18th August 2018 – vs Arkley CC (friendly) – WON by 4 wickets
11th August 2018 – vs St Margaretsbury – WON by 9 wickets
04th August 2018 – vs Northwood (friendly) – LOST by 30 runs
28th July 2018 – vs Hatfield & Crusaders – LOST by 96 runs
21st July 2018 – vs Stevenage – LOST by 68 runs
14th July 2018 – vs Hitchin – WON by 72 runs
7th July 2018 – vs Hoddesdon – LOST by 8 wickets
30th June 2018 – vs Old Owens – WON by 13 runs
23rd June 2018 – vs Hertingfordbury – LOST by 8 wickets
16th June 2018 – vs Harrow Town (friendly) – WON
9th June 2018 – vs St Margaretsbury – LOST by 140 runs 🙁
2nd June 2018 – vs Cheshunt – WON by 9 wickets
26th May 2018 – vs Hatfield & Crusaders – LOST
19th May 2018 – vs Stevenage – LOST
12th May 2018 – vs Hitchin – LOST by 1 run

18th August 2018 Arkley CC vs Knebworth IVs
With Baldock conceding the 4s league match, a friendly was arranged against Arkley CC, a side who only play friendlies. There are often benefits of playing friendlies rather than league matches – the opportunity to adjust batting/bowling attacks to make ‘more of a game of it’ if necessary; the opportunity to play without the pressure of a league game and the sometimes (fortunately rare in the lower leagues) over competitiveness of players. However, one of the biggest benefits is, as demonstrated at Arkley, you often get a great tea!

Jonathan Cirkel won the toss and with the wicket incredibly green and with some clear ‘imperfections’ he elected to bowl first. The decision to do so reaped immediate rewards with James Roos claiming a wicket on his second ball when the opener misjudged pace and width to push a catch to John Inman at silly mid-off. With Katherine Webb bowling incredibly tightly up the other end, the opening pair continued to struggle for runs and James struck again in the 7th over capturing the number 3 LBW.
James and Katherine continued to apply pressure and when they both completed their 6 over spells, Arkley had only moved to 22-3 with James (6-2-12-3) getting his 3rd wicket with an excellent dive forward off his own bowling to take the catch low to the ground. Katherine was very unlucky not to get a wicket and her figures were 6-3-7-0.

Bella Hopcraft and Bill Martin were the change bowlers and although both struggled with their first overs, they more than made up for it with continued pressure on the opposition batsmen, so much so that by the drinks break at 20 overs, they had only moved to 44-3. However, the drinks break did its customary trick of resulting in a wicket when in the 21st over Bella got her first of 3 clean bowled wickets. Bill (6-2-14-0) maintained a great length from the other end and was desperately unlucky not to get a wicket with the ball seemingly missing the stumps by millimetres several times. Bella made a critical breakthrough in her 6 over when, after the opposition captain played a beautiful drive off her for 4, she bowled an absolute beauty to turn him inside out to bowl him. This left Arkley in the precarious position of 57-6.

With Jonathan looking to take pace off the ball and seeing if Arkley batsmen would fancy spinners more, John Inman replaced Bill but the wiley spinner immediately claimed a wicket with the batsman not sure whether to go forward or back and effectively doing neither and getting trapped LBW. Bella ended her 7 over spell with another excellent delivery to claim her 3rd wicket to finish with super figures of 7-0-21-3.

Catherine Cirkel replaced Bella and started with a wicket maiden with Bella getting in the game again with a well taken catch at midwicket from a high top-edge. John (2-0-6-1) bowled one more tight over from the other end before Catherine (2-1-5-2) wrapped up the innings bowling the final batsmen with a ‘very full’ delivery which the batsman missed resulting in him being bowled.

With Arkley posting just 71 (from 29 overs), despite the variable bounce from the wicket, Knebworth obviously had high hopes of knocking off the runs relatively easily after the superb tea (did I mention the sandwiches, scones, cakes, Eton Mess, goats cheese and roasted veg tartlets & other homemade delights?). However, things most definitely did not go to plan. With Jonathan dropping himself down the order, Richard Wheeler opened with his brother Phil. Although Phil struck 4 good boundaries in his 19 before being bowled going back to an in-cutter from the experienced opening seamer (Bollers), the rest of the Park’s batsmen seemed to struggle with Arkley’s similarly very experienced slow bowler Phil Knappett at the other end. First Richard was adjudged LBW by a high-ish bouncing deliver for a duck before Amelia got one too when she was bowled also being a bit hesitant to a slightly slower slow delivery! The Park looking in trouble at 20-3 in the 11th over.

Things were to get worse though when James Roos was caught on the deep square boundary again off Knappett. With Catherine replacing James at the wicket, Simon Roos having played well against Knappett became Bollers’ second wicket when he was bowled by another good incutter. So, Knebworth had slumped to 25-5. Jonathan joined his daughter hoping to have a Cirkel partnership steady things and see us home but Catherine became Knappet’s 4th victim when being trapped in front of her stumps for 2. Knebworth were in all sorts of trouble at 25-6.
John Inman joined Jonathan and the two batsmen, batting lower in the order than normally, had to stem the fall of wickets else the Park could have been all out before the opening bowlers (Bollers 8-3-15-2 and Knappett 8-3-12-4) had completed their 8 over spells. Fortunately, they batted sensibly and with the change of bowlers started to push runs and run byes well to take the Park to a (just about) more respectable 42-6 by the drinks break.

Fortunately the curse of the drinks break didn’t strike the Knebworth batsmen despite Jonathan having a ‘sitter’ put down by Knappett from a mistimed drive from a full toss. The batsmen contined to play with sensible shots and John struck a majestic cover drive to take him to 7 and Jonathan who like last week took a bit of time to get his timing, not to be outdone, drove his own through mid-off.

Following drinks, just 7 more overs were required for Knebworth to win the game by 4 wickets. John added three more singles to his score (to go to 10*) but Jonathan having found his timing struck 7 boundaries on his way to 33*.
Despite the low scores, it was a good game and played in very good spirit and Arkley will be a team it will be good to play again at some point.

