Saturday in the field was by far the best performance of the season so far.
We won the toss and opted to bat on a scorching day. The wicket looked good and the outfield fast. We also had a strong team and a lot of support - especially when Ant and Connor turned up to lend their voices! There was good reason to be optimistic.
Sri and Harps opened the batting. Sri was given free license to get the scoreboard moving quickly - a role he appeared to relish: launching some enormous 6s out of either end of the park! Harps was doing exactly what Harps does best: anchor the innings, picking off the bad balls and making it all look ridiculously easy. Unfortunately, the opening stand was eventually broken after a quick 30 from Sri as he tried to maintain the fast start and was caught in the deep. Harps meanwhile was steadily accumulating at the other end. Next out was Rory, however, his back was still preventing him from moving freely and it wasn't long before an in swinging yorker accounted for his wicket. But it must be noted that - for perhaps the first time ever - Rory played a defensive shot! Yes, I was as shocked as anyone, but safe to say he middled it.
Giles went out at 4 and started to look comfortable but just as he was getting his eye in he fell to a sharp c&b. That brought Charlie to the crease with Harps. However, their partnership didn't last long after Harps middled the ball... but he wasn't caught, he was given out lbw by the away team's umpire. This was a real turning point in the game. Chris went out to join Charlie and the pair of them looked good at the crease with sharp running and some glorious shots played by both. However, just before drinks, Chris was caught out meaning that Pat had to enter the fray. They say that wickets often fall shortly after a drinks break and on Saturday that rang true. Charlie was bowled by one nipping back up the slope and evading an otherwise textbook defensive shot. Dan B was next in but unfortunately he couldn't replicate last week's heroics with the bat and was given lbw - we need to teach Billy the rules: only give opposition batsmen out! Nevertheless, we still had Max to bat so we knew there were still runs out there. However, not long after he arrived at the crease there was a glitch in the matrix and somehow Max was bowled round his legs by a seamer when taking a middle stump guard. I'm not sure how it happened but either way it brought Spencer to the crease with Pat. Pat, seeing a flurry of wickets fall around him took the decision to go big knowing that there was not much (only me) to come afterwards. However, the gamble did not pay off and he was soon bowled. Spencer stuck around admirably, playing a more defensive role than he would like to but eventually one snuck through to end the Compton innings on 112 ao.
When it came time to field we took the opportunity to have a team huddle. We had over 100 runs on the board and we were going to fight to defend that every step of the way. Whatever was said worked! The effort in the field was exceptional. Tom Copp, brought in as a late 12th man, led the way. His fielding dynamic and his attitude brilliant. He made the batsmen feel uncomfortable and was saving runs at every occasion. Max was another in the field that stood out. Fielding at cover he saved countless runs and looked solid throughout. I won't list everyone's individual efforts in the field but Dan, Charlie, Chris, Spencer and the rest of the team were everywhere. Pat opened down the hill and it wasn't long before we could see that their openers were not good enough to face him. In the course of 6 overs there were 2 thick edges taken by Giles - however, their umpire did get the memo about not giving out his own players, meaning that it felt like we were playing against 12. From the other end we opened with Max who beat the bat, got some good bounce and bowled at a sharp pace. Another top performance from the youngster. The score wasn't going anywhere but thanks to an umpiring decision or two, neither were the batsmen. Next on to bowl was Chris, up the hill, breathing fire and determined to take wickets; and he did. He might bowl from in front of the umpire but that hardly matters when the stumps are flying everywhere. Dan B came on first change down the hill bowling an excellent line and length again. However, despite his best efforts the breakthrough wasn't forthcoming for him this time. I replaced Chris up the hill - it was a balancing act between wicket-taking pace and limiting extras. I decided to limit the extras and promptly got hit for 2 fours in my first over instead. However, i knew i had to bowl a few more overs and thankfully picked up a wicket in the process without going for too many more runs. Harps came on down the hill and was soon in amongst the wickets too. Spencer was due on next, down the hill, but in a change of heart i gave Pat another go and the decision paid off. Their obdurate batsmen out caught at mid on. Now, their late middle order was exposed but they only required 20 or so runs. Spencer did all he could to get a wicket but in the end we simply didn't have enough runs on the board.
However it is testament to the bowlers that over 32 overs Witchampton did not middle most of the deliveries, and boundaries were edgy, streaky or a combination of the two. Moreover, it is a testament to both the fielders and bowlers that it took 32 overs for them to score 113! Simply incredible. If it weren't for 3 poor decisions we win the game. Having said that, in the interest of fairness, we could and should have scored more runs on the day.
As mentioned, it was a fantastic performance from everyone - to the extent that there cannot be a man of the match, save to say that the better team lost.
Next week it is onward to Swanage where we will have to fight again!