The Juniors opened the bowling with the all Tonbridge pairing of Ellis Winsper (2-45) and Rufus Pullen (1-28). They bowled an excellent spell, making Churchill and Shales play more than not. Ellis produced 2 cracking deliveries early on to clean bowl the Captain and Tom Pollington, returning to play against the Juniors that he captained last year. This left the Chief’s XI on 4-2.
Cooper (31) and Shales consolidated well with a partnership of 66 before Sam Huggett (1-39) was rewarded for his accuracy and flight by picking up the left handed Cooper LBW. Things looked well set with Shales and McConnel (15) as lunch approached, when the Junior Captain Hugo Pettman (2-26) came on with his leg spin.
He mixed his variations well and snared McConnel and Davey in the over before lunch thanks to smart catches by Nicholls and Huggett. This left the game interestingly poised at 110-5.
After a splendid lunch, generously provided by the Chief, the experience of Seb Pollington (12) showed as he and Shales took the score to 155, before the Colonel was bowled by Pullen. This brought Fred Hulbert (21*) to bat, and he guided Matt Shales to a tired and deserved century (105*) in a 7th wicket stand of 53*. This was a terrific innings in tough conditions, with barely a chance given. It set up the opportunity for the adults to declare on 208-8 off 50 overs.
The Junior captain switched his bowlers deftly to avoid long spells in the sapping heat. All performed creditably, including miserly spells from Oli Healy (0-12) and Alex Moen (0-17).
In reply, the Junior BB lost George Skinner and Nico Bryan cheaply to a sharp opening spell by Josh Weller. Alex Moen (56) and Tom Nicholls (72) rebuilt sensibly, taking no risks especially against Fred Hulbert who bowled a continuous 12 over spell in the heat without reward. Their excellent partnership of 87 was a mix of positive drives and sharp singles.
The asking rate was not high, but it was rising all the time. With 20 overs to go, they needed five per over. However after young Ed Springett removed Moen, caught behind down the leg side, the momentum stalled.
Ed bowled a 9 over spell earning 5-24 and looks a good find for the Club. He removed the middle order as Tom Nicholls stood firm at the other end.
Captain Churchill turned to last year’s unlikely bowling success to remove Tom, who had been in excellent form for the Juniors this year. There followed an epic battle of cat and mouse between the bowler’s ‘spin variations’ and the attacking instincts of the batsman.
Twice Tom escaped a chance to deep mid wicket, before holing out at long on for 72 where Seb Pollington took the catch for his old school mate with aplomb. The combined age of catcher and bowler was 101, which might be some sort of record. This effectively ended the run chase.
Despite a tense last few overs, the Juniors just held out for a draw and ended up only 38 runs short. It was a good game played in a strong spirit which leaves the club in an excellent position for the future. I hope that many of the Juniors will graduate to become full playing members.
Many thanks to the Chief for his support and hospitality on the day, and also to all who played and came to watch.
Man of the match - Matt Shales for his 105*.
Junior B.B. Organiser