Thurrock 2nd v Woodham Mortimer Cricket Club FIRST XI on Sat 29 Aug 2015 at 1.00pm
Woodham Mortimer Cricket Club Won by 13 runs

Match report So it boiled down to this. The First XI made the journey to Blackshots Park, Thurrock, needing 4 points to secure promotion...with an outside shot of being promoted as champions. The flip side of the equation left the Woodies facing the possibility of finishing third and missing out on the glory they had worked so hard to achieve over the course of the season. All to play for.

Stand-in skipper for the day, Rod Brazier didn't have the finest of starts to the day - firstly, losing a third consecutive toss which ensured that Woodham would have the initial use of a 'lively' pitch: this was no road, despite the affirmations of some of the home side. Then, secondly, falling for a duck whilst prodding forward to a ball which kept a little low, sharply snaffled by silly mid-off. Fortunately the wolf pack is growing ever larger and more competent. The missing Smithy-Keeper was replaced with a similarly attack-minded batsman, Ollie Glasson (who had appeared in a range of guises throughout the season) and OG proved his worth. As wickets fell around him he took advantage of any bad balls, building a crucial and well-timed innings. Runs were hard to come by, as is so always the case on this ground, and his vital 41 can not be underestimated. Wickets fell sharply once Manoj Tripathi departed for 12, unlucky to be bowled via a deflection from his own body onto the stumps. The rain began to come into play, making the pitch ever more spicy before Ball (2) and R. Marshall (9) fell to two LBW appeals - both of whom left the field desperately disappointed. This led the Woodies into a period of consolidation. Still chasing the magic 4 points, they began to look downwards from the original aim of 200, first to 175, then to 150 and finally to 125, as the wickets of Cook (chasing a wide one, out for 2), Hayman (seeking a counter-attack, out for 0) and Verlander (another casualty to see his stumps shattered for a duck) left the visitors reeling.

Craig Marshall came to the fore, as he has on many other occasions with the bat this season and contributed a vital 19 runs. Hard running and a couple of deft late cuts saw the first bonus point of the day come agonisingly close before he was yorked by a double bouncer. Chairman Mitchell swiped a boundary to move the side nearer before Tom Payne (7) was bowled trying to get some reward for a team innings that never really got started.

So, at tea, with the rain still falling (lightly, as indicated by one drop on the BBC weather chart, rather than the heavy two) Woodham were clear outsiders. Defending 121 is a difficult ask in any situation but with the best bowling attack in the division and a pitch that was offering plenty they strode out with positive, aggressive intentions. Promotion was still on - take 8 wickets or see the game abandoned and they were home. As for the title? Well, only the biggest gamblers really thought it possible.

Connor Hayman has been a vital bowler for the team this season. His pace and belief can carry the team with it and at times he has been unplayable. Rarely does he leave a spell without taking wickets and today was no different. He removed the dangerous Hills, who seemed intent on getting the runs as quickly as possible, via a catch at mid-off. Opening partner Payne obliging with a crucial snaffle before taking two more to end with excellent figures of 3-24. Tom Payne himself looked better than ever and has improved as the season has worn on. Like a fine vintage, he gets better with every drop and as the rain got ever stronger he got the ball to talk. Two unplayable deliveries in two balls saw him finish with 2-21.

At the drinks break, with adrenaline pumping and with out of action skipper Kev Wright having to leave his pitch patrol for wedding duties, it was stick or twist time for the Woodies. 21-0 had become 58-6 but this only brought the dangerous N. Henry to the crease. His patient innings of 46 looked for a long time as if it might prevent the visitors from getting the bonus points needed and discussions over the weather between those on the field looked likely to call a halt to proceedings. However, some Wolves, the stand-in skipper especially, sniffed an outside chance of not only promotion, but possibly the title. And so it came to pass. Roger Marshall (3-23) bowled two fiery spells and got enough balls in the right places to give him inevitable wickets - pace and aggression on a Thurrock wicket, always a delicious combination. The nagging accuracy of Verlander at the other end kept the score down, with the help of a group of fielders throwing all they had at the ball (Gav Cook and Craig Marshall, in particular, giving absolutely everything for the cause whilst Manoj had the difficult task of keeping in very tough conditions). Jeevesy proved his value to this side once more - prising out Hodge for the 8th wicket and thereby securing promotion to Division Three. No stopping them now, they realised one final push, one more big team effort in the rain, in the dark and they could do it. Quite fittingly, the wicket of N. Henry was the last. He had stood out as the player most likely to prevent an away win and once he was triggered, again falling to Verlander, the visitors could celebrate the 15-run win.

Of course, in situations like this, without the sky cameras covering all games live, there is the anxious wait for news from around the grounds. The equation was simple - Old Chelmsfordians II's needed to lose to High Easter, or have the game abandoned due to rain, for Woodham Mortimer first team to go up as champions. Following several texts (some with accurate information, some not) and several phone calls, it was finally confirmed that OC's had failed to defend a total of 279 against High Easter, meaning the celebrations could truly begin. In a season where each and everyone involved contributed something, this 'team', skippered expertly by Wright throughout the long season had done it. Promotion. Champions. Welcome back to Division Three.

Woodham Mortimer Cricket Club FIRST XI Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
3nb 10w 10b 2lb 
for 10 wickets

(44.1 overs)
Rod Brazier ct b Packer 0
Ollie Glasson ct b Hills 41 6 1
Manoj Tripathi b b Hills 12 2
Ian Ball lbw b L Henry 2
Roger Marshall lbw b L Henry 9 1
Gavin Cook ct b L Henry 2
Connor Hayman b b L Henry 0
George Verlander b b L Henry 0
Craig Marshall b b N Henry 19 1
Tom Payne b b Hills 7 1
Keith Mitchell Not Out  4 1

Thurrock 2nd Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
L Henry10.031653.201.60
N Henry8.0027127.003.38

Thurrock 2nd Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
2nb 2w 6b 2lb 
for 10 wickets
108 (37.0 overs)
Hills ct T Payne b C Hayman 17
Day b C Hayman 3
Warren b T Payne 8
McCartney ct O Glasson b C Hayman 5
Owen b T Payne 0
N Henry lbw G Verlander 46
L Henry b R Marshall 11
Buckley lbw R Marshall 0
Hodge b G Verlander 2
Smith lbw R Marshall 2
Jones Not Out  0

Woodham Mortimer Cricket Club FIRST XI Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Connor Hayman10.042438.002.40
Tom Payne10.0321210.502.10
Roger Marshall6.002337.673.83
George Verlander8.101628.001.96
Keith Mitchell3.001600.005.33