THE STANDARD IS SET
Approaching the square this afternoon, coin in hand I was still unsure what I would do should Farndon lose the toss. On one hand a sprinkling of rain before the match could lean the decision towards batting to help the bowlers out with the ball. However, when the coin landed on the wrong side for the Farndon capt, I felt that we needed to get in the game as a team and realise exactly what we needed to do with the bat. So the opposition were inserted, and my bowling attack looked hungry.
Ali & Drinks combined beautifully, Ali beating the bat more often than not and coming away with 11 - 2 -34 - 1, whilst at the other end Drinks gave the batsmen something else to worry about as he took advantage of the conditions and moved the ball through the air, and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket 11 - 1 - 57 - 0.
Even though the Farndon batsmen who were on 58 for 0, they were not looking strong, lots of chinese cuts, shots in the air & the ball just beating the outside edge meant that even though the scoreboard read 0 in the wickets column, there was a definite feeling throughout the team that we were on top and that it was just a matter of time.
First change - Andy Laughton. After a shaky first couple of balls against his previous club, Andy settled in beautifully. Hitting the deck hard when needed, upsetting the batsmen by pushing them back and then bringing them forward. As I supported Andy at mid-off it was blatantly obvious he was going to cause Farndon all sorts of headaches.
Second change - Steve Collington. Supporting Andy as a good spinner should, we tried to take advantage of the fact that the batsmen just couldn't score off Andy. So by giving Collo the ball, I hoped that they would try and push the game on, and play shots that they would not normally play in hast to keep the scoreboard moving. It worked!
Collo coming away with 7 - 0 - 35 - 3 and Andy 8 - 2 - 30 - 4,
If I could, I would also award Andy a 5th wicket, as he produced a ball to a new batsmen that would have many in trouble. Striking him firmly on the glove, and looping just short of the slip cordon, one hand and one bounce did not count for Josh Perry, but the pick-up and release that left the batsmen in a daze certainly did. Leaving the batsmen short of his ground and run out by an excellent piece of fielding Mr Perry.
Farndon had gone from 58 for no wicket to 128 for 8.
Third change - Josh Perry. A loose start to his spell, however, as the confidence grew so did the quality of his deliveries. Picking up a good wicket, bowling the no.9 batsmen leaving Josh with figs of 4 - 0 -17 - 1.
Surely at 132 for 9, Farndons time in the middle was nearly over!
77 runs later!!! Collo, finally picked up the last wicket - More to prevent myself bowling another over I feel. But I shall continue exploring ways to encourage the bowlers to take wickets, even if it does mean worsening already horrific bowling stats for myself!
So Farndon - limped their way to 209 all out off 41 overs. They seemed up beat as they left the field, but I felt this to be misguided. Our ground staff produce tracks that we all love to bat on, and I felt par was around 260 - 280.
Drinks and I opened the batting, and the order of the day was simple. Play straight, be patient, and the runs will come.
Drinkwater fell in the 12th having batted beautifully for his 43, as we put on 73 for the first wicket, staying well ahead of the run rate.
Ed Akers who has shown recent promise with the bat, was selected to go in at 3 on merit. Unfortunately, Ed lacked the patience needed and tried to force the issue with the bat - falling for just 2. (Continue the hard work Ed, and the runs will come.)
So at 85 for 2, it was time for composure. It was time to forget about scoring runs for a while and just settle in to the match. Farndon who were quiet for the first 12 overs, had suddenly found a voice, this was encouraged by the prospect of removing a former player of their club and an individual who had caused so much trouble with the ball in his hand. Enter Andy Laughton.
Andy soaked up the pressure, remained unresponsive to taunts and let the willow talk.
Farndon did not take another wicket, Andy & I shared a 128 run partnership that was most enjoyable. Finishing the match with 8 overs to spare.
20 well-earned points received.