On another scorcher of a day, I won the toss and after looking around at the extensive number of batsmen available to us, I decided to put us in. With a few changes in to bolster our top order, Gunnar and Sappers went out to open up.
After a watchful start, Gunnar and Sappy settled in knocking the openers around with the highlight coming after Sappy unleashed a beautiful drive over cover. Sadly, his innings was cut short after he was caught well at slip and so Peth came out to join Gunnar. With Peth at the crease, we started to go at 6 an over as he took advantage of a quick outfield. Gunnar at the other end joined in with a few trademark cuts and pulls and even a drive for 4 but the highlight of their 66 run partnership was Peth taking the opener for 3 4’s in a row through cover to the warm applause of the many fans that had accumulated.
For the second week in a row though as he approached 50, Peth decided he was making it look too easy and so edged to the keeper to give the rest of us a go. Ash came out to try and keep the momentum going but it was at this point that Great Waltham got back into the game with some great bowling from the spinner Swan (thankfully not that one) and Chapman and frustratingly, we only took 40 runs from the next 13 overs. Gunnar departed for 38 as he tried to move the score along but Ash was well set on 30 and we hoped that joined by last week’s hero Sprulesy, he would be able to get us up past 200.
An over later though, Sprulesy offered a simple catch to square leg and I went out at 132-4 with an awful lot left to do and 13 overs to go. Ash decided it was time to cut loose and both of us disrupted the work of the spinner with a couple of big sixes down the ground in the same over. As the runs began to flow, Ash passed 50 and looked set to lead us home but was then caught to check our progress. Clarky was promoted and quickly biffed a 4 and some 2’s but Chapman still continued to pose us difficulties until I managed to muller him into the next field.
After Clarky was caught trying up the rate, James ‘B-Mac’ Waring came and went in a flourish, playing probably the shot of the day as he reverse-swept Chapman second ball. After Shammi had been woken from his slumber in the clubhouse and the message passed that he was to be bumped up the order, he jogged out like an excited schoolboy and straight away mowed a 4 over square-leg. I thugged another six down the ground before being caught at long on with an over and a half to go. Albert was caught first ball but Shammi hit a couple more boundaries and we ended up on 238-9 off our 45.
After a wonderfully spiffing tea (Did anyone get the flapjack recipe!?), we emerged to bowl and Shammi quickly had the dangerous Patel caught behind. This bought Swan to the crease who proceeded to put the ball to all parts and suddenly, they were racing along. Thankfully, we remained calm and eventually he stuck one high in the air to short fine leg. With everyone’s hearts in their mouths, Shammi strolled round, snaffled it up and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Richardson and Harris regrouped and thankfully due to some good fielding and tight bowling, we stemmed the flow of runs. Dougie came on and made the most of the pitch, extracting some impressive turn along the way. As the batsmen continued to leave the ball as it spun past the stumps, a brief whisper from the skipper in Clarky’s ear was all it needed to take our third. Clarky sent the very next ball straight down and their skipper chopped on playing for the turn.
Yorkey came on and bowling in tandem with Clarky, Bloom and Harris could only knock the ball around. Eventually, they needed to up the rate and thankfully for us, Bloom chipped Yorkey to Albert at midwicket and Harris powered him down the ground to me at mid-off. At the other end, Clarky served up a tempted for their keeper and after some confusion over who would take the skier, I dashed across and clung on to leave them 6 down.
With the required rate rising, I think we all hoped that their innings would fizz out but Fitzwater and Tucker opened up their arms off Charlie and I and took them up towards 200. With Chaz maintaining the pressure at one end, I was rewarded for bowling full and straight and thankfully bowled both of them to up the pressure. Shammi came on and brilliantly bowled overs 42 and 44 for not much and so by the time I started the last over, they needed 33 off it. I picked up a 3rd but we couldn’t quite pick up the 10th wicket and so they finished 9 down but 28 runs short.
Another great win with good performances all round. The table is very tight but with 4 games to go, let’s keep this up see how high we can get! Next week is Rayleigh at home.