsibility to chase down a big score was admirable and the fact we came up Short was despite not because of his tremendous knock.

Other useful contributions came from Zaheer and Paul but ultimately the batting came up short.

The bowling was led by Sam and Zaheer. Sam is starting to get division 3 batters quaking and Zaheer with his nagging accuracy provided the perfect foil. There was also another promising spell from Finn.

In the field Alfie and Finn were both energetic and reliable. The only blemish in the field was the dropping of three catches early in the piece.

A young team went down fighting and there will definitely be more details in next week’s report.

Man of the match: Adil
Fielding point: Alfie

2nd XI Away v South Milford

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v South Milford
5th July 2019

‘You will never win anything with kids ‘ opined Alan Hansen; a man who managed to convert the juggling of three words, namely ‘pace, power and movement’ into a highly lucrative gig by passing the manipulation of that triumvirate off as analysis. Hansen was so wrong on many levels. There are many things to be won, including the respect of your opponents and your team mates.

Crossgates rocked up at South Milford with a team reduced to only four regulars this season. In our hour of need we were helped out by two young lads, Alfie Edwards and Finn Fisher, playing their first game of cricket. Against one of the top sides in the division, it is necessary in such circumstances to recalibrate what constitutes success.

Winning the toss was vital; we could not bowl first with only one bowler, Paul, who had bowled regularly this season.

An opening stand of forty was brought about by some lusty blows from Adil whilst at the other end the skipper scratched about, displaying an outstanding ability to find the fielders. Deprived of a lot of strike Adil eventually skied one, trying to up the ante. He was replaced by Paul, who has not had a lot of opportunity this year, and as happens when lacking time in the middle, you do not get the breaks. Paul middled a poor ball only to see it pick out mid on. Next man, Gun, saw his mighty weapon jam in his holster, as he was undone by an excellent yorker. Then Tim Wills bedded himself in for the night. There is something about Tim’s setup at the crease that suggests he is not going to play like Chris Gayle and he provided obdurate resistance.

When the skipper’s tortuous knock was brought to an end, there followed a bit of a procession. Yet within the comings and goings were some significant moments. Rick made his top score and looked as comfortable as we have seen him at the crease. And so to the aforementioned kids. Alfie’s first ball in open age cricket was a beamer that hit him on the back. To his great credit he was solidly behind the next ball. Finn played correctly and made his first runs for Crossgates. George played sensibly and finished with a red inker. Finally Jojo (or Biff as he will be known hereafter) smote two lovely straight drives. A total of 99 in 34 overs was highly respectable in the circumstances.

With a lack of recognised bowling the sensible decision was taken to give everyone a couple of overs. After a steady opening from Paul and Rob, George ‘the Demon’ picked up his first Crossgates wicket with a ball that drifted away to hit the top of off. This was soon followed by Finn catching a high class bat plumb-in-front for a fantastic first wicket on debut. Everyone else bowled steadily but it is worth recording that the skipper’s over only went for one and there is no hint of Autumn yet.

Overall a game where new faces and old showed character in the face of adversity. The new boys and other youngsters brought energy and dynamism to the field. Up the Gates!

Men of the match: George and Finn
Fielding point: Alfie

2nd XI at Home v Thorner Mexborough

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI at Home v Thorner Mexborough
29th June 2019

Since Gun rolled into town there has been a bit of a Clint Eastwood feel to Crossgates 2nd team and certainly on Saturday against Thorner we witnessed the full cast of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.

Let’s start with the good; Adil is undergoing a breakthrough season. For the second week in a row he got his top score for Crossgates. His 67 was a controlled mix of patience and brutality. Shot selection has massively improved and Adil is now emerging as a threat to any opposition attack. He was ably backed up by Tahir. Tahir has a straightforward method: 1)  see ball, 2) hit ball. The adventurous approach of this pair brought an opening stand of 53 inside 10 overs.