11th August 2018 Knebworth IVs vs St Margaretsbury IIIs
With my last match report finishing “the 4s really need to start backing up their bowling displays with the innings their batters are capable of playing”, it was great that this week vs St Margaretsbury the bowlers did a superb job and the batters backed them up. Even better, two jugs were bought after the game!

Playing on a damp pitch for pretty much the first time this season, Jonathan won the toss and elected to bowl first. James Roos opened and throughout his 8 over spell bowled incredibly accurately but without a huge amount of luck. His one wicked however came with the score on 28 when he got an edge and the catch was well taken by Catherine Cirkel at slip – an unusual position for her. James finished with brilliant figures of 8-3-10-1. James’ opening bowling partner was Katherine Webb (8-1-36-1). Although struggling in her first couple of overs, she stuck with it and was rewarded when she bowled the other St Marg’s opener with the score on 36.

On what was definitely a day for seamers, with plenty of movement of the ball despite the slowness of the pitch, Bella Hopcraft replaced Katherine after her initial 6 over spell. Bella has throughout the season bowled with excellent accuracy and this match was no different. She accounted for the wickets of both the opposition no.3&4 first with an LBW (47-3) and then with a catch being taken by Amelia Kemp at extra cover (66-4). Bella finished her 7 over spell with figures of 7-1-33-2
However, as far as bowling was concerned, the day belonged to David Mantle. Using the slope and the conditions to his advantage, he caused problems for all the batsmen who faced him. David destroyed the mid to lower order finishing with 7.4-2-6-30.
St Margaretsbury were bowled out for 116 from 30.4 overs.

In reply, the Knebworth openers of Phil Wheeler and Jonathan started pretty slowly with just 25 runs coming from the first 10 overs. Although in part due to Jonathan struggling with timing in reality it was due to the excellent bowling particularly by Ian Hibbert of St Margaretsbury. In the earlier game in the season, he finished with 5 for 16 from 8 overs and he bowled with the same accuracy this time. However, Phil and Jonathan were patient this time and despite Ian finishing with amazing economical figures of 8-5-12 he remained wicketless. The 12 runs coming from only 4 scoring shots – 2 singles (one to each batter) and a 4 and a very hard hit 6 from Jonathan.

With the other opening bowler and his replacement keeping up the accuracy on a pitch which had started to keep low, Phil and Jonathan continued to bide their time just waiting for the bad ball. By the time drinks came at 20 overs, the score had moved to 69. Fortunately, the drinks break didn’t affect the concentration levels and Phil and Jonathan started to score a bit more freely until Phil was trapped LBW for a well-made 34 with the total on 99.
Amelia joined Jonathan at the crease and batted very sensibly particularly against the wily slow bowler Brown. With Jonathan hitting a few more boundaries, he reached his 50 shortly before the winning total was reached. He finished with a well-made and patient 58 not out and Amelia scored the winning runs in the 29th over to finish on 7 not out.

It was an excellent 9-wicket win for the team with everyone playing their part whether bowling well, fielding well or batting well. With Baldock to play next weekend, the team should be positive going into the game and aiming for back-to-back wins.

04th August 2018 Northwood IVs vs Knebworth IVs

With Cheshunt conceding the league fixture, The Park’s 4s travelled to Little Missenden to play a friendly against Northwood IVs.  On a parched square and outfield, despite the heat, it was great to still have a game.

The match went the same way as a few too many of the team’s matches this season whereby despite a good bowling display, the batting let the side down with no one going on to get a really decent score or partnerships to build.  This game we had batting right down the order but failed to threaten the opposition score.

Jonathan lost the toss (hopefully a habit which will change soon) and KPCC were asked to field first.  With a pitch with slightly variable bounce, the opening pair of James Roos (8-2-38-1) and Bella Hopcraft (8-0-37-3) bowled tidily for the majority of their initial overs.    The wickets coming with James bowling the no.2 opener and Bella being rewarded with a good catch by John Inman and backward mid-on and an LBW.

Dave Mantle was on the money despite being asked to change ends halfway through his spell but finished with extremely economical figures of 8-3-16-0. Amelia, having struggled in one of her overs bowled decently in her others (4-0-28-1) with Richard Wheeler taking a good catch at midoff.

The Northwood middle order played well enough to build a decent partnership but with the pace off the ball with Catherine Cirkel (8-0-31-2) one end and John Inman (4-0-15-0) the other, they began to struggle more.  Catherine’s first wicket a well taken 1 handed catch by Richard and then her 2nd an LBW.  Catherine also gained a runout with the Northwood captain’s son, who had looked very comfortable using his feet, set off for a single with the ball going straight to Catherine at backward point.

Knebworth closed out the bowling with 2 very tidy overs each from Bella and James with Bella bowled the Northwood no. 9 who had added a very useful (and probably match winning) 31.  From their 40 overs, Northwood closed on 175-8.

Phil Wheeler and Jonathan opened the innings and both looked in decent enough form with several drives from both players going to the boundary.  However, with the score on 33, Phil was bowled for 14 by the 15 year old Gajerdin opening bowler with a ball just edging away off the seam.  With the score on 45, Jonathan (21) carried on building the score and Richard hit a couple of good shots before Jonathan was bowled by Gajerdin with the first of several poor shots in the KPCC innings.  Richard (caught for 10) followed soon after as did Ian Murrill (1) giving Gajerdin his 4th wicket.

John Inman in the meantime was batting sensibly and keeping the score moving along.  Dean Digweed, after hitting a six was another player to play a rash shot getting caught off a very wide ball which should have been left alone.  Amelia however and John showed what can be done when batting sensibly and not taking risks.  The pair put on an excellent partnership of 60 before Amelia (18) just failed to get enough on a well hit shot to get well caught.

