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News from Woodbridge Road – lockdown edition 4

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Nets/outdoor practice

Following the government easing some of the lockdown restrictions, we have received confirmation from the ECB that we can now start to open up the nets at Woodbridge Road. We do, however, need to put in some very strict rules & safety procedures before they can be used. We are just sorting out how it can all work and will hopefully have everything in place by the weekend. In the meantime, please don’t turn up at the ground to use the nets until everything is confirmed.

Ollie Pope

Five questions with Ollie Pope

Each week for the remainder of lockdown we’ll be asking one of our top players, past and present, five questions to learn a little bit more about them and their cricketing life. This week is Surrey and England batsman Ollie Pope.

  1. What’s your first cricketing memory?My first trial for Surrey U9s when I was 7 years-old, couldn’t hit it off the square!
  2. Who is the best cricketer you’ve played with?Sangakarra, his work ethic is amazing and so is the way he thinks about the game, and he was unbelievable to watch!
  3. Who is the messiest in the dressing room?Rory Burns.
  4. Who’s the biggest badger?Scott Borthwick at Surrey!
  5. What has been your favourite moment on a cricket field?Winning the Cape Town test match late on day 5 against South Africa, followed by winning the County Championship for Surrey; won it at New Road, beating Worcestershire!



When Sobers Came to Guildford

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The party will have to wait, like so much else at the moment.

The vagaries of the fixture list have meant that Surrey’s annual trip to their holiday home has moved around the calendar in recent years, having been firmly established in mid-July for a lengthy period at the turn of the century.

Yet that year’s match would not have been the earliest Guildford Festival – that honour was claimed in 1974, when Surrey opened their County Championship campaign on Wednesday May 8 with a visit from Nottinghamshire.

Given they had finished bottom the previous summer, that might sound like the fixture from hell except for one factor – Garry Sobers.

No one else in the world game could set the pulse racing quite like Sobers, still regarded by many as the finest all-rounder to grace the stage even though, approaching his 38th birthday, his overworked knees were increasingly troubling him.

This was a man who had scored more than 8,000 Test runs, claimed 235 wickets through both seam and spin and claimed catches which seemed impossible for anyone with remotely normal reflexes. He had achieved it all with a flair and sportsmanship which brought the adoration of both fellow players and spectators the world over.

Few realised – and the great man, knighted by the Queen nine months later at the Garrison Savannah Racecourse in his native Barbados, gave no indication – that he had just played his last Test. It was a remarkable one in which England had secured a remarkable 26-run victory to claim a remarkable 1-1 draw in the Caribbean, despite West Indies looking certain to overwhelm them just as they had done the previous summer.

“The pitches were incredibly flat out there at that stage and you needed to have more speed than I  did to get something out of them,” said Geoff Arnold, England’s spearhead, who had bowled last man Lance Gibbs to claim victory at Port of Spain, just his second wicket in three matches.

A month later and it was a different matter, early May in England perfectly suited to a bowler who Geoffrey Boycott said gave him more problems over 25 years of first-class cricket than any other opponent.

Nottinghamshire’s decision to bat first at Woodbridge Road rebounded on them, instantly sliding into trouble – despite Wisden describing the pitch as “slow and lifeless” – against Arnold and strike partner Robin Jackman. Sobers entered at 17-2 and might have been surprised to find off-spinner Pat Pocock brought into the attack early but almost immediately being adjudged leg-before wicket for just two.

“I managed to get Garry out a few times but, unfortunately, never in a Test,” recalls Pocock. “I must have ended up bowling 300 overs at him in the end. He was a great player but he played each ball on its merits, so in some ways he was easier to bowl at than some others.”

Pocock had also been involved in that gruelling five-Test series, given an opportunity now that Ray Illingworth had been replaced by Mike Denness as captain. He claimed 5-110 in the opening Test but was restricted to another four victims in as many matches after that. And in that final series-equalling win, he had watched as Tony Greig, previously a medium-pacer, metamorphasised so successfully into an off-spinner that he claimed 13 wickets in the match.

Now he ran through Notts, claiming 5-30 in 17 overs, while Arnold (3-12) and Jackman (2-23) did the rest to dismiss the visitors just after lunch for 85. The only man to reach double-figures was future England batsman Derek Randall, who made 20, although extras contributed 17.

Surrey’s reply was rocking at 14-2 after the loss of Mike Edwards (1) and Kiwi Geoff Howarth (2), John Edrich’s typically solid 31 and a fluent 43 from Younis Ahmed seeing off the initial danger before reaching 136-5 at close of play.

Losing two wickets almost immediately on the second morning, the hosts were in danger of throwing away the advantage at 138-7 but Jackman, maker of many essential lower-order contributions, and Arnold (23) added 52 – the highest stand of the match – with Jackman finishing on 54 to earn Surrey a lead of 142. Sobers went wicketless, seamer Paul Wilkinson’s 4-46 the best return.

