The annual SAC cricket tour of Kent occurred last weekend. It was another great tour, with good performances both on and off the field! Thanks are particularly owed to our kind hosts, the Band of Brothers CC, Shepway Stragglers CC and Smarden CC, and to the Supreme Leader’s tour management. Once again, special mention to Shravan Kumar and Sameer Shetty for flying all the way from India for the tour!!
On Saturday, we played a declaration match against the Band of Brothers at the beautiful Torry Hill ground. SAC won the toss and decided to bat first. Openers Shravan Kumar and Alastair Thomas failed in their attempt for a hat-trick of 100-run opening stands on tour when Shravan nicked one early. However, this brought Arun Ayyavooraju to the crease and he and the captain put on 125 for the second wicket. Arun fell victim to a sumptuous lunch, out LBW first ball after the break for an excellent 52. He was replaced by Alex Kidwell, fresh from his twin centuries the previous weekend, and he and Alastair continued to score at a good pace. Alastair was eventually run out for an excellent 109 (if I do say so myself…), while Alex batted well once again to finish 50 not out when the declaration was made at 253 for 3 off 44 overs, leaving BB around 40 overs for the run chase.
Said Azam Sadad and Ed Earl opened up for SAC and beat the bat a few times, but the declaration quickly began to look slightly too generous as BB’s opener and debutant, HPS McInley, showed his class, placing the ball with great precision and always keeping BB above the required run rate. Azam struck back after tea with two quick wickets (to add to one before the break), and Arun and Sameer Shetty bowled good spells in the middle overs, but McInley was too good in the end, and finished 124 not out as BB won by five wickets, with several overs to spare.
Sunday saw us play the Shepway Stragglers at Belmont House, the annual match in honour of Toby Cox. The Stragglers, won the toss and inserted Standard. The innings started well with Arun making a quickfire 37. The wheels however quickly fell off, and despite a good 32 from Sameer Shetty, SAC found themselves in deep trouble at 129 for 7 after 40 overs. With the Smallwood brothers (fresh from twin hundreds in last year’s fixture) in the opposition ranks, Standard knew their only chance was to bat long and create significant run rate pressure in the chase. Nbrs 8 and 9, Alastair Thomas and Robin Groom, were up to the task, working hard for the next ten overs, before giving it the long handle. Standard declared once Alastair holed out to deep mid-on for 48, setting the Stragglers 187 to win off around 26 overs.
The Stragglers had clearly been watching the IPL and started their run chase in fine fashion. After just eight overs, they were 76 for 1, and for a second time in the day Standard were staring defeat in the face. But Arun and Paul Goring (fresh from a Saturday night stag do and then a 5am bus ride down to Kent), were having none of that. Arun took 4 wickets and Paul took two with a couple of jaffas, and suddenly the match had turned on its head again, with the Stragglers in trouble at 105 for 6 with 12 overs remaining. Both Smallwoods fell to blistering catches from Prebou Balane, and once Jon Neame fell following his excellent 50, it became all attack for Standard. Paul kept beating the bat, and catches fell just short of fielders, but some solid defence from the Stragglers ensured an honourable draw, finishing on 116 for 6 off 26 overs.
The tour finished with a 35-overs a side match vs Smarden CC. SAC were again inserted on a greenish wicket and were in trouble early on at 40 for 4. Prebou Balane and Alex Kidwell re-established the innings, and then began to dominate. Alex was out for an elegant 72, but Prebou carried on, sending the ball to all corners on his way to a fantastic 96, and SAC reached 241 for 6 off our 35 overs.
In reply, Smarden were in early trouble following a 3-wicket burst from Robin Groom, and then two more from John Hardy. The Supreme Leader took a stunner, one-handed, in the gully, and Smarden never recovered. Andrew Dennis prepared for his University exams by cleaning up the tail, taking 3-11, and Smarden were all out for 144.
Thanks to all. We’re already looking forward to next year’s tour!