Bilham blast sinks Dereham


After the no show at Horsford and a fortnight ago and a rather lame draw against Tas Valley last week, the 3rd team really needed to turn in a performance at table toppers Dereham to show it meant business in its endeavours to stay up.

Things started inauspiciously as the captain led his car and one other on a magical mystery tour of Dereham, finally arriving at their destination twenty minutes before the start of the game. In the mean time Goon had won a vital toss and put the home team in. The wicket, although covered, was a little wet as water had seeped down the slope. Cloudy and humid conditions might also encourage some swing.

The team included a couple of players untarnished by recent events. It was nice to have Yash in the fold, giving us another useful bowling option and more depth in the batting. Jack Flescher and local hero Sunny Richmond were also back. Growler Micklewhaite was feeling under the weather with man flu but it would have been wrong for the only hard man in the team to pull out on that basis.

Without the benefit of a warm up, our bowling was not up to par to start with as both Nathan and Sunny struggled to find the right areas. The Dereham openers were quick to hit the bad ball and run quick singles and, despite the enthusiastic chat of Ed Botright fielding close in the front of the wicket, we were on the back foot.  This all changed on 40 ( I think – no detailed scorecard to hand) when Jake Anema appeared to edge Nathan to the keeper. All the fielders behind the wicket were convinced it was a nick however it was only the umpire in front of the wicket who agreed and it was he who counted. In the same over Hewitt struggled to control a short ball which got slightly big on him and he spooned to Botright at cover.

At this point Swardeston smelt blood, usually the cue for a 150 run partnership. But it was different this time. Sunny had the number 3 held at silly mid on when, again, he failed to get on top of the bounce. Goon came on at the fire station end and survived an 18 run over, including 2 straight sixes, to bowl beautifully and tie the Dereham batsmen in knots. Bowling with the slope, he actually got a couple to turn and his final figures of 3 for 33 ( so he told me) did not flatter him as he had a stone dead LBW turned down and a regulation stumping missed. At the other end, Jack ran in manfully, pitching the ball up and keeping it tight for 7 overs before Yash came on. Again Yash bowled very well. A year on since most of us had seen him, he is bigger and stronger and bowls with a little more pace and spin on the ball. The Dereham batsmen could not get hold of him at all and he bowled all the way through to the end of end of the innings, picking up one wicket, I believe. Nathan replaced Goon and, in turn, bowled straight and full, mopping up the last couple of wickets.

Overall it was a good, if not flawless, performance. The Dereham batsmen would have been disappointed with the manner of a few of their dismissals, two holing out at long off and long on and two being stumped, however the Swardeston catching was largely secure and we felt 139 all out was half a job well done.

We knew Dereham would come at us hard and the 15 overs of our innings was vital. Jessy and Alex Bilham started solidly and the flow of runs soon became a torrent as Alex tucked into anything loose, especially if short, from the opening bowlers. He was on 42 when the total score was 50. When Jessy chipped to cover, Jon entered the fray and soon settled down with a air of grim determination. Billers was still hitting shots to all parts and we knew another few overs at the rate he was going would kill the game off quickly. Unfortunately , after another four signalled his fifty, he struck a short ball straight down the throat of long on. As he said afterwards, he could have hit that ball anywhere.

The party was over but we were still well on top. Ed and Jon battled well against the unorthodox duo of Anema and Hewitt, with Ed especially punishing on anything short. When he was out LBW, Growler went in and, as usual, looked a million dollars  until he nicked one to first slip off the keeper’s thigh. He really has had some bad luck in recent weeks and is due a big one.

This left us with 20 to win with 6 wickets left, a gimmee for most teams. However there were still  a few nervous glances being  exchanged among the senior players. Nathan sent in Jack to get it over and done with and he obliged with a couple of hefty blows. Together with some nudged singles and a few extras, we crossed the line to scenes of jubilation among the boys.  Special mention to Jon who had dug in and batted with much less fluency than usual but had done a great job keeping his end up.

Two weeks on from the debacle at Horsford and all is rosy in the garden again, especially with whispers that King Kenny is back next week.

As a final note, thanks to Dereham for their hospitality. It was good to see so many youngsters watching the game which suggests the future is bright once again for traditionally one of Norfolk’s biggest clubs.





















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