John’s excellent innings came to an end on 42 (125-7) when he was bowled with a ball which failed to bounce as much as expected.  The two quick wickets brought Catherine and James Roos to the crease and due to the amount of batting in the side, both were batting much lower than normal.  However, James then added to the tally of poor shots getting bowled on his 4th ball.  And with Bella soon out too, the game was moving quickly to a defeat for the Park.  With 40 or so needed off the last few overs, David Mantle showed some aggression with the bat but the innings closed when Catherine failed to get enough on a lofted drive to be caught at mid-off.

Although being a friendly, the result didn’t really matter, the 4s really need to start backing up their bowling displays with the innings their batters are capable of playing.

28th July 2018 Knebworth IVs vs Hatfield & Crusaders IIIs
Unfortunately, it was the 2nd time this season that many of the players have probably come away from a loss against Hatfield & Crusaders thinking that we should have won the game. The first game was played on H&Cs appalling pitch and this one in the strong breeze at The Park. However, in neither game have the conditions really led to the losses.

With 5 players missing from the side this week (3 girls on County duty winning against Dorset), Jonathan won the toss and elected to field thinking that with a bit of moisture in the pitch it would be best to try to bowl out H&C and then determine batting order and chase tactics. The decision looked to have paid off with Alice Baird making a welcome return to Saturday games opening the bowling and soon being rewarded with a wicket with Jonathan taking a low forward diving catch at square-leg. At the other end, Bill Martin shook off several years of rustiness in his first couple of overs before bowling with good accuracy but also, like so many bowlers, getting his wicket (LBW) with a full toss!

While the H&C no.2 Asif Ghafoor continued to amass runs through predominantly flat batted shots, Dave Mantle had replaced Alice after 6 tidy overs and soon struck to take a couple of wickets taking the score to 68-4 and with Jonathan replacing Bill (8-0-29-1) bowling the no. 6, (69-5) and then Jonathan with a sharp bit of fielding at mid-wicket hitting the stumps side on for a direct runout of Ghafoor (34), it looked like Knebworth would clean up the opposition innings quite quickly.
Unfortunately, Faraday & Oram or H&C had other ideas and The Park’s bowlers failed to find a way to get them out. Neither batsmen was particularly stylish but neither gave chances and despite Knebworth’s bowlers not bowling badly, things just did not go their way. Richard Wheeler (8-0-33-0) bowled tidily with no success. The two batsmen built a very solid partnership and with the boundaries perhaps not being as well protected as they should have been and too many 1s being turned into easy 2s or 2s into 3s, the pair put on a 113 partnership. Jonathan (7-0-26-1) having taken himself off from one end returned the other after Eddie Large, having only his second bowl of the season in the 4s tried to coax out the batsmen.

The partnership was finally broken by Izzy with an excellent bit of keeping stumped Oram for 54 from a wide from a returning Alice and the Richard Wheeler took an excellent (making it look very easy) catch from Faraday (34) at long-on again from Alice. Alice’s figures of 8-1-34-3 were richly deserved and Dave Mantle (8-2-17-3), accurate as always, was the pick of the bowlers. From their precarious 73-6, Hatfield recovered to a very competitive 199-8
To have any chance of winning the game, Knebworth needed a good start. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen with Phil Wheeler, normally a good judge of ‘the leave’ left one outside off stump which the wind pulled back to bowl him. Chris Johnson, joined by debutant Mo Mubarak, did his job of protecting one end and seeing off the opening bowlers whilst Mo tried to hit some lusty blows before LBW for 11 (26-2) and then Simon Roos building in confidence with defending his wicket (despite a painful blow on the arm from a beamer) stayed with Chris through to drinks. Unfortunately, neither batsman found it easy to keep the score moving at the pace required and when Simon (5) was out soon after drinks, the score had only moved to 48.

So, 152 were needed from the last 20 overs. Izzy Cloke tried her best to accelerate but was out to a good catch for 4 and then Jonathan deciding his normal aggressive batting was needed, quickly got off the mark with a boundary followed by another. Richard Wheeler joined Jonathan when Chris (29) was finally caught in the 28th over and tried his best to get the rapid runs required to get the run-rate anywhere near achievable but missed a straightish one to be bowled for 6.
The faint hope of winning all but disappeared when Alice joined Jonathan and despite being a perfectly correct call in the circumstances, Alice’s call took Jonathan by surprise (or more to the point, her rapid backing up gained through her England indoor cricket skills did!), Jonathan turned Alice back and she was just short of making her ground. Jonathan plundered a few more runs to take him to 21 but he was soon also back to the ‘pavilion’ with an inside edge hitting right pad, bouncing of left knee and then rolling into the very bottom of the off-stump and just dislodging the bail.

The innings quickly closed despite Bill (13) hitting a couple of nice shots for boundaries and Eddie steering one through to third-man for 4 before David was bowled. Knebworth finished on 103 all out.

21st July 2018 Stevenage Vs vs Knebworth IVs
It was really another one of those ‘cricketing days’ for the 4s playing against Stevenage Vs where the bowling and fielding display by the Park really shouldn’t have resulted in a loss. With Jonathan Cirkel losing the toss for one of the few times so far this season, Stevenage elected to bat first.

A superb opening spell by James Roos (8-3-17-1) and debutant Katherine Webb (6-2-24-1) constricting the Stevenage batmen to only a few runs per over. Katherine made an immediate impact with Richard Wheeler catching a lofted drive at mid-off from her 3rd ball. The Stevenage no.3 Williams looked dangerous driving anything he could for runs but was undone by a full-toss by Amelia Kemp (4-2-10-2) on her 2nd ball having replaced James after his initial 6 overs. In her next over, Amelia claimed another wicket bowling the Stevenage no.4.
Bella Hopcraft continued the excellent bowling display and was rewarded with a couple of wickets, the first with a good catch by Phil Wheeler (making a welcome habit of taking catches at mid-on) and the second by Izzy Cloke at keeper. Catherine Cirkel (8-0-39-3) replaced Amelia (only due to a sore leg) and made an immediate impact with Izzy taking a good stumping in CC’s first over and then, despite a few boundaries as most would expect from an off-spinner, she was well rewarded for her persistence with 2 late wickets both catches taken by Katherine at square leg.

