Now for the report that I have been looking forward to writing! But where to start? What an effort from the mighty House! This was as complete a performance as I could have hoped for. The weather was looking ominous and the prospect a daunting one. Playing away to what is, for all intents and purposes, a premier league side.
We won the toss and due to the weather I opted to field first. Pat and Harps opened. Pat, with searing pace, was forcing their openers on to the back foot and the fielding in the covers, by Chris in particular, was keeping the pressure on the batsmen. The ball wasn't getting off the square. Harps was turning the screw at the other end. Perhaps with a little less pace than Pat, Harps' legendary accuracy was forcing defensive shot after defensive shot from the openers and keeping the runs down from the other end too.
Pat got the initial breakthrough. A perfectly pitched delivery clipping the top of off! In the sapping humidity Pat found it harder than usual to maintain his line but in his 5th and final over he got the second (deserved) breakthrough by getting their number 3 bat to spoon one to yours truly at mid off. I did everything i could to fluff the chance. First, i misjudged the flight of the ball and over ran it. Then, back-peddling, i stuck a hand in the air and thankfully got enough behind the ball to stop it going further past me, however the ball was still loose in my hand but somehow i got my hand down in time, behind my back to cling on to it. Perhaps that was some of the luck we needed...
Joe was the first change down the hill and what a spell it was. 8 overs in the humidity, he bowled with pace and accuracy. Getting the ball to nip up the hill as well as getting bounce, it wasn't long before he produced the ball of the day to bowl Stalbridge's best batsman through the gate. To cap a fine spell Joe also dismissed their captain LBW to break the spirit of the opposition. Moreover, two maidens, including a wicket maiden in his 8th just shows how good a spell it was, backed up by Charlie, Alfie and Chris in the field.
Chris replaced the excellent Harps (who only went for 14 off his 8 overs!). Chris was not as accurate but the erratic nature of his bowling meant that the batsmen hadn't a clue how to play him. In his 5 overs only 9 of the 17 runs conceded came off the bat, and the two wickets he took made a big impact, both caught, one by Pat and one by Joe. By now Stalbridge were 66-6 and it was apparent that they were rattled, the mighty House were dominating both on and off the pitch, their travelling support in the form of Ant, Mandy, my mum and Heather continued to boost the players' morale.
Giles was then asked to bowl after Joe, and as per the previous game he took a wicket in his first over, though thankfully he did not injure himself this time! I replaced Chris up the hill and wrapped up the tail finishing with 3 for 1 off 8 deliveries - definitely a case of "follow me lads, i'll be right behind you!" : you dismiss the top order i'll claim the tail end wickets!
We had just restricted the 2nd placed team in the league to a grand total of 70 all out!
It was over to the batsmen now. Rory and Harps went out to open. Rory started well crashing a 4 over long off, and then dug in a little as their bowling improved. The slow outfield prevented him scoring as many as it could have been but he boosted the run rate with an enormous straight 6 before being well held at mid off. Nonetheless, he had made a significant dent in their total. Tom Copp went in at 3 and looked like Kane Williamson, playing late dabs down to third man and rotating the strike with Harps. Pappa Bear was accumulating quickly at the other end, crashing the ball square to the boundary on a number of occasions and running several 3s! Tom unfortunately played on with only a handful of runs required and Harps and Giles finished things off. It was a route!
Man of the match (in the absence of Dan B) had to be Harps. Superb bowling, a sharp slip catch and an unbeaten 40 odd meant there were few other contenders. However, Pat with 2 wickets and numerous catches, Chris and Joe with 2 wickets apiece and further fielding efforts ensured that it was not an easy decision to make.
There were only two blemishes to an otherwise excellent performance in the field, and we did give away 20 extras, but also, there were only 2 Stalbridge batsmen to make double figures, so really nothing to complain about.
What a win for the mighty House, one that could prove a catalyst to keeping us up this season.
Well played gents.