In this instalment Walton are finally relegated after our nearest rival, Spencer, win. Oh, and we also lose to Normandy, but that didn’t matter as we were already relegated by then.
I know that it is a obvious metaphor, but this season has repeatedly reminded me of the Gallipoli campaign. A bold attempt to assault the high ground which started with such great hopes. This became bogged down with weather conditions going against the heroic allies. Finally forced to retreat and give up the futile attempt, having sacrificed colonial troops, or at least one New Zealander.
With the days getting shorter the game was to start at 11:30, but the earlier time did nothing to improve Dan’s ability to predict a 50:50 event and the toss was ritualistically lost. Normandy took the opportunity to bat on a very flat-looking wicket, where a score north of 300 looked a distinct possibility.
Joey and Aldo were used as the opening bowlers for the first time in the season and nothing notable happened for the first 10 overs as Normandy progressed to 42. Nico came on to bowl, replacing Joey and duly bowled a no ball in his first over – I now think that this is a form of sacrifice to the Gods of cricket: better than killing some poor animal I suppose. In his next over Nico got a return on his sacrifice when JMJ took a low catch. The wicketkeeper’s celebration was so low key that the umpires had to confer to tell if an appeal had actually been made before the batsman was given out – 55 for 1.
The game trundled on with Normandy reaching 87 for 1 off 20 overs. Jamie had bowled his 10 overs straight through for a total of 29 runs. This was unremarkable at the time, but it proved to be the most economical bowling of the whole game by a large margin. Baino and Jack took up the challenge and in the over after drinks Jack induced a slack shot and JMJ pounced (Ed. Actually he just took the catch and threw the ball back) – 106 for 2.
It was symmetrically another 106 runs before another wicket fell in the 43rd over. The batsman gave a simple chance to Baino at backward square and two overs later another batsman repeated the feat in what looked like an act of imitation. No further wickets fell as Normandy pushed on to reach 291 in their allotted 50 overs. This sounds like a big score, but it could have been so many more. This was an easy track and Walton bowled and fielded well. This said, chasing at a rate of 6 an over from the off would be a real challenge.
The Walton chase started pretty well, with Pomfret and Dan getting to 37 after 10 overs – very comparable to the Normandy start. The Gods of cricket now frowned on Walton and there was no chance of Nico bowling a no-ball to appease them. At the end of the 12th over a short rain-storm stopped play and 30 minutes were lost. The severity of the rain meant that the wicket got wet while the Normandy players rushed slowly to get the covers on. Dan (26), having a premonition for such things, had decided that it was best that he got out before the rain came down, having again received an absolutely spellbinding delivery.
Pomfret (19) was out in the 14th over bringing JMJ to the crease. After two successive LBW ducks, great things were expected of our non-demonstrative wicketkeeper. Whilst the audience was still getting ready for what promised to be an epic knock, we were surprised to look up and see him meandering back to the pavilion having this time failed to get his pads in front of a straight one. He subsequently tried to convince his teammates that he had received a ball that was so good that it would even have bowled Dan. Your author remains unconvinced.
Matt Harris (25) and Nico (15) went into bat, scored some runs and then got out – 120 for 5 after 30 overs. Surely Miten would save us? Yes and no – he looked solid and scored 31, but then got out – 142 for 6. Joey (10) and Harrison (23) also went in, scored some runs and got out. Jamie and Jack went in, didn’t score many and got out. Baino went in, top scored with 35 and did not get out. Net result was that Walton were all out for 204 in the 50th over, 87 short of a winning score.
It is worthwhile contrasting this batting performance with some earlier in the season. Only one of the top nine batsmen failed to get into double figures with five getting past 20. The batting is certainly more robust and confident than in June. Normandy have a premiership quality bowling attack and the rain was more helpful to the bowlers than the batsmen – the score of over 200 was creditable even though it could and should have been more. This performance, and the ones of recent weeks should be more than good enough for the team to bounce straight back to Division 1 next season – well I need some hope to get me through the winter.