1s Make it Two in Two in Drop Zone Scrap
By Matt Nichols
A slightly nervy win against bottom-of-the-table Chessington puts Walton back in the Div 1 mix. Councillor the Scorer reports
There were several reasons to approach this fixture with optimism. Walton were coming off the back of great win against the league’s top club. We were coming to play Chessington who were averaging a total of 114 in their last four matches, all of which they had lost. Mark Bainbridge was fit. What could go wrong?
So much about the game was exactly what we have come to expect this season. Firstly, Dan Roberts lost the toss and Chessington chose to bat. Just how hard is it to guess correctly on a 50:50 chance? Well beyond Dan’s abilities obviously.
Was batting first a good idea? The pitch looked okay. The weather was sunny and hot. It looked like a good day to bat. Analysis of the Chessington scores revealed that they were not at all consistent as a batting side. Despite this the Walton bowlers could not get an early breakthrough with Chessington moving to 50 without loss in the 16th over.
The introduction of the parsimonious Rory Annandale slowed the run rate to a crawl. Rory’s first four over cost one run and yielded the first wicket - 53 for 1 after 17 overs. Being a sporting gentleman, Dan did not introduce Baino until the 20th over. The ruthless left-arm orthodox assassin started with a wicket maiden, removing the remaining opener. In the 40 minutes remaining before lunch the Walton bowlers plugged away and removed a further three batsmen including a first ball wicket for Jack Dominy and two keeper catches off Baino and Rory. Chessington were 106 for five at lunch.
Dan came on to bowl shortly after lunch and took a wicket in his first over – clearly Chessington hadn’t heard about his growing reputation for doing this (122 for 6). The game was in the balance: one 50+ partnership would put Chessington in a decent position and quick wickets would leave Walton in the driving seat.
Chessington lost three further wickets to Dan and Baino and then on 143 for 9 tragedy struck. A batsman struck a ball very firmly back at Baino which he failed to stop. Although the resulting one run was not good, the sight of an injured Baino holding delicately the sacred left hand filled the whole Walton entourage with dread. As he walked from the field it felt like the season could be exiting with him. Further medical analysis revealed nothing more than excruciating pain and the panic was over. Harrison Perry substituted for Baino and took the final wicket. Dan and Baino finished with three wickets apiece, with two for Rory and one for Jack and Harrison. Chessington were all out for exactly 150. Surely this was a score well within the compass of the Walton batsmen.
The chase was anything but easy. None of the top three batsmen got into double figures but despite this Walton were 47 for three with Will Arkell striking the ball very cleanly. When Will was out for 21, James Madoc-Jones took up the cudgels and played a range of shots, including several in front of square, while compiling a very pretty 36. James was out with score on 95 and Walton slipped to 110 for 7 at tea.
With 41 needed and only 3 wickets remaining what could Walton now offer? Once again, the game was in the balance. Baino and Matt Nichols came out after tea. Was the sacred but injured left hand able to take the strain? Could Matt manage to run 41 “quick” singles? All the anxiety and tension was quickly defused with Baino using his experience to stroke the ball to all corners for a solid 21*, while at the other end Matt nudged and nurdled to 29. At this point Matt lost his self-control and hit a “Bubsy bomb”, finishing on 35*. In eight overs after tea Baino and Matt batted faultlessly and brought Walton home to make it two back-to-back wins.
So we are now halfway through the season with three wins, but still in the bottom two. Had Walton managed to get more bonus points in the games that were lost we could be sitting outside the relegation zone. With two hard-fought wins in the last two weeks there are reasons to be confident but with some very strong teams in the league it will not be easy.