1st XI v Tunbridge Wells | Match Report - 04/05/19

The 2019 Premier League season began a week early for Beckenham who made the trip to the picturesque Nevill Ground to lock horns with Tunbridge Wells.  Fielding six newcomers from last season’s campaign but welcoming Alex Blake for his first outing of the season, Alex Senn duly won the toss and asked Wells to bat on a sunny - but bitterly cold - day with a preponderance of woolly hats among the spectators and the two scorers preferring to sit in the pavilion rather than on the roof in the ‘shed’!

The early exchanges were largely uneventful with both Will MacVicar and new partner Shojib Ali passing the edge from time to time.  With the dangerous Chris Williams kept in check and partner Mike Waller struggling to find his touch, the visitors took early control.  MacVicar broke through in the fifth over, dismantling Waller’s stumps in spectacular fashion.  Soon afterwards, Senn made changes and brought Alex Blake on at the pavilion end and Luke Sanders replaced Ali at the other, Ali having bowled an impressive 6-over spell for a miserly 10 runs.  With Blake keeping things very quiet at his end, it was Sanders who made the crucial breakthrough when Williams hoisted him to the mid-wicket boundary where Ollie Barnes took a splendid tumbling catch.  Blake then dismissed Davis, bowling him for 18 and Beckenham had their tails up at 57-3 from 19 overs.  Sanders then struck again two runs later when he trapped Sam Stickler in front – 59-4.  Alex Williams then found a staunch ally in Will Stickler and the two Wells batsmen began to retrieve the situation in fine style.  The Beckenham fielding was sharp and incisive so runs were having to be earned, but the visitors began to contribute to the score with a spate of wides.  Williams was the dominant partner in the stand as Sanders lost his control and was replaced by Rob Clements with Jason Bilimoria and his off-spin at the pavilion end.  Batting sensibly with fine shot selection, Williams completed an excellent fifty from 75 balls with the stand worth 87 before Bilimoria had Stickler (23) caught behind by James Balmforth.  This brought the tall figure of Ari Karvelas to the crease with memories of his clean hitting at Foxgrove last season but not this time as he holed out to Blake off Clements.  A brisk stand of 49 then ensued with Williams increasing the pace and was given fine support by Ian McLean before Ali returned to remove the latter for 19.  Will MacVicar then returned to administer the final rites and bowled Williams for a splendid 74 and then gave this scorer much delight in bestowing a very fine Primary on old friend Simon Routh next ball and the innings closed on 235-9 with 39 wides!  All the bowlers did a sterling job with MacVicar (3-54) being the pick and the fielding was excellent and well-marshalled by Senn.  A late finish was in prospect as there had been three rain breaks with Duckworth/Lewis & Stern on the horizon as the final arbiter. 

Skipper Senn and another new boy, Finnan Bryan, then found runs very hard to come by against the accurate Wells attack of Karvelas and Dave Smith.  Senn finally broke the stranglehold with a succession of crisply-struck boundaries before Alex Williams, replacing Smith at the pavilion end, trapped him in front for 31.  Bryan followed soon afterwards when he was bowled by Ian McLean at the other end.  Much now depended on the MacVicar/Blake axis with the burning question, could MacVicar transfer his astonishing batting form to the first League match?  Having opened his account with a boundary, it gradually became apparent that he was set on proving that he could and was given great support by Blake who kept his heavy artillery under wraps and skilfully moved the score along.  The score mounted and MacVicar reached his fifty in 73 balls and was scoring at will.  With yet another dark cloud threatening the second rain break of the innings imminent, Blake fell to a smart catch behind off Chris Williams for an invaluable 26.  The shower duly came and the DLS calculation revealed a reset target of 227 with two overs lost.  The momentum of the innings picked up with the arrival of Devonian Dan Hardy as MacVicar surged on and duly reached his century from the fifth ball of the 43rd over when, in the gathering gloom, the umpires called time with the DLS verdict that Beckenham had won by 13 runs. 

This had been an excellent game of cricket between two good sides with Beckenham looking to the imminent arrival of Stuart Binny and the return of Johan Malcolm.  Signs so far are that the winter recruitment has proved fruitful with Dan Hardy an excellent addition to the batting strength and bowlers Ali and Sanders to the bowling.