Much to the surprise of their skipper, I won the toss and put us into bat on a sunny day in Tillingham.
Els and Gunnar strode out to bat and Els quickly picked up from where he’d left off last week playing a nice cut for 4. However shortly after, he was faced with a rank 1cm below waist height full toss and decided to guide it straight into the grateful hands of square leg. Sappy hurriedly hung up his business call with Captain Phillips and joined Gunnar only to chop on first ball and leave us 15-2.
Sprulesy came to the crease with us in a bit of bother but him and Gunnar set about rebuilding the innings and rotated the strike to keep the scoreboard moving. Sprulesy swashbuckled a few 4’s with the nimble footwork of a young Bruno Tonioli and Gunnar played some trademark cuts and pulls to take us to 70-2 at drinks, a decent position but one we needed to push on from. The boys looked set but runs were proving hard to get until all of a sudden, someone flicked a switch and Gunnar was replaced by Ben Stokes, unleashing a couple of big hits over square leg to take 19 off the 28th over.
This got the innings going and over the next 7 overs, we put on 51 runs. Sprulesy chopped on but he had stabilised the innings and we were well set to make a big score. Gunnar got to 50 with another big six although the scorer at the time (Walker) could not count quick enough and so we didn’t realise. Amusingly, the next ball he top edged to deep square leg and was dropped to bring up what we thought was his 50.
Stimmo was promoted up the order, much like Graham Napier in the good all days, to try and thug the score along and though he helped to up the run rate, much like Napier, he was caught skying one to long on. A few balls later, Gunnar’s well-made 62 was over as he too was well caught in the deep.
Not for the first time this season, our top order had set a foundation but the middle order were in danger of letting it go to waste and so at 132-5 with 11 overs to go, I was a little fearful we might end up 160 all out.
I joined Manno and we set about knocking the ball around but thankfully some poor bowling meant we took a few overs for 7+ runs. Manno got a bit excited/was trying to move the game along so he could leave for Brownstock and danced past one and we were 163-6 with 7 to go.
Dougie came to the crease and played an absolute gem of an innings. Together, we took 72 from the last 7 with Dougie smashing the ball to all parts including 2 big sixes right when we needed them and me nerdling singles, edging for 4 and generally trying to thug everything down the ground! By the time we departed, the damage was already done and all that was left was for Tom ‘Muscles’ Walker to prove all the haters wrong and boom the biggest six of the day over mid-wicket.
After probably the best tea of the season so far which got a rating of 10 Snellys from the man himself, he and Albert opened up and set about finding an early wicket. Albert was given a return catch and we were off and running. Not long after, Walker took a good diving catch at Mid-on off Albert and you felt like it was going to be our day.
Walker came on to replace Snelly and we soon had our third as Sprulesy tried to headbutt the ball at mid-on and thankfully, it landed in his hands instead. Walker then bowled the number 5 for a duck and we were flying.
However, the tide of the game threatened to change as their number 4, Warren took the attack to us with Albert and Walker bearing the brunt. Dougie and myself came on to try and make the breakthrough and straight away, Dougies enticing bowling was too attractive for the Tillingham batsmen and 3 of them decided to test his catching ability with one skier, one low one and one in between. The best was the wicket of Warren who smashed it up in the air but Doug calmly claimed the catch and we were a few wickets away from victory with plenty of runs left. Doug took a 4th, pouched by Stimmo at point and I fired in a Chris Jordan esque Yorker and we were almost home.
Snelly came back on and tactically injured the batsman who had to retire hurt and we had an impressive victory against the top team in the league and maximum points.
So many positives to take, pleased that the runs were shared amongst a few of us rather than relying on a couple at the top of the innings. We continue to be probably the best fielding team in the league and thankfully, nothing has come my way so we’ve been catching everything too.
Next week, we have Little Waltham at home. I think we can all remember the fear in their batsmen’s eyes after Albert’s hatrick last time out so let’s make sure we get into them this weekend and keep the run going!