With the over rate having slowed too much, Jonathan (8-2-26-0) bowled through his overs quickly with Catherine at the other end. Jonathan was unlucky not to grab a couple of wickets with 2 dropped catches and two balls somehow going over the stumps from a full length. James bowled his final couple of overs and was rewarded for his accuracy with the top-scoring Stevenage skipper holing out to another catch from Phil.
Stevenage closed out their innings at 143-9. Although a few more runs than were hoped at times during the innings, the bowling and fielding display by KPCCs players was excellent.
Unfortunately, the Park’s batting innings didn’t back up the bowling display. Phil for what must be the first time this season was out for a duck falling on the 4th ball of the innings. The pitch which had consistently ‘popped’ during the Stevenage innings with no wickets falling as a result, played a significant part in Phil’s edge behind. Catherine, having opened with Phil & James both batted well with Catherine hitting 3 well struck boundaries before being undone by a full pitched good ball for 16 and James also being bowled for 12. Ian Murill who had done an excellent job of seeing off the opening bowlers was caught & bowled.

Knebworth were 39-4 by this point but with Richard and Jonathan at the wicket, it looked promising that the Park would keep going at the required 4 and over. Richard struck 3 fours in his 34 ball 15 but was undone by trying to drive the left-arm over Stevenage skipper Keiran once too often (66-5). Jonathan looked in good touch with well-timed drives against the seamers and sweeps against the spinner but when he holed out to deep mid-on (70-6), the innings rapidly finished with the last 4 wickets falling for just 6 runs.
It was a massive pity for the side to lose by 68 runs having bowled so well but many positives can be taken from the game and it was another match played in the right spirit. There won’t be any other side in the Saracen’s leagues who field 5 girls in one match. They girls not only perform week in week out along with the guys but create a wonderful team atmosphere. Every opposition compliment the side on the great character and team spirit we have and that is absolutely key for anyone playing sport.

14th July 2018 Hitchin Town IVs vs Knebworth IVs

On possibly the greenest wicket to be found anywhere in Herts in the middle of a brown outfield (and building site that is Hitchin at present), the Park’s 4th XI produced a superb batting display against the side one place below them in the league.  Having lost to Hitchin by 1 run in pouring rain earlier in the season, Saturday was a very different affair.

Having won the toss, Jonathan Cirkel elected to bat first and it looked like the right decision with the Park getting off to a flyer but not much of it due to either Phil Wheeler’s or Jonathan’s batting!  The two young opening bowlers had a hard time getting their accuracy right and in the first over a wide delivery bounced up and hit Joe Elliott the Hitchin skipper over the eye resulting in a nice gash and two stitches being required!  So, after a break for the injury, Phil scored well from the straighter deliveries he received but the score sped through to 39 by the end of the 4th over with Phil on 16 with the rest in extras and Jonathan on zero having only faced 5 legitimate balls when he got a bowled by pretty much the first decent delivery at the start of the 5th over.

Jonathan’s departure brought a welcome return to the side for Matt Inman following his A-levels.  He and Phil were superb with Phil doing his normal hitting of anything loose for a boundary and Matt playing with real style all around the wicket but particularly his deft late cuts.  The two of them carried on building the innings as the Hitchin bowlers got more accurate and took the Park through to a fabulous 2nd wicket stand of 132 with Phil reaching his 50 from 52 balls and Matt his from 68.  When Phil was eventually out LBW to the impressive young leg spinner with the score at 171 at the start of the 30th over, Knebworth were hoping to keep pushing the score to 250 as a target.

John Inman came to join his son at the wicket and the pair pushed hard for quick (very quick in Matt’s case) singles.  John departed for 7 trying to accelerate.  James Roos then played a very good innings with a rapid 27 with the score progressing to 239-4.  Dean Digweed added another 7 and Catherine Cirkel 5 not out from the last few balls of the innings.  Matt was left unbeaten on a superb 92.  The Park’s innings finishing on a very impressive 258-5.

Hitchin started their innings with Knebworth understandably confident of being able to defend their total.  Unlike Hitchin, Knebworth’s opening bowlers of James Roos (6-1-21-1) and Bella Hopcraft (7-1-31-0) immediately applying pressure by their accurate bowling and both unlucky not to strike.  With 6.5 an over required, the first 4 overs only went for 8 with James then making a breakthrough in the 5th bowling McGowan.  This left Hitchin’s best batsman Stuart Gadsden at the wicket and he and the number 3 Russell rebuilding and gradually taking the total to 75 before Richard Wheeler took the wicket of Russell (37) with a short pitch ball with a catch by Jonathan. 

With Izzy Cloke continuing to provide excellent keeping behind the stumps to back up the bowlers, KPCC continued to apply pressure. Hitchin’s 14 year old Tom Bell played some lovely sensible late cuts to help Stuart keep the score ticking over to 124 from 21 overs and Hitchin still on target for a win before what turned out to be the start of a lot of involvement in wickets from Catherine.  Firstly, with assistance from Izzy at the stumps, she ran out Bell, then with Jonathan replacing John bowling, she took a well-judged low catch at point from the dangerous Gadsden after a well-made 55.  Then, with Catherine replacing Richard (8-0-1-42) she then got the wicket of no.5 Tyrell with another catch by Jonathan. 

With Hitchin beginning to fall behind the run rate, the experienced Duncan Gibbs (22) then tried to accelerate but an excellently judged catch at deep long-on by Phil from Catherine took the score to 169-6 started a collapse with Catherine then taking another 2 wickets in the over both LBW.  With Jonathan (7-0-42-2) claiming another wicket from the other end, Catherine almost got her 5-for when Phil just failed to hold on to a good one-handed effort at deep mid-on but who then recovered to score a direct hit and run-out the number 11 from Hitchin.  This wrapped up an excellent team performance for a 72 run win.

