Thrills and Spills in Tanfield Trophy

KMCC were again drawn to play in the morning game of the Tanfield Trophy and as usual a motley crew in various states of sobriety turned up to play.  Opponents Leak were a bit of an unknown quantity but due to the early hour of the clash and the presence of a certain W G Grace in their midst they started strong favourites.

However Kirkby had again bestowed upon Scotton’s Damon “Horrible” Ives the honour of playing for the mighty Malzeard and on winning the toss, Damon ensured that a good batting tempo was set with the KMCC openers still at the crease.  Wes “Show Pony” Smart, arrived at the ground and the Kirkby eleven was hastily rearranged to accommodate him.  In the absence of Rod, Peter Kirk quickly claimed the senior professionals right to stand down.  All the batsmen contributed and an excellent total of 170 was posted.

Good bowling spells from Matthew Morton, Tufnell, Ben Kirk, Damon, Duncan and Wes ensured that Leak were never in the hunt despite W.G.’s best efforts.  After their comfortable win several of the Kirkby contingent followed their usual routine and retired to the Black Bull to mentally prepare for the final.

The second semi final was a similarly one sided affair as Ripon Nondescripts easily defeated the hosts West Tanfield.  Two massive blows from Australian Paul “the beast” Reynolds would have had the KMCC bowlers quaking in their shoes had they not been down the pub at the time.  The Ripon score of 179 had surpassed Kirkbys earlier 170 and their manager, the wily Rob Hutchison, was clearly confident that his finely tuned team would comfortably defeat the Kirkby rabble whose weaknesses he had duly noted in the morning game.

Hutch’s meticulous planning for the final was about to be rendered useless by some dramatic changes to the Kirkby personnel.  Firstly, Dave Tudbury was unfortunately struck down by a reoccurrence of his back injury and was replaced in the side by Peter Kirk.

Secondly, in a severe case of pot hunting, Kiwi Richard “sicknote” Hooks dramatically made himself available.  Hooks was not considered for the first game on account of the possibility of the morning dew making the conditions unsafe.  Only after careful deliberation as to whether the danger to him being tripped over did the delicate Mr Glass decide to don his whites.

With Hooks now in the side bother Peter and Iain argued their cases for standing down.  Captain Duncan took matters firmly into his own hands and with swift and decisive action he brutally axed Tufnell from the side.  On hearing the news that Hooks was in for Tufnell, the confident smirk vanished from Rob Hutchinson’s face and in true Nondie’s tradition he contemplated an official protest to the tournament organisers.

When the game finally started Duncan won the toss and elected to bat.  The Kirkby big guns Ives, Smart and Hooks were confident of posting a mammoth score to bat the Nondies out of the game.  Unfortunately in less than two overs the aforementioned superstars were all back in the hut and the Kirkby innings was in tatters at 12-3.

It was left to stalwarts Iain and Brad to repair the damage.  Using all their experience to repel the mercurial talents of spinner Tom Armstrong they dragged Kirkby back into the match and after 11 overs the score had advanced to 77.

In the last 5 overs the Kirkby pair moved to all out attack and the runs at last began to flow. So much so that the score was almost doubled to a more than respectable 150.  Iain (84) and Brad (51) had shared a memorable and unbeaten stand of 138.

150 was a challenging target but could it possibly be enough with the giant aussie Reynolds opening for the Nondies?  Wes opened the bowling to good effect and Kiwi, Mr Glass, anxious not to be upstaged by his Aussie opening partner, steamed in at the other end.  At 19-1 after 4 overs Captain Duncan was content but the introduction of Morts from the Slenningford End was the signal for “the Beast” to awake from his slumbers.

There were frenzied chants from the Ripon contingent in the crowd of “feed the beast, feed the beast” and unfortunately Morts did precisely that and 3 balls were despatched and lost out of the ground.  Duncans response was the reintroduction of Wes, but by now the Ripon opener had his eye well and truly in and two more balls sailed onto the road.  With the score at 106-2 after 11 overs and being down to the very last ball in Bradleys kit bag things looked bleak for KMCC.

However, Ben Kirk, inspired by the presence of his fan club off the field(his mum, gran, granddad and great uncle Rodney) and his father on the field, was in the middle of a good spell.  In Bens 4th and final over “the Beast” went for one big hit too many and spooned up a catch that fortunately fell to Wes rather than one of the Kirkby regulars.

When the catch was taken the screams from Ben’s fan club could probably have been heard back in Kirkby and the match was once more in the balance.  With 3 overs to go 29 runs were required, but with 7 wickets in hand Ripon were probably still favourites.  Crucially though a fully fired up Mr Hooks had two more of those overs to bowl.

Generating pace at at least 15 mph faster than anything he had produced earlier in the season Hooksy came charging in.  Those “wizard of oz” jibes were totally forgotten as he produced an amazing over full of heart, courage and brains to wrest the initiative back in Kirkby’s favour.

First he clean bowled the dangerous Lloyd with an absolute jaffer, he then repeated the feat next ball to the new batsman and then found the edge of Armstrongs bat Dujon taking the catch to complete the hattrick.  Amazing stuff from the kiwi – no longer will we call him Dorothy!!

The game was not over however as the dangerous John Gaines was still in and he clubbed Duncan for six in the penultimate over to keep nondies hopes alive.  18 runs were needed from the last over and a couple of streaky fours kept Ripon in the match right up to the last ball with six to win.

A perfect delivery from Hooks right up in the block hole ensured KMCC were victorious.  Mr Glass finished with the superb figures of 5-21.

Outwardly magnanimous in defeat, Ripon manager, Rob Hutch was inwardly seething having been out-manoeuvred by Kirkby’s squad rotation policy.  He left the ground early to begin his recruitment for next years tournament at which he has vowed revenge.