A splendid looking Hunter Park greeted both teams for round 4 of the HCL County 4 North, an enticing encounter between Twyford and AWE Tadley, the AWE standing for Atomic Weapons Establishment… eek… Twyford having won 2 from 2, whilst AWE unfortunately starting the season against two strong teams in the division and were looking for their first win.

John Paine had spent many hours in the preceeding week beautifying the Home of Cricket, well in the Twyford area at least, two days of rain had spiced up the ground, the outfield in pristine condition.

One of the longest toss-ups in recent history (probably because Tadley were waiting for a couple of players stuck in bad M3 traffic) was to end with Twyford inserted in to bat, no harm there. Tadley’s skipper informed Twyford “leg end” Moreland that two of his batsmen were more concerned about the Champions League final, and were to shoot off early. Two in Twyford’s ranks also informing skipper Moreland of their intentions to follow suit, however not until the match had already started… It’s the cricket season is it not!? Twyford able to field their full quota of 11 this week after the shambles last week against Ashford Hill. Will Paterson re-entering the fray and Monty McKenzie making his first proper appearance of the season. Jon Bance still AWOL (but somehow still editing this).

The ever youthful partnership of West and Smith opened up for the second consecutive week, Westy happy to play second fiddle to Smith, who unfurled a gorgeous cover drive against the spin of Hynard and a slog sweep over midwicket off the same bowler. Smith was eventually caught behind playing one too many flaboyant Caribbean shots. Reidy came and went cheaply and Monty surprisingly failed to trouble the scorers. West was next to depart, smartly stumped for a battling 21 and Moreland played another rash shot, not fulfilling his captains role of steadying a listing ship. Ralf fell shortly afterwards leaving Twyford in trouble with the score 70-7 after Robert Nicholas fell for 1. Tadley had bowled well, but Twyford had not applied themselves (seems to be a theme, see later…)

Tom Ducker was to prove his batting is better than his stats suggest, hitting a huge six into the gardens over the bowlers head but at the other end Will Paterson proved wiser than his age would suggest, struggling early on but stickign at it, nudging sensible (and some risky!) singles, whilst punishing bad balls effortlessly. Will was to finish on 47 not out after late support from Ducker, Brennan and Paine. Twyford all out for a below par 134. Lewis Maton finishing with excellent figures of 3-20 from his 9 overs.

A gorgeous tea consumed, complete with Ducker’s ledgendary coronation chicken sandwiches, McKenzie egg delights, and great cakes as always from the Paine Bakery. Ducker and Reidy provided a comedic and somewhat suspicious joint warm up during the interval.

Ducker and Reidy, Tywford’s very own Anderson and Broad, quickly found their rhythms, Ducker extremely fast and Reidy immaculate in consistency. Two quick wickets were to fall quickly, Twyford were very much up for this, the wicket appearing to get more difficult to score on as the game wore on. Batsmen 2, 3 and 4 all made ducks as Ducker and Reidy made quick inroads. The only real resistance was supplied by Quadri, who drove nicely through the line to make a quick 23. An inspired (apparently) moment of captaincy, Moreland pushing mid on and mid off back 10 yards, was to be his downfall, as next ball Ralf Fetherstonhaugh didn’t have to move at mid on to take a fairly simple catch.

Ducker was replaced by Wyatt Brennan, who is fast becoming Twyford’s Mr. Reliable with the ball. When he gets his length right he is a real handful, bowling two batsmen through the gate to finish with 2-15 from 7 overs. Reidy bowled his allotted 9 straight through, a brilliant effort, returning figures of 2-34. Monty McKenzie was brought on at the basketball courts end and struggled with consistency, however the wicket was condusive to turn, with a few “funky fields” set for the sharply spinning deliveries. Unfortunately a few mistimed shots found gaps and it appeared that Monger and Hynard belied their batting positions with their ability, much more resolute in defence than the earlier batters (maybe they all wanted to get home for the football!).

Ducker returned with 3 overs up his sleeve, however Monger seemed intent on seeing him out, with more textbook defensives, not even falling to the “test match” (© Jon Bance) sledge which has proven to be effective in recent years! With Ralf Fetherstonhaugh and John Paine still to bowl, Twyford were still confident. Indeed, John Paine took no time in reminding skipper Moreland he was currently the club’s leading wicket-taker (key word… “was”).

A timely drinks break at 30 overs was to be the undoing of AWE Tadley just as the Monger-Hynard partnership looked to threaten the 135 runs required. Ducker immediately got the ball to nip back sharply at Monger to trap him in front, and 3 balls later Ducker had removed number 10 and 11 and the game was up very quickly. Ducker starts next week on a hat-trick after two beautiful yorkers saw to the last two batsmen. AWE bowled out for 83, handing Twyford a 51-run victory. Ducker finishing with an amazing 6-13 from his 8.4 overs, including 4 maidens. His spell did include something your reported has never seen before however, Ducker dropping two caught and bowled chances in consecutive deliveries!

Credit to AWE Tadley, a great bunch of guys who have some useful cricketers in there, playing the game in the right spirit. Thanks to Nobby and Nick R for umpiring impeccably, Fin and Lizzie for scoring, Janet Bance for washing up, Damian Lewis Jon Bance for lifting the spirits at drinks. Great to see Gregor and Mike McKenzie at the ground as well.

The weather held just long enough to enjoy a couple of lovely cold ones down at the Phoenix, Paul’s hospitality is always appreciated by the players. Hopefully the Tadley players weren’t supporting Liverpool… as their evening probably didn’t go as well as the Southampton-supporting Twyfordians’ did!!

Twyford 134 all out

W. Paterson 47*

AWE Tadley 83 all out

T. Ducker 6-13

Twyford win by 51 runs. Next week – a trip to Alton to play the IIIs.


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