7th July 2018 – Knebworth Park 4th XI vs Hoddesdon 4s

Hoddesdon demonstrated why they’re league leaders against a Knebworth side still buoyed by their victory last week.  With the teams agreeing to an 11am start, Hoddesdon won the toss and elected to field first.

In a repeat of last week, Phil Wheeler and Jonathan Cirkel got the Park off to a good start seeing off the opening bowlers with some good shots punishing the few loose balls there were.  The openers were far more accurate than those in the first game of the season.  For the first change of bowler, Hoddesdon brought on Savanhu who is comfortably the quickest bowler so far seen in the league.  Despite Jonathan hitting him for two boundaries in his first over, he got his revenge in the next with a super deliver pitching middle and taking the top of off-stump.  With Jonathan gone for 22, Savanhu repeated the delivery the very next ball to remove John Inman.  James Roos steadied the ship a bit and defended Savanhu well but the speedster got his third removing Phil on the first ball he had faced from him.

James and Simon Roos then had a mix up with calling and Simon was runout for a single following a direct hit.  Catherine Cirkel struck a couple of good fours before playing a rash shot so Knebworth were in familiar territory to last week with a good start quickly turning to 5 wickets down.  However, the hero of last week Dean Digweed, still full of confidence, again playing an excellent innings to put the Park back on track.  Although James was soon out, Dean was again ably supported by the youngsters of the side, inititially Amelia Kemp (8) then Bella Hopcraft (5) while Dean punished anything loose.  He had a great over from the opposition captain which resulted in the first ball (wide, double bounce no-ball) being dispatched for 4 and the second being put high through the trees to cow corner.  The over went for 15 in the end.  Dean fell LBW just shy of consecutive 50s (47) and the innings came to a close soon after with Richard Wheeler also out LBW and Bella being caught at short cover.  The innings closed at a below par 155 all out in the 36th over.

The Hoddesdon innings started well for the Park with Chris Gooch (83) driving James straight and James just getting his hand on the ball to deflect it to run out Savanhu.  However, despite this lucky start, Hoddesdon never looked like they would struggle to chase the Park’s score.  With the 2 hour break for the football after 10 overs, Hoddesdon continued with some excellent batting by the left-handed Matt Young (39) and extremely comfortable run scoring of Chris Gooch, Hoddesdon built a winning foundation with no one really looking like they would make a breakthrough despite a tidy opening spell by James (5-1-14-0) but Richard Wheeler ( as accurate as in recent weeks) and Catherine took some punishment and despite Bella bowling well, the runs carried on mounting.  Amelia bowled with excellent pace and was unlucky to have Gooch dropped but she did then claim the wicket of Young (caught James).  She finished with 4-0-21-1 and although the game was realistically lost by then, Dave Mantle (5-3-13-0) was the pick of the bowlers with several excellent deliveries almost claiming a wicket.  Hoddesdon won the game with 13 overs to spare.

 30th June 2018 Knebworth Park 4th XI vs Old Owens

In what can only be described as a fabulous team performance, the 4s got their 2nd league win of the season against the third from top side Old Owens.

Jonathan won the toss and on a scorching day decided that the opposition should wilt in the field first.  This turned out to be a good decision particularly as we discovered as Owens took the field that they were starting with 9 men.  After an agreed 5 min delay turned into nearer 15, the game started and with Jonathan opening with Phil Wheeler, Phil took the attack to the opposition bowling hitting nearly every loose ball for a boundary across the lightning fast outfield. Even with all 11 fielders after the first 4 overs, the score moved along at just over 6 an over with the Park moving to 68 at the end of the 11th.  Although Phil got more of the strike, the normally fast scoring Cirkel was subdued with Phil on 46 of the 68.  However, then a run of events which could have cost Knebworth the game.  First, Phil tried pulling a ball which wasn’t quite short enough and was bowled for his well played 46 then, in the next over, John Inman, having called for a single to a ball Jonathan turned off his legs to the Owens man at 45 degrees on the leg side, was comfortably run out for a duck.  He was quickly followed by James Roos (4) who, having hit one well struck on drive played slightly around a delivery to be bowled.  The score had only moved to 72 so 3 wickets had fallen for 4 runs

With drinks taken after 15 overs, the collapse didn’t stop there.  In the next over, a full toss outside off-stump which would normally have been dispatched to the boundary was mistimed with Cirkel hitting it high off the bat straight to mid-off for 17 and he was quickly followed by Simon Roos being bowled for a duck.  So, 77-5 and from a superb start and a target of at least 200, a poor, non-defendable score looked on the cards

However, Dean Digweed had other ideas.  Although Dean batted well last week, he has struggled this season for runs but things came good just at the right time.  Initially with good support from Richard Wheeler (12) and then excellent running and sensible play from Bella Hopcraft (6) and Ethan Murrill (9*), Dean batted excellently with his natural attacking play backed up by good defence when needed.  He smashed a brilliant 60 including 10 boundaries.  From a disastrous 77-5 Dean and the others managed to take KPCC to a defendable 184-8 when Dean was eventually bowled with one ball of the innings remaining.  Ian Murrill finished the innings off with a boundary from his only delivery.  The Park finished on 188-9.

Knebworth’s reply started in interesting fashion.  James bowled a nice tidy maiden and then Bella had her first ball (over pitched full toss on leg stump) smashed to the boundary before she bowled an absolute beauty to bowl the Owens’ opener.  The normally very accurate line & length bowler then struggled for the remains of the over with a couple more leg side balls being hit for four and again in her next over too.  However, things were to change.  James continued tidily up the other end with his first 4 overs going for just 6 runs while Bella worked hard but relaxed into her normal bowling with her bowling a fine maiden in her 4th over bowling another lovely delivery to remove the fast scoring Owens’ number 3 Paropkari for a well made 31.   Bella’s opening spell was 7-1-42-2 which considering the first 2 overs went for 20 was very respectable.  Owens were still looking good for a win though going along nicely at 48-2

After his good start James was hit for a few runs in his 5th and 6th overs (6-0-28-0) and was replaced by John Inman who started in the best possible way trapping Owen’s no. 4 LBW for 16 (65-3). With Jonathan replacing Bella and keeping it tight the other end, John frustrated the opposition batsmen with his flight and lack of pace necessitating them to work out how to score runs from him.  The number 5 was also trapped LBW before Jonathan claimed a key wicket removing Alan Hunter, the technically correct opening bat and Old Owens captain for 30 with a catch by Phil behind the stumps in the 22nd over (98-5).

