Contrasting selection issues between the two Hampshire League Division 1 sides were evident on arrival at the University ground, Southampton. Twyford wielding the axe, opting for youth policy and at least sixteen available for the game whereas our opposition, Sporting Wessex have struggled to field eleven players at any stage during this campaign.
A warm sultry day was sure to play a part, especially on the island pitch smack bang in the middle of the transport hub of Southampton Airport, Parkway train station and intersections of the M27 and M3, the antithesis of the peaceful Hunter Park, how lucky we are to have a home there. There was absolutely no cover around the ground bar a small gazebo for the scorers and the shade behind the sightscreen!
Coin toss lost, possibly not a bad thing as skipper Moreland, retained for another week after a last minute-collaboration agreement with a couple of unionist players, was happy for Sporting Wessex to make the decision and bat first. Pitch looked very flat, but looks were to deceive.
Ducker and Reidy opened up against the Burrows brothers, ex-St Cross II’s players who had obviously been taught how to bat correctly. Initially, the bowling was tight however the pitch was misbehaving from the off and clearly the top was coming off. A score of 14 in over 5 when Ducker got one to bend away catching the edge of Burrows A carrying to keeper Moreland.
At the other end Reidy finally got into some sort of rhythm and was troubling the batsmen, even the excellent M Burrows was struggling to come to terms with Reidy’s nagging line and length. Ducker replaced by debutant Robert Munday, left arm over, a useful replacement for the banished Paine junior, one of those culled. Robert bowled well when pitching the ball up, however was punished when pitching short. His spell was curtailed with a hamstring pull. However, with a few more games and full fitness, he will be a great asset to the club.
A further 13 overs passed with Sporting Wessex steadily moving along without being able to get totally on top of the bowling, sadly not aided by the wicket, however good bowling when keeping the ball full was also a factor. Over 18 saw a change in the game as Reidy struck in successive balls, putting pressure on the remaining Burrows to accumulate quickly with little batting left and only 10 men.
After a cultured 47, Mike McKenzie was to bring the right hander’s innings to a close, bowling him via an inside edge. It was a matter of time before the innings was over and with Monty McKenzie getting excessive turn on the dusty top layer the final wicket fell when Sporting’s umpire, come 10th man, was plum in front trying to sweep, the only decision Nobby Bance had to make during the game. Sporting 105 all out. Good fielding backed up our bowlers in sizzling heat, including one or two goal-keeper like stops – Jon Bance opting for a one-handed palm around the post rather than a simple two-handed catch, and plenty of “swoops” from the returning Kevin West.
Special note to Nick who kept brilliantly on a two paced, at least “two bounced track”, a nightmare for keepers and the skipper took one or two for the team today (and has the bruises to prove it!!!).
Tea was about three miles walk from the ground, always pleasant in 28 degree heat, however the thoughtful tea-lady had icey delights to bring the core temperature down to something reassembling normal warm running.
By the time your reporter got back to the ground to pad up (I had hoped for a late middle order hiding position today, however the skipper had slotted himself at 9 instead!) I just about had enough energy to “don” the pads.
Another opening partnership was to grace the wicket, Ducker required for a shift at the other pub in Twyford joining the overheating Bance.
Get on the front foot was the order of the day, Ducker did just that pushed at one a little too heavily and was dropped at gully, a fairly regulation catch. It was the last chance he gave before succumbing later on. Bancey was the first to depart after an unruffled 14, tried to cover drive one and got a nick, umpire Nick Ranger’s finger moved faster than the rest of him had all year, 39 for 1. This just increased the pace in which the game was to finish, with Reidy trudging out.
Ducker was bowled for a well-deserved 29, which included 3 well timed legside shots and young Monty McKenzie was caught behind for 1.
Reidy then simply hit everything (although he claims it was a terrible innings) and with Kev West playing a cultured square drive we cantered to victory with a strong batting line up to Number 10, in the 19th over.
Sorry for a couple of the young lads, who did not get a bat today, there will be plenty of other opportunities and welcome to the club to Piers, I am sure in the coming weeks you will get a bowl and a bat.
We headed back to the Phoenix. A couple of players were due at parties (oh the youth) so the older heads talked cricketing stories, Nick Ranger once again starring in the innuendo bingo, I worry about him, I really do. The Summer Lightning was absolutely sublime, the best it has ever been, thanks to Paul and the crew for hosting and putting up with us, once again.
Thanks as always to Nobby, JP, Nick Ranger and of course Fin for scoring and putting up with Ranger!
Off to Millbrook Rec next week to face Southampton Community.
Sporting Wessex 105 all out
M. Burrows 47;
T. Ducker 3-15
M. McKenzie jnr 3-29
A. Reidy 46*