What a team performance that was. Everyone played their part, new faces and old returning to the fore. We did everything except get the result.
We won the toss and on the hottest day of the year so far we batted first. It soon became apparent that this was not going to be a particularly high scoring game. Despite the pitch being rock hard the bounce was low more often that not with just the occasional ball popping up. Curiously, the outfield was much slower than expected as well. Nevertheless Harps and Joe set about their task. Their strike rates reflecting the difficult nature of the pitch, Joe was first to go, bowled and we were 14 - 1. Giles strode in at three to join Harps and the two club legends started to form something of a partnership. However, not long after we reached 50 the partnership was broken. Harps out caught. Unfortunately Charlie followed suit after only 2 balls, getting bowled by an unplayable in-swinging yorker that would have troubled any batsman. It was Chris next to the crease and again a partnership started to form. However, just as Giles was starting to push on he was sharply taken at gully, low and quick. That brought about a flurry of wickets: Louis playing over the top of (yet another) shooter, Sri out lbw despite an inside edge, until which point he'd looked good; Tom Copp looked the part, having the confidence to move his feet but was caught before he could make a significant score. All the while Chris had been batting steadily, by now partnered with Dan B who looked equally at ease at the crease, and between them the score was creeping up. Chris fell narrowly short of his 50 but Dan kept going launching some towering 6s in the process! After my 2nd golden duck in a row (Billy must have known i should have been at 11) it was time for the Alex to head to the crease. Dan and Alex the took the game to Marnhull with a rapid 32 run partnership for the last wicket. We ended on 180 - 9. We felt it was a defendable score given the low pitch and slow outfield.
Teas came and went and we were soon out in the field.
Joe and Chris opened, and as it has so often been over the years, it was the extras that started to cost us. However, wickets did tumble too. Chris, despite having no control with the swinging ball, tore through most of their top order, and Joe soon found some rhythm to add to Marnhull's woes. At one point extras were the only runs being scored and Marnhull were 36 - 5, catches taken by Charlie and Dan and some top fielding by Tom as well. I came on up the hill after Chris and couldn't keep it tight enough, so soon our bowlers were Dan and Louis. Chances were still coming but just evading us at crucial times. They kept things tight squeezing the run rate down to just 2 or 3 and when Dan held on to a spectacular c&b we had the much needed breakthrough. Things seemed better as another wicket fell to Louis (his first for the House), but by now the runs required were slowly diminishing and we still had a partnership or two to break. Alex replaced Louis down the hill and was so unlucky not to pick up two or three, not including half a chance of a run out at the non strikers end, and another that needed a direct hit. It was tense. About 4 an over required, a late order partnership, Alex and the returning Chris steaming in... but 2 big shots off decent enough deliveries took it away from us and we couldn't hold on. Marnhull won by 3 wickets with only 2 overs to spare.
Man of the match is Dan Biddiscombe for an all round effort. Smashing late order runs, taking 2 catches and bowling 8 overs on the bounce. Dan was everywhere and involved in everything good we did as a side.
An honourable mention should go to Tom and Charlie in the field for saving dozens of runs either side of the wickets.
D!ck of the day goes to Chris. He missed out on a 50 and a 5fer - proper jug avoidance - and couldn't control the new ball swing. But otherwise his performance was exceptional.
I was seriously impressed by the cohesion of the team, even with two debutants. I do not feel that any of you could have done more on the day. As mentioned in previous reports, it is a game of fine margins. We played at the required standard for the league, now we just need to get this elusive first win of the season.