The season finally got started for the Windsor CC 1st XI last Saturday as they played host to Egham CC in their first trial of the season. As the sleet and 7 degree temperatures covered the players like a wet blanket, short sleeve shirts where swapped for jackets and thermal wear!
Upon inspection the captains found that the ground staff had done a superb job and the wicket looked in pristine condition for this time of the year. New skipper Wes Nichols unfortunately lost his first toss as Egham decided to have a bat in the arctic conditions.
Bevan Malloch and Oliver Birch took the new ball as both shook free the early season cobwebs. It was the self proclaimed giant killer Oliver Birch who kept his past reputation in tact, as he got the initial break throughs in the 5th over. He bowled Smith with a peach that would have knocked over Michael Vaughan and then Hall 2 balls later! This was followed up by Malloch, whom by this stage has settled into a nice groove and claimed Egham skipper Watmore LBW, to have the visitors reeling at 3 for 15.
Egham posted a fine recovery with their overseas Boucher, punishing some poor bowling from the enigmatic Birch and gaining some momentum. The new batsmen Smith struggled at first with the introduction of Nichols playing out a few maidens, he was very lucky to survive a LBW, and should probably buy a pint to his team-mate who turned down the appeal…
From here he decided to make full use of the short boundary and unleashed some massive strikes over midwicket to ease the stagnated run-rate to the mirth of the Windsor skipper.
Mohindru was then introduced and gained immediate effect claiming the scalp of Boucher as Nichols knocked over the new batsmen Jones to bring No. 7 Hamilton to the crease.
From here the next 10 overs where all Egham as the introduction of Kellard saw Smiths eyes light up, as he belted the hapless young leg spinner. As the partnership brought Egham to 140/5 off 30 overs, Nichols reintroduced Malloch who tied things up and gambled by giving Mohindru his final over from the shorter boundary end. The flatter trajectory would prove more difficult for Smith to get underneath as he was caught by Birch as he went to the well one too many times. It was the end of a dashing knock that saved the guests from embaressment.
This change meant that Nichols had 2 overs up his sleeve. He choose prolific non-bowler Stuart Millman to complete the job. Most days he would struggle to get a bowl in a Chinese restaurant, but today was his day as he finished with 3/9 off 2 overs, Kellard would have paid £100 for even one of them!
Kellard bowled very well at the death as the pair along with desperate fielding restricted Egham to 30 runs off the last 7 overs, meaning Windsor would be chasing 189 for victory.
Windsor started cautiously as Chana and Chorley looking to consolidate in the first 10 overs to set a platform for Windsor’s explosive middle order. The constant drizzle started to impair the bowlers as they slid around and batting became more difficult as the ball stuck in the wicket.
This did not stop Chorley by punishing anything short and wide on his off stump and Chana from playing some exquisite strokes of his legs. The opening partnership got to 50 and Windsor were on track.
Chorley (38) than fell in the 18th over trying to forge ahead of the run rate and with wickets in hand was the right move. This brought Bird to the crease but the sluggish wicket made scoring freely near impossible if you didn’t have enough time to get in.
The asking rate was 6/7 an over needed from the remaining overs, which would have been easy in better conditions but the slow conditions meant Bird (1) got bowled trying to force the pace.
Unfortunately the drizzle turned into rain and both captains decided it would be best to finish the game up now rather than risk serious injury and hyperthermia. Chana (53*) and Riches (10*) in a fine cameo, were the not out batsmen as Windsor finished on 2/107, the rain ruining what would have been an exciting finish.
There where many positives in the day. Chana’s batting showed that he may have what it takes to nail down an openers birth in the 1st XI. He lead a fine batting performance that unlike last season held greater value on their wickets. The opening combination with Chorley looks to have got off to a solid start.
Windsor in 2008 must be vigilant at the crease and not give into pressure. These two were a fine example of what skipper Nichols, is trying to drum into the side. Fingers crossed it will continue.
Malloch and Mohindru where the pick of the bowlers and Nichols is hoping they will only improve as time goes on. Birch was inconsistent, dishing up diamonds one ball than rocks the next! Kellard also took some heavy tap in the very tough conditions but both stuck at it. These two lads will benefit with more overs under their belts in the coming trials.
All in all it was a pleasing day from a playing view point and it’s just a shame that this ridiculous weather hampered what would have been a very close game.