So, things were looking more positive for Knebworth.  John’s 3rd wicket came in the 27th over with a somewhat over ambitious charge down the wicket by S.Flook resulting with him spinning and ending up on falling over and John’s delivery going through to bowl him.  John’s figures were excellent with 8-1-20-3.  Richard Wheeler replaced John and put plenty of pressure on the batsmen with his quicker than expected deliveries and Jonathan’s tidy spell was completed the other end (8-0-37-1).

With 6 wickets down and still 10 overs to bowl with only 3 overs left between James and Bella to bowl, we could tell it could still be a very close game and on a day not suited to fast bowlers, Jonathan was going to have to make a decision as to who to make up the overs and how to win the game.  Richard made a breakthrough in his 3rd over bowling Fuller for 17 and then with Jonathan deciding to risk leaving 2 overs to be bowled at the death by a new bowler,  he brought James back into the attack and in his 2nd over (his final one of his 8) he took the key wicket of Achinllini for 33 who had looked like he would take Owens to victory.  However, with only 26 needed from 6 overs the job was far from over for the Park.

With Richard still bowling well at the other end, Bella returned under pressure for her one remaining over and bowled superbly with just a single and a four coming from it.    One more over from Richard went for 5 and Owens at 173-8 were creeping towards victory with 2 wickets in hand.  Needing 15 off the final 3 overs, Ethan Murrill was asked to bowl.  With his extra pace and no opportunity for any ‘looseners’, he couldn’t have bowled any better.  A lovely straight first ball was then followed by a super ‘line & length’ delivery to bowl the number 10 middle stump.  He finished the over in the same accurate manner finishing with, under the pressure, a stunning wicket maiden.

In the next over (the 39th), Richard Wheeler (6-1-20-2) wrapped up a tremendous victory for the 4s with Old Owens falling 13 runs short.

Ian Murrill summed things up well after the game “Today was probably the best ‘team’ performance in my 15 years with the club. Everyone played their part.  I haven’t played in many games and won so it is made all the mode special to do it with such a great bunch against a good side”

23rd June 2018 Hertingfordbury vs Knebworth Park 4th XI

Coming soon…..

16th June 2018 Knebworth Park 4th XI vs Harrow Town

With Baldock conceding our league match against them, the 4s managed to get a friendly fixture against Harrow Town.

Jonathan succeeded in losing the toss again when the opposition called “queen” rather than heads and Harrow elected to bat first on what looked a very nice track.  With James Roos’ 2nd ball being dispatched beautifully to the mid-wicket boundary with one bounce, we wondered whether the description the oppo had given themselves of ‘medium – weak’ was actually accurate.  However, when the batsman tried the same shot the next ball from a delivery of different length and line getting him clean bowled, the mode of batting looked more fitting of the description.

Amelia Kemp in her first over then bowled a lovely delivery to trap the other opener LBW and it looked like a very quick game might be on the cards.  However, the Harrow number 3 & 4 rebuilt well until the 10th over when Amelia broke through with another ‘peach’ (sorry, that’s more Wimbledon commentary) of a delivery with the number 3 going for 28.

At the start of the 13th over John Inman replaced James and Richard Wheeler replaced Amelia and the batsmen struggled to know how to best play John.  The number 4 who had until then hit the ball well completely mis-timed his shot against John and was bowled for 39, and then wickets fell fairly regularly with John taking another wicket with a catch by Richard and then a catch by James from Richard.  Richard struck again bowling the Harrow number 7 for a duck. 

Jonathan replaced Richard after he had bowled 6 overs to ensure there could be rotation of bowlers should we have to bowl 40 and on JC’s 2nd ball a deflection from the batsman’s pad led to a mix up of calls by the batters and Izzy took off her glove and made a direct hit with her throw running out the batsman.  Jonathan wrapped up the innings with his 4th ball trapping the tail-ender plumb LBW.

An excellent bowling and fielding performance by the Park backed up by superb keeping by Izzy Cloke playing her first game for the 4s after many years of playing for the KPCC girls and County.   Key bowling figures were Amelia 6-1-27-2; John 7-0-15-2 and Richard 6-1-29-3.

Knebworth’s reply started in ‘interesting’ fashion.  Phil Wheeler, opening with Jonathan, carefully saw out the first over.  Then, in the next over, a single for each batsman plus a wide then saw Jonathan smashing a straight drive back off his 2nd ball only for it to clip the bowler on his follow through and deflect onto the stumps and run Phil out for 1.  A very unlucky dismissal.  The last ball over the 2nd over though was dispatched by Jonathan in guilt!

In the next over, the Park’s innings looked in danger when Simon Roos was bowled on his 2nd ball.  However, Chris Johnson, promoted up the order started his sensible and well played innings.  With good calling and running (!) between CJ and JC the score moved on well with Jonathan in typically aggressive mood smashing anything pitched up to the boundary while Chris protected the other end.

Jonathan was finally bowled from a questionably high full toss for 33 from 27 including seven 4s.  Catherine Cirkel then replaced her father and promptly demonstrated how a high-full toss is meant to be dealt with dispatching 3 of them to the boundary!  It was good to see her batting up the order again and she quickly scored 19 runs while also started scoring some boundaries too with nicely timed shots.  Catherine was finally caught with a juggling act by square leg.  With James replacing Catherine, he wasn’t in the mood for a late finish and hit a quick 13 not out despite being bowled from the ball after we had actually won and the scores were being checked!  Chris finished with a nicely made 19.