“Jackers could bat and he played some important innings for us,” reckoned Arnold, who scored a half-century in the second of his 34 Tests, against Pakistan at The Oval in 1967 but admitted: “I should have got more runs along the way.”

If Nottinghamshire wanted to save the match, it was going to need a major innings from someone in the top-order but Arnold immediately trapped Mike Harris (3) leg-before and had Mike Smedley caught by Graham Roope in the slips for a duck.

That brought Sobers to the crease for the second time and he reached double-figures this time, making 10 before falling to Jackman, courtesy of what Daily Mail cricket correspondent Alex Bannister described as a “brilliant catch at deep-mid-off” from Arnold.

Opener Bob White (51) held firm in a fourth-wicket stand worth 54 with Randall (42). Yet their separation saw Notts slide from 85-3 to 146 all out – Arnold taking centre-stage this time with 5-23, which included the wicket of Test selector Jack Bond for the second time in the match, giving the captain “a taste of his speed and hostility” – to finish with match figures of 8-35.

That left Surrey needing just five to win with tailender Pocock, having claimed another three wickets in the second innings, promoted to open and scoring them all off six balls from a Barry Stead over to complete victory by 10 wickets inside two days.

Sobers wasn’t the only great player to find Guildford a difficult ground to conquer. Two decades later Brian Lara arrived with Warwickshire shortly after his world record score of 501 not out but could only make 46 runs in three innings.

And in 2017, Kumar Sangakkara’s triumphant first-class farewell tour around the country, which saw him score eight centuries in 10 Championship matches, was interrupted by two failures against Essex. Maybe it’s something about left-handers.

The only other time Surrey have played at Guildford in May came in 1976, when they overcame Somerset by seven wickets in a rain-affected match.


The Match that Never Was – Nick Gooding

Friday 8th May was the 75th anniversary of the official announcement of the Allied Force’s Victory in Europe. Apparently my mother in law went out in London and twirled around her skirt revealing more than she should have done but let’s move on from that very quickly please. We all love hearing a little bit of Dame Vera Lynn singing “We will meet again I don’t know where I don’t when”.

Well Dame Vera this brings me back nicely on to today. Sunday 10th May. I am the Age Group Manager of Guildford Cricket Club Under 11’s. My team of young cricketers are back in action for the first game of the season and we are playing Blackheath, at home, in our first outing of the season and it is in the Surrey Cup. Lose the match and we are toast – out in the first round. I am not usually results driven as I want our players to enjoy the game with no pressure but it is the Cup Vera (oh is ok if I drop the Dame bit as we are now new besties?). My competitive juices are up for this game.

Now can we get back to the “ We will meet again don’t know where don’t when bit” mentioned above? Well I sent out a clear note last Sunday with precise instructions about where and when we will all meet again. But based on previous experience I should know better. Where and when for my lot is some sort fictitious theory that is not based in modern reality with sat nav and tracking devices. Apparently those beggars will get you wherever you need to be in good time. The reality today was, as always, somewhat different to the theory. Simple instruction “ Stay at Home, Stay Safe, Protect The NHS” – oops sorry wrong instruction. Vera, it was meet at 2.00pm for a 2.30pm start at Recreation Road, Guildford. Well at 2.00pm my phone was melting. It was a common theme “we are at a recreation ground in Guildford where are you?” Vera, even in the height of the Second World War have you ever tried to herd cats? All those brave young pilots knew they had to aim for the White Cliffs of Dover, sometimes only on one engine, to get back to Blighty and 75 years later my lot can’t find the ground we are playing at in their home town! Anyway enough of that. They all just about arrived in time for the match but missed their warm up with Manoj which he was very happy about as they normally adopt the Douglas Jardine bodyline bowling theory, in the 1932/33 Ashes series in Australia, and imagine they are Harold Larwood and Manoj is Don Bradman without the pads. Lucky escape Manoj!

We eventually get going in our 9-a-side 18 over out is out match. We have been put into bat. Alex S-P and Big Nav open for us and soon start to open their shoulders. We cruise to 30 off four overs and then our curse of the run out strikes and Nav is a gonner. Toby comes in but Al has lost his rhythm and is being pegged back by some good bowling when he goes for the big shot and skies to mid-off. 35-2. Enter Soham who bats very nicely and see us to 50. But the overs are being eaten up. Realising this the lads go on the offensive and get 25 off the next three before they both go in consecutive balls 85-4. Josh and Ollie G are now at the crease and although they not our biggest hitters they are best runners between the wickets and they are pinching runs all the over the place, they have taken us to 112-4 when they take one risk too many and Olls is on the way back to the pavilion. Ben joins Josh who is unfortunately out next ball. At 112-6 Ben and Edward together look to be going well when Edward gets caught behind with the score on 120. Lorenzo and Ben manage a further six runs to post a final score of 126-7.

The half time break. Anita and Daya are providing the refreshments. Now we all know what this means – Anita’s samosas. Houston, we have a problem! Daya forgot to load the hamper. Anita dispatches him back to Woking and Lou sprints to the garage for orange juice and water.

