Real Team Performance Sees 1st XI Get Off The Mark For 2019
By Matt Nichols
The Councillor, in a rare optimistic mood (don't worry it won't last), reports on a great win for Dan Roberts' Partially Blue Bat Barmy Army
In thinking about writing this match report I have learnt a simple fact – I find it much easier to write a report for a defeat than for a victory. Last week it was easy to use humour to smooth over the awful truth of a poor performance. This week I have to try to describe a really good game that was both tense and thoroughly absorbing to watch, and I don’t think my literary abilities are up to the task. Last week my writing couldn’t be worse than the performance, this week the boot is on the other foot.
Winning the toss Dan Roberts decided to bat. This was the obvious choice on what looked like a pretty good wicket. Local intelligence gleaned from the Spencer scorer suggested that the Spencer bowling was not at full strength and this was borne out by the opening overs being bowled by a spinner and a very military-medium seamer. Dan, opening with Jamie Mann, took a brief look at this attack and then decided to treat the leading wicket taker in Div 1 last year with the distain his record suggested he did not deserve. After several imperious boundaries, the Spencer spinner got his revenge getting Dan to hole-out for an entertaining 26 out of 33 off 6.4 overs. So far so good, except for the wicket.
Things did not go so well for the next 15 overs with Walton being reduced to 75 for 4. The Spencer captain had chosen to keep his openers on for 10 and 8 overs respectively and the change of bowling brought different circumstances. Jamie remained at the crease looking to all the world like a real opener – solid and unperturbed. With Matt Harris (26) the pair took the score on to 126 from 33 overs and put Walton in a position where a good score was possible, however nothing could be guaranteed.
What was required was some sensible batting with decent partnerships and batting out the overs. Something around 210 looked like a decent score with anything more being a bonus. Jamie and Matt Nichols did exactly what was required and took the score to 181 after 43 overs when Jamie was out for a really well constructed 73.
Sometime at about the 40 mark it became obvious that Spencer would have to use at least 6 bowlers. This proved to be expensive with the 6th bowler going for 40 off 5 overs. Matt and Will Arkell (21) took advantage of the more relaxed bowling and took the score to 218. Matt was out in the last over for 46 and the team finished on 233. Jack Dominy recorded a rare feat as he was run out for the second week running off the final ball of an innings.
Whilst a good score there was no guarantee that this would be enough. Spencer started looking both confident and positive, but as is so often the case, funny things happen in cricket. After 5 dot balls one of the openers called a quick single and was run out by some very sharp fielding by Will. Joey Abbott, Matt Nichols and Jack Dominy bowled consistently and picked up two further wickets and Spencer were 75 for 3 after 20 overs – very close to the Walton score at the same stage.
The match was in the balance for the next 20 overs with the DLS par score swinging back and forth reflecting the changing fortunes of the teams. Fortunately for Walton wickets fell at key moments and in pairs. Harrison Perry picked up a wicket in the 33rd over and then Jack got another in the next. The Spencer number 4 batsman was still there with 50 and looking good. Good steady bowling, backed up by good fielding, kept pushing up the required run rate. Spencer reached 176 in the 43rd over when Ben Monk lured a batsman down the track only for James Madoc-Jones to complete the stumping. In the next over Harrison trapped the number 4 batsman LBW as he was desperately trying to force the pace. For all practical purposes this ended the game as a contest and the innings was wrapped up with Spencer all out for 190.
Whilst this looks like a conventional win based on a good score followed by steady bowling this masks so much more drama. There were a couple of decisions or non-decisions that looked like they might be decisive. There were a couple of overs when Walton were bowling when Spencer looked like they were about to dominate, but they never quite got on top. All the bowlers stuck to their tasks really well with the figures being:
Matt Nichols 8.1-3-20-2
Joey Abbott 9-0-43-1
Ben Monk 10-0-46-1
Jack Dominy 9-1-32-3
Harrison Perry 10-0-47-2
This was a great result and which the whole team can be proud about. If this standard can be maintained we can expect both an exciting and successful season.