While most people were having a lie in on Bank Holiday Monday, the Under 15s were up bright and early for the rearranged 20-over cup match at home against Rode Park and Lawton CC. Spare a thought for our opponents who had an hour's drive from the Cheshire-Staffordshire border just to get to our ground. Thankfully, the traffic and weather were kind and the match started as scheduled at 9:30am.
We won the toss and elected to bowl. Joe Glare and Humzah Wasim opened the bowling. Both bowled tightly, with Humzah's first a maiden. Joe's second over yielded a wicket with the opener caught by Alishan Khan at point for 3. Rode Park were 6 for 1 off 3. Both bowled their 4 overs in one spell. Joe finished with 4-0-12-1 and Humzah (who was unlucky not to get at least 1 of 3 good lbw appeals) with 4-1-10-0. Rode Park were now 25 for 1 off 8. A change of pace saw Mark Lever introduced to the attack. The change paid immediate dividends when the opener played and missed Mark's second ball and was stumped by Tom Russell. More of the same with the first ball of Mark's second over when the No3 charged down the pitch, played and missed and was stumped by Tom. Rode Park were now 42 for 3 off 11. After a 3 over spell, Mark was replaced by Harry Vose and his leg spin. They say things come in threes - and so it proved as Harry's second ball saw the batsman leave his crease, play and miss and then depart stumped Russell. 68 for 4 off 15. Next over saw Rahul Sharma join the attack. The batter was taken by surprise by Rahul's pace and bounce. This resulted in an attempted drive going skyward - the catch comfortably taken by the safe hands of Harry. Mark Lever returned to the attack to bowl the final over. Rode Park finished on 103 for 5 off 20 overs with G Johnson retiring not out on 50. Mark finished with 4-0-27-2, Harry 2-0-8-1, Rahul 1-0-8-1.
It was an excellent bowling performance and a much improved fielding performance with 3 stumpings, 2 catches, no drops and only 10 extras. However, there were still too many 1s and 2s given away by fielders back on their heals, not walking in.
So far so good, but we still needed to get the runs. Regular opener Ben Haspell was unavailable and whilst fellow opener Humzah was in the team, he got injured during the first innings and was unable to run. After much debate, we started our innings with a new opening partnership of Tom Russell and Alishan Khan. Both made watchful starts, keen to protect their wickets and not give Rode Park a way back into the game. They were also intent on not letting the bowlers or fielders settle by rotating the strike with some excellent placement, calling and running between the wickets. As they played themselves in, they started to find the boundary to add to the 1s and 2s. Tom started to find his range. A four off the opening bowler was followed by another off the first over of the spinner who replaced him. Then, in the spinner's third over, Tom pulled a short one in front of square for 4. This was followed by a straight six out of the ground. Lost ball! When a replacement was eventually found, this was despatched for six more behind square leg. 16 off 3 balls. Tom looked for the boundary with the next but instead found the fielder at cow corner who gratefully took the catch. Tom was out for 34 with the score on 44 for 1 off 9. Patrick Chatterton joined Alishan in the middle. The pair continued to find quick 1s and 2s on a regular basis with the bonus of the occasional boundary from Alishan. The score had advanced to 85 when Patrick was caught for 20 in the 16th over. Taylor replaced Pat with only 19 required and promptly hit his first ball for four. The end came shortly after. We reached 104 with 2.3 overs remaining. Alishan finished on 35 not out including 4 fours, Taylor on 8 not out.
Man of the Match: All of the them - a great team performance. Despite missing some key players it is a sign of our strength in depth that we were still able to field a team able to compete with and beat a good side like Rode Park and Lawton.
Champagne Moment: Tom's six out of the ground