On a cold and wet April day Sevenoaks Vine welcomed current Premier League champions Beckenham to their Orchard Field ground in Otford for two T20 matches, in what is sure to have been The Vine’s earliest pre season fixture in quite some time.
The Vine lost the toss and were asked to field first on a rather green early season wicket with what turned into a very soggy ball that offered little to no assistance to the bowlers. Miles Richardson, fresh from a season long break, opened the bowling and gradually found his rhythm again after a few overs. His opening bowling partner was youngster Fred Smith, who showed maturity beyond his years bowling at two experienced batters and showed what a bright prospect he is.
Beckenham continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over and managed to negotiate the opening overs without the loss of any wickets. Andrew Reid Dick and Chris Vernon were introduced in tandem as first change bowlers, the latter of the two testing the middle of the wickets durability for a few deliveries that were appropriately dispatched to the boundary. Reid Dick managed to pick up the first wicket of the season, following it up with a celebration that could only challenge that of Fulham’s Aleksander Mitrovic. This proved to be the breakthrough The Vine needed as the formerly mentioned bowlers started to mark their authority on the game with some good tight bowling.
If Covid had allowed a crowd at Otford then those in attendance could have been forgiven for thinking they had travelled back in time to some time circa 1996, as the evergreen John Bowden and Will House were introduced into the attack. Experience told as any scoring progress was halted further with wickets falling at regular intervals, Bowden finishing with three. Beckenham ended their 20 overs with the score at 113-7 with Fred Smith bowling a fantastic closing over.
It was Hugh Piper and Vernon who were to spearhead The Vine’s chase as the temperature peaked at a balmy six degrees. With the ball seemingly doing a bit early on, the new ball period was well negotiated as Vernon became the main aggressor and look to take it to the attack. It must be noted how well he was supported by Piper given the Beckenham attack was led by Jahid Ahmed, one of the Premier League’s all time wicket takers and former Essex professional.
Vernon quickly managed to make his way to 50, at which point he retired out making way for Arj Sharma. A few free flowing cover drives had Sharma on his way and Sevenoaks made quick work of the chase, knocking the runs off in 16 overs for the loss of no wickets. An impressive all round performance.
The second match unfortunately became something of a damp squib with the combination of drizzle and cold temperatures getting the better of both teams. This was not before John Bowden made his way to 48* not out with Charlie Williams batting very nicely at the other end. The game was called off with Sevenoaks again having lost no wickets nine overs into their innings batting first.
A good early season showing for The Vine, in a game that proved ideal to blow away the cobwebs. Certainly some of the performances from the younger members gives us something to really look forward to for the years to come.
• Vine talisman John Bowden, was named as the first player of the week for 2021 following his excellent performance against scoring 47* (including three consecutive sixes) and taking 3-17.