AlBi's excellent match report.
Two familiar foes took to The Common on Sunday 15th September with both sides worrying about the possible adverse effects from an over-indulgent Saturday - the Nutters had their pavilion opening day, and the Barnes Green players had their end of season dinner. Luckily, it turned out to be the away team who were a little green in more than just name.
The news of the day was Hew's return to the cricket field after a self imposed absence of half a season. His athleticism, energy and encouragement in the field were a shot in the arm for a tired side.
With Captain Bob winning the toss, a cloudless sky and blazing sun above, the decision was (predictably) made that the home team would enjoy spending the hottest part of the day in the field. Luckily, the collective sigh that was heaved by the home team seemed to act to galvanise them as they made early inroads and kept the scoring rate down. Opening bowlers Raggy Singh (6-2-2-11) and Graham Prior (7-0-0-18) made the most of a used pitch and bowled tight lines; were it not for a lack of pre-game catching practice from some members of the team, Barnes Green could easily have found themselves more than 1 wicket down after the first 11 overs.
Keith Greenwood (7-0-2-18) added his name to the wickets column with the last ball of his first over, finding just enough bite from the surface to see M. Cooper edge to a grateful Graham Prior at slip. Keith had to wait a while for his second wicket, however, it was worth the wait, with Rahul Jobanputra taking a stunning diving catch in the gulley to remove G. Almadia for 11.
From the other end, Jeremy James bamboozled the Barnes Green middle order, giving very little away, varying his pace and style of delivery well and finishing with exceptional figures of 8-2-6-15, including that of the Barnes Green opening batsman J. Smith who, not only top scored with 39, but was the beneficiary of at least 2 drop catches, despite his earlier insistence that today was “not my day”.
With most of the damage done, David Butcher ended the Barnes Green innings when he had A. Hammond bowled around his legs for 6, leaving Barnes Green all out for 79. This presented Nuthurst with a potential banana skin of a low target and a tricky half hour to bat before tea, on a wicket that was doing plenty when the ball was put on a good length.
Openers Raul Jobanputra and Albi Birchmore seemed to have successfully navigated the half hour before tea, until the final ball of the session from young fast bowler G. Almadia (5-1-1-9) found enough inward movement to pin Raul LBW for 17, Nuthurst heading in on 39-1.
After the tea break, David Butcher came to the crease, playing straight, leaving the good balls and providing good support for Albi, who continued to profit from the Barnes Green bowlers struggling to routinely hit a good length. Two fine overs from a very young J. Charm (2-0-0-8) stemmed the runs, before Albi sent a full ball from S. Mitchell (4-0-0-12) to the cover boundary to reach his half century (52*), and David timed the second ball of the following over through the same spot to jog a comfortable single to see him end unbeaten on 8 and Nuthurst home to a 9-wicket win.
With the evening still long with late summer sun, both teams decamped to the Black Horse to enjoy a couple of fine jugs of beer provided by Messers James and Birchmore and reflect on a fine weekend of sun-kissed cricket.