Brockley, recently and most kindly sponsored by Precon Products, welcomed newly promoted Needham Market to The Oval for the first time in their Two Counties League history.
To celebrate this “first” captain Boreham delivered another one and the home side found themselves batting.
The ground looked glorious (thank you, DF, Nigel and also Fisher junior) and the weather was sunny in a freezing cold sort of way.
Brockley opened as one would expect, with the obdurate Fisher junior and the LBW-seeking Jefferys whose wait is never a long one when captain Dan is wearing the metaphorical white coat. This brought McCaffrey to the wicket in order to strike two fine boundaries before returning to the warm to share his experience with the recovering Jeffery.
Huffer (39) then joined Fisher (27) who had looked solid from the start however he hadn’t reckoned with the change of running partner and he too was back in the hut with only 50 on the board.
From this position, with an apparent surfeit of batting still to come, it would be quite reasonable to expect Needham to find themselves chasing about 85 for victory however captain Dan (24) saw the score into 3 figures before he became the second run out victim of the day. When Huffer then fell to a super catch on the boundary from Hill who then followed it up with his second run out of the day in removing the unfortunate Webb most junior, Brockley were on only 133-6 which quickly became 142-8 with just 6 overs to go.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Meekings, possibly younger, definitely not older. Through guile, skill and Spideysense he propelled Whiley (still no relation to Pete) to 55 runs off just 42 balls before becoming the fourth Brockley run out of the day. This brought Sykes to the wicket and the run out jug seemed odds on. Miraculously the final ball passed uneventfully and Brockley closed on an unexpectedly satisfying 184 for 9.
In reply Needham lost two early wickets to the ageing Sykes (4 for 27) and his decrepit kit. However Hill (62) and Burch (59) steadily rebuilt the innings to the point that they were left needing 49 to win off ten overs and with 8 wickets in hand.
Whilst R Webb was doing a great job controlling the run rate, a wicket was needed so captain Dan called on Jefferys (2 for 27) who, to no one’s surprise, removed both the runscorers in a vital spell. Webb followed this up with two wickets of his own to end with an impressive (2 for 36) and leaving Needham 6 down and still needing 22 to win off four overs.
With Webb bowled out there was no option but to resuscitate Sykes. With much head shaking in the field, Palmer took the opportunity to strike the first ball for four and hit the second like a bullet only for it to end in the hands of Huffer.
When Jeffery followed up with a similarly smart catch to remove his namesake then Brockley were, somehow, almost home and dry to complete a win by just 8 runs.
The real highlight of the game was the spirit in which such a close match, with many difficult decisions for umpires on both sides, was played. Needham market were missing a number of players that would surely have tilted the match in their favour but were the most generous of opponents with great support and both sides will look forward to an equally sporting return fixture.
When it is warmer. A lot warmer