Allington win over Warminster in rain delayed match.
By MATTHEW STEPHEN
In the height of the British Summer where lazy days can be spent watching a game of cricket, sipping a Pimms. Not today.
Its August, the height of the British Summer where lazy days can be spent watching a game of cricket, sipping a Pimms whilst lounging in sun chair. Not today. The rain gods were not happy and wanted to spoil the party. Luckily our groundsman had done a fantastic job preparing the wicket and the covers did their job keeping it dry. With a long journey from Warminster, we wanted to ensure a game happened, even if it was a reduced over match.
The Met Office forecast predicated rain until 2pm and they were pretty accurate, but eventually, the clouds cleared and the sun came out and the covers came off. Alex (El Capitan) won the toss and elected to field, for once the team were happy with the decision. Batting in the windy, wet conditions would be a challenge for any team.
Wayne ‘windmill’ Ashley opened from the Pavilion end, utilising the gusts of wind to take the ball away from the batsman. Consistent line and length caused the Warminster openers all sorts of problems. Wayne at last started to get some luck, bowling a maiden to start, taking 4 wickets (nearly 5 but for bowling too many overs) and only being hit for 19. Some great catching in the field (eventually by Mark) and a fantastic pick up and throw from Jack Smith ‘the older’ at cover point for a run out.
At the other end, Tom Smith ‘the younger’ (and more talented member of the family) used the wind to peg the batsman down and was unlucky not to get a wicket with a dropped edge to the ankles of Ankles in the slips.
Fraser was next up, replacing Tom and struck a fantastic run of form to take three wickets (LBW, bowled and Will taking a great catch) through varying his pace but more importantly with consistent line and length, avoiding the leg side. Alex loaded the off side and kept the pressure on resulting in Fraser only being hit for 13 off 8 overs.
James Nash aka Dennis replaced Windmill from the Pavilion end and continued to pile the pressure on with consistent accurate bowling picking up two wickets with a plumb LBW and hitting the stumps for the other.
To be fair to Warminster, the gusty, windy conditions did not make it easy to pick the line of the ball, and even late swing to pick the wickets off and this contributed to our success with the ball.
Drinks came at 20 overs and were shortly followed by an early tea as the rain came back to disrupt play. Warminster were down to their last wicket when play started again with only a brief delay after tea so Alex brought on the attacking line up of Lee from the Pavilion end and Ankles, aka Dad from the Farm end, buoyed by his 3 wicket haul last week.
Ankles kept it tight, mostly until his enthusiasm got the better of him when he pointed out that Warminster were close to getting batting points for reaching 100. To everyone’s (apart from Ankles) amusement the number 11 batsman instantly hit 2 fours to move Warminster closer to the 100 and batting points. Luckily Lee kept his head and with a clinical straight ball in the next over, Warminster were all out for 99. Apparently the encouragement for potential batting points, created the wicket by making them swing for the ball, so it was all down to Ankles.
100 to win and a quick turnaround needed to ensure the weather and light didn’t cause any more problems. El Capitan looked to his leading opening batsman to take the game to Warminster. Well one leading opening batsman, Lee. Putting Smithers in to open, was probably a tactic to use up some of the opening bowlers pace, allowing the talented mid order batsman to come in and swing freely with the slower bowlers.
With reduced overs (33) a run rate of 3 was needed from this new pairing. Lee took strike with Smithers keen to run for him and let him keep strike. Warminsters paceman opened from the Pavilion end and instantly made an impact with Lee getting lucky with an inside edge bouncing around his ankles but missing the stumps.
Smithers faced a slower but more accurate bowler at the other end, but quickly got his eye in with a beautiful pull shot to long leg for 4, much to the amazement of the rowdy crowd (padded up ready for the inevitable fall of the number 2 batsman).
Lee and Smithers had the luxury of only needing 3 an over and could select their shots, playing it straight when the bowlers found their line, and hitting boundaries when they could. This resulted in the run rate jumping to 4, then 5 an over and therefore putting them in the driving seat. Lee continued to benefit from luck with 5 miss hits bouncing around the wicket but not dislodging the bails. Smithers also received some luck with a powerful drive to extra cover that hit the fielder in the chest which he couldn’t hold on to.
Lee and Smithers continued to knock the ball around the field and ran their singles and doubles well. Communication between the pair was outstanding and at no point was there an opportunity for runs missed. Well except once when Lee hit a cover drive that cleared the fielders easily and in normal conditions would have raced to the boundary. However with the damp outfield the pair realised they would have to run. With an unclear call from the spectators, it was lucky that Smithers wasn’t run out with both batsman standing at one end, thinking the ball had crossed the boundary when it hadn’t.
Lee was starting to hit the ball well with a beautifully timed 6 over long on reaching another 50 for the season. Smithers realised his first ever 50 was now not possible, but the fact that he’d reached double figures and survived so far, was sufficient reward. However, he wasn’t going to let Lee get all the runs. Warminster continued to mix their bowlers up, hoping for a mistake from this dynamic duo. Smithers was picking of any full leg side ball, eventually hitting 7 fours with crisp pull shots, finding the gaps in the field.
The 19th over started with Allington needing 13 to win. Another new bowler joined the attack for Warminster and Lee took a quick single from the first ball. Smithers then saw his opportunity to play catch up to Lee’s 50, hitting two boundaries, a double and then forcing Lee to run a single on the last ball to keep strike and 1 run to win.
20th over from the Pavilion end and Smithers faced, knowing that a single would win it for the team. Some nerves were present but a full, leg side ball saw Smithers hit another 4 with a pull shot to win the match. 42 not out, highest ever score, ever. Lee ended on 55 not out, standard day in the field for him.
Difficult weather conditions made for a disrupted day in the field for both teams but it was great that cricket won the day over the weather gods in the end. It would have been easy to call it off and just enjoy the trifle and profiteroles but we managing to get 22 players out on a Saturday afternoon for a bit of fun and a matched played with good spirit and grace. Thank you Warminster and everyone that came to support us on this traditional British Summers day. There was even a rugby game being played at the same time.
Sorry no matches photos this week as I was busy batting for the whole innings. Did I tell you I hit 42 not out!