WHAT a carnival week it was down at Woking & Horsell as the club paid homage to the borough’s most famous cricket heroes.
The superbly well attended, week-long Bedser Festival was dreamed up to mark 110 years of cricket down at the Brewery Road club and to celebrate the lives and cricketing prowess of those unparalleled brothers: Sir Alec and Eric Bedser.
Horsellians of all ages turned out in their droves from Tuesday until close of play on Sunday evening to be bowled over by the special schedule of events in honour of the great men. Everything cricket was served up on a packed menu of events: from a Big Bash-style Twenty20 match to kick things off through to a keenly fought Lads & Dads contest – very apt, coming as it did amid Father’s Day celebrations.
But the best was saved until last as Woking & Horsell claimed a surprise seven-wicket victory over a Surrey Masters XI. When you consider that the Surrey side featured the likes of former England international duo Martin Bicknell and Adam Hollioake, the memorable win certainly wrapped things up in style on Sunday afternoon.
Rewind 24 hours and the Woking & Horsell first team prised themselves away from the party momentarily as captain James Woods and his men travelled over to Cobham Avorians for their testing Surrey Championship Division 4 tussle, looking to continue the form that they showed in their comprehensive win over Old Emanuel seven days previously.
Skipper Woods in particular had shone during that romp, anchoring the winning innings with a half-century knock, and having lost the toss to his Avorians opposite number on this occasion, saw his men take their places out in the middle again.
Woods promoted Tim Keene (25) and Henri Peters (11) up the batting order to open proceedings, and the move didn’t seem to phase the middle-order men as they took the sting out of the home attack; occupying the crease early on.
Peters was the first man down when he was tempted into an error by Kumudu Prashad and caught by Joel Bailey. Keene proved a little over-keen to make amends as he too was caught out by Bailey, this time from a Mohsin Bashir delivery.
That brought Woods to the crease but unlike his fluent 57 score the previous weekend, the Woking captain could only manage five deliveries this time before exiting stage left for a duck – caught and bowled by Bashir. When Matt Lock followed his captain’s lead, this time clean bowled by Bashir for a golden duck, it looked as if the visitors could be struggling to make it through to a three-figure total as they languished on 48-4.
But Woking were only down on their haunches momentarily as a middle order revival from Liam Monaghan – who bashed Bashir and the home attack around the ground for a rapid 34 from 31 deliveries – and Cameron Oldfield showed the way with 57 from 57, including 10 fours to finish the innings still in situ, having steered the away side to a respectable 157 total.
After the turnaround, Woods fired up his wicket takers, including an inspired Calum Chisholm, who was clearly intent on returning to the Bedser festivities back at Brewery Road HQ post-haste.
Paceman Chisholm was steaming down the track in inspired style, taking the Avorians’ opening trio of Mahesh Liyanage (0), Tilan Wijesinghe (4) and Joel Bailey (23). There was a brief Chisholm intermission as fellow speedster Paul Norris (1-33) got in on the act to remove AK Tyrone, leaving the hosts in a similarly perilous position to that which Norris and co had found themselves early on at 54-4.
But whereas Woking mustered up a middle-order reply with Monaghan and Oldfield, Cobham merely coughed up their next three wickets for single figure sums, Chilshom again doing the damage alongside Oldfield who continued his fine day’s work (1-22).
Incredibly though, with the odds stacked in Woking & Horsell’s favour as their host toiled on 70-7, the tide soon turned when all-rounders Mark Barrow (43) and Bashir (23) came out to bat at No9 and No10.
Despite his superb day’s figures of 6-51, Chisholm was powerless as the Cobham tail wagged relentlessly to seal an unlikely turnaround and a two-wicket triumph as Woking & Horsell ran out of time.
While the frustrating loss sees Woods’ men remain in sixth place in the standings, it couldn’t completely dampen spirits, with the fun of the festival continuing back at home. Maximum points may well return this weekend as bottom of the pile side Old Hamptonians come to town.
Speaking back at the clubhouse, Cricket Festival organiser Damian Honey praised all those who helped make the event a hit. He said: “The past week has arguably been the most memorable in the club’s history. We’ve been blessed with some amazing weather and had amazing crowds for each event.
“Personal highlights for me was the Woking Legends game, which saw a close fought contest between players who made their name for the club in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
“Thank you to the Bedser Foundation and Woking Borough Council for giving us the opportunity to hold this event and giving us so much support, and to Global Travel Management – our headline sponsors – and the Surrey Cricket Board for arranging the fixture with the Surrey Masters, along with everyone who helped out and attended the festival.”