The nicest day for cricket of the year so far brought out our best team performance in a few weeks.
Losing the toss was not really an issue, as the wicket looked in good nick and without any rain due it wasn't likely to change too much. Stock started well against Joe and Sean, and mixed some good shots with some close calls to get Stock off to a decent start. However, unlike last week, we did a good job of pegging them back. Crossy came into the attack and continued his decent bowling form by drying up the boundaries, and after Sean finished his spell frugally, Albert came on and bowled his usual miserly line and length.
Although the boundaries had dried up, we also needed to take wickets. This week, because there was more pressure from the other end, the batsmen needed to take a few more chances against Albert. This lead to two catches at mid off for Flaggers as the batsmen tried to force the pace. Cyril came on at the other end, and after a poor first over was soon jamming the ball in the blockhole, and on a wicket where 230 was probably par our bowling and fielding in the last 15 was bang on the money. A couple more wickets for Albert and a couple of run outs, one from an excellent throw from the boundary from Beaney, meant that the Stock innings fizzled out towards the end, and we were happy to have kept the score to 207.
In a recurring theme, we couldn't quite match top order scores with a good bowling performance. One day, everything is going to click and we are going to give someone a good hiding. Until then, it seems we will have to continue to make hard work of everything!
Gunnar continued to use up all his bad luck as a flowing square drive was plucked one-handed out of the air by gully. After that, both Flaggers and Munch got in only to gift their wickets when looking well set. Both had looked in decent touch, and perhaps our biggest weakness this year has been converting a flowing 20 or 30 into a match-winning score. I was soon put out of my misery after a truly awful innings where I could have been out at least 3 times, and when Crossy played all round a straight one to be pinned LBW, we were in more than a spot of bother at 85/5.
Luckily, we have a very strong lower order. Even though we still needed 120 odd runs, Loz and Beaney are both genuine batsmen probably capable of batting in the top 4. Beaney was into his stride quickly, lashing the ball through the leg side for a succession of boundaries. This also helped keep the run rate in check. While consistency may not quite have been there this year, the promising thing so far has been how many players have had real breakthrough innings in the 2s this year. Crossy, Dave, Flaggers and now Beaney have all played some high class innings this year. With Loz his usual busy self at the other end, Beaney really began to tee off - the highlight a monster over long on that bounced on the road into a first floor window in the house over the road. When he and Albert went in quick succession, we of course had made harder work of it that we needed to. However, Loz continued his excellent innings and showed what an asset he is to the team at 7 and Cyril, the new sel-confirmed Micahel Bevan of the team, got away a couple of lovely boundaries to ensure that there was to be no real panic in the dressing room.
A second 3 wicket win of the season against Stock (although this one was a touch more comfortable than the first) that keeps us on track. The target of 6 wins in the first 9 has been met with some really good performances. Another 6 in the next 9 will ensure we are there or thereabouts at the end of the season. I would like to think/hope that we won't go down, so the challenge is to stay in the hunt for as long as we possibly can.