Doesn’t the rest of the weekend go so much better when you’ve won on the Saturday!
We headed over to Hornchurch and despite losing the toss, we were asked to field which was what I would have elected to do! Having returned fully refreshed from the Bentley Bears training camp in Pakistan, Shammi opened the bowling alongside Snelly and they sought to make some early inroads. As is often the case, bad balls take wickets and we had our first when Snelly bowled a rank long hop which their captain could only pull to Matt ‘Safe Hands’ Earing at mid-on who thankfully decided this week to use both hands!
Shammi and Snelly continued to bowl well but we couldn’t find the breakthrough and so I bought on Albert and myself to try and get a wicket. Albert bowled one of his trademark spells, and soon broke the partnership after the Hornchurch opener carved to Gunnar at point. As usual, Albert tied up and end, bowling 10 overs for 14 runs and this coupled with some decent bowling from myself increased the pressure on their batsmen. Sprulesy took a good catch at midwicket and we had a third, reaching drinks with Hornchurch going at less than 3 an over.
Embarrassingly, I tried to sneak myself on for an 11th over (obviously fancied myself to clean them up), but once I was alerted to this fact, Snelly had to take over and Walker came on at the other end. Once again, these boys stepped up and bowled important spells. Manno took another great catch off Snelly who then bowled one of their big hitting middle order to end with 3 wickets.
For the second week in a row, I gave Walker the tough task of bowling 7 overs at the end of the innings and for the second time, he did a great job. Bowling a tight line outside off stump and with the Hornchurch batsmen looking to push the score along, he reaped the rewards. More good catching from Sappy, Gunnar and Matt and one who was bowled by Walker helped us to restrict them to 163 all out; the first time we have bowled a team out this season!
Snelly and Walker were the stars taking 7 wickets between them but the best part for me was that we took 7 catches as a team. Last year, I doubt we would have taken that many without dropping a few clangers but this year, we seem to be taking the majority of our chances. Long may it continue!
We went out to bat feeling confident that we could ease to victory and record our first win of the season but sadly, we are a Bentley team and so nothing is ever that simple.
3 balls in, Gunnar was gone rather unluckily and it was over to Sappy and Sprulesy. Sprulesy who had morphed into Brendon McCullum during the tea break went out to bat and freed his hands at anything remotely wide or overpitched. During his rapid 17, he played some great shots but as B-Mac did many times himself, he ended up going after everything despite the situation and was soon bowled to leave us 42-2. Then came the CBC*. Manno, Sappy and then Earing all departed and we were suddenly 48-5 and fast losing a grip on the game.
I joined Munch and entered into Paul Collingwood mode as soon as I got to the middle. Blocking anything straight and leaving anything wide, I scored 8 off of probably 50+ balls whilst at the other end, Munch was a little more expansive pouncing on anything wide and keeping us ticking along. After battling to 23, he was bowled and Albert cut straight to point to leave us 81-7. I then missed a ball that I must have blocked at least 20 times already in my innings and we were 81-8 and all hope looked lost.
Snelly and Walker came to the crease and the rest of us sat about outside the clubhouse in absolutely foul moods waiting for the inevitable. Except the inevitable never came.
Helped by some wayward bowling (I had already seen off all the decent bowlers…), Walker got the scoreboard moving along with a gorgeous clip over midwicket and slowly, he and Snelly took us towards 100.
In truth and embarrassingly for the rest of us, the boys made it look pretty easy out there and played some great shots to take us ever closer, with Walker being particularly fluent pumping the ball to all parts assisted by Snelly who maturely kept rotating the strike. As we passed 100, Ian and I looked at each other and commented on how Walker and Snelly had at least given us one positive from the game. As we passed 120, we looked at each other and started to permit ourselves to believe that we might have a tiny outside chance of getting a result. As we passed 140, we both looked at each other and were silent knowing we were both thinking the same thing… “S***, we might just win this!”
With the tension rising with every run scored, I found it hard to sit still and some of the boys were visibly anxious. Snelly’s brilliant innings which had taken us to within a whisker of victory was cut short after he could only top edge an attempted pull and was caught to leave us 148-9 and 16 runs short.
A nervous Shammi strode out to bat donning a new, questionable white helmet and with the overs running down, everyone watching had their hearts in their mouths, even more so when Walker and Shammi decided to take a couple of ridiculous singles and were nearly run out. But Hornchurch had seemed to run out of bowlers and thankfully for us, they bowled some legsidey stuff which Shammi dispatched with ease to take us ever closer. Only one week earlier, I had been commenting about how important it is to bowl teams out in under 45 overs in case you need to use the extra overs and this paid off for us when the game went into the 46th and final over.
With 2 runs needed, Shammi played and missed the first two but the 3rd ball he Shammi swept** away for 4 and we all erupted from our seats in a mixture of jubilation and disbelief! It was honestly one of the best endings to a match I have ever been involved in and one that will be remembered for a long time to come by all involved I am sure.
Walker was Man of the Match taking a brilliant 4 wickets and taking us to victory with a match-winning 40* although Snelly came a near 2nd with his 3 wickets and 18 run share of the 67 9th wicket partnership. Both of them however were fantastic and without their performances, we would be sat here having lost 4 out of 4. They led the way when the rest of us came up short and we could all learn from the way they positively approached the situation and backed themselves to perform so well done boys!
Thankfully, we now have our first win and one that I have no doubt will kickstart our season! Next week, we have Great Waltham at home and I hope we can build on this momentum and move our way up the table! Come on the boys!
*CBC – Classic Bentley Collapse – A period of the match where a Bentley team (Normally 2nds) loses at least 3 wickets in a short space of time without adding many runs to the total.
** Shammi Sweep – A shot employed extensively by Shammi. It involves playing a sweep shot but from a higher position so sort of like a pull shot but not quite.