On Saturday, Holmesdale 1st XI made the long trip down to the Kent coast to play Sandwich in the Kent Premier League. A match which included two fantastic knocks falling just short of centuries, and ultimately ended in a 21-run defeat for the boys from Riverhead.
As there had been iffy weather around in the preceding days, Luke Blackaby decided to bowl first when he won the toss. The first few overs that Holmesdale bowled were tight against the Sandwich openers, Fagg and Gordon. And the away side thought they had made the breakthrough in the fourth over, when Fagg went aerial through the covers off the returning Jack Hulston, only for the chance to be spilled. This proved to be a wake-up call for the Sandwich players, as both went on the attack, playing some lovely, but risky shots. Unfortunately for the Dale, any false shots that they produced did not result in chances.
It wasn’t until the 12th over that the Dale made their first breakthrough: a fantastic diving catch by David Roffey at long-off from the bowling of Fawcitt to dismiss Joe Gordon (28). With the score on 49-1, Zack Fagg was joined by Robbie Goatham and while the latter was circumspect in his approach, the former was doubly aggressive, taking the medium-pacers for a number of maximums. It wasn’t until spin was introduced that Holmesdale could wrestle back some control. May (0-22) and Bryant (1-44) were able to reduce the number of boundaries being struck. But, it wasn’t until the score was on 166, that the Dale took their second wicket, Bryant trapping Fagg LBW for a fantastic 93 off 91 balls.
At this point, the Dale thought they were going to be staring down the barrel at a monster score. However, the next 18 overs went for only 99 runs. The key protagonist in this period was vice-captain, Anthony Bissett, who picked up crucial wickets in his spell of 2-31. Both Blackaby (1-42) and Fawcitt (2-23) bowled tight spells at the death. This meant that Sandwich set the Dale a total of 265-7 from their 50 overs.
The Dale’s innings got off to an excellent start. Kent’s opening paceman, Nathan Gilchrist, was not able to remove either McDowell or Bissett and the pair were positive in their approach, taking the score to 55 before McDowell (27) was inexplicably run out going for a third. This brought Luke Budden to the crease, and the pair put on another excellent 50 partnership. However, straight after drinks, Budden (29) was stumped off the leg spin of Jan Gray (1-36). This brought Maynard to the crease. The Bajan overseas struggled with his timing initially, but as the run-rate required by the Dale increased, so did Maynard’s strike-rate. Unfortunately, at the other end, the Dale lost Bissett for an excellent 59 and then Blackaby followed soon after, snicking Gilchrist behind.
At this point the score was 159-5. Maynard just needed somebody to stay with him, but wickets kept falling. Despite this, Maynard continued to pepper the boundary, taking the score to 244 in the 49th over by the time his wicket, the ninth, fell. It was a fantastic knock of 90 from just 80 balls. But the fact that nobody reached double figures from number 5 down was disappointing.
The Dale came up 21 runs short, an excellent effort, but one which was in vain in the end. The positive was that they took seven points in this match against the table-toppers and sit level on points with 6th place, with games against Blackheath and Sevenoaks Vine before the halfway stage.