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From the archive - Brigands Herefordshire Tour 2006

By Graham Peach

Ice Cold for Andrew in First Win at Woolhope

In a 12-a-side, 40 over contest the tour got under way in bright, breezy conditions at this lovely little ground. With the teams well matched for youth and experience, the only difference between the sides was the sheer pace of Brigand's opening bowler, Piers Collins.

On a fast, bouncy wicket he extracted venomous speeds up to 75mph, as witnessed from the hands and body bruises of brave Brigand ‘keeper, Frank Langan. Piers also retained impressive control - his miserly 7 overs for just 17 runs was scantly rewarded with only one wicket (he deserved five) and an eager offer from Woolhope for him to play for them the following day in the League. He did so, and took 3 wickets!!

Partnered by the accurate Glenn Duggan (1-21), runs were hard won and after 10 overs Woolhope had edged their way to just 26. Skipper Graham Peach rang the bowling changes using 4 more bowlers who all bagged 2 wickets apiece: Matt Sturman, John Musters, Peach himself and the colourful Andrew Polson … who provided the champagne moment of the match with his exuberant Monty Panesar-like wicket celebration, during which he pulled ‘something in his groin’ and had to sit out the rest of the game with a strategically applied ice-pack covering his affliction!

The usual middle order attack from Woolhope was effectively neutralised this year by canny bowling, and sharp outfielding: the only 2 catching chances were both taken, and a bizarre run out ended the hosts’ innings ten balls early.

Brigands replied solidly. Against tight opening bowling, Dave Edmondson initially outscored Ewan Lovett-Turner to keep the tally ticking away at the required rate. But Ewan picked up his own pace, eased past his partner and reached his sixth fifty of the season with a brace of boundaries before falling to a catch at the wicket for 55. Their pivotal partnership of 109 was the season’s best for any wicket, and had set the platform for likely victory. Dave then passed his own half-century (his first for the Club) before being stumped, also on 55, going for one lusty blow too many against the wily flighted spin of Woolhope captain, Brian Weaver. Chris Collins continued his good form with the bat on this ground, smiting a rapid 39 which included a straight driven maximum where the luckless fielder energetically converted a straightforward catch into a ‘tip over the bar’ that would have graced any football ground.

As the host skipper bagged his opposite number in the deep, thus avenging his own earlier run out, Peach’s wicket started a mini collapse as Musters (undone by a cruel shooter) and Sturman (well caught by 12 year old, Weaver Jnr) fell in short order. But Piers Collins came in to stem the flow and, as Duggan hit the winning run, Brigands ended their 4 year drought at Woolhope with 3 balls to spare. The relief was palpable across the Brigand team, if not around poor Polson’s parts!

Brigands (175-6) beat Woolhope CC (174-11) by 5 wkts

Records tumble as Collins hits ton in thumping win

Two days later and with ‘Monty’ still hors de combat, but kind enough to umpire and thereby entertain all with his theatrical brand of semaphore signalling, Brigands ranks were reinforced by two Woolhope players: skipper Brian Weaver and ‘keeper Will Green. Brigand men Mike Beardall, Barney Wyld and Richard Hay – the latter on his first tour – joined the team for this finale. And all weighed in during a record-breaking Brigand team performance.

Inserted on a hard, fast track with a lightning outfield, Brigands started quickly with 17 from the first 3 overs before losing John Musters. But as the in-form Chris Collins joined Glenn Duggan the weighty pair continued to bat robustly and proved to be too much of a handful for the hosts. Between them they hit 17 boundaries from the first 20 scoring strokes of their partnership! The race to their half centuries was close; Chris just beating Glenn to the line with his 12th boundary. Moments later it was Glenn’s turn to register his first 50 of the season. Chris then pulled a hamstring but continued on with John as his runner for the next hour. After 2 hours at the crease, Glenn was well caught and bowled for a terrifically positive 88. The beefy pair had been together for 108 minutes, in which time they smashed the Club record for any wicket with a massive partnership of 183 belligerent runs compiled at a near constant rate of 6 an over!

Glenn’s fall brought Barney to the crease for a little gem of an innings that quickened the scoring still further for the last 24 minutes, in which time they plundered 65 runs. Barney’s 31 not out in 22 balls included two lusty sixes but, more importantly, provided the respite Chris needed to clip the fourth ball of the last over for his maiden Club ton, 100 not out, making him the 3rd Brigand centurion for the season. It is likely that 248 from 40 overs was also the highest and fastest scored limited overs total in Brigand history (but ‘Stato’ will check!)

Piers Collins, doubtless fired up by his father’s success, then tore into the Bartestree opening batsmen. Bowling with venomous pace, back of a length, his deliveries repeatedly flashed past gloves and helmets as the hosts managed only to score from four of his first 32 balls! With ‘keeper Will Green standing back more than a pitch length behind the stumps, Piers produced an unplayable ball that the batsman could only feather past his face before it thudded into Green’s gloves. Incredibly, this was to be his only wicket; as the next batsman played and missed repeatedly, Piers finished with 1-22 from 8 excellent overs, undoubtedly once again the best Brigand touring bowler.

Apart from classy looking opener, M Aubrey, no other Bartestree batsman looked comfortable against Piers, or indeed facing any of the change bowlers. John Musters came on to take an immediate wicket to remove the hosts’ captain, the first of Chris Collins’s 2 catches. But the Bartestree rout really began when Mike Beardall (3-33) deceived Aubrey with flight and turn in the fateful 20th over, which turned into a triple-wicket[1]maiden – a feat which puts Mike alongside Bryan Burns and Barry Hunter in the Club archive. John too picked up good middle order wickets, finishing with 3-20, as Bartestree lost 5 batsmen in scoring just 4 runs.

The team contribution also included 2 tail-end wickets for guest Brian Weaver, two catches for Richard Hay and two good ‘keeper catches plus a run out assist for Will Green, receiving an accurate throw from the deep by Barney.

Without stretching the superlatives too far, this was a truly thumping victory to end a wonderfully winning tour, where many top rate individual achievements were made and records were broken. And everybody who played did something positive, and will recall this game for years to come. But this year’s player of the tour accolade goes unquestionably to Chris Collins for his 139 runs (2 sixes, 24 fours) and a brace of catches.

Brigands (248-2) beat Bartestree (143) by 105 runs

Cricket team photo in front of pavilion at the cradle of cricket
Brigands in 2006

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Ah yes, the Brigands of my vintage!

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