After two weeks off we were finally able to get a game in. Alas, it was not the win that we were after. Winning the toss in pretty grim conditions we put the opposition in to bat with the plan to take some early wickets. Harps and Joe took up their usual role of opening the bowling and soon found the wicket to be pretty unforgiving. The Hamworthy openers got them off to a flyer aided by more than their fair share of luck: the ball just evading fielders and when the slip came out the next ball flew through where he had been.
Spencer came on first change down the hill. It took him an over or two to get in to his rhythm, but when he did a chance came in the form of a dolly to mid-on that fell between bowler and fielder. We could scarce afford to let them off the hook like that. Spencer did his best to give us a chance though, taking 2 quick wickets and checking the run rate. Another of the big positives of the game for us, was Louis' bowling up the hill. He bowled tight line and length and deserved more for his efforts than just economical figures. Chances were still being created but we were simply not taking them; frustrations continued.
It was when yet another single was taken to a close fielder that Rory had a quiet word with me which led to a team huddle where i made sure we all knew that this was well below the standard expected. Arguably the biggest positive for the day was the players' response to the team talk. Tim and Shan in particular, stepped up admirably. Both bowling well down the hill, with Shan and Rory combining to affect Shan's first Div 1 wicket. Tim and Shan also chased everything in the field, and more than that, they were backing up and covering for the now incapacitated Rory who simply could not move with back pain. This was a body blow to the team. Our talismanic keeper now no longer to play a meaningful role and Hamworthy's total climbing steadily. Both Tom Para and I did what we could to stem the scoring but neither of us had the luck we felt we were due. The last few overs were bowled out by Joe and Ali who bowled superbly but could not prevent Hamworthy from posting 309 - 3 off 40 overs.
It was a mammoth ask but if we were going to do it we would need to get off to a quick start. I opted to open the batting with Chris and Harps with Joe at 3, Louis at 4 and the rest of the team shifting up one in the absence of RSR. The plan was for Harps to anchor the innings and Chris to score quickly. It could have worked had it not been for Harps going to a sharp c&b. But then Joe and Chris looked good at the crease. Scoring off the bad balls and taking quick singles. However, it was not the 20+ over partnership we needed. Too soon Joe followed Harps back to the pavilion. Louis started well with a crunching shot through the covers but one ball popped off the wicket causing a skied catch to mid off. The rest of the innings fell away all too quickly. Ali, Spencer, Tom Para and myself (the latter two out to dubious decisions from the stand-in umpire). Shan followed too leaving just Tim and Chris at the crease. Both looked good and between them they got us to the 100 mark. However, it was all over when Chris was eventually bowled by one keeping low. It was a shame that Chris couldn't carry his bat as he stepped up to opener with no notice and applied himself brilliantly.
We are away to Marnhull next week. We will need a strong team but this could and should be where our season kick starts. Man of the match: Tim. He stepped up in the field, bowled tidily and scored some much needed runs at the end. I could list the rest of the team as honourable mentions for numerous reasons but this is already bloody long! Cheers P