Brilliant all round team performance secures win vs Spencer
By Jack Dominy
Black Swans still unbeaten as they book their place in the Trust League Cup semi-finals
Another Sunday, another away day, another group game for the Walton Black Swans. This was the final group game of the season, and there was plenty on the line for the team. Having already guaranteed 2nd place in the group, the Black Swans were looking for another win to try to reach the Trust League Cup semi final for a second year in a row.
But a Black Swans away day means first and foremost a team breakfast. A meet time of 10am at Walton brought with it a few sleepy faces as the lads set off up to Earlsfield. Breakfast captains Alex Minshull and Sammy Davis picked out a fantastic option - a small cafe on the high street - where the team took every available table and made Christmas come early for the happy owner. 12 full English breakfasts and 12 coffees safely tucked away, the team then headed back up the high street, raring to go.
After a quick football warm up, captain Dominy won the toss in the glorious London sunshine and had no hesitation in opting to bat first. The opening pair was the new-look dimension of Madoc-Jones and Dominy himself, in an ambitious attempt to lengthen out the batting order. JMJ and the captain started well and were off to a healthy run rate of 5 an over on a decent track after the first 8 overs. However, as JMJ chipped one to mid-on and Nick Christie in at no.3 was cleaned up by a good yorker, plenty of work was needed to be done.
This brought Jamie Mann to the crease, and captain and ex-captain set about putting together a partnership and a platform for the latter overs. Slaps through extra cover from Dominy and some much, much better looking shots from Mann all around the ground kept the runs ticking over nicely, and the Black Swans found themselves at 110-2 at the half way stage and drinks. The partnership was eventually broken soon after drinks however, as Dominy was dismissed for a career best 45. Alex Minshull and Alex Firth both made starts, but couldn't stick around for long, as Mann was now accelerating nicely at the other end, with some powerful shots down the ground, including two maximums. Sammy Davis and Ben Monk made valuable contributions in the lower-middle order as the score moved above 200. Mann was looking to capitalise with the field spread, but was unfortunately stumped just short of a century for a brilliant 94. A fantastic innings which really pushed the Black Swans to a decent final total of 234-7 from their 40 overs.
After an excellent tea and having eventually dragged half the team away from the Super Sunday on the clubhouse big screen, Walton took to the field knowing what they needed to do. Sammy Davis opened up from the top end and started in his usual imperious form. A couple of dots was followed by a jaffer which had the opening batsman heading back to the pavilion, caught behind, and the Black Swans were on their way. Alex Minshull opened up from the other end and soon settled into his trademark flight and control.
However the runs started to flow for Spencer as the other opening batsman and the captain found their stride, and started to find the gaps and the rope. A change was needed, and Ben Monk came on with his rapid off spin, and swung the momentum back into Walton's favour. His figures of 4-25 were just what we needed, as he dismissed the captain and the rest of the Spencer middle order, including an excellent diving caught and bowled. And after a few overs of seam for the captain, he brought his third spinner into the attack, Dan O'Connell. He bowled 7 overs straight through with excellent flight and control, taking two throughly deserved wickets - one well caught behind by Firthy and another solidly taken by Monky.
Uddhav Umakanthan then came onto bowl from the top end in tandem with Dan, and dismissed the Spencer opener after an excellent innings, with another catch for Monky in the deep, who was having the time of his life in the field. Uddhav then mopped up the tail and finished with outstanding figures of 3-23, as he epitomised the Black Swans' effort with the ball. Spencer were bowled out for 158 inside 33 overs and a superb all round performance from Walton was complete, winning by 76 runs, meaning they finished their group campaign unbeaten.
As group leaders Sutton beat Sunbury, Walton finished level with their group rivals on 88 points but finished second based on average runs per wicket. The team then awaited their fate (either plate or semi) depending on another match in another group featuring Valley End. But their result didn't match Walton's, and so the Black Swans have qualified for the Cup semi final as best runner up across the three groups in Tier 1 of the Trust League.
It was a performance typical of how the team has played this season - runs on the board, and then defend the total with a lot of spirit. A special mention must go to Luke Minshull, who whilst unable to bowl due to a torn shoulder, fielded outstandingly and set the standards all afternoon.
Thanks go to Oli Clarke for umpiring, our heroic scorer Rohan Wilde and the Black Swan barmy army - this week consisting of the ever reliable Barry Davis and a surprise appearance from Trust League veteran Jimmy Newell. The Black Swans now travel to Oxted & Limpsfield on Sunday 20th August for what promises to be another great away day, and a chance to make it to Finals Day. A long way to travel, but if you can make it to support the lads, your support would be hugely appreciated! All supporters invited to team breakfast, please contact Alex Minshull for this week's venue. See you there!