Cricket Match Report - Higgs & Sons v Clement Keys
Fresh from their recent exit in the Lord's Taverners Trophy, Higgs took on Clement Keys at a sun-soaked Harborne Cricket Club.
Showing a fully justified lack of faith in his batsmen, captain Doug Houghton elected to field and threw the new conker to leading wicket-taker, Tim Swallow. Benefiting from 11 fielders as opposed to 8, Swallow produced a devastating opening spell and rearranged opener Ashmore's stumps with an unplayable delivery. With fans still streaming through the turnstiles, Clement were four down as Joe Cowles capitalised on Swallow's pressure, taking 3 wickets as Higgs rattled through the top-order. First change Geoff Kettle was quick to join the party, clean bowling the dangerous looking Foster in his first over to leave Clement in disarray at 30-5.
Whilst David Phillips found some rhythm from the Nursery End, new batsmen Horrocks and Nicholls rode the storm and when Phil Gray came on Clement began to compile an increasingly competitive total. After disdainfully bludgeoning Gray to all parts, Houghton, Dudley and Taylor did manage to regain some control but it was too late, Clement's wagging tail had brought them back into the match.
The real drama was still to come though as, at the arrival of his son to the crease, Jon Austin brought himself on and immediately found joy from foot holes outside off stump. Austin Senior soon thought he had his reward as Austin Junior, beaten in the flight of a Doosra he didn't pick, miscued a slog sweep straight down the throat of Phil Gray at deep mid-wicket. Gray, however, had not read the script - horribly misjudging the flight of the ball. What should have been a straight-forward catch fell agonisingly short and to add insult to Austin Senior's injury, Gray misfielded and the ball went for four.
The Clement Keys innings ended with an Austin Senior wicket and an Austin Junior inspired calamitous run out, with Higgs eventually being set a challenging 143 to win.
Matt "The Wall" Dudley opened up for Higgs, having not being dismissed this season in all forms of Cricket prior to this game. Despite requiring 9 an over, Dudley stayed true to form - resolute in defence and uninterested in anything outside off stump. Nick Moxon (unavailable for selection due to average protection reasons) brought his kids down to the game, and it was a good job he did - the youngsters being treated to a fine exhibition of the 'nurdle off pads' by Dudley, who compiled the entirety of his 27 with this shot. With the Dudley snorefest at one end, Neil Brandrick kept the scoreboard ticking at the other, elegantly crafting his way to a 35 retirement. However, it wasn't Brandrick's runs that proved his most valuable contribution. In a piece of cricket carrying echoes of Botham/Boycott, Brandrick called Dudley through for a single that never was, as he decided the Higgs' run-chase couldn't wait for Dudley to finally reach 35.
Boom Boom Griffiths came in at 3 with Higgs well behind the rate and he provided some much needed impetus with a quick-fire 33, which included two sixes and one of the biggest fours this writer has ever seen. It wasn't big enough for umpire Tim Swallow though, and Griffiths remains in sight at the top of the sixes leader board. Then came Higgs' now customary middle order collapse. Kettle and Houghton fell cheaply, both looking like shadows of the batsmen they were before the Mainstay mauling and Phil Gray's torrid game continued - LBW without troubling the scorers.
With Higgs struggling, Jon Austin sent himself in to steady the ship. He proceeded to do little more than rock it however, and Higgs appeared to be sinking when Austin shouted Nick Taylor through for a suicidal run. A bemused Taylor was miles from safety and had to depart with Higgs staring down the barrel of defeat. Fatally for Clement Keys though, Austin's reputation as a 'finisher' reigned true and a nerveless 6 not out saw Higgs home with two balls to spare.