Also in the good column: Ian Medlicott, playing with intelligence and craft, to put together a beautifully compiled 45. This was an innings that was properly constructed. (Skipper please note). Sam continues to add real hostility to his bowling. Paul got some real rip off the pitch and came within a coat of varnish that has been half sanded off of bowling Thorner’s star bat. Neither Paul’s nor Sam’s figures do them justice at 2-42 and 1-39 respectively. Karam also bowled with control on his debut.

The bad and the ugly can be pretty well merged. I mentioned Ian’s intelligent batting. Watching the skipper bat would lead any doctor to switch off the life support machine. There was no brain activity there. A skipper should always lead but sadly in this case other senior players followed. However, whilst the innings was too reliant on 3 players, the skipper for one was convinced that 175 was a defendable total. However unlike last week we were unable to bowl stump to stump and haemorrhaged runs at an alarming rate. 19 wides and no balls compared to 4 last week tells a story. Consequently Thorner knocked off the requisite runs for 3 down and with overs to spare.

What do we learn? Never assume the total is enough. Some players (Adil in particular) are making great strides and the skipper needs to RAISE HIS GAME.

Up the Gates.

Man of the match: Adil

Fielding point: Ian

The ‘Thanks for coming, we’ll let you know about next week ‘ award: the Skipper

2nd XI Away vs Headingley Bramhope

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away vs Headingley Bramhope
22nd June 2019

After weeks of lost games, returning to action at Bramhope was a welcome chance to try to restart the season. Fielding a side oozing class the omens were good for a win. Vinnie Patel was added the side to bring the swagger of a classic bat. A solid bowling line up also boded well.

A sticky pitch and an outfield like the Mato Grosso did not encourage batting and on winning the toss the skipper inserted the oppo. The prime requirement was to bowl wicket to wicket. From the off, Ray and Sam settled into a tight line. Whilst wickets did not come in this early burst but the run rate was glacial. This was backed up by solid outfielding with one bizarre exception. Throughout the afternoon the vice skipper spent much of his time on his back like an upended turtle, waggling all limbs in a random fashion whilst the ball would occasionally fly out from his flailing in an erratic and unpredictable manner. Indeed Paul looked like being the main source of runs for Headingley Bramhope.

First change Ian brought the break through. His metronomic spell (2-16 from 10 overs) was exactly what the conditions demanded. Zaheer (10 overs for 31) kept the squeeze on at the other end. Conditions were perfect for tight seam bowling and the pressure of good lines and lengths eventually produced wickets for Ray (3-22) and Sam (3-44). Meanwhile good catches were taken by Paul (on his feet unusually), Ian, Ray (2) and even the skipper.

Restricting Headingley Bramhope to 123-8 represented a performance of discipline and commitment.

In reply Vinnie P oozed class with technical excellence. At the other end end Adil was all controlled belligerence. This pair rapidly laid to rest any concerns about the track. Judicious in their stroke-play, they put on 78 for the first wicket before Vinnie fell for a stylish 27. Adil carried selecting the ball to hit and then making sure he cashed in. In a classy knock he went to his first Crossgates 50. Will offered steady support at the other end and when Adil was finally out for 56, Ray completed the coup de grace.

A thoroughly efficient performance all round bodes well for the challenges to come. Up the Gates.

Man of the match: Adil

Fielding point: Ray

2nd XI at Home vs Kippax

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They call him ‘Gun’.

 

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI at Home vs Kippax
15th June 2019

Visiting teams to the Crossgates Oval are starting to learn there is a new gun in town (see picture). Anyone turning up expecting a stroll or laughing at ‘Gun’s’mule will be sent packing. Even without his blazing bat ‘Gun’ showed he can see bad ‘uns off with his bare hands. More of that later.

Kippax arrived expecting an easy 6 points. Keen to start the game early they suggested we bat until our full quotient of players arrived. Even the skipper was not naive enough to fall for that.

A damp pitch was matched by a damp atmosphere. This had been a difficult week and Dan Horry deserves great credit for getting out two 11s. The toss was crucial and amazingly skipper Alex won it. This in turn presented a dilemma because at the time of the toss we only had 8 players present. It was not a day to bat first but could we risk fielding with just 8 men? Gambling, the skipper put Kippax in.

