Seadogs sail into tricky waters before navigating a sounder course.

Competitive recreational cricket returned early in August, but Sutton CC, due to the coronavirus pandemic, were forced to cancel their Cricket Week, normally set to take place during the last week of July/early August, annually. Each year the event provides quality club cricket, and attracts good crowds but, due to the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak, the Club was left with no option but to cancel.  Nevertheless, they were able to arrange for two of the originally cancelled traditional cricket week fixtures to take place on successive Saturday’s, once the League season had concluded.  The first was Saturday’s match against Sam Seadon’s team of former Sutton CC players, now known affectionately as the ‘Sammy Seadog XI’!  The second, versus The Paralytics, customarily the Club’s cricket week Friday fixture, is set for next Saturday, September 19th.

Saturday, September 12th 2020: Sutton CC Mid-Week XI 236-6 (39.1 overs) beat the Sammy Seadog XI 232-7 dec (47-overs) by 4-wickets, (declaration game; 20-overs from 5.45pm).

Traffic congestion around the Rose Hill area and on the A 217 leading to Cheam delayed the 1.00pm start by 15-minutes as many of the day’s players were delayed by up to an hour travelling to the ground. As the Seadog XI only numbered six at the time, Sam Seadon ‘won’ the toss and ‘elected’ to bat!   

Despite a lack of cricket for many of the Seadog players, collectively they certainly did not look out of their depth. Saying that, after 16-overs, the visitors were in deep water at 67-4, two of the wickets taken by senior colt Aiden Sheridan. However, former Sutton CC keeper, Russell Coombe, coming in first wicket down, was still there on 30-runs, rolling-back the years, and remaining resolute throughout whilst resisting the early pressure.  Coombe was joined at the crease by former Sutton CC pro, Garth Davson, at the fall of the 4th wicket.

The unexpected dismissal of Davson, run out for just 5-runs following a fine piece of fielding from Connor Griffin, helped Sutton enormously, and the Seadogs were now drowning in hot water, struggling at 84-5.

Coombe, with Sutton CC stalwart, Paul Liddiard, came to the Seadogs rescue, proceeding to steer through some steady spin bowling from Bob Foster and Dan Edwards, before at 140-5, Foster’s new-found left-arm spin claimed Coombe’s wicket, stumped by Josh Blake, for a superb 71-runs from 73 balls.  140-6 soon became 149-7 in the 33rd over, as Foster claimed Liddiard’s wicket for 27, calmly made runs, after Griffin took a nice catch at mid-off. 

Russell Coombe

No further wickets fell in the subsequent 14.3-overs as Gary Outram, then on 8 not out, was joined by Matt Cawood; and both were determined, come hell or high water, to establish a challenging Seadog total for Sutton to chase. Which they duly did!

Skipper Seadon declared the innings after 47-overs with his Seadog XI standing at 232-7; Outram ending 37 not out from 44-balls, and Cawood not out after a swashbuckling 46 from 50-balls. 

Gary Outram and Matt Cawood.

Opening the attack for the Seadogs were two of the most consistently successful medium pace bowlers Sutton CC has seen in recent times.  At 1st XI league and cup level, David Mitchell is Sutton CC’s greatest wicket taker over the past 15-years, securing 184 at an average of 25.21 runs per wicket off 1,245-overs.   Sam Seadon, a genuine all-rounder, has captured 46-wickets so far during his SCC career, at an impressive average of 30.24 per wicket.

While Mitchell is the quicker of the two, neither of the bowlers are known for their rapid pace. They are both clever seamers though, who can move the ball both ways; and they have made many a top-order player look silly for well over a decade. So, when Sam Woods and Josh Blake, opening the Sutton innings, approached the wicket in pursuit of the 233-runs needed to win, they were not unaware of the quality they would be facing initially.

