It was an all change side from Radway’s previous fixture due to matrimonious affairs happening elsewhere (rather inconsiderate given the importance of Radway’s promotion push). With Adams, Walsh and Wilby away on the piss and Elsby under the thumb, Sofroniou and Squire returned to the front line with a recently returned Gurr completing the line up. (Note: An unfortunate Elsby only managed a second ball duck in the 2nd XI)
After a short detour via Budgens thanks to ‘SatNav’ Walker, Radway arrived at a gusty and green Grange Park. With a history of incapable tossing behind him Barnes strolled to the wicket as the away team all strapped on pads, surely enough Barnes called incorrectly but for some inexplicable reason the home side chose to bat.
Walker and Intense Douthwaite opened up proceedings confidently, giving away little in terms of freebies. Fortune looked to favour Radway when the Grange Park opener chipped - what can only be described as - the most delicate of pitching wedges up in the air. Looks of delight were swiftly replaced by despair as the fielding side noted the member of the team to which the ball was headed. As surely as he lost the toss the skipper managed to drop perhaps the easiest chance of the season (the word dolly was invented for catches significantly harder than this). Much derision deservedly followed as the innings continued. Douthwaite Jnr broke the opening partnership minutes later bowling the batsman around his legs. The horrific drop off Walker had dampened the bowler’s mood to say the least but he kept things tight with a miserly spell of 0-11 off 7 overs.
Douthwaite Snr was brought into the attack and began to spin a web around the Grange Park batsmen conceding just 19 runs off his 11 overs. He removed the dangerous looking opener thanks to another excellent catch by overseas player Sofroniou. With the openers gone, Radway tore through the middle order with Mark Hibberd
returning figures of 3 for 24; the highlight of the spell being knocking the middle stump out of the ground with a ball which, according to the batsman, swung a country mile (approx. value). Whilst senior Radway figures managed to take some of the limelight away from Teflon Barnes with the customary drops in the field (current average is 6 a game this season), Douthwaite Jnr clung on to a very good catch at point and two sharp stumpings from the athletic Mr Rutherford proved that not all members of the team were entirely inept. Douthwaite Jnr (2-20) and Squire wrapped up the innings and the two sides went in to tea with Grange Park having posted 90-7 off their 40 overs.
A sumptuous tea was had by all; the chocolate brownies were a particular highlight. Somewhat weighed down by the superb scoff, Phil Mitchell and Chris Moyles strode to the crease. Barnes showed off a magnificent eyes closed hook shot as the Grange Park opening bowler’s aggression went a little past the acceptable and a little toward the embarrassing. As Barnes pulled, cut and predominantly edged his way to a confident start Watkins struggled to score, perhaps worn out by the alone time spent with his laptop the night before. Watkins took a precisely aimed blow to his already tired tadger much to the enjoyment of the watching crowd. Roughed up, he edged behind for a meagre 1 and swiftly returned to the changing rooms to attend to his squashed genitals.
Tripod Handley joined Barnes and the two forged a strong partnership, the team-bonding trip to a gentlemen’s club had clearly done its work as Radway coasted past the half way mark. Handley (13) was then given out leg before and despite video evidence showing the ball had both pitched outside leg and hit him three quarters of the way up his thigh, he had to go. Barnes pulled out the flourishing cover drive before Gurr capped his first start of the season with a duck. Sofroniou (12*) got about his business in familiar style as Radway cruised to the total just 3 wickets down. Barnes managed to scrape to his half-century with the winning runs to go someway to making up for his earlier drop.
A strong all-round performance marred only by the fielding mishaps has put Radway joint top and in serious danger of promotion.