A frantic week of selection committee meetings concluded with Twyford just about finding 11 to make the trip to Donnington, near Newbury. The now usual 11:45am meet at the Phoenix only played host to a handful of stragglers, the majority of players going direct. Leading London restaurateur Tom Ducker a late replacement for scorer Nick Ranger as Ducker’s new restaurant had sold out in two days and could not support a weekend’s trade(?!). Piers Askew was to make his 2018 bow, along with Jacob Black en route back to uni in Cheltenham. Bobby and Will to drop out, one cruising around the Mediterranean, one watching Ed Sheeran at Wembley, I’ll let you guess which was which…

Reidy’s Cindy the sat-nav was required as the ground was fairly hard to find, however John Paine insisted he would lead the way. A couple of missed junctions, a Shell garage stop for lunch and a hastily prepared Google Maps route finally found Reidy and the troops in the back to their location. John Paine arrived without hassle.

Donnington’s ground resembles a slightly less picturesque Hunter Park, banks around the ground providing a slight “bowl” effect to the arena. Wicket was hard, quite a few green patches but also very dusty. Twyford to bowl first after winning the toss (at about 12:50pm!), Moreland knowing the make-up of his side suited having the new cherry in hand first up.

Whilst Moreland was still filling in the teamsheet, Reidy had decided which end he wanted (somehow bowling into the wind) and a quick decision to open with John Paine at the other end had to be made.

Reidy started quickly, the wicket varying in bounce, although his away swing was hampered by the wind blowing the other way. Unfortunately Reidy ended wicketless from 9 hostile overs, unlucky as a few edges went through gulley to an extremely short boundary on one side. John Paine started in usual fashion, keeping things fairly tight however nothing particularly threatening.

Matt Paine was introduced and bowled his usual mixed bag of “tricks”. A few wides interspersed with absolute jaffa’s. In his 3 overs, Matt picked up the wickets of both the openers, going for 19 runs including 8 extras. He bowled Dadd off glove and pad for 15 and then had Hill trapped in front with a full toss for 32, Twyford in the game.

Ducker’s pre-match cocktail of painkillers had finally kicked in and he came on to bowl some “medium-pace”. A good line and length and appreciable movement caused a few alarms, Moreland up to the stumps in his second over had a confident stumping shout struck down. The pace then upped and Moreland was sent packing. Ducker proceeded to bowl a bouncer that probably went 8 yards over both batsman and wicket keeper. A Yorker followed by a slower ball was to do for Pyle, edging through to Moreland.

Wyatt “Mr. Reliable” Brennan featured from the other end and helped build the pressure with Ducker, however he found less turn than in previous weeks, instead extracting a skiddy length from the wicket. He had Lawrence stumped (sort of) down the legside and Oliver caught by Robert Nicholas at fine leg off a low full toss. Ducker had skipper Howe trapped in front with a lovely ball that nipped back into the right hander and Twyford were into the tail.

Donnington’s Taylor proved his technique belied his position in the order and smacked a few lusty blows in a run a ball 35 including 3 massive sixes, before he was last man out, caught by Reidy at square leg off of one of John Paine’s mysterious slower balls. Before that, up the other end Ducker produced a rising delivery to kiss the glove of Bebbington and through to Moreland, Brennan inducing a drive from Ford into the grateful hands of Piers at cover. Donnington’s 10 man team all out for 167. Ducker finishing with 3-16 from 9 tidy overs, Brennan 3-44 from 8.

A sit-down tea taken inside the pavilion, complete with overhead heater (which was needed!).

With Twyford missing 3 opening batsmen it was Moreland’s turn to be the sacrificial lamb and open the batting, finally giving in to the calls and sledges from his teammates to open proceedings. Moreland took 8 from the first over from Taylor, before Westy was bowled by one that kept low for a second ball duck. Reidy entered the fray and took 8 more from the remaining balls in the second over, bowled by skipper Howe. With a small boundary and pace on the ball it looked like it was going to be a difficult place to defend.

Reidy and Moreland then plundered 61 in the next 6 overs before Moreland was out, missing a straight one to Ford for a 21 ball 34, 30 of those in boundaries, scorer Nick Ranger saying it had been noted that the skipper doesn’t like to run. Black then perished first ball LBW before Piers successfully negotiated the hattrick ball.

At the other end Reidy was being tempted into big shots, but men back on the boundary meant he had to place the ball rather than muscle it to the ropes. He found gaps with ease and great timing and moved to a brilliant fifty. Piers fell LBW to Dadd for 0, but the partnership was worth 53!

Rob Nicholas joined Reidy and hit two wonderful shots over long off and long on for 4 and 6 respectively before he was caught at cover off the returning Rowe. Reidy and Ducker saw the team home however, despite Moreland’s nerves in the pavilion. Ducker finished with a mature 17 not out and Reidy 107* off 89 balls, including an enormous six over mid-wicket to finish the game. 169-5 the final score, meaning a 5 wicket win and 23 points for the Ford taking them top of the table!

A quick trip back to the Phoenix for a Summer Lightning, with just enough time for Damian Lewis to make a guest appearance. Some good cricket chat and banter enjoyed and good to see Paul back behind the bar. Thanks to Nobby for umpiring as always, and a change of role for Nick Ranger who scored impeccably to make sure Fin McKenzie remains on her game…

Next week at home to Rowledge, 1pm start.

Donnington 167 all out

T. Taylor 35 (35)

T. Ducker 3-16
W. Brennan 3-44

Twyford 169-5

A. Reidy 107* (89)
N. Moreland 34 (21)


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