Farnham Royal 3rd XI 228 (A Watson 100)
Windsor 3rd XI 231-9 (T Bullock 53, C Edge 33no, A Akram 6-91)
A nerve-wracking last wicket partnership of 36 saw Windsor home after looking dead and buried at one stage of the game after a largely uninspiring performance against bottom of the table Farnham Royal at Burnham.
The game started on time and Chris Edge got Windsor off to a flying start with a wicket with only the third ball after getting the opener caught behind by Care for a duck without a run on the board. However, at the end of the first over with Royal on 6-1, the heavens opened and a lengthy delay ensued which resulted in the match being reduced to 90 overs.
However, despite the wet outfield, the covers that Burnham have ensured the wicket was still dry and the match was able to re-commence soon after the rain stopped. The Royal were intent on attacking the Windsor bowling and hit a few boundaries despite both Edge and Davies beating the bat on many occasions. Two quick wickets, one each for Edge and Davies pegged Royal back at 40-3 but a good 4th wicket partnership, full of unorthodox hitting by opener Watson took Royal past the 100 mark and it was proving difficult for Windsor to remove the batsmen despite some near misses, dropped catches and very close LBW shouts, or to stem the steady flow of runs. After the drinks break to take the pace off the ball Noble turned to the part-time spin of George Gould and this did the trick immediately as it made it much more difficult to score and the wicket came in Gould’s 1st over, the batsman bottom edging one onto his stumps. Gould picked up another two wickets as Windsor kept chipping away but Watson was still blasting away at the other end. He was eventually removed by Sam Jordan as Richie Noble took the catch at long on and from then on Royal’s scoring slowed and wickets fell regularly until a run out saw the innings close with one ball to spare.
Due to the earlier rain Windsor needed 229 to win off just 43 overs at a rate of over 5.3 an over so it was imperative that we got off to a positive start. However that was not to be. Credit must go to the Royal’s opening pair who not only restricted the flow of runs to frustrate the batsmen but also bowled good wicket balls to remove the top 4 of Dawson, Gould, Noble and Doye with only 33 on the board at the 15 over mark. The task of winning the match looked highly unlikely as Windsor needed a further 196 off the remaining 28 overs at a rate of 7 an over and the talk in the Windsor camp was centred around just ensuring we get some batting bonus points. However, no-one had told Tom Bullock this. His partnership with Sam Jordan (18) breathed life into the Windsor innings and at one point Tom hit 8 successive scoring shots for 4. Alex Haynes joined Tom at the crease but having just passed his half century Bullock was out for 53 just when it looked like Windsor could perhaps get back into the game. However, his replacement at the crease Bryn Davies wasted no time in getting stuck into the Royal’s bowling and obviously had the straight boundaries in his sights as he scored heavily and quickly as Haynes was just happy to keep him company. However when Davies departed for his rapid 31, soon followed by Haynes, it appeared that Windsor’s last chance of victory had gone. Edge was promoted to the No.9 spot with the instructions to just “go for it” and Martin Care hit a couple of nice boundaries before being 9th man out with the score on 195-9. Hodgson came to the crease with 6 overs to go to join fellow Sheffielder Edge with the instruction to ensure Windsor get the 200 needed for maximum batting points but once that had been achieved the pair showed their steel by scampering singles and hitting the bad balls for four when they came along as they steadily chipped off the runs required for victory. They judged the partnership to perfection and when 2 runs were needed off the final over Hodgson flicked the 3rd ball off his legs to the square leg boundary and Windsor could celebrate a really important 20 points.
It later transpired that both Harefield and Maidenhead & Bray had their matches rained off so the win proved doubly vital as Windsor returned to the top of the table as we prepare for the visit of Slough next Saturday, another important match on the day when Windsor’s two promotion rivals face each other so Noble will again be looking for maximum points.