Ray opened from the bottom end with an excellent controlled and threatening spell. His first 4 overs going for just 5 runs. At the other end Sam too was looking very dangerous and picked up a wicket with his fourth ball.

As the innings progressed the talents of our 2 debutants came to the fore. Harrison was showing excellent glovework behind the stumps. His willingness to sprint out from his keeper’s postion also prevented a number of quick singles. Coming on as first change PD virtually sealed up an end and bowled his 10 overs off the reel. Final figures of 4-34 in no way flattered him.

Good support from Tahir and Zaheer kept things tight but crucial was fielding which saw no catches dropped. Smart catches were taken by Ade, PD and even the skipper. Added to this were the efforts of Gun. Two swirling steeplers were swallowed with the cool of Clint Eastwood in his prime. Backing up the catching, was solid ground fielding with Ray and Adil covering huge areas of the field.

Will showed his cricketing nouse when he came on to bowl. Eschewing spin with a ball that was hard to grip, he was rewarded with 2 wickets by sensible variations of flight.

Restricting a top batting side to 174-4 was a commendable effort. Then the heavens opened…

Fielding point: Harrison

Man of the match: PD

2nd XI Away v Church Fenton

By Alex ‘The Historian’ Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v Church Fenton

1st June 2019

In November 1922 when Howard Carter broke through into the burial chamber of Tutankhamen, a thing of awesome majesty and beauty, long hidden, was revealed to the world. A similar thing was experienced at Church Fenton on Saturday when John ‘Gun’ McDermott walked to the crease, willow light sabre in hand. When Crick and Watson stood up in the Eagle pub in Cambridge to announce the discovery of DNA, the boundaries of what is humanly possible were pushed that bit further into the distance. Likewise as ‘Gun’ took guard the limits on one man’s capabilities were about to be extended. Human history has unfolded through a series of transformative events; the discovery of fire, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution etc. Add to this list of seismic changes, the batting of ‘Gun’ McDermott. I am sure you will agree that in summarising this, your correspondent has managed to give these events an appropriate sense of proportion.

Church Fenton is a road. The flattest track and fastest outfield in the division. Unsurprisingly Church Fenton chose to bat on a steamy, sauna like day. Early promise was provided by Ian Medlicott’s first ball; an absolute Jaffa that nipped back to take out middle and off. After this initial breakthrough the second wicket pairing showed their knowledge of their own track by continuously cutting balls from off the stumps or just outside. This can only be done if the batter has complete confidence in the pitch. All Crossgates’ bowlers bowled well with minimal reward. Sam Bentley produced his best spell for the team. Bowling with pace and hostility, he gave the hurry up to set batsmen and in the context of a high scoring game his 5 overs for 16 runs was a commendable effort. Ian’s 2 for 29 off 7 was also a great performance. The other wicket was deservedly taken by Ray when Adil pouched the edge. Church Fenton batted with a freedom that comes with familiarity with a benign strip. One area we could learn from them was that their running between the wickets and pushing of quick singles was excellent from over 1 to over 40. A stand of 206 for the second wicket was the bedrock of their eventual 234-3.

The Crossgates reply began with great promise. An opening stand of 51 was dominated by Adil. Such was the cleanness and power of his hitting that his 39 contained  six 4s and two 6s. He was very unlucky when another brutal strike that seemed destined for 6 was juggled and caught on the very edge of the boundary. With Adil’s departure the strike rate inevitably slowed. Now the Church Fenton skipper demonstrated his local knowledge by packing the boundary and taking all pace off the ball. This was backed by good fielding and excellent catching with Will, Ian and Paul being notable victims. When a useful partnership between Paul (16) and Zaheer (15) was broken, it seemed as if the the innings was sputtering to a conclusion like a candle burnt to the wick.

Suddenly a hush descended as if the whole of nature was drawing breath, aware of the deeds of daring do about to be witnessed as ‘Gun’ strode to the crease. A few perfunctory slaps straight back to the bowler gave no hint of what was to follow. The first hint that we were witnessing events of historic import came when Rob Friend ran a 2. I will repeat that; Rob Friend ran a 2. What is more it was only just outside the time of the London marathon winner.

