Windsor 205 – 8 from 45 overs
Mark Huggins 70
M. Green 3-81
Hayes 174 – 9 from 41 overs
M. Green 80
T. Hartridge 5-52
R. Gregory 3-47
Windsor headed to Hayes on Saturday for their first away game looking for a win to kick start the season.
On a gloomy and overcast day Windsor lost the toss and were invited to bat first on what looked to be a firm but grassy track. Only 2 overs play were possible before the rain came which were safely negotiated by openers Paul Huggins and Noble. After a number of attempts to resume play as the showers came and went the teams finally took to the field again after a 50 minute delay leaving Windsor with 43 overs to bat. The next 8 overs saw a good contest between bat and ball as both openers were quick to seize on any loose deliveries, but, at the same time had their outside edges beaten frequently. Skipper Paul Huggins looked to be in fine touch as he plundered 12 runs from one Green over.
Windsor were well placed with 40 from the first 10 overs when Huggins was adjudged LBW off the bowling of Green for 19. From here Hayes began to battle back as regular wickets fell. Next to go was Weston bowled for 7 by Wayland as he attempted an ambitious pull shot and was closely followed by Noble in similar fashion for 21. When Riches was yorked off the bowling of Morgan for 14 the Windsor innings was in the balance at 71-4. As had not been the case in previous weeks when Windsor needed a partnership they found one in the form Mark Huggins returning from injury and Malik. After a few sighters Huggins was back to his usual swashbuckling self as he drilled Morgan back into the sight screen for six. What ensued was a good passage of play for Windsor with a mix of aggression and quick singles. Huggins played the dominant roll as struck two further sixs and a number of fours and was ably supported by Malik who also looked to be fine touch as he played the shot of the day as he drove Fahid through the covers for 4. The next wicket to fall though was Malik chipping Fahid to midwicket for 19. This brought George to the crease who was quickly into his stride striking Fahid through midwicket for four and then over long on for 6. With Windsor well placed to push for 200 Huggins perished for 70 as looked to force Fahid through mid wicket leaving the score at 170 for 6. Hartridge came and went as he was bowled by Green for 4 and then a mix up in the running between Gregory and George saw the later depart for 19 as it started to look as though Windsor would fall agonisingly short of the magical 200 mark. However, they were not to be denied as Gregory dispatched Green over long on for 6 in the final over and the Windsor innings closed on 205 for 8 which looked as if it would require an exceptional batting performance to pass on a testing wicket.
Windsor took to the field knowing if they put the ball in the right areas the wicket would still be offering plenty of assistance. As had not been the case the previous weeks Windsor got the early break through as Gregory bowled Ahmed for 4. This brought M. Green to the crease fresh from a big hundred against Finchampstead the week before and Windsor soon found he was in fine touch dispatching any loose deliveries to the boundary, with opening bowler Bean in particular on the receiving end. The score raced along at 5 an over with Skipper S. Green providing support at the other end. It was Gregory who took the second wicket as S. Green played on a short delivery for 15. From here the score board continued to move at 5 an over, however, Windsor continued to take regular wickets. Next to go was Farooq for 6 bowled by Gregory and was closely followed by Frost bowled by Hartridge for 8 and Windsor were in the ascendancy with the score at 76 for 4. At this point Hayes consolidated as M. Green was joined at the crease by Wallis who played the perfect foil nudging the ball round as Green continued to take the aggressive aerial route as they battled back into the game. Skipper Huggins turned to young spinner Harris in attempt to stem the flow of runs, but, he too found the going tough bowling with the wet ball. Green’s approach was always going to offer chances, but, Windsor failed to take these as he was dropped twice off the bowling of Hartridge. Hartridge proved to be the man though as he removed Wallis L.B.W. for 16 and then Green caught behind for 80 as he attempted one big shot too many and the game started to swing back in Windsor’s favour. Morgan came and went as he was run out for 8 courtesy of a sharp piece of work by keeper George spotting he had not returned to his crease after playing his shot.
Windsor started to feel the win was there for the taking and it was Hartridge who continued to provide the wickets with Wayland caught by Mark Huggins at slip for 6 and then clean bowling Arshad for 22 leaving the score at 168 for 9 with 4 overs remaining. Windsor pushed hard for the win and a difficult chance spilt at short fine leg off the bowling of the returning Gregory, however, Windsor thought they had won the game in the final over as Hartridge struck Fahid in front offering no shot only for the umpire to adjudge that it was going over the top. From here Fahid saw out the final three deliveries as Hayes clung on for a draw. Tom Hartridge was the pick of the bowlers finishing with 5-52 from 15 overs.
Although it was disappointing not to claim the win after dominating the game for long periods of time skipper Huggins was happy with his sides much improved performance. It was good to see Mark Huggins in good touch in his first game back from injury, however, it was even more pleasing to see another youngster Tom Hartridge stick his hand up with a great performance with the ball.