Cricket: Orsett and Thurrock 3rds beat Belhus (and the rain)

Orsett and Thurrock 4th X1

Belhus 3rd XI 175/9
OAT 3rd XI 176/3

DESPITE the weather conditions at Orsett on Saturday, this Essex Cricket League local derby proved anything but a damp squib as the “world famous” OAT 3rd XI returned to league action at the start of the 2018 season, writes Eimer Wette.

Before play started the two sides observed a moments silence for David and Lynn Kooyman who sadly passed away during the close season. Lynn was a former secretary and David a former chairman of the club. The family association with the club still continues with batsman Lee Kooyman who lined up for OAT in this game.

With the start delayed due to rain skipper Tyrone Owen was relieved to win the toss and elected to field and sent his troops on to the field in their waders, flippers and snorkels. Talking of fancy dress, Owen turned up in his wicket keeper costume due to availability issues on the first week of the season! Callum Owen and Azhar Nawez were given the new ball responsibility and set about testing the Belhus openers, Waters and Cansoals.

Both seamers had reasonable shouts for leg before turned down and Owen Junior had Cansoals dropped in the tricky conditons. By now both batsman were in and skipper Owen drafted “winner winner chicken spinner” Stephen Brooks into the attack alongside the evergreen “Janitor” Michael Parker, who he wanted to mop up the stubborn openers.

The change appeared to work as Parker had a massive shout against Cansoals but the umpire remained unmoved to the bemusement of all involved. Both openers had negotiated the drizzle and conditions well so perhaps they had earns their luck and both had got themselves a good start before the wickets started to fall. Cansoals was trapped LBW by Brooks for 35 and Waters went for the same score from the same bowler, this time assisted by a catch from Parker just behind the square leg umpire.

This bought Josh Clarke and Keith Dhannie to the crease and they both made solid contributions before Parker clean bowled Clarke (11) with a surprise inducker (not just to the batsman!) after a period of off stump probing. Dhannie made 22 before he was the latest Brooks victim, this time caught one handed by Mason Wren out on the boundary.

Brooks was to cause more havoc on the Belhus line up and he soon bowled his way to a five wicket haul. Salim (4) was caught by Mendham and then Brooks completed his handful by trapping Williams in front for a duck. Meanwhile while all this was happening, Plans was up the other end quietly going about his business in impressive fashion. He battled his way to 44 before one shot too many meant that Wren had him caught by Feeney and this seemed to be the key wicket. The last Belhus wicket to fall was Waters. Skipper Owen finally found some use for his fancy dress keeper gloves and dived low to his left to help Feeney to a wicket as Belhus ended their innings on 175/9.

As OAT started their reply the sky brightened up a bit. They say that sun shines on the righteous and it obviously does as it soon disappeared again as Wren and Owen were in the middle! Wren hit A. Maidment for a couple of towering sixes as he looked to dispel any weather fears by finishing the game early.

Skipper Owen was ably assisting at the other end and OAT soon had 40 on the board off of just 4 overs. Of course things are never that simple in cricket and Wren was caught in the slips by Belhus skipper Waters for 26 of the bowling of B. Maidment. The following over Belhus were right back in the game as seasoned veteran Al Maidment had Owen caught behind to give the visitors all the momentum. You could forgive OAT for going into their shell and maybe trying to bat out a draw in the now steady rain but this 3rd XI has a tradition of thinking differently to convention and one of the new intake seems to have embraced this.

Harry Dove came to the crease and was playing shots like it was a true pitch on a bright summers day. Bouncers, yorkers or spin, it didn’t matter as they all got the same treatment to wrestle the game back in OAT favour. In support was Greg Mendham who grafted his way to 25 runs in the worst of the batting conditions. When Mendham was out of the bowling of Dhannie OAT didn’t need to worry as they had a plethora of batting options in the shed. Lee Kooyman strolled out to the middle with a job to do helping Dove see the game home. By now everybody was soaked through from that annoying non rain that feels like nothing but somehow makes you wet without realising it.

The last two hardy spectators swam back to the clubhouse leaving the climax to be witnessed only by the scorers, the batsman waiting to come in and the Environment Agency who were monitoring the river levels at the School Lane end which is amazing due to the fact I’m sure there wasn’t a river there at the start of the game?

The end finally arrived with a few overs to spare but not before Dove reached his 50. OAT had won this Derby game by 7 wickets with the not out batsmen being Dove (57*) and Kooyman (45*). Credit must go to both teams for getting a game in and making the best of the conditions and also to the groundsman of the June Ridgewell Ground who got a pitch to withstand the rain and produce 2 decent early season totals as the ground enters its farewell season.

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