Maidenhead & Bray 3rd XI 296-8dec. (S Bukhari 102, J Alam 81, A Hill 5-40)
Windsor 3rd XI 300-8 (B Davis 95, RW Noble 41, R Dawson 31)
A patched-up Windsor 3rd XI pulled off a remarkable performance with the bat to win this vital promotion battle in Bray.
After losing wicketkeeper Care to promotion and in-form opener Condon to illness during the week as well as the unavailability of certain other players including Charters who hit 92no in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, the Windsor team who took to the field still had the confidence and experience to be able to pull off a result in tricky circumstances.
Noble lost the toss and M&B chose to bat first. The Windsor openers Hill and Davies probed away and bowled a very tight opening spell with very few runs coming off the bat in the first 8 overs and Hill picked up the first wicket by bowling the opener which brought No.3 Alam to the crease, the batsmen Windsor knew well after his 118 in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season. Alam started hitting a few boundaries, cutting Hill to the point boundary and pulling Davies for two fours in his final over as the run rate steadily started to climb. Rob Hodgson was introduced to the attack and the change of pace initially slowed the batsmen’s scoring and he took the second wicket. The other opener caught at gully by Dawson. This brought Bukhari to the crease and after an initial uneasy period, these two batsmen gradually got set and really took the attack to the Windsor bowling. Bukhari hitting 22 off one over including two massive sixes which resulted in a lost ball. Noble rotated his bowling as much as possible to try to restrict the batsmen but this didn’t affect them as they were in full flow and they continued to hammer boundaries and the total looked as if it was going to be insurmountable.
Windsor didn’t help themselves with some pretty poor fielding at times. Runs were given away through misfields and four catches went down, and with these batsmen in form this was something that Windsor could have done without. Stand-in keeper Davis had to take extra care as balls were bouncing awkwardly in front of him and Windsor had conceded 20 runs in byes. By this time, Windsor heads were firmly on the floor. As a last throw of the dice, Noble asked wicketkeeper Davis to take off the pads as Tom Bullock took over behind the stumps and Davis came on to bowl at the tennis court end while Hill returned to the attack for his second spell.
With 42 overs gone M&B were 240-2 and looked to be heading for a mammoth score with 10 overs to go but Alam was bowled by Davis and Bukhari was well caught by Gould at long-on also off Davis to bring new batsmen to the crease and temper the scoring rates a little, but M&B had wickets in hand and continued to attack. Hill soon was among the wickets with some fine swing bowling and despite still scoring freely M&B lost wickets at regular intervals until they declared their innings at the fall of the 8th wicket, Hill’s 5th, at the end of the 50th over with the score on 296. Windsor knew they had to score at 6 an over for the whole 50 overs to win this match.
Such is the attitude of Windsor Cricket Club, thoughts of batting out for a draw as other teams may have done were banished to the back of our minds as we thought of ways to win this match from this unlikely position. It was decided to promote Bryn Davies to number 4 and go all out for victory.
Robert Noble had obviously sensed the need for a positive start and gave Windsor the perfect start by hitting the first ball of the innings off centurian Bukhari for 4. J Alam opened the bowling at the other end but Noble continued with some impressive strokeplay and at this stage Davis was happy to play round Noble and after the first 10 overs Windsor were up with the required run rate without the loss of a wicket. Exactly the start Windsor needed.
Unfortunately Noble was bowled for 41 soon after attempting one big shot too many but Davis continued to score freely and after the quick loss of Gould, big-hitting Davies came in to join Davis in the middle and this was the partnership that Windsor were relying on if they were to get near the M&B total.
Bryn Davies soon got into the scoring habit by hitting some boundaries including one big six and together they continued to score at the 6-an-over needed by cleverly hitting one boundary per over and taking the odd singles. Their 50 partnership passed and at drinks at the halfway mark Windsor were halfway to their total with only two wickets down.
However, the old saying of “one wicket brings two” could not be better illustrated as after looking so solid a fluke wicket broke the partnership with the score on 160. Bryn leathered a ball straight back at the bowler Alam and he stuck out his hand and deflected the ball onto the wickets at the non-strikers end and Davis was run out five short of a well-deserved century. In the next over skipper Noble called for a quick single to get him off the mark abut Davies was well short of his ground and out for a quick 21 and in the space of no time two run-outs had resulted in Windsor being 4 down. Tom Bullock joined Noble at the crease and they steadied the ship and put a partnership together to take Windsor past the 200 mark but after hitting a big six Noble was out for 24 and then Haynes was adjudged LBW soon after. Windsor yet again showing our sporting side. If there was a sportsmanship award for this division we would certainly be one of the favourites as we have given so many of our own batsmen out LBW this year despite being on the rough end of some decisions ourselves. Dawson came to the crease and immediately found the middle of the bat with some exquisite off-side shots for 4. He was joined at the crease by Hill after Bullock was well caught in the deep for 28 and M&B were taking wickets at regular intervals as they searched for the 25 points they wanted to overtake Windsor in the table.
The experienced pair of Hill and Dawson continued to score at the required rate and while the Windsor team watched on nervously they continued to calmly chip away at the runs required. A couple of boundaries off one over brought the run rate down and Windsor needed 21 runs off four overs with 3 wickets remaining to complete a famous victory. This was whittled down to 5 off 2 overs and after Hill punched one through the covers for four to take his score to 18 the scores were level with eight balls remaining. Hill then left the last two balls of the 49th over leaving Dawson on strike to face the final over with one run needed. However Dawson walked off the first ball after gloving behind for an excellent 31 which sent No.10 Edge to the crease with five balls left. Edge swung and missed at the first two balls and just as the Windsor team were getting anxious, Edge hit the 4th ball over the bowlers head for 4 and Windsor had completed one of the most remarkable run chases in the club’s history. A thrilling victory and doubly important as it opens up the gap between the teams to 9 points with two matches of the season remaining.