Months of apprehension in the greatest ‘Will they, won’t they’ since Ross and Rachel – Cricket was given the green light and the TVL was allowed to get underway.
There was no greater tribute to the enormity of the return of our Great British pastime to Home Park, than for the Windsor CC 2nd xi to grace the untouched square before anyone else. Bradfield were our gracious guests who gleefully took up our offer for an early start, as they appreciated 10 weeks was a substantial enough wait to don the whites.
Under new stewardship, the 2s new skipper, Jag Bhabra, won the toss [rumours of a bottle cap being involved are refuted by the captain] and shrewdly decided to bat. Obvious choice, post a score, create pressure, work out the deck to stifle the chase. A choice, so brilliant his team fawned over his genius, with the exception of Dean Bean who calmly and politely provided his objections.
Tim Hale & Rob Noble opened the batting and started us off at a brilliant rate, taking full advantage of the quick outfield and keeping us around 6 per over for the first 12 overs. A start so ideal, it set a key foundation for a mid innings lull. Noble batted well and departed in the 28, Chorley followed a few overs later, the victim of a good run out and took it suspiciously well. Ollie Birch came in and created another key partnership with Tim, who at some point had bludgeoned his way past 50 and kept the scoreboard moving in the right direction before a “rush of blood” felled Monsieur Birch for 27.
Karl Ziemkendorf (the shortest of the Zee Three), supported Tim, whom by now was a morphing into a human puddle with complete reluctance to run and dealing in boundaries – which made it fitting that he brought up his second club ton with a full bodied hook which ricocheted off the clubhouse balcony. Omar Mubarak closed the innings with Tim as he carried his bat for an unbeaten 135 with a lot more singles that he would care for at the end. Clearly the re-emergence of his compatriots Ray Borg & Scott Martin who came to watch buoyed his performance.
222-5 posted on the board.
After a quick alfresco tea, new due to the covid related stipulations, in which Birchy showed off his classy wicker picnic basket complete with champagne on ice, we bounded on the C1 with the intent to complete step one in our mission to win the league.
Dean Bean, last years reigning Division wicket leader, and Omar took the new ball. Chorley wisely suggested stationing a third man, only to be waved of by the skipper. This proved unwise as 9 runs ran through there in first few balls, creating one of numerous close brushes with rage induced aneurysms for Mr Chorley. The skipper’s field placements would prove to be a constant source of Chorley’s distress.
Bean made the breakthrough with the help of a good diving catch by Karl Z, and the opening pair contained the opposition for the first 10 overs when the game could easily have got away with a bad start. We continued our attack with a blend of vintage and new, as Chris Edge and George Smith followed, Smith taking the remaining opener and Edgey troubling the stumps as if it was 2008. Bradfield put together a good 4th wicket partnership, causing pause for relaxation as they put together 90 runs before Bhabra quelled their momentum by heroically bringing himself on and setting the batsman up to play around a straight one with an unpredictable line and length in the build up.
Ollie Warren supported well from the other end and bowled better than his figures suggested. The game was now at an impasse. Pressure was needed to take the pace off the ball, thus Edgey was reintegrated into the attack. Edgey dashed through the spine of the team, taking out the remaining danger men closing his spell with 3-40 off 8. With Bradfield on the back foot, Omar and Dean came back and cleaned up the rest of the order with Omar taking a 3fer and Dean giving up 21 runs off his 8 overs
187 all out from 36 overs. Windsor win by 35 runs.
Outstanding effort from the Gents, Birchy popped his Champagne d’Anglais and we celebrated on C1 a strong start to the long awaited summer.
Next week – Kidmore End (away)