It was great to get a game in and thanks must go to Harrow Town for coming all the way up for the game. 

9th June 2018 St Margaretsbury vs KPCC 4th XI

A tough day at the office for the Park’s 4th XI over at St Margaretsbury.  On what looked a lovely batting wicket, Jonathan Cirkel lost the toss and the hosts elected to bat first.  In an opening stand of 132, Knebworth were punished by the St Margs number 2 on anything wide of the stumps and also by the number of extras being given (a theme continued throughout the innings).  However, both batsmen got away with dropped chances and living with a fair amount of luck finding gaps in the field with aerial balls through point, gulley and third slip areas. The breakthrough eventually came in the 25th over when Cirkel claimed the lower scoring opener for 33 with a catch at deep gulley by Mantle.  Cirkel claimed his 2nd wicket soon after with a good catch at cover by Richard Wheeler. 

The fall of the wicket brought a big hitting batter to the crease and a couple of lovely on-drives and other powerful shots kept St Margaretsbury going at a good pace.   At the other end, while Cirkel was bowling, the opener collapsed in screaming pain thinking he had torn cruciate ligaments while trying to play a cross-batted shot but after a rather miraculous recovery and cancellation of ambulance request, he left the field just limping badly.  He retired on 84.

Cirkel then claimed his 3rd wicket bowling the number 5 and then Amelia Kemp was then richly rewarded with her first wicket for Knebworth 4s with a superb delivery clean bowling the number 6.

Wheeler then removed the big hitter with a fine catch on the square leg boundary by Cirkel.  The lower order was then removed by Cirkel (2 bowled, one caught by Catherine behind the stumps to finish with career best figures of 8-0-46-6.

The Park’s reply started well with Ian Murrill keeping bowlers at bay whilst Phil Wheeler dispatched the looser deliveries.  Murrill was bowled for 8 and Phil for 23 by an excellent delivery.  Simon Roos was joined by Cirkel who started his innings with a big 6 over wide mid-on from the 2nd ball from Hibberd before Roos was bowled for 0.   Richard Wheeler was removed for 1 by easily St M’s best bowler (I.Hibberd 8-3-16-5). Digweed was also bowled by Hibberd for a duck and then Cirkel was caught behind (12) again from a good swinging delivery by Hibberd.

From then, with no chance of a victory, it was really up to Amelia, Ethan Murrill and Catherine Cirkel to go out and enjoy themselves and score what they could.  All three did exactly that and with some excellent shots particularly from Amelia (caught by keeper 13) and Catherine (stumped for 14), it was good to see good spirit in the side despite the size of defeat.  Eddie Large scored 4 before giving the keeper’s 4th catch of the day.  Mantle finishing on 0 not out.

Although the 4s are still struggling for wins and need to dominate more in the batting, the side continues to have a really good atmosphere and team spirit.

2nd June – 2018 KPCC 4th XI vs Cheshunt 2nd XI

The 4s enjoyed a superb 9 wicket win against Cheshunt with a high quality bowling and fielding display followed by two quality innings by the Park.

Jonathan won the toss and with a bit of moisture still in the top of the pitch and possible overcast conditions possibly around for a while decided he opted to get the Park to field first.   With James Roos opening up the hill, just one run came from the over.  Amelia opened up down the hill and demonstrated that however well you bowl, sometimes wickets just don’t come.  Her first 3 overs were with superb accuracy and pace and all 3 were maidens.  James kept it tight at the other end and his 6 over spell only went for 13.  Amelia kept the pressure on through her remaining 3 overs and finished with a superb 6-3-0-19 with only her final over suffering a little with the opening Cheshunt bat getting frustrated with the lack of runs and swinging his bat for a couple of cross-batted 4s.

The breakthrough didn’t come until the 15th over with John Inman finally tempting the other opener into getting very well caught by Ian Murrill at mid-wicket.  Tommy Rowe bowled with good pace at the other end, just struggling with length a couple of times but still came away with respectable figures of 5-2-19-0.  With John bowling the big-hitting Cheshunt opener with a delivery which was just far too tempting, the Park continued to build the pressure.  The lack of pace from John (8-1-22-2) with Jonathan also bowling a tidy spell at the other end (figures of 7-1-16-1) meant we knew that at some point the Cheshunt batters would need to try to accelerate (Tommy taking catch from Cirkel’s bowling).

However, Knebworth’s star bowler of the innings was Richard Wheeler.   Richard took a wicket in his first over with Amelia taking a nice catch at square leg, followed by an excellent caught & bowled in his second with him diving forward to take the catch.  Despite a couple of blows against his bowling in his 5th over Richard took his 3rd wicket clean bowling the Cheshunt number 7 in his 6th over.  Richard finished with 6-0-23-3.  James returned for a couple of overs to finish with tidy figures of 8-2-22-0

With good all-round bowling and superb fielding (special mention for Simon Roos making his debut and Ian Murrill who were both sharp and stopped everything coming their way and to Catherine Cirkel for continuing her gentle come-back from injury by keeping for us again) Cheshunt’s innings closed on 140-6 from their 40 overs.

Despite some of the 4th XI batting frailties in recent weeks, on a good track we knew we had an excellent chance for a win this week as long as we were sensible.  Despite hurting his hamstring when moving (?) for a catch, Phil was still happy to open the innings for the Park.  He was joined by James and Phil got off to a flyer hitting all bad balls for 4 which at least meant he didn’t need to run.  James also hit some good shots for his 11 before being caught by mid-on off a well struck drive with the best catch of the day.  However, KPCC had already moved to 42 by this point.  This meant John Inman joined Phil at the crease.   We were never going to win the game through quick-singles and fortunately we didn’t need to!

