Has the Kent Premier title slipped away from the Vine?

Kent Cricket League Premier 1st Division: Sevenoaks Vine (181-8) lost to Bickley Park (182-5)

Sevenoaks Vine 1st XI succumbed to their second loss in as many games as an inexperienced side fell short against Bickley Park in a final over thriller.

Losing the toss, the Vine were made to bat first on a bowler friendly wicket and started slowly with Karl Pearson and Chris Vernon opening the batting. The pair saw off opening bowlers Arafat Bhuiyan and Xavier Darroch, before Vernon was caught off Daniel Magin for 17. Adam Rouse was then caught for 9 off the bowling of Ranjit Singh, before Pearson was caught for 14, also off Magin. Harry Bevan-Thomas was then caught off Singh for 3, before Luke Schlemmer was also out off Singh for 3 and the Vine were suddenly 61-5. Henry Procter then fell for 1 off the spin of Adeel Malik and the Vine were in desperate need of a partnership with the score 87-6. Enter Lorne Burns, who with Miles Richardson, managed to creep the Vine up over 100 before Richardson fell for 30. Coldman provided able assistance for Burns, and the pair took the Vine beyond 150, with Burns passing 50. Coldman would fall for 14, whilst Burns pushed the Vine up to a score of 181-8 from their 50 overs.

An excellent start would be needed from the Vine in order to defend their sub-par total, and they got just that as Mick King edged behind to Miles Richardson off the bowling of Karl Pearson. Bickley Park then recovered well and surged to 77-2 before Ranjit Singh was caught for 44 off the bowling of Schlemmer. Opener Will Holcombe soon followed as he was bowled by Lorne Burns, as did Adeel Malik who was caught for 9 off the bowling of Burns. With the score 96-4, the game was firmly in the balance. However, an excellent partnership between Daniel Magin (50*) and Michael Ridley (40) took the visitors within touching distance of victory as they needed 5 from the last over. Karl Pearson had the ball in hand and started well with a dot ball. Then Ridley hit 2, before being caught with three balls remaining and still three runs to win. Magin however ensured victory for Bickley Park with just one ball remaining.

The Vine now sit in joint third placed with Tunbridge Wells on 185 points, 13 behind Bexley in second, and 28 behind leaders Beckenham. Sandwich Town will be visiting the Vine next, as the Sevenoaks side look to bounce back after two disappointing weeks.

Kent Cricket League Premier 2nd Division: Holmesdale 2nd (88 all out) lost to Sevenoaks Vine 2nd (169 all out)
The Vine 2nd XI travelled to noisy neighbours Holmesdale in a contest that would be vital in their chase for the Premier 2nd XI title.

Losing the toss, the Vine were inserted in to bat on a slow and slightly wet wicket, that proved to be friendly to the Holmesdale opening bowling attack of David Hudson and Freddie Brushett. The Vine lost both openers, Will Peters (1) and Dan Martin (8), early on to the sharpness of Hudson’s short ball, soon followed by James White for 0 with thanks to an excellent one-handed catch by Charles Surguy off the bowling of Richard Holliday. Cyrus White and Chad Quinney provided some handy resistance as the recovered to 70-4, before White edged behind off Pete Grove. John Bowden fell quickly after as Hudson was brought back before a second spell, bringing Vineet Kokkiligada to the crease, who with Quinney, showed the wicket had improved before a moment of madness saw Quinney run out for 38. Douglas Ramchandran was then trapped LBW for 1, and the Vine were limping. Another period of recovery entailed as Kokkiligada and Piers Robinson brought the Vine up past 140, before Kokkiligada chipped the ball to cover for 23, before Robinson was given LBW for 21. Another run out ensured the Vine were eventually bowled out for 169 in the 46th over, in what was a poor batting performance for the Vine and a strong bowling performance from Holmesdale.

Knowing a strong start was needed to protect their sub-par total, the Vine’s opening bowlers of Piers Robinson and Matt Dalton were eager to make early inroads. Dalton would pick the first wicket up, clean bowling captain Dave Roffey with an inswinging yorker, whilst Robinson kept challenging Joel Kovoor at the other end and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket for his troubles. Having survived the first ten overs, the Vine turned to the spin of Chad Quinney and John Bowden, and the pair bowled extremely economically. In the next eighteen overs, six maidens were bowled, and some 20 odd runs were conceded as the Vine squeezed the Holmesdale batsman due to some tight bowling and excellent fielding. Before the drinks break, Kovoor was bowled by Bowden for 10, before Mike Brown hauled out to Cyrus White at long-on off the bowling of Chad Quinney (3-15). At drinks, the score was 55-3 and the Vine were very much in command. The pressure took its toll on the Holmesdale batting line-up, as Holliday, Surguy and Nathan Fawcitt fell without troubling the scorers. Meanwhile, Ed Bonner was still playing his shots at the other end before Dalton had him caught for 36. Dalton now had three wickets to his name, and soon added a fourth bowling Brushett for 0. Determined to get a fifth, Dalton upped the pace to the Holmesdale quick Hudson, who eventually chipped to mid on to complete his third 5 wicket haul of the season and finished with figures of 5-34. Bowden (2-9) then came back to take the final wicket, to bowl Holmesdale out for 88.

An 81 run victory for the Vine ensured they maintained top spot going into next week’s crucial game against second placed Sandwich Town, who sit only 5 points behind. With three games left, it is all to play for in the 2nd XI Premier League.

Kent Regional Cricket League 2A Central: Sevenoaks Vine 3rd (214-4) beat Lenham (28 all out)
Having lost the toss, the Vine 3rd XI were put into bat by Lenham. Andy Akerman and Ben Harvey opened the batting and having survived a testing first few overs reached 37-0 after 10 overs. From there, the pair dominated the opposition bowling and raced to 156 before both fell in quick succession with Akerman out for 79 and Harvey for 61. Adrian Spurling then hit a breezy 23 before being bowled, followed by Carl Nightingale (12*) and Robin Docherty (13*) dealt a few lusty blows as the Vine finished 214-4 from their 40 overs in a dominant batting display.

The bowling performance from the Vine proved even more comprehensive, as Jon Coleman (5-15) and Will Ansell (2-13) skittled Lenham, with all of Coleman’s wickets clean bowled. Robin Docherty tidied the innings up clean bowling the last man as Lenham folded for 28. The Vine 3s remain top of the league with three games remaining, and host Minster at Orchard Field this Saturday.

4th XI v. Smallhythe

Another half-century from in form Steve Bezuidenhout (and yet more red ink in his season mirabilis) guided the 4th team to an excellent 5 wicket victory at Smallhythe CC. 

Bowling first on a damp wicket, the Vines array of youngsters had benefitted from bowling a full length while the fielding was again mostly excellent.  Wickets were shared around but Will Hobbs (1 for 7 off 5 with the new ball) and Alex Schaefer (trimming the middle stump of their dangerous number 3) deserve a mention. Smallhythe were kept to 175 from their 40 overs.

The Vine innings was given a solid foundation by Andrew Shaefer (30) and Luke Schaefer (26) before Steve and Leo Bezuidenhout (22) combined for a match defining partnership. Their ball striking was equally accomplished, their running between the wickets increasingly contrasting as the innings wore on.  What could have been a tricky chase resulted in a comfortable 5 wicket win with 5 overs to spare, as the 4th XI continue their unbeaten run in their first season since 2007.