Following an extravagant Opening Ceremony for London 2012 Olympics, fireworks were expected during the promotion clash between Radway and Byfield ‘A’. While the athletes in London strive to uphold the Olympic motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger", Radway’s players seem to be unstoppable in their quest to become “Slower, Fatter, Limper”. However, with a convincing victory last week (no thanks to the stand in captain) could Radway avenge the defeat by Byfield earlier in the season?
Fresh from his ‘couples only’ holiday to Portugal the week before, Captain Mark Barnes won the toss and elected to field.
Matt Walsh and Steven Douthwaite opened the bowling and were on top of the visiting Batsmen immediately. Walsh dismissed the first opener with a delivery that on any other day would have slipped down the legside for a bye or more likely a wide. However, the cricket Gods looked down favourably on the Radway Behemoth with the ball clipping leg stump. For the record Mr Batsman, it did not “move a mile”. Walsh soon claimed his second wicket with a sharp clean bowled, aided a little with some erratic shot selections from the new batsman.
Douthwaite joined in the wicket taking shortly after, removing the left handed opener with an in swinging delivery that caught the batsman leg before. Wicketkeeper Paul Watkins and the Three Wise Men in the slip cordon seemed disinterested in an appeal, but Douthwaite’s enthusiastic plea was vindicated when the umpire raised his finger, much to the disappointment of the batsman.
Losing three quick wickets typically brings a period of consolidation by the batting side, but Byfield ‘A’ seemed unrelenting in their pursuit for self-destruction. Sitting on the toilet only to realise there is no toilet paper, wetting yourself as a child in school assembly and finding yourself half way down the wicket when your partner shouts ‘no’ to a second run are all moments that result in a long uncomfortable walk of shame. Needless to say a sharp piece of fielding by Gurr and an accurate throw to Wilby covering the stumps ended another innings for the visiting team.
Two further wickets fell to Walsh (12/4/34/4) and ‘Fire crotch’ Douthwaite (8/1/24/2) took another with a beautiful delivery pitching inline and moving away to nip the top of off stump. At 35-7, Radway were in dominant form and the bowlers should be commended for a good spell of attacking bowling.
Byfield finally began to show some of their promotion form and with one opener still at the crease started to take advantage of the tiring bowlers. Shortly after a number of well struck boundaries Captain Barnes rearranged the field, bringing himself into the offside to provide additional cover. Shortly after another well struck boundary through Barnes, he rearranged the field again, cleverly positioning himself behind the more capable Douthwaite.
With Walsh still bowling aggressively, chances would surely come. Watkins (£1) missed a low caught behind opportunity; this was surprising given the ample carry on the ‘extremely quick wicket’ he had prepared. Matt Hayden took a sharp catch at slip only for it to be judged not out and Walsh (£2) missed a difficult opportunity off his own bowling. Hayden (5/2/14/1) soon made amends with a plumb LBW during his tidy spell.
In a moment of controversy and perhaps a show of authority, Barnes asked former Captain and Radway stalwart Craig Walker to bowl from the Church End. It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” …and for 20 odd years of Radway Cricket Club, Walker bowling from the Tysoe End. Unperturbed and following a second warm up routine, Walker (1.2/0/4/2) wrapped up the innings in short order leaving a meagre total of 84 for Radway to chase.
The Radway openers faced the task of seeing out a tricky spell of bowling before tea. Guy Wilby and Mark Hibberd opened the innings, but Wilby (1) soon fell playing on to his own stumps attempting to cut off the back foot. Although Wilby cut a forlorn and despairing figure during his prolonged walk back to the pavilion, he was in fact playing out a tactical master class for those in attendance. He is too proud a man to admit it, but his canny timewasting was a truly selfless endeavour to protect his cricketing comrades from the menacing military medium that ensued. He only scored a single run, but in doing so he won the admiration of so many.
Lawrence Hanley joined Hibberd at the crease and after a watchful start soon sent balls crashing to the cover boundary for consecutive fours. Hanley looked to be setting himself for an assertive innings, but he fell shortly after to a straight ball. Hanley (11) will know he should have played forward in defence, but it will not be long before he begins to score ‘big’ in Radway colours.
Hayden replaced Hanley and safely negotiated secure passage through to the break with Radway at 28-2. A delectable tea was enjoyed by all – special mention must be made for the fresh fillings in the sponge cake.
Following tea, Hibberd (12) looked resolute in defence until a lapse in concentration did for him as he attempted to play a ball to leg that flicked his pad and clattered into the stumps. This was another disappointing afternoon for Hibberd with the bat; being presented with a trophy of a batsman with no bat for winning last season’s averages does appear to have affected his game this season. Voodoo curse or just a lack of interest could both be put forward as plausible explanations.
With the infamous Radway collapse becoming a thing of the past, Hayden (38) and Barnes (11) set about the task in hand. Some lusty blows by Hayden coupled with some appropriate fiddling by Barnes saw the target score whittled away comfortably to give Radway a deserved victory.
Next week’s opponents Willoughby will be looking to gain ground on their relegation rivals so Radway will need to battle hard to consolidate their position at the top of the league.
Home or away, they do it the Radway.