Anyway back to the match Edward and Soham are bowling well and Toby takes a good catch behind the stumps off Soham – 20-1 off four. Nav and Al come on and Al castles what we think is their best bat – a friend from Lanesborough. Josh and Ben take some pace of the ball and their batters keeping playing and missing until one is skied and Nav catches it. 55-3 off 9 overs. We thought we had seen their best bats but now they are taking a liking to our quicks and using the pace to nick off and score freely. 90-4 off 13. Manoj puts on Lorenzo who does the trick of slowing down the scoring. 99-4 off 14. Four overs remaining. Ollie G to bowl over 15. Bowls well but goes for 7. 106-4. Lorenzo bowls over 16 and Toby swipes off the bails and they are five down for 114. Soham bowls over 17 and it is fast and tidy and he takes a great caught and bowled but a but we concede six more runs. 120 for 6. Last over 7 required for a Blackheath to triumph. In The last over wides and no balls, 2 are conceded and the ball is replayed. Ollie G, left arm over, fast. First ball he oversteps – no ball from the Blackheath umpire. 5 required off six. The South London born left armed seamer is furious. The batter didn’t even see the next delivery which sent his middle stump spinning, balls two and three 2 more runs are conceded. Three required from three. One run and a dot ball which means that Blackheath need two to win from the last ball. A fast out swinger catches the batsman’s edge and is heading, in the air, towards the third man boundary. “Catch it” goes up the shout. It was one those moments when time stood still. Lorenzo goes up in slow motion and gets a hand to the ball but can’t hold it but stops it and the ball drops down in front of him where he pouches it. Guildford have won by one run and are through to the next round of the Surrey Cup.

Just as we win Daya returns in time to pass around the Samosas – oh and by the way he wins the much coveted Numpty of the Week Award.

Suddenly I am being shaken on my shoulder. It is Marion. “How long have you been asleep? The Prime Minister is on shortly. Did you drink all that claret at lunchtime?” As I wake up from a gentle post lunch snooze Johnnie Walker’s sound of the seventies radio programme is on playing the Temptations 1971 hit “Just my imagination once again running away with me”. Great win though.

Keep safe.

Love to all

Nick and Marion x.


Pick your England Test team since 2000 – results

Last week we asked you to pick your greatest England test team from the last 20 years and the results are in! Thanks to all those who got involved; we can now announce that Guildford CC has picked the following XI:

  1. Alastair Cook (c)
  2. Marcus Trescothick
  3. Ian Bell
  4. Joe Root
  5. Kevin Pietersen
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Alec Stewart (wk)
  8. Graeme Swann
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Darren Gough
  11. James Anderson

The following players also received call-ups, but just missed out on the final XI

  • Andrew Strauss (picked 5 times)
  • Simon Jones (4)
  • Graham Thorpe (3)
  • Jonathan Trott, Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison (2)
  • Paul Collingwood, Moeen Ali (1)

Watch out for next week’s newsletter where we will be challenging you to pick your ‘flop’ XI of the last 20 years!


Batters vs Bowlers Challenge week 4

This weekend saw an FA-cup style draw, resulting in H2H contests between individual batters & bowlers. There were three challenges: a timed 2km run, no. of press-ups in two minutes & a timed plank, with one point awarded to the winning player in each challenge. Results were as follows:

Brett Hosking 3 – 0 Cam Green
Jon Hedges 2 – 1 Chris Coombs
Tom Collins 3 – 0 Olly Birts
Jack Cunningham 0 – 3 Tim Goodman
Jaedyn Bartosh-Short 1 – 2 Jonny Charles
Tom Geffen 1 – 2 Adam Appleton
Jevan Kher 3 – 0 Rav Garcha
Andy Parker 0 – 3 Matt Teale
Fred McMillan 1 – 2 Duncan Selmes
Viky Derman 0 – 3 James McMillan
Tom Shrives 1 – 2 Malorie Short
James Smith 2 – 1 Henry McMillan
Wayne White 2 – 1 Phil Nicholls
Jeremy Greaves 2 – 1 Maraka Saunders
Freddie Geffen 2 – 1 Archie Freeth
Elliot Charles 1 – 2 Joe Pipkin
Tom Bancroft 3 – 0 Jon Burrowes
Katy Robinson 0 – 3 Charley Teale

Batsmen 27 – Bowlers 27

At the end of the regular rounds it was a tie, requiring some creativity to decide the overall winner… a game of BUMS ensued between Fred and Henry McMillan (video below). Fred took the tie 2-0, clinching the overall prize for the Batters!

We also had some non-runners just competing on the press-ups and planks.

Alex Sweet 1 – 1 James Crouch
Ben Shaw 0 – 2 Callum McLean

These challenges are a great way to maintain fitness during lockdown, so if you would like to get involved, please contact Olly Birts on 07920 043789.

Don’t forget – you can keep up to date with the club’s activities on a weekly basis through our Pitchero bulletin.

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