Shire 1s went into their match against Timsbury on Saturday knowing their situation. If they were to have a chance of staying in the Senior league this year, they would need to win out their last games. Three cup-finals, three shots at redemption for a team who have struggled to reach their potential this season.
The wicket on arrival was a little damp and a little soft. A good toss to lose for skipper John Stilwell as Timsbury elected to field. Early going showed the pitch to be rather lifeless which, combined with some loose bowling from the openers allowed the Shire 1 and 2, Adam Geddes and Dave Austin, to rocket off scoring over 50 in the first ten overs and pushing on to score 102 for 3 at drinks This was helped by Geddes scoring 77 off of 61 balls.
After drinks the weather turned and so did the pitch. Warm sun helped the soft ruts in the pitch dry out making it decidedly more difficult to bat, a problem that was intensified as Timsbury’s 3rd change bowlers and returning openers started to find their lines and lengths. Gareth Nicholls battled to hardfought 25 at 4, before a couple of snorters sent him and the rest of the middle and lower order batsmen back in the clubhouse. Shire finished on 132 all out in the 38th over.
Despite thinking the target was a little light in the end, Shire went into the field positive. The bowlers had first hand experience with what the pitch was now doing and knew exactly how to bowl on it. Tom Rogers and Danny Conway fired up first off, providing their dual brand of pace and big swing, snatching 5 wickets in the opening salvo; 4 for Rogers while Conway picked up danger-man Mark Sage.
Second changes Lewis Palmer and Ken Earl built on this excellent start by locking down both ends in the middle stages. Palmer picked up a further three wickets in this extended period of pressure, while Earl finished with the excellent figures of 9 overs, 2 maidens, 1 wicket for 19 runs.
Timsbury weren’t out yet though, as their no.8 and no.10 did their best to steady the ship. Showing incredible patience and maturity, they stuck out for 11 overs and put on a very important 32 run partnership at the end of the game to try and claw their way back in. Earl eventually broke through with a bottom edge caught behind, before Conway took a screamer of a catch to pick up the last wicket off of Stillwell’s bowling. Timsbury finished on 90, all out off of 31.2 overs.
This was a really good showing from Shirehampton’s bowling side in particular. It was a very clean effort with few misfields, extras and no dropped catches. Charlie Shortman continued to make a strong case for fielder of the year with 3 more catches to add to his tally, while Josh Denton-Collins and Ken Earl each took sharp catches at slip and point respectively.
Batting continues to be the bugbear for the team, but they will look to improve as the tension racks up towards the end of the season.