At the age of 15 and 100-something days, Shiv-Raj Sharma is the youngest Southgate player to score a century
Read all about it right here (although you will have to wade through 500 words of Rolty banging on about the weather and the traffic conditions on the B5672 before you get there)
Sunday 24 April
Hertford 2nd XI v Southgate 2nd X
Southgate lost by 7 wickets
Southgate 204 all out
Shiv-Raj Sharma 117*
Alan Rolt 22
Rohan Silva 20
David Lowen 19
Hertford 208 for 3
D Carr 75
Easter Sunday and another glorious cricket weather day. I phoned Paul Lassman in the morning to find out who was in my XI (or X, or IX). Paul’s father answered: he was pretty sure that I had an XI, but it was probably different to the one I had on Thursday: now there’s a surprise!
I arrived at the club and tracked down Paul. He’d got me 11 players and I was absolutely amazed. There may have been a number of colts (and parents) and fillers in, but we did have an XI and for the first time in god knows how many years, we were not to be messing Hertford CC around in a Sunday friendly. For the first time in a similar number of years, we had two sides out on Sunday. Even more incredibly, at the 12.15pm meet, nine of the 11 were actually at the ground. However, 12.30 arrived and we were still waiting on the last two… this was much more like it! With a 1.30 start, yours truly packed off the other eight with maps in the direction of Hertford, leaving me to wait on the final two. 12.30 became 12.45 and still no show… yes, this was much more like the norm! At 12.50 your scribe had to give up on the pair of them (who shall remain nameless… you know who you are) and set out for Hertford. A frantic 70-plus mph dash along the B158 (not a good road for 70mph: plenty of tyre screeching around the bends and hazardous overtaking, while trying to conjure up excuses for only having nine players) saw yours truly arrive at Hertford’s ground at 1.25pm.
Eric Riddle, Bob Cole’s long-standing adversary, was Hertford’s.I explained to him that we only had the nine, so we agreed on a 1.45 start with 20 overs from 6.15 and then, the last thing I wanted: I won the toss. An excellent looking wicket, great outfield and wonderful weather: a day to definitely bat first, but with only nine players, the potential for the game to be over by 4pm. Now to try and work out a batting order!
I walked back to the pavilion to find that Mike Lassman had persuaded Alfie Packer’s father, Miles that rather than just be Alfie’s chauffeur for the day, he should also be Alfie’s team mate! Very pleasantly surprised, I hastily worked out a batting order that in theory, would hopefully see an adult batting with a colt for the majority of the time, and went off to let Eric know that we were now up to ten. I found Eric, star chap that he is, on the phone to some of Hertford’s colts looking to see if they fancied a game for Southgate.
David Lowen and Alfie Packer opened. Alfie survived a slip chance in the first over and picked up a couple of runs from it. However, he then offered a second chance in the third over and was not so lucky. This brought Callum’s father, Rohan Silva, to the crease and he and David looked quite secure. Runs started to flow from Rohan and one excellent cover drive from David was probably the shot of the day. However, like all good things, this partnership came to end with Rohan bowled for 20.
With the score on 37 for 2, visions of all out for a lot less than a 100 returned and yours truly’s consumption of Marlboro Lights started to rapidly increase. However, of course I knew little of the abilities of our Under 15 import from the IPL: Shiv-Raj Sharma! Ignoring my advice/instructions that he had all afternoon to bat, so to take his time, Shiv and David added a further 30 odd to the score in four overs, with the vast majority coming from Shiv’s bat, before David mistimed an off drive straight into extra cover’s hands. Sadly, neither Callum nor Mike troubled the scorer and so in came Miles at number 7 with the score on 68 for 5. Shiv was still going along without any problem or care about the potential predicament, dispatching the ball to all parts with a very impressive array of shots, particularly in front of the wicket, some straight out of the IPL. Miles and Shiv added a further 30 plus to our total and Miles seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, hitting a couple of 4s, before he was out for 11 (which was 11 more than I would have expected from either of our two “no shows”). However, at least our total was now over 100.
Another wicket and Group Captain Rolt, £220 magic bat in hand, strode to wicket to join Shiv, who was by now just into the 40s. As we were 119 for 7 at the time, there were four thoughts in yours truly’s mind: try and stick around and use up time; help see Shiv through to his 50; try and get our total up to 150 and hopefully, see if this new bat actually worked!
Shiv merrily carried on dispatching the bowling to all parts and he soon reached his 50: aim number one achieved. Then, shock of all shocks, Group Captain Rolt dispatched one straight off the middle with alarming speed to the square cover boundary and aim number two was achieved: absolutely nothing wrong with the bat, just the batting ability of its owner! Having decided that trying to get Shiv to slow down was a pointless waste of time, aim number three was achieved soon after as we passed the 150 mark.
We still needed to use up plenty more time, but the thoughts were now on whether we could get Shiv to his maiden hundred. Time was definitely not going to be a problem as the ball was still going to all parts off of Shiv’s bat, it was going to be a matter of my not getting out: easier said than done! At round 3.50pm, Shiv was 99 not out and facing. Eric Riddle brought all the Hertford fielders in to save the single. However, without any apparent sign of nerves, Shiv’s response was a four through extra-cover and a maiden ton. We got our total to 200 with a stand of 81, before I holed out to midwicket (one that didn’t come off the middle!) Soon after we were all out for 204: although respectable, it was no more than a reasonable total for such a good track and speedy outfield.
Callum Silva and Alex Habberley opened the bowling after tea. Callum started very respectably. However, Alex’s first four deliveries were all wide or wider still down the both the leg and off sides. A loud request from Group Captain Rolt at first slip to Flying Officer Habberley that it would be a good idea if he switched his radar on produced the desired effect: a quickish, straight delivery that clean bowled the Hertford opening bat! However, use of the radar became somewhat intermittent after that. Hertford’s other opener, another long-standing Sunday twos player, and their number three settled in and despatched the bad balls very effectively.
I managed to give all the colts a bowl in tandem with an adult. Callum and Rohan each picked up a wicket and Rohan was very unlucky not to collect a few more. Alfie Packer was unlucky to go wicket less, as was Jack Jacobs, who in particular, bowled extremely well. Both are likely to come good on another day with a full eleven in the field.
Hertford’s batsmen made good use of both the shorter boundary and the hole in the field that having only 10 players leaves. I had forgotten quite how difficult it can be to plug that gap, but all our players tried hard in the field and were a credit to Southgate. Hertford eventually cruised home, three wickets down and with 12 overs to spare. That said, we had made a decent game of it and it wasn’t all over before tea!
I hope all the colts and parents enjoyed the match. It was great to have two father/son combinations in the side and my grateful thanks to Miles for stepping in at the very last minute. His spirited efforts, both with the bat and in the field, far exceeded anything our two “no shows” would have produced. Anytime you wish to play again, you’ll be most welcome. Grateful thanks also to Paul Lassman for getting the two sides out on Sunday, especially important against Hertford. Last, but not least, many congratulations to Shiv-Raj, not only on a very good performance as wicketkeeper, but also on an excellent, entertaining, undefeated, maiden hundred for the club. Maybe we can test my nerves by doing it all again in the weeks ahead! The Duke of Marlboro