Pool find themselves Tong-tied
Pressure tells on Tong as Pool fight hard to share the spoils
After the early season break, Pool were keen to get the cricket show back on the road and make amends for the defeat to Beckwithshaw. The first challenge of the day was to a) find Tong Park, and b) negotiate the many gates along the dusty lane to the ground. Fortunately everyone made it in good time as we prepared to take on Tong Park Esholt. Following the bad flooding of their usual ground in Esholt the fixture was being played at Tong Park, which the club had done well to get in reasonably decent shape.
That said, there were certain indications on the pitch that suggested the best course of action for Cooey would be to win the toss and bowl first. Of course he called incorrectly and Pool were invited to have a hit. Opening up was the mixture of youth and experience in Will Cooper and Dave Murphy against what looked like a bit of a makeshift TPE side. Things got off to a steady enough start but with the score on 21, Murph was sent on his way LBW. Early indications were that he wasn't entirely happy with the decision but he gave way to Mark Wilkinson. A good partnership was then forged between Trev and Coops which took the score on to 56 before first change bowler Wildsmith absolutely bamboozled Trev with some dross bowling that he could only parry back for a simple caught & bowled. The in form skipper was in at 4 and picked up where Trev left off. Coops was still going well before falling to Wildsmith who had somehow managed to claim 2 wickets in his mixed spell. A decent 38 in his first game of the season for Will. Cam Duncan was in at 5, and was soon into his stride but96 for 3 soon became 97 for 4 when Cooey was bowled by Taylor for 21. Dibby came & went for an 3 and Buzz, shoved up the order, fell for just 2. Fortunately, underpinning the innings was Cam, calmly building his innings with a mix of big shots and nudges. Dan Hewer, in at 8, could only muster 5 before getting a decent yorker to send him packing, and Rupert Wyard was unable to add to the score before getting caught behind for a duck. Jamie Wilkinson came in at 10 to join Cam with the score on 141, and the pair started to build a much needed partnership. With just over 3 overs to go, Cam reached his first 2nd team half century with a maximum over midwicket. Well deserved and well constructed, and helping the total move on to 180. Unfortunately the next ball brought his innings to an end as he tried to repeat the same shot and was bowled, which brought the ever-reliable Jack Wood in at 11. Jamie had moved his score onto 19 before Woody uncharacteristically missed a straight one, bringing the innings to a close with a defendable total of 181 on the board.
After tea, Pool set about the job of defending their total. Matthew Naylor and Jamie Wilkinson opened up, both hoping for some decent swing in the warm, humid conditions. The ball wasn't up to it's usual tricks though, and both struggled a little. Opening batters Hiley and Ahmed was making good progress and capitalising on every bad ball, pushing the total along with pace. The first bowling change, Dan Hewer on the Buzz, brought about the first wicket, with Dan bowling Ahmed for an uncultured but effective 29. Hiley had settled in to the game nicely and was doing a good job for the home side. Shepherd, in at 3 for TPE, hung around a while but never looks like getting many runs. That said, he was forging a decent partnership with Hiley and the pair had moved the score onto 103 at drinks. The break brought about the wicket as Hiley snicked one down the leg side for Cam to take a decent diving catch. Hiley departed for 63 and his body language indicated that he knew he'd caused a problem for his team in getting out. Buzz, in his second spell, removed Shepherd for 8 before Mir, who had clubbed a brisk and dangerous 27 snicked off to Cam to give Dan his second of the match. In at 5 was the young lad Ameer who looked pretty ropey at first was was soon settling into the middle and playing some nice shots. he received little support from Holdsworth who was bowled by Buzz for 6, but by this time the score had crept up to 160 for 5. Just 21 runs to play with and overs not an issue, it looked like a fairly steady cruise home for TPE. However, Pool know that bowling is their strong suit, along with strong support in the field, and as the number 7 man Burke fell LBW for 0 to Dan, Pool were starting to sniff an unlikely victory. Denton, in at 8, looked fairly average but wasn't getting out, and managed to squeeze the odd run here & there, supporting young Ameer who was looking better all the time. The key wicket came with the score on 178 when Ameer looked to go for glory with a big shot but only succeeded in chipping one up for the skipper to snaffle a mid on. A well played, and almost match-winning, 32 from the lad. 4 runs required and 3 wickets remaining, the game was still TPE's for the taking, but Pool weren't for rolling over now. The long tail of the home side was well and truly exposed and panic was starting to set in. Buzz & Dan had done a good job of counting the overs down and good spells for no reward from Rupert and Dibby, and the last few overs fell to Dan & Jamie. Taylor, the number 9, inside edged Jamie down towards the fine leg boundary. Trev, gazelle-like, galloped after it from slip and as Taylor came back for a second run, Trev unleashed his throw, almost from the boundary. A direct hit, halfway up middle stump, saw Taylor well short of his ground and on his way with the score hanging tantalisingly on 179. Wildsmith came in at 10, shaping up for the big hit to seal things for TPE. He managed to work Jamie away for 2 to take the scores level, but was unable to add to that for the remainder of the over. By this time we were down to the final 2 overs of the match. 1 run required for TPE, 2 wickets required for Pool. Very tense. The field was tight, with no room for error. Dan charged in for his last over, and as Denton squirmed one away into the leg side they went for the quick single that would see their side home. Jamie scampered a few steps to his right at mid wicket and whipped the ball into Cam, who managed to remove the bails with Wildsmith short of his ground. Scores still level. 1 wicket remaining. The last man Cooper came in and looked to have done the job for TPE as he made a decent connection with the ball in the direction of mid off. It looked to be sailing over Trev's head but he extended his Mr Tickle arms and safely grabbed the ball with both hands. TPE all out for 181 as the game was tied. This felt like a victory for Pool in the circumstances, and almost certainly like a defeat for Tong Park Esholt from the position they were in. Well earned points for Cooey's men and an excellent 5-40 from Dan Hewer.
Next week see's the lads head to Adel with more points up for grabs in what looks like quite an open division.