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

2nd XI Away v Long Marston

By Skipper Alex Smickersgill

2nd XI Away v Long Marston
4th May 2019

And so it begins… The damp squib of last week was replaced by an icy gale sweeping across the desolate moor of Marston. This on paper was a real challenge against a team that had come down from division 2.

Ever consistent the skipper lost the toss, but to the delight and astonishment of the Crossgates team Long Marston chose to bat. The reason for this choice became apparent pretty quickly as the early overs established that the track was very true. Wickets were going to be hard to come by. This is a challenge to a team’s nouse. On good tracks wickets have to be squeezed out by bowling dry and forcing the batsman out of his comfort zone to score runs. Backing the bowlers is also essential and this was demonstrated in the middle of Shabby and Ray’s tidy opening spell, when a fantastic piece of athleticism by Shabby left the Long Marston opener high and dry.

Then Zaheer applied the game plan to perfection. On the money every ball, his spell of 8 overs, 1 wicket for 8 runs really put Long Marston under pressure. At the other end Will was tempting and bamboozling the batsmen in equal measure. Will made the key breakthrough when he lured the number 3 into a hoick into the deep, where Ray took a good catch in a swirling wind.

The stranglehold was maintained until the 30th over. In the last 10 overs Long Marston gave us a lesson in tactical play. They scored at 7 an over for the last 10, yet only managed 4 boundaries. Credit to them, their running between the wickets was exemplary. Shabby and Ray picked up wickets on their return and crucially Paul winkled out their obdurate opener. For Long Marston, Hill made a nicely paced 50.

When the dust had settled, Long Marston had made 173-7, a total we were happy to restrict them to on a fine track.

Shabby and Adil opened. Their opening stand of 82 was aided by a plethora of wides. The junior opening bowler appeared to struggle for control in the wind tunnel in which the game was played. Between wides, the opening pair kept the scoreboard ticking over until Adil departed for a neat 35. Will joined Shabby and demonstrated once again his cricketing brain by concentrating on giving Shabby the strike, with just the occasional big shot. These 2 saw it home with minimal fuss and with 4 overs to spare. Shabby finished with a well compiled 87* and Will finished unbeaten on 19.

What did we learn from a comfortable 9 wicket win? Well, we can definitely compete at this higher level. Yet we know there will be sterner tests to come. The fielding was spirited, illustrated by Jojo’s fielding point winning performance for some great stops.  This was as good a start as we could hope. Now we must maintain it as tougher challenges arise.

Man of the match: Shabby

Fielding point: Jojo

Match Report: 2nds vs Hillam, Sept 2018

Hillam & Monk Fryston A vs Crossgates A
15th September 2018
Crossgates A won by 10 wickets

Man of the match: Shared between Sanjeev, Will and Ray
Fielding point: Sanjeev
Rayhaan 5-14, Sangeev 45*, Will 23*

Reported by Alex Smickergill, Scribe and Second Team Skipper

With our chances of promotion having disappeared the previous week, it would have been easy to finish with a flat performance. Instead we produced a level of domination that marks out our progress this year.

Inserting Hillam after winning the toss we immediately began a procession of their batsmen. Whilst Shabby kept it tight at one end, Ray began chiselling out their line up. As prophesised by Mystic Meg Smickersgill, this has been a break through season for Ray. Admittedly when I looked into the crystal ball at winter nets, I was thinking of his batting. This has indeed progressed from attractive cameos to innings of real substance. But the real bonus is his conversion from a slightly erratic spinner to an accurate and aggressive opening bowler. To finish the season with a 5 for (5-12) was an appropriate reward. Ray was aided by two smart catches by Sanjeev.

Elsewhere Adil snaffled four catches to keep him in the hunt for the division wicketkeeping trophy. This is testimony to Adil’s solid glove work but also to the chances our bowlers have created for him all season.

Replacing Shabby, Kuli bowled with pace, bounce and impressive accuracy for someone who has played so little cricket this year. Hopefully we can get a full season out of him next year. His nagging hostility thoroughly deserved the three wickets he bagged.

Another to make huge strides this year has been Will. He has a real cricketing brain and assesses the game with a wisdom belying his youth. He quickly wrapped up the innings with the two wickets he needed to get into the league averages.

There was another bowling performance of note. Having trained assiduously, Jojo bowled an an accurate and disciplined first over in adult cricket. That is a real test and Jojo passed it with aplomb.

Rolling Hillam for 79 was a strong statement of how we want to play next year. The batting like the fielding was a vision of our future; being led by the young. With the minimum of fuss Sanjeev (45*) and Will (24*) knocked off the required runs in 15 overs for a crushing victory.

In a game of so many positives, recognition must be made of Paul’s captaincy. The blend of giving people chances whilst retaining a fierce competitiveness was spot on.

As this is the last match report of the 2018 season I would like to thank all players for the team. We play competitive cricket but in the right spirit.

Thanks as always to Gian for his guidance that has helped improve every member of the team. Thanks to Jason and Sue for scoring and constant support.

Bring on the 2019 season. I can’t wait.