After a frantic week of scrambling to put out 2 teams on this bank holiday Saturday – eventually we arrived at the Spelthorne Sports CC ground to see the sun shining, after a spattering of rain the night before.
With the absence of our star batter and regular skipper Chris, and Aman having to leave at 5, we thought that we might be in for a long day. However upon Ben winning the toss and putting Spelthorne in to bat, our opening bowling partnership of John Pinkos (6-2-10-3) and Nasrullah Khan (7-2-15-2) made us think otherwise, with a rip-roaring opening spell that saw Spelthorne 0-1, 0-2 and then 12-3.
However as much as Corinthians’ bowlers toiled and bowled some good overs, the 4th wicket partnership put on 106 runs, with both batters making half centuries, before debutant Usama broke it up, with Nas holding on to a catch. Ben (8-1-29-2) picked up a couple of wickets, whilst being convinced that he should have had at least a 5-for. Nas and Usama bowled the death overs, picking up some tail-end wickets, although in truth with a few edges for for and a couple of misfields and overthrows from needless runout attempts, we left the field after 40 overs thinking that we should have bowled the opposition out before the 40 and for a good few runs less than the 176 that Spelthorne ended with.
Although 177 looked like a very gettable total, the pitch had been demonstrating extremes in variable bounce – with 4 ducks and only 3 Spelthorne players reaching double figures. No-one manage to exploit this more than Spelthorne’s skipper, wily veteran Jim Wigmore (8-1-32-4), who with his off-spin picked up 4 Corinthians wickets with the new ball. Tom, Sumit, Arun and Ben all fell to balls that either popped up tennis-ball style, or didn’t get above ankle height from Wigmore. Whilst Corinthians bowlers had demonstrated similar bounce variations, many of them were outside off-stump and when the batsmen missed them, just went through to the keeper, but when Spelthorne bowled, those variably bouncing balls seemed to be on the stumps, picking up wickets.
Of the top half of the scorecard, only Vikram (28) managed to put up any sustained resistance, and at 44-6 and then 58-7 things looked rather ominous. In stepped Rakesh (46) and Nas (25), who put on a 50 partnership with the combination of watchfulness and hefty blows for 4s and 6s. But then Nas was caught, and Stevo was bowled, we were down to the walking-wounded John (who injured himself bowling has last over), to partner Rakesh. A few more big blows ensued and we found ourselves with a remarkably manageable 14 needed from 6 overs. However much as big areal shots had got us to the brink of salvaging the game, it also proved to be the downfall too. Rakesh succumbed to a catch on the boundary from the Chris Ward, the man who had dropped him earlier in his innings.
So in the end, another frustrating hard-fought close loss for the 1st XI. We are left looking at the odd misfield, or dropped catch, and real bad luck on this uncompromising wicket. But, with application, it will only be a matter of time before these close losses, start to turn into close victories. Onwards and updwards.