Windsor struck by Achilles Heel
Windsor 207 for 8 52 Overs (Howard 51)
Wokingham 2nd XI 208 for 8 47.2 Overs (Beals 76; Nichols 5 for 70)
After a resounding win the week before, Windsor finally reached home soil after starting the league and pre-season on the road. With overcast conditions and a week of heavy rain, the toss would always prove critical and it was to no surprise when upon winning the toss, Wokingham sent Windsor into bat.
Windsor openers Bird and Davis found it tough going early on, with the conditions favouring the tight Wokingham bowling. The occasional bad ball was put away, and a run rate of 3 an over was hard to achieve. It was however, a surprise when skipper Bird (22) fell in the 15th over with the score on 45, to a sharp catch in the slips off a good leg-cutter from Ali. Doye joined Davis and the runs became slower to come by as the lack of pace suited neither batters’ game. Davis (19) finally connected with a typical left-handed waft outside the off stump to Ali leaving Windsor 66 for 2 off 22 overs. Huggins, in unusually sedate form, also struggled to adjust and despite some typically lusty blows, fell leg-before to the Mathews’ off-spin. Chorley fell shortly after, playing too early on the drive and the calamitous run-out of Wes Nichols summed up how Windsor had succumbed a good start to being unable to push on.
After losing Doye for erstwhile 35 and Birch for 0, Windsor was in danger of not posting a decent target when they were 140 for 7 off 42 overs. Fortunately, Bevan Malloch joined Paul Howard to provide the foil for the latter to begin to really get going. With Malloch rotating the strike well, Howard began a vicious onslaught that resulted in a 36-ball half century and gave Windsor the chance to post 200. With Howard falling for 51, it was left to some big hitting from Javaid to take Windsor to a final total of 207. Whilst a decent total, there was some concern that the pitch was drying out and becoming easier to bat on.
As with the previous week, Malloch and Nichols found precocious swing and the former struck in his first over once again, removing Neat for 0. When Malloch struck again in his very next over, Windsor were on top with Wokingham 2 down for very few. At this point Beals joined Browitt and started what would prove to be a match winning innings. Returning to cricket for the first time in 2 years, the former first team player rode his luck early on, playing and missing to some fine bowling from the Windsor pair. But as the ball aged and the wicket eased, Beals, ably assisted by Browitt and then Noden, began to move Wokingham into a match-winning position.
Nichols then would return from the Castle End to begin an inspired spell of bowling. In the space of 5 overs, he removed Beals, Noden and three other Wokingham wickets with fast reverse swing bowling, decapitating the off stump on two occasions. Wokingham crashed from 150 for 3 to 164 for 8. Only a brave innings from Achilles would defy his fellow Aussie and the Wokingham overseas player guided his young partner Jain towards the finishing line. With 8 needed off the last over, an outside edge and then cover drive from the next ball, saw Wokingham home with four balls to spare.
The Windsor team were left devastated by the narrow margin of defeat, but were left to ponder on how they had let the game slip away in the middle section when wickets had dried up. The 14 points earned though, pushed Windsor to second in Division 2A.
This week’s local derby against Datchet is bound to be a tense affair, with the home side looking to avenge the defeat in the warm-up game only a few weeks earlier.