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Close, but not close enough.

Windsor 223 for 6; 52 Overs
Basingstoke 2’s 175 for 8; 48 Overs

After the remarkable phoenix-like comeback of the week before, Windsor first eleven hit the road again to take on Basingstoke seconds last Saturday. Missing three regulars, a much changed Windsor team won the toss and skipper Craig Bird won the toss and chose to bat first on what looked to be a good wicket.

As with recent weeks, the wicket had moisture to start with and the overcast conditions early on, saw the ball moving around in exaggerated fashion. Whilst neither of the Basingstoke bowlers was of express pace, they would prove to be slippery as eels as Bird and Davis found it tough going, reaching 18 off the first ten overs. After a snail-like start and as the ball began to loose its lustre, the Windsor pair began to counter attack and reached the fifty opening partnership near the 20th over. Just as Bird began to break loose, he was unlucky to be adjudged caught down the legside off the Basingstoke off-spinner. Davis soon joined him back in the pavilion, chopping on trying to cut a ball too close to do so. When Chorley fell shortly after, the vultures looked to circling once again on another Windsor innings.

However, the resilience of Nichols and Millman shone through and the innings began to gain momentum. Millman playing with great fluidity was unlucky to go when a big score was on the cards. Hartridge then continued his good work from the previous week and Windsor began to build a strong total.

Despite losing both Nichols and Hartridge as they tried to push the score on, Howard and Birch were able to build on the strong platform and running like gazelles between the wickets, took the score past 200 as Basingstoke began to flag in the field. With the final two overs producing some thundering blows, Windsor reached a competitive total of 223 off their allotted 52 overs.

Whilst a good total, on what was felt to be a good pitch, Windsor knew they needed to work hard in the field to put pressure on a young Basingstoke side. Some fine tight bowling early from Nichols and Condon, coupled with athletic fielding, paid dividends in the 9th over, when Birch enticed a leading edge from the left-handed opener and he was caught at point. With Nichols bowling maidens at one end, Birch continued to attack from the other, picking up further wickets along the way. Basingstoke were however always in touch with the run-rate and with wickets in hand looked well set to attack the target.

The key moment of the innings came shortly after drinks, when a Condon swooped in like a hawk on a quick single and ran out the Basingstoke number 5 with a direct throw. This saw a mini-collapse then ensue. With Nichols replacing Birch down the hill, the vital wicket of the Basingstoke captain saw the home team on the precipice at 145 for 8.

A belligerent 9th wicket partnership would then snuff out the game and saw Windsor denied what would have been a hard fought victory. With only a difficult over shoulder skied catch given in the last 10 overs, Basingstoke seemed more interested in picking up a few batting points, rather than attempting to achieve the six runs an over required to win. As a result, the game would peter out to a dull draw.

A good all-round team performance by Windsor should and could have yielded more than the 14 points given. But as the result saw them leap-frog Basingstoke in the table, Windsor could take some solace from that fact.

With the three regulars returning this weekend, Windsor skipper Craig Bird faces a somewhat positive selection headache for Saturday’s game at Chiswick. Yet, with the first eleven squad now showing more signs of life, competition for spots is certainly hotting up.

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