Phil continued to punish anything short or over-pitched and John placed shots in the gaps enabling the pair to take well-judged ones and some twos.  John of course also hit the bad ball with some lovely shots square of the wicket.  The two of them continued throughout the innings and it was great to see the pair get us home for the 9 wicket victory in the 33rd over.  Phil finished with his personal best of a fine 71 and John 44. 

Another game played in excellent spirit between the sides and the 4ths have a wonderful team spirit with old and young players enjoying the games.  We’re now looking to continue with more wins following this first one of the season.

26th May – 2018 Hatfield & Crusaders 3s vs KPCC 4th XI

The Park’s 4s were hosted by a friendly bunch at Hatfield & Crusaders on Saturday 26th May. H&C who were only playing their second game of the season following Baldock’s concession and a rained off game against Old Owens.

Realistically, the result of the match would probably have been different if at home on a flat pitch as our batting strength should have been better than the hosts’. However, what can only be described as an incredibly poor unrolled pitch (I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to be able to feel lumps & bumps through your shoes!), KPCC were asked to bat first and although not many of the wickets can be put down purely to the state of the wicket, it certainly made any batting with ‘proper’ shots, pretty difficult.
The Park’s innings did not start well with James Roos being bowled for 3 and was followed shortly afterwards by Phil Wheeler for an LBW duck. John Inman started a very patient recovery for the innings and with the H&C captain taking the first of his two excellent catches Richard Wheeler departed for 10. Jonathan Cirkel came to the crease and soon received 2 balls which bounced over head height demonstrating the difficulties of batting. However, if the ball was there to be hit, Jonathan hit it and moved quite quickly to 18 before giving the freshly moved mid-off a catch!

Dean Digweed departed quickly which brought Amelia Kemp to the crease and in her innings of 12 hit a couple of excellent shots with none better than the one caught and bowled by the H&C captain! John was soon out for 21 off approx. 70 balls. Catherine Cirkel made a welcome return to cricket falling for 9 off a questionably high full toss. The innings closed on just 85 from 30 overs with the fall of Dave Mantle for a duck leaving Eddie at the crease on 0.
Hatfield’s innings started steadily against the opening pair of James and Amelia with James making the breakthrough in the 9th over (16-1) with both bowlers bowling good lines and Amelia with good pace for 5 overs for 9 in her first spell including stunning 4th and 5th overs in which she was very unlucky not to get a wicket or two. James bowled through his 8 overs finishing with a very tidy 1-15. Dave replaced Amelia and as normal with him was accurate and he removed the Hatfield captain for 20. Dave bowled though his 8 overs and finished with 2-21. Except a few decent blows by a couple of the opposition players, there was nothing to really worry the park with the hosts batters struggling against John’s flighted spin but with so few runs on the board and wickets not falling regularly enough, Hatfield batted themselves into a winning position eventually in the 29th over.

12th May – 2018 KPCC 4th XI vs Hitchin 4s

As one of the very few matches to be played to completion on Saturday, whether to continue playing through the rain or not was a good idea comes down to how you look at the 1 run loss for the Park. On the negative side of things, everyone got very wet and we probably did Ross/Jono no favours with the pitch but the positive things far outweighed the negatives.
The game was played in an excellent spirit with Hitchin having ex-park coach Joe Elliot captaining Hitchin IVs (as stand-in captain, probably the main reason the game was played in such a good way) and the Hitchin side packed with youngsters. The latter can’t be said for the KPCC side where Amelia did her best to get the average age somewhere below 3 times her age……
Jonathan started his tenure as captain by losing the toss and Hitchin electing to bat first. It wasn’t long before the rain started falling and despite the 2s coming off, both sides elected to stay out knowing that coming off would have resulted in not getting the game back on.

Ben Childs and debutant James Roos put in an excellent first spell with Ben only conceding 13 from his first 5 overs and James making a break through in his 5th over (1-20). With Dave Mantle replacing Ben at the top end after Ben’s 5 overs another wicket fell almost immediately and his excellent spell continuing with him switching ends part way though and him finishing with figures of 8-2-21-3 including a superb catch by Dean at slip. James bowled through his 8 overs with his 1 wicket just costing 29.

At the top end, Amelia Kemp, at just 14 but already a rising star in Hertfordshire County U15s as well as the Eastern Region Academy came on to bowl in what, for a seam bowler were already tricky conditions bowled with excellent pace and accuracy and was unlucky not to bag a wicket in her 4 over spell which went just for 13. Hopefully the first of many games for the Park.
Jonathan replaced Amelia and his off-spin (or just slower than he used to bowl) was ideal for the conditions with John Inman the other end both slowing Hitchin’s run rate. Jonathan finishing with 7-0-25-3 and John 4-0-7-1. Ben returned replacing John and finished the Hitchin innings off to close with a very tidy 7-3-14-2. Hitchin eventually being all out for 117 from 38 overs.

Knebworth’s reply didn’t start too well with Phil Wheeler being caught by the keeper with the score on 10 but then with Cirkel at the crease with James Roos, the debutant’s day continued in a positive manner with him hitting the bad ball well particularly driving through the off-side. It was nice to see Hitchin open from one end with Sophie Gates, an ex-Hertfordshire age-group player. With Jonathan quiet (for him) at the other end from James, the score moved on well but both players were eventually undone by the accurate bowling of one of the two Hitchin young leg-spinners. From a positive start, James fell at 48, Jonathan at 55 and John Inman also falling to the same leggie and Richard Wheeler to the other youngster the score was still not into the 60s. Dean did his best to get the Park back on track with a few lusty blows with Ian Murrill the other end but when Dean fell and then Amelia getting a leading edge from the leggie (but after hitting one of the best timed drives of the day), the Park needed some exceptional to win the game

That exceptional requirement was very close to being satisfied by Ben. Supported by Eddie sprinting to let Ben keep the strike, Ben smashed several boundaries and Eddie did a sterling job at blocking out when needed. The pair managed to bring Knebworth into a winning position until Eddie was undone by an excellent delivery to bowl him with us finishing just 1 run short of the total.

Overall, an excellent game hopefully enjoyed by all players.