This unleashed the ‘Gun’. With the eye and force of a shinty playing Jedi, ‘Gun’ proceeded to smite the Church Fenton bowling to all parts of North and West Yorkshire. Five mighty 4s were smeared, some even off the middle of the bat. Solid defence and a single to Rob allowed the 9th wicket to add 30 and a bonus point for achieving 75% of the Church Fenton innings was looming into view. When Rob departed, George Warner came out to join ‘Gun’. A landmark moment came when George scored his first run for Crossgates but sadly was out soon after. ‘Gun’ blew the smoke off the end of his bat and returned it to its holster. Leaping aboard his horse he rode off into the sunset.

Picking over the bones, what do we learn? On a hot and muggy day we showed grit. There was hostile bowling from Sam and great striking from Adil. But most of all, we will all be able to say ‘I was there’ when ‘Gun’ strode into town like Clint Eastwood minus the poncho and cheroot and made the bad guys rue the day they met him.

Up the Gates.

Fielding point: Ray
Man of the match (inevitably): ‘Gun’ McDermott

2nd XI Away v Thorner

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Home v Thorner
18th May 2019

Cricket is a fiendishly difficult game to get right. That is one of the many reasons it is such a great game. What can be more satisfying than those rare occasions when everything clicks into place and the result is a flawless team performance, apart from one piece of geriatric fielding by the skipper on the boundary that Rob tells me I am contractually obliged to draw to everyone’s attention.

Arriving at Thorner we were aware of the reputation of the ground for low scoring, grinding games. Losing the toss and being inserted was not part of the game plan. Tahir and skipper strode to the wicket with a degree of trepidation. To their delight, the Thorner attack started by feeding the opening duo a diet of wides and pies. The scoreboard was soon rattling along. An opening stand of 60 took just 8 overs. Tahir was batting like Dick Turpin (stand and deliver). He has a simple method; he either misses or launches and his excellent 27 was adorned with 2 huge 6’s. The profligacy of the Thorner opening bowlers was such that even the skipper was able to get in a few biffs.

After the initial wayward opening spell the bowling settled down. Now the vagaries of the track became apparent. Each new Crossgates batter sensibly kept the score ticking over. Will and Ray contributed handy 19’s. Shabby and Paul smacked 5 boundaries between them in really handy cameos. John and Rob scurried and slapped a really handy 20 for the seventh wicket. The upshot was a total of 188-8 (despite what the Wetherby league website says. I think Thorner’s scorer forgot to add the 29 extras. Extras, by the way, played an absolute blinder and was second top score). On a track that had yielded only 130 this was always going to be a big ask for the Thorner line up.

This was immediately amplified in Ray’s first over when a neat snaffle from Adil sent the opener back to the hutch. Unlike Thorner, Crossgates’ bowlers were bowling a tight line and length and using the inconsistency of the pitch to their advantage. Ray (3-8) and Shabby (2-13) got us into the Thorner batting. This was backed by some razor sharp fielding, with Will’s casual grab of an Exocet a particular highlight.

With plenty of bowling on tap, the skipper was rationing bowlers to a maximum of 5 overs each. Sam was unlucky; he threatened without getting a break. Zaheer (2-15) was his normal metronomic self. He benefited from Ray’s cool under an absolute steepler and a second catch for Will.

Once the change bowlers had had their stint, the skipper turned to spin. Will (2-2) produced a couple of snorters to bamboozle and bowl a couple of nonplussed bats whilst a smart grab by Rob gave Paul (1-7) the final wicket. The only blemish was the aforementioned comical fielding from the skipper. What younger players need to grasp is that at the skipper’s age he is doing well to leave his Zimmer frame in the changing room.

So 4 games in to a new season at a higher level we are unbeaten with 2 crushing wins under our belts. Any concerns about whether we can compete have been dispelled. Greater challenges lie ahead but we are up for them. Up the Gates!!!!

Man of the Match: Alex Smickersgill

Fielding point: Will Bradley