Lost by 1 wicket
Dragons 165-9 (S Arnold 51; S McConnell 4-22)
Staplehurst 169-9 (T Watts 69; J Peck 3-19)
This was a new fixture in the Dragons calendar and if our inaugural match in the charming village of Staplehurst was anything to go by, hopefully it will become an annual affair.
Notwithstanding the proximity of the Staplehurst ground, a mere 2 miles and 3 turnings from the Weald of Kent, half the side managed to get lost on the way and so at the toss it was deemed sensible that the Dragons bat first given their depleted numbers.
Simon Arnold and Jack Killen got the Dragons off to a solid start adding 50 for the first wicket in just 12 overs and with a host of stroke makers to follow and a short boundary on one side, a big total looked on the cards. However, once Arnold was dismissed for 51 (no jug purchased) and with the Staplehurst spinners keeping things tight, the Dragons innings lost momentum with wickets falling at regular intervals, eventually closing on a somewhat below par 165 from our allotted 40 overs. The Staplehurst skipper S McConnell was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 8-1-22-4.
The Staplehurst tea lady had clearly been told that there were two matches taking place given the quantity (not to mention quality) of the tea and after doubling our body weight with sandwiches and cake the Dragons set about trying to defend a relatively low total.
Joe Peck set the tone with an opening salvo of 5-1-12-1 but was outdone by an especially miserly spell of 8-4-12-1 from Will Downes and at the halfway stage with Staplehurst at 73 for 3, the Dragons were well in the game. The Staplehurst number 5, T Watts (who had already played against the Dragons earlier in the week for Old Suttonians) had other ideas hitting 69 off just 63 balls swinging things back very much in Staplehurst’s favour. However, a final flourish from Joe Peck resulted in a couple of quick wickets, including the dangerous Watts, and with Killen sneaking one at the other end, Staplehurst suddenly found themselves 159-8 and the Dragons were in with a sniff.
The Dragons supporters however were less than heartened to see skipper Wade warming up but with all his other bowlers either bowled out or injured, there was little choice. One ball later the same supporters were jubilant as Wade produced a beautifully disguised full toss which the Staplehurst number 9 very kindly hit straight to Greg Milhill and Staplehurst were 159-9!! The occasion clearly got to the final two Staplehurst batsmen who tamely patted back 5 more non spinning deliveries. Next over however, the Staplehurst number 10 T Henson chanced his arm and with a couple of lusty blows, took his side to a well earned victory.
Afterwards, we shared a beer or two with the Staplehurst players and despite the loss, everyone agreed that this was an excellent and very enjoyable fixture and one which we will want to secure for the foreseeable future.
(Match report S Wade)