“Is it called off yet?”
Tom Lilburn’s textual message echoed the sentiments of the team and their WAGs on Saturday morning as Windsor’s premium second xi departed for Wokingham with an ominous forecast and the memory of a rained off away day to Kidmore End fresh in their memory.
Spoiler alert, the rain stayed away and we got a full day in.
As the lads trickled in late due to an uncooperative M4, Skipper Jag Bhabra went to toss 10 mins before the scheduled start hoping to keep his streak of won tosses and bat as only 5 of his team were present. The toss didn’t initially go to plan as Jag lost his first of the season, mercifully the Wokingham skipper, wiley in his aura opted to bowl. Mercy.
Despite being without renowned children’s entertainers and opening Bats; Chuckles & Nobsey, Wally Hale returned to the side and opened with compatriot Dave ‘Big Willy’ Wilmott, the pair looking to be more Weston & Nichols rather than Bancroft & Warner.
The pitch was always going to be a worry, Wokingham was notoriously a bowlers track this summer and with the rain it was bound to be interesting. It turned out to be a bit lively, with balls shooting up off various lengths and causing the batsmen great unrest coupled with a wet outfield hindering the big hitting Hale. It seems controversy is following us like a pet dog this summer, as early on Willmott managed to glove the ball with such obvious gusto, Mike Tyson would be jealous of the punch only for Umpire Dean Bean to not give it out. Here we have a dilemma, Dave is an Aussie and walking is a national sacrilege, like not using the C-word at every waking opportunity. Dean Bean, who is many things but not a cheat, and called it not out much to the dismay of the opposition.This wouldn’t be an issue had Willmott not nicked off later, again Dean Bean failing to give him marching orders and the New South Welshman staying put. Deano was promptly removed before the opposition, to their credit, could lose their faith in humanity.
On the day he was celebrating his 100 club cap, Hale got a flyer in the fifth over, ricocheting off the bat and looping gently into the fielders hands, losing his wicket for 5. The returning Oliver Birch joined the party, picnic basket packed and prosecco on ice – “anything short would make you a troglodyte, or Edgey” Birch noted, as he joined Wilmott before lasting 5 overs himself and falling victim to a straight one for 8. This is the first time this season the 2s had found themselves down multiple wickets during the powerplay. Tom Lilburn came and went but lasted a little longer for a well ground out 5. Bhabra made 4 then departed a couple overs later. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t going great – then Dave Wilmott was triggered by umpire ‘Dicky’ Birch who got a solid leer for his honesty, despite the decision being very plum. 60-5 off 22 and we were banking on 130 being enough to defend on that pitch. Enter Alex ‘Saucehead’ Haynes and Omar Mubarak. Sauce who’s driven down from Stoke that morning was looking to prove he had the metal to ‘do it on a drizzly afternoon away at Wokingham’, and Omar who was looking to add runs to some fine supporting knocks over the last few weeks.
The lads got off to a solid start, and matched each other well, Sauce helping the young Omar through some aggressive running and rotating the strike well to throw the oppo off balance. Wokingham, up to then, had had great success with a very disciplined seam attack, but had brought on spinners who proved a little less dangerous on the pitch. The pair put on 31, the biggest partnership to that point, before Omar skied a ball that looked suspiciously above waist height. Umpire Jag referred to umpire ‘Dickie’ Birch who said it was fine and Omar began to walk. On his way back to the pavilion, after a quick conference between umpires, Birchy concluded he’d got the call wrong and Windsor gave Wokingham the discretion on whether they wanted to call back Omar. The Wokingham skipper politely declined, citing the ‘Opening bat’ as the reason why. Completely reasonable and the game carried on – lesson for all youngsters, walk and be honest umpiring or it will come back to haunt your team later. 91-6 off 29
George Smith came in at 8, fresh from a quarantine as punishment for his francophilic jaunt, keen to get his first ever knock under way and close out the innings. This is where things really got exciting. Sauce and George just got into a rhythm, a fine mix of the dash and smash approach to batting. The lads pummeled and their way around the outfield majestically, with George reaching his maiden 50 in 20 something balls, finishing on 58* off 33 with some great strokes both classy and agricultural. Sauce, who comfortably was the sides engine and anchor batter brilliantly for 50* off 67 with his trademark kamikaze approach to singles, exuberant calling and some fine sweeps. The lads brought the final score to 183 off 40 overs, which we thought was well above par.
After Birchy cracked open the picnic basket, but not the bubbly, we returned to the field eager to get off to a hot start, put the pressure on and beat the forecasted rain that seemingly was always looming but never present sans some light drizzle in the first innings.
Bean and Mubarak took the new ball and put the squeeze on the openers. With some exceptional shots from a batsman so good they named him twice (Rohan Rohan). The bowling pair, who have styled themselves as ‘Thunder and Quietening’ plugged away until the 13th over when Bean broke through removing Rohan helped by a catch from Hale. Tom Brooker came on for Mubarak, who bowled well and fell victim to age limiting over restrictions before he could take a wicket, although Haynes had let a chance slip earlier off his bowling. Brooker, fresh off his entry to Bournemouth University, wasted no time, removing the remaining opener who seemed on edge when one of the guys pointed out he’s scored 8 runs off 15 overs in a limited overs game. 43-2 off 14 overs.
Chris Edge joined the attack after Bean had bowled through his allotment and did what he has done all season; take wickets. Edgy, who had come to the game straight from a holiday to Hayling Island, which he described as “Stunning, it’s the Sheffield of the South, but with less hope”, was refreshed and managed not to fall over this week during his spell. Meanwhile Brooker continued to torment from the otherside, taking another wicket while giving away nothing. Windsor continued to chip through the line up, who made little resistance with the exception of Wokingham’s Keeper, Clements, who batted well following a very strong performance behind the sticks earlier in the day. Brooker was untouchable and requested to bowl through, finishing with 3-17 off 8 overs. Tom Lilburn was deployed to short midwicket in a helmet, and a box to ensure his singing voice didn’t jump an octave due to any unfortunate incidents, in an effort to keep the pressure on. Edgy nabbed a second in his last over, helped by a very good stumping by Haynes and Birchy rolled back the years and pulled of a stunning one handed pick up/ diving under arm/ direct hit run out.
Wokingham were 84-7, Clements still in and Windsor desperate to close things off to circumvent any risk of rain. 10 overs left, and hero of the first innings George Smith took the ball and did what he’s done all summer; take a wicket. One minor blunder, Bhabra, who for the first time had the luxury of letting the five bowlers bowl through their spells without having to give them the hook failed to realise, he would still need to make up some overs at one end as, what is now very obvious but probably took him a bit too long to realise on the day, George couldn’t bowl both ends. So Jag took the ball from the other end, with two wickets needed and took one early helped by Sauce and his quick hand for another good stumping. As fans of the team will know, Jag doesn’t like to set his field when he’s bowling and likes to delegate that to Chuckles or Richie Noble. However, with neither there, he tapped former 2s skipper Edgey. This was fine except for not adjusting for the Leftie number 11 and having no cover on the leg side. The number 11, who previously stated how unfazed he was after getting hit in the head by Smith, and admonished his pace, was swiftly dispatched by Bhabra, Haynes taking another good catch, wrapping a great day for the keeper.
Wokingham 109 All Out
G Smith 58*
AP Haynes 50*
T Brooker 3-17
We roll on vs Binfield at Home Park this Saturday