An interesting few weeks of weather had forced the cancellation of our warm up game against Colden Common and Otterbourne during the previous weekend, the older brains of the club thanking their lucky stars for not having to catch a cricket ball with temperatures as low as 6 degrees in certain parts of the county. Interestingly a number of clubs had already cancelled their matches for the first week of the season as ground staff could not prepare a wicket.
We luckily arrived to see Hunter Park resplendent on a very warm lunchtime ahead of our first game in County 4 against Fair Oak 3rds. Fair Oak were one of the teams to suffer with their ground at Lapstone very wet and their 2nd team called off, were we to face a strengthened 3rd team today? Note here to Painer who had spent the last 2 months rolling the square, it looked in superb condition.
Our veteran umpire had recovered from his hotel ski-diving incident in August and was back to adjudicate, South Western Railways offering a similar timely service as the previous franchise had into Shawford’s hub. One happy senior coin counter.
Retained skipper Moreland, who had narrowly been re-appointed following a hostile AGM (only because Summer Lightning had run out!) in the Phoenix two months prior, was back to toss up and as per form, lost again. Twyford to bat first, an interesting decision on a hot day, but surely a pitch to suit the seamers. We wanted to bat first so good for both teams.
The ageless pair of Bobby Smith and Jon Bance opened up for Twyford, the younger of the two looking to be positive from the first ball. Smith struggled today, with the seam and swing bowlers saving their best for him. At a decent 68-1 in the 18th Smith departed bowled by an inswinging ball by young Sussex paceman Ben Smith, enter Fair Oak touted Alex Reidy.
The run rate, as normally happens when Reidy is in the middle, increased dramatically. Bancey kept accumalating and punished the bad ball in between some cracking deliveries by Smith Junior and father Phil Smith. At 146-1, Bance reached a ton with a cover drive, a further 6 runs later he was caught on the boundary for 103. Reidy then began an onslaught, including a six that smacked into our scorer Fin’s car, one not very happy newly qualified driver. We were then to lose Kevin West for a brief 1.
Reidy was to depart playing on to the returning Ben Smith, quickly followed by Moreland playing a horrible hack across the line, barely troubling the scoring. Will Paterson played with maturity and power, it was during his innings that John Paine returned to the “Wailing bench” to find Bance, Smith and West happily avoiding the sun… Painer ruthlessly asking Westy at this point “when are you due to bat Kev?”.. subtle from Hampshire over 60’s paceman (!).
Our final overs saw us limp over 200 with the unlucky Ralf Fetherstonhaugh (has his surname got longer in the closed season?) unluckily run out by a deflection at the non-strikers end. Young Rob Nicholas hit some lovely shots at the end of the innings, hopefully a leftie replacement for the openers in coming seasons, we closed on 209-9.
Pick of the bowlers were Phil Smith with 3-34 and Ben Smith 3-28, both surely in the 2nds in the coming weeks.
Tea taken (without the usual Paine home made cakes, sadly).
Ducker and Reidy opened up, Ducker troubling the openers but Reidy somewhat off colour. At 40 for none and the opener bowlers off we urgently needed a breakthrough. It came in Ralf’s second over from the Playground end with a catch taken at mid off. Ralf was then to remove the second opener and suddenley we were on top. Tight bowling from Wyatt Brennan slowed the run rate at the tennis court end, he bowled well throughout his nine overs, taking one wicket, a sharp catch from Moreland behind the sticks.
Burrell and the classy Phil Smith were the only two that looked likely of overturning our score, however the returning Reidy put an end to Fair Oak’s chances, taking two quick wickets. John Paine then took a further three. Ralf unprounceable took the final wicket, Fair Oak all out for 116, extras top scoring with 34.
A great start for Twyford, 23 points in the bag and everyone in the team playing a part. We trudged down to the Phoenix for a pint or two, yup you guessed the Summer Lightning was a fresh barrel and a perfect temperature for the balmy weather, other beers were available!
Thanks to Nobby and Nick for umpiring, Fin for scorer, John and Matt for the ground, Paul at the Phoenix for hosting us and the team for a superb start to the season.
J. Bance 103,
A. Reidy 48
Fair Oak III 116 all out
R. Fetherstonhaugh 3-38,
J. Paine 3-7
Twyford won by 93 runs.