Twyford convened at the Phoenix at an early time of 11:45am for their first away game of the 2018 season, the new 1pm start times this season making the day that bit longer. Unfortunately a severe lack of availability this week meant just 9 players were available for the start of this game, with a frantic text to McKenzie Senior resulting in a possible late appearance for Monty McKenzie to join as 10th man at some point during the afternoon. The old heads of Twyford knowing that to play the game and not lose 20 points is the first order of the day.
Ashford Hill’s picturesque ground, including brand new nets, played host to the encounter, with a pale and hard wicket presented in 20+ degree temperatures. Apologetically, skipper Moreland insisted that the only way to win the game with 9 players was to bowl first, hoping to skittle the oppo and knowing a chase was the only way to force a victory. Dissent from the younger players in the Twyford ranks was quickly quashed by the Brains Trust™. Toss won, Twyford bowling, much to the suprise of the opposition players.
Twyford took to the field with 8, Kevin West a late starter, caught out by the early start time and travel distance. Ducker as usual opened up, this time heavily drugged up after some questionable “exercise sessions” with Reidy had left the paceman with a dodgy shoulder. Ducker produced large amounts of swing and pace with the new cherry and caused many problems, despite a late night in Reading the previous evening. Ducker made a breakthrough in the very first over, trapping Ballard LBW. Reidy found large amounts of swing himself, although his perfect test match line ensured the majority were left or played-and-missed, Wyatt dropping a very tough chance at gully.
It was clear the Hill’s number 1 and 3 batsmen were to provide the key for Twyford. Opener Brown had started to find his feet, driving punishingly through the covers to anything pitched up. G. Good at number 3 also started to find his range, including a couple of fours off the tiring Ducker. Opening spells done and RFH was to be introduced. Ralf struggled at first to find his length, with G. Good particularly strong when the ball was pitched short, the slow wicket not providing much assistance. Ducker returned after Reidy at the far end, with an eye on his shoulder which would probably seize up with prolonged rest. Despite a dropped catch Ducker soldiered through extremely well to finish with figures of 1-26, although his 9 overs deserved more.
With large gaps in the field Twyford did well to stem the flow of runs, opener Brown thought he saw a chance for a single on the legside only to be sent back by his partner. Ralf did excellently to sprint to the ball, pick it up and throw it in on the bounce to keeper Moreland, who despite a fumble had all the time in the world to remove the bails as Brown was already walking back to the pavilion. Breakthrough achieved, now to make in-roads.
At the other end Good had reached his half-century but when trying to push on, edged behind cutting a quicker ball, well snaffled by Moreland behind the sticks for 53. Reidy returned after Ducker with Twyford needing to push for more wickets to give themselves a chance in the chase. Indeed a sharp ball from Reidy resulted in the number 5 playing on, his defensive shot beaten by the pace of Reidy. Reidy’s solitary wicket costing 32 runs from his 9 overs, he too deserved more.
It was then the turn of Hampshire veteran John Paine to join the act, and despite some excellent hitting from Cooper (who is very new to cricket I believe), Paine returned respectable figures of 3-28 from 7 overs. Credit to Ralf for another brilliant run out, far more athletic than anything most of Twyford’s other fielders could achieve! Ralf finished the innings trapping Vickery LBW. Apologies to Robert Nicholas who was due to bowl the over after the innings finished, we’ll get you a bowl soon Rob. We let ourselves down in the field slightly, a few misfields and a couple of drops, but that’s understandable with 9 players, the mentality is massively changed. However, we stuck at it brilliantly and just about gave ourselves a chance to win, albeit we would need a stellar batting performance.
A lovely tea taken, the weather appearing to get even hotter as the afternoon breeze died down.
The “youthful” opening partnership of West and Smith strode to the crease, with an eye on achieving as many batting points as possible. Smith watchful as ever, with Williamson particularly causing problems, both batsman having their fair share of luck along the way. The partnership did their job in seeing off the opening bowlers, West enjoying anything short and wide for his trademark late cut. He was however undone by a pitched up half volley which sliced off the outside of the bat to point for 20.
Reidy entered the fray and set about the bowling from the off, with Ashford Hill’s fielders the latest to comment on just how hard he hits the ball. It really must be frightening to field when Reidy is in this kind of mood, he does hit the ball exceptionally hard. Effortless timing through mid off and the covers, ably supported by Smith saw the score move towards the first batting point. Smith departed for 16 caught at point off G. Good’s offspin.
Skipper Moreland stepped up to number 4 and knew this partnership was to be key if Twyford were to have any chance of victory. The change bowlers were now on and Twyford’s “bigger hitters” were at the crease. Cue the onslaught. After a slowish start, G. Good’s wiley offspin providing difficulty due to the lack of pace on the ball and off the surface, the bad balls would need to be punished. When Good missed his length, Moreland and particularly Reidy were able to find the gaps and hit bouncdaries. The score suddenly raced over 100 and Reidy had moved to his half-century, although he was now struggling massively from exhaustion. His manual job, coupled with his various activities away from work were catching up with him. Moreland attempting to take the burden off him, started to hit out. B. Good came on to bowl what turned out to be a one over spell, with Reidy and Moreland hitting him for 20. Moreland was to depart for 31, skying the returning Osbourne, Hill’s skipper, to mid on, where mid off took a good catch running round.
The damage was done however and Twyford were only 40 or so away from victory. Ralf batted sensibly with Reidy, allowing Alex to dispatch a few more sixes straight down the ground and over the leg side, including a massive one landing on the roof of someone’s car over the deep midwicket boundary (and into someones garden!). Ralf was caught for 7, Robert Nicholas walked out knowing Reidy only needed 6 for his hundred, and decided to smack B. Good over the offside for four. Although Robert was bowled for 4, a wide ball resulted in Twyford achieving an improbable win. Reidy ending 95*, a marvellous effort, super stuff. Monty McKenzie waiting in the hutch, (we appreciate your efforts to get here Monty, thanks Mike) will get his turn next week.
A lovely pint was enjoyed in the sun outside the Phoenix, with a new beer on offer to rival Summer Lightning, one for Mr. Bance to try next week I think….
A great win, maximum points for the Ford after fearing the worst. Our average improves to 23.50 and now top of the league, which is seemingly becoming a habit in recent seasons (long may it continue!). Thanks to Fin for scoring as always (the book turned into a bit of a shambles after you left!) and to Nobby for umpiring, you only ever give what you see and you are always fair.
Home to AWE Tadley next week as Twyford look to continue this winning start.
Ashford Hill 190 all out
G. Good 53,
P. Brown 47
J. Paine 3-28
A. Reidy 95*
N. Moreland 31
Twyford won by 5 wickets (sort of!)