Memories 5 - Brentham v Gravesend
In the late 50s and early 60s there were a series of interesting, tight and unusual games against Gravesend, which was a very distant fixture in those days, particularly as there was no M25. The attraction was The Bat and Ball Ground, a County ground in those days, as well as a very sociable opposition.
In 1959 in an all day game at home, Gravesend compiled what was then a big score, especially in May, of 238 for 9 wickets off 62 overs in 3 hours play. Geoff Kingston scored 108, whilst Brian Waters took 4 for 81 from 24 overs. In reply, Brentham reached the first 50 in 48 minutes and were 91 for 3 .Then the Swann brothers got underway and put on a stand of 82. 150 was passed in only 125 minutes and, although three wickets then fell at 180, 200 came in 165 minutes. The reply that was appearing to be subsiding to just a valiant effort was rescued by BrianWaters (33), having a real all-round game, and David Mead (23 n.o.) and victory was achieved by the smallest margin of 1 wicket. Geoff Dunk’s 5 for 51 from 17 overs proved not to be quite good enough.
1960 saw us again at The Bat and Ball, which was such a superb surface that it appeared that the stumps could be pitched anywhere. Its reputation went before it and anything passing the field was a lost cause. As a result the game was approached with a certain apprehension. Brentham batted first and made a solid fist of things. The openers reached 45 and the second wicket fell at 98 after only 90 minutes. Horace Brearley completed his 50 before being third out. Progress was stilted with wickets falling and 150 came up in even time, which was thought to be not good enough. The innings finally came to an end after 194 minutes and 65.2 overs at a total of 214. This was adjudged to be a lot short on such a good wicket and fast outfield and an early finish was forecast.
So it turned out but not as anticipated. Brian Waters picked up a wicket in his first over and, after Brian Mead had failed to make an impact from 7 overs, David Norman came on and brilliantly caught and bowled the other opener. In his next over, Peter Penmen was also the unfortunate sufferer when Brian Waters took another outstanding catch at short leg off a hook. Suddenly the score was 42 for3 from which Gravesend never recovered. David Norman bowled 16 overs on the reel with 7 maidens and took 5 for only 25 runs. With Brian Waters taking 2 for 31 and John Swann 2 for 13, Gravesend were all out for 102 in 135 minutes -an astonishing result and at 6.15 p.m. at that.
The fixture in 1963 was played on a hot day in May and the exchanges went up a further notch. Brentham, following a big score the day before against Ealing Dean, continued where they had left off. David Vincent (96) and Horace Brearley (92) both just failed to make centuries, which enabled the declaration to come at 270 for 4 -the highest score in anyone’s memory at the ground. Even so, Gravesend were given 30 minutes longer to bat.
In their innings the visitors never really gave the impression that they were making the effort to reach such a score, although their opening bat, C. Reader, was proving to be the backbone of the reply. No one contributed significantly but Luckhurst with 31, Hinks 24, and Court 20, gave support. Reader paced the innings superbly and upped the pace steadily throughout, so much so that when the final over started the total unbelievably was in sight. Reader was facing and 1 run was required from the last ball. Brian Reid bowled a low full toss, which Reader crashed straight back. Reid stuck out a foot, the ball hit his ankle and, if insult was to be added to injury, diverted off for the single. This was a great victory and Reader finished with a memorable 131. Brian Mead’s 5 for 86 was just not enough.
It was back to Gravesend for 1964. It was Bank Holiday and another beautiful day. Most of the side was caught in the seaside traffic, which seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. As a result the match did not start until noon and not all the side had arrived even then. The characteristic of the ground was used to its fullest. With lunch taken at 1.30 pm, the score was 149-1. 50 was passed in 38 minutes, 100 in 68 minutes. The scene was set when John Swann, in the over before lunch, instead of playing carefully went on the attack and took 12 off the over. The afternoon was more of the same. 200 came after 105 minutes, 300 in 159 and, believe it or not 350 in 170 minutes. The declaration came after 58 overs and 174 minutes of batting at 364-4 -Brearley 91,Swann 72, and Bloomfield 79 no. After such a late and shambolic start no one would have predicted what was to follow.
The events of 1963 were not to be repeated despite Gravesend receiving 73 overs, an additional 15 overs. R. Walker, who appeared subsequently for Kent, batted solidly and completed his 50 out of 124. Wheeler then took the leading role with a brisk 73 in 80 minutes but the task was just too great. Nevertheless, they managed a total of 259 for 8, no mean score in itself. Norman Allsop, who was making a guest appearance, was the eighth bowler and took 2 wickets including Wheeler.
by David Bloomfield
Captain 1970-1972 & 1979-80