After 11-overs and at 51-0, Woods 26 no, and Blake 22 no, were thankful to have survived the endless nibble and wobble of the opening bowlers; and both batters looked relieved to see that changes to the attack were in the offing. Their respite was short lived however, as striding forward for the 12th over was Matt Cawood, Sutton CC’s second highest 1st XI wicket taker of recent times. A spinner who persistently tested the technique of his opposition, Cawood had notched 158-wickets at an average of 20.93 per wicket during his Sutton career. 

Cawood was joined in the 13th over by Krishna Rackal who, after many years representing the club on off the field of play, now holds the important club role of Committee Member for Clubhouse Management; and it was Rackal’s bowling that took the plaudits during a 6-over spell of probing spin.   

Woods, his expansive game shaping up nicely, and Blake, looking once more the complete top order batsman, were both moving along steadily, yet effectively, reaching 97-runs and eyeing a century opening partnership when, in the 17th over Rackal struck to take the first of his 3-wicket haul.  Cunningly placed by Rackal at short fine leg, Cawood took a top-quality catch to dismiss Blake for a controlled 39-runs off 46-balls. 

Two balls and 4-runs later, Sutton were 101-2 as Rackal made Chris Morris nick one to Coombe, who took it sharply behind the stumps, as only Coombsie can.  Woods was then joined by Sutton’s skipper, Dan Edwards, and at the end of the 20th over Sutton stood at 124-2 with Woods on 67 in 70-balls, and Edwards 11-runs off 9-balls.

At 5.45pm the day’s final 20-overs were called by the umpires, leaving Sutton with a further 109-runs required for victory. Off the 3rd ball of the first of the final overs, Rackal enticed Woods in similar fashion to the Morris dismissal.  This time Coombsie took an even sharper catch; and Rackal had claimed his 3rd wicket (6-0-35-3) of the innings.  Sutton, at 124-3, now needed 109-runs to win from the remaining 19.3-overs.

Sam Woods

7-overs later Etinder Bopara and Edwards had moved briskly to 172-3; 24 from 20, and 32 from 28, respectively. Outram had replaced Cawood earlier, and with the first ball of his 3rd over drew Bopara just enough to bring Coombsie his third victim of the day; a very quick-witted stumping. 4-balls later Andy Alabaster was clean bowled by Outram (4-0-20-2) for just 3-runs. Sutton stood at 176-5 and the Seadogs, now penetrating the Sutton batting effectively, were smelling a chance of victory.     

With 12.1-overs remaining, and 57-runs required, Rehan Ratnasapabathy joined Edwards. With 7.4-overs left, and the score on 192, Davson, replacing Rackal earlier, forced Ratnasapabathy to drive straight to Seadon at mid-on, who held on to grab a magnificent catch.  192-6; 7.3-overs left; 41-runs to win, and this challenge was growing into a wonderful cricketing occasion for all who were present at Cheam Road.

Connor Griffin strode to the wicket, linking with Edwards who, on 39 from 42-balls, was playing watchfully, determined to see his team over the finishing line victorious. Both were unyielding, as Seadon threw a variety of bowling skills at the pair in a desperate attempt to break the partnership.  Liddiard, Matt Lewis, Dave Mercer, and Mitchell, back for his second spell, all tried in vain, but to no avail.

Griffin caressed a boundary off the first ball of the day’s final over, bowled by Mitchell, to secure a Sutton win by 4-wickets.  Griffin ended on 13 not out from 18-balls; and Edwards not out for an excellent, measured 65 from 64-balls.

Dan Edwards

So, the third in this series of permanent, ‘Cricket Week’, fixtures, goes to the Club XI.  It is the first time they have beaten the Seadogs.  Previous encounters resulted in wins for the Seadogs by 3-wickets in 2018, and by 14-runs in 2019.      

Post-game there was much recounting of many matches and anecdotes from over the years which were enjoyed by all.  A beautiful day’s cricket, played competitively, but in the spirit of the game.  Looking forward to next year’s encounter already!

The Players

Published by The Third Man

Cricket is my first sporting love; and decades later, it remains so. That said, aside from being a member, and 1st XI scorer at Sutton CC, I maintain a membership at Surrey CCC, and hold season tickets at Chelsea and Sutton United football clubs.

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