The year was 2013, the stage was the beautiful setting of Bishops Stortford CC and the man of the day was Nick Jones aka Shark Mad Nick aka Le Petit Jonge.
A Steady start from our top 3 saw OEs reach the comfortable position of 90-1, but as we all know, 2 or 5 wickets are just around the corner where OEs are concerned. So, it came as no surprise as we fell to 115-6, bringing messers Jones & Holland to the crease. Having taken strike first, Jonesy’s first contribution was to rotate the strike, and whilst Holland took his guard, Nick thought he’d share an observation about the bowling. Normally, this would involve venturing down the pitch to have a quiet word, but this was Nick Jones, from the non-strikers end he calls “Don’t worry Holland, he’s just bowling dibbly-dobbly away swing!”
Jonesy along with Holland went on the attack, a mix of elegant lofted drives over extra-cover & mid-off matched with some brutal pull shots from Nick, saw him finish on 62 and gave OEs the luxury of declaring on 252/9.
As if he hadn’t done enough already, Nick opened the bowling and removed both openers. Bishops Stortford then moved to plan B, block out for the draw.
Wickets did come throughout the innings but the stubborn number 4 along with a dogged number 8 set about keeping the OEs bowlers at bay. They made it into the last 8 overs when in came Nick, he wasn’t having this and wanted another bowl. His impact was almost immediate as he removed the number four with an angled in delivery that straightened, took the outside edge to be caught behind. Finally an opening, Dom removed the number 8 from the other end and we needed just two more wickets 5 overs to go. Nick produced another fine over and was rewarded with another edge behind. Sitting on 4-32, could Nick provide one more sparkling moment? Of course he could, with an umbrella field set he steamed in and produced another delivery that drew a thick outside edge to be caught in the gully and everyone erupted. Nick Jones walked away with 62 & 5-32 to his name to almost single-handedly beat Bishops Stortford.
That brings us to Rob “Gibbo” Gibson, for his throwback moment we must go back to June 2011, the location was Chorleywood CC.
Typically, OEs lost the toss and were asked to bat. Not a problem given the weather and the fact the pitch looked like a featherbed. We went from 20-0 to 43-3 when Gibbo arrived at the crease, our fourth wicket arrived barely before Gibbo had a chance to take a guard. Gibbo brought his usual calm to the situation as we moved to 79-4, but he then had to watch from the other end as we fell to 93-7 and then 105-8 all in the infancy of his innings. We just needed someone to stay with Gibbo, that man was opening bowler come-sprinter Daniel Willoughby.
With Daniel providing some support to Gibbo, that allowed him to attack the bowling with some lovely cover & straight drives and bring up his 50. As he moved past his half-century, knowing a few balls could end this innings he began to accelerate. His attacking shots then began to pepper the boundaries, he first hit a bus as it went past long-on, then if that wasn’t enough he played a pull shot that broke a window in the pavilion. As he neared the three figures, nobody moved for fear of jinxing him and thankfully, Gibbo got his first century for the club at an impeccable time. Daniel fell shortly after this and after a few more lusty blows, the innings was declared which allowed Gibbo to leave the field unbeaten for a magnificent 125 not out. Thanks to his innings, OEs secured the win that day to make the day that much sweeter.
Finally, we move onto former first eleven captain Matt Holland aka Dutchy, aka Jay (from the inbetweeners). For the third of our musketeers, we must head back to May 2014, the setting was Northwood Town.
OEs bowled first and openers Busby & Goring made early in-roads to leave the opposition 3-down with less than 30 on the board. After taking one or two overs to get loose, Holland made a further breakthrough with the score 36-3. He removed the number three with a delivery that nipped back off the seam to take the top of off-stump. The number 6 came out to bat looking to help rebuild the Town innings, he played a defensive shot first ball and Holland found his edge as the ball went through to first slip and was caught. Holland was on a hattrick and for the second time in the innings, panic hit the Town dressing room as another batsman was rushing to get ready.
The field was set, Holland had a chance to capture a rare feat in cricket. As the number 7 took his guard, the tension and excitement built, I’m sure as the thought of “keep the hattrick ball out” went through the batsman’s mind, the fielders thought “please don’t give me a catch.” We were ready, Holland began his hike up the slope, delivered the ball on a full length, it nipped back and cannoned into the batsman’s pads. Everyone in the field erupted into an appeal and after a brief moment, the umpire raised his finger and Holland had his hattrick, he was engulfed by the team.
This was a historic moment, a rare feat achieved by few bowlers. Holland ended with figures of 11-5-17-4 and to make his performance even more enjoyable, OEs won by 8-wickets.
Next week we look at QE graduates, Messrs Lissowski, Spenceley & Scutt.
Updated 11:27 - 21 Jun 2018 by James Heavey