Cup Dreams Over Before They Start
By Matt Nichols
1st XI National Cup bid ended in round one by Middlesex Premier Division outfit Teddington CC
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Walton-on-Thames CC batting collapses. And despite a spirited start, the third of them came to pass when the 1st XI met Middlesex Premier Division side Teddington CC in the first round of the National Cup.
Skipper Dan Roberts won the toss and batted on what seemed a very flat Bushey Park pitch, and with fellow Blue Bat Brother Alex Pomfret, started Walton’s innings solidly. Roberts was typically positive, punishing any width offered by a full-strength Teddington bowling unit. At the other end, Pomfret was the perfect counterfoil, leaving (playing and missing) astutely, much to the bowlers’ frustration. The pair put on an opening stand of 56 at a healthy four-an-over, setting a great platform for the middle order.
Sadly, it’s the feeling of hope that hurts the most.
In an ungentlemanly turn of events, Teddington changed their bowlers, and altered their tactics to “bowling full and straight and moving it around a bit”, triggering the mother of all collapses. This frankly anti-Spirit-of-Cricket plan saw Pomfret nick off for a well-made 12, followed by overseas recruit Harrison Perry who was LBW for a duck.
At 58-2 there was no panic in the WoTCC ranks: 58-2 is still a solid start. However, the impressive James Keighley (8-2-15-5) removed Roberts for an excellent 40 from 46 balls, and then combining with legspinner David Keighley (8-3-6-2), got rid of James Madoc-Jones and Aman Singh for ducks, leaving Walton stumbling at 61-5. Birthday boy Matt Harris, suitably recovered from a few quiet pints with 2nd XI skipper and renowned teetotaller Mikey McDonnagh the night before, along with the typically boring Matt Nichols, looked to stop the rot, keeping the pair of Keighleys at bay for a number of overs, before Harris succumbed for a hard-fought 1. Both Will Arkell (0) and Jamie Aldridge (1) then looked to counterattack, but departed swiftly, leaving Walton 68-8.
Nichols then found a willing partner in the form of the in-form Ben Monk (4). The pair managed to rescue the situation from a “Stuart Broad hands on face looking shocked meme” total towards a “really quite bad day at the office” score with the help of the return of one of the opening bowlers. Armed with the knowledge that Nichols does not like the short ball from anyone faster than Ed Thom, Freddie Wynn (8-0-37-2) decided to pepper him. In an uncharacteristically positive flourish, Nichols hit three pulled fours, greeted by calls of “Don’t bowl there!” from a typically injured, and vocal, Frano Annandale in the crowd.
Having taken the score to 83-8, Wynn snuck one through Monk’s defences, and Nichols followed soon after for 18, LBW to Murray, leaving batting all-rounder Jack Dominy (0*) cruelly stranded without support for the umpteenth time in his WoTCC career.
WoTCC all out for 89: a collapse of 10-33.
After a very good, very beige tea of sausage sandwiches, chicken nuggets, chips, onion rings, tea with two sugars, biscuits and Weight Watchers fruit yoghurts (not full fat, we’re athletes), and a typically spirited pep talk from The Scorer (“That was dire, and I’m bloody cold”), a fired-up Roberts led his men out to defend an under par score.
Sadly for Walton, Aldridge, scarred by Leeds United being rubbish once again this weekend, and Nichols, due to only being able to bowl slow half vollies, could not contain the Teddington opening pair, who raced to 64-0. The impressive Ben Monk (4-0-11-1), removed Teddington’s skipper Nick Pryde for 28, and along with the ever-reliable Jack Dominy (3.4-0-17-0) added some respectability to the situation, before the Premier Division outfit polished the chase off inside 15 overs.
All-in-all a tough day for the 1st XI, but a learning experience for all involved. Thanks to all that came down to support the lads in less-than-friendly weather conditions.