Sunday XI versus The Stage - September 15th 2013
Posted by: Mat Armstrong
With an ominous looking weather forecast, of heavy rain and winds M & B did well to get over half a game against The Stage in the end. With skipper Armstrong only having 10 he was delighted to sign up Will Cunliffe late on. His delight though subsided when he realised that useless Yusuf Quershi had obviously got a better offer on his birthday and decided to not turn up, without the decency to even let anyone know. Armstrong should not have been that surprised as Yusuf has previous over many years with various captains and a leopard never changes their spots. Happy Birthday you selfish sod, there is no "I" in team. Try captaining one day and someone doesn't bother to turn up, see how you like it !
The omens did not look promising as it began to rain as soon as the umpires and opposition took to the field, subsequent to Armstrong winning the toss and having no hesitation in batting. Armstrong took advantage of the marquee to score from. Opener Cameron Jacobsen teed off straightaway taking advantage of some short as well as over pitched bowling to strike 9 off the first over. All in his favourite leg side arc. Indeed Jacobsen scored the first 19 runs before Vish Kumar stroked a ball for four through the off side. Kumar though was the first to benefit though from a number of easy dropped chances by the opposition, although some appeared easy the wet conditions undoubtedly did not help. The first wicket to fall was that of Jacobsen who fell for 45. He would probably be the first to admit he probably didn't deserve a 50, based upon the number of chances he gave. As always 90% of his runs came on the leg side but he has a good eye and scores his runs quickly.
No. 3 Thomas Noakes came to the wicket with a fair amount of barracking from his family and friends. After a nervy start he scored at quite an aggressive rate, mainly on the leg side and not in his normal cover region. Possibly as a result of poor short pitched balls, two of which were dispatched over the boundary for 6 ! He did hang his head in shame though following the run out of his partner Kumar in the 20th over for 27, which included the first 6 of the match, advancing down the wicket to hit the bowler over long on. The partnership again yielded over 50 to leave M & B well placed at 20 overs on 114 for 2. That said the total quickly became 134 for 4 as Noakes eventually holed out with a fifty in sight for 43. The second time in two weeks he has failed to reach 50, albeit he ran out of partners last week.
With Armstrong thinking the innings may collapse due to the sheer weight of the tail, he was grateful for the fifth wicket yielding 34 from the unlikely partnership of Jamie Kiddell(JK) and Thomas Allen(GT). Kiddell again showed his improved batting technique, getting off the mark with a four squirted through the gully region then followed by a text book square cut, where did that come from JK? GT batted sensibly punishing the short balls and playing a straight bat at the good length deliveries. In the end the innings folded against the opposition spinners for a total of 193, in two overs shy of their allotted 35 overs. In the end JK's 20 and GT's 19 together with Mr Extras gave M & B a workable total which Armstrong would have settled for when he won the toss, thinking that the wicket would only get worse. The Stage gave a gritty performance in the field bearing in mind the rain and damp ball and the continual ball drying.
Over a leisurely tea Armstrong was thinking the heavens may open but this did not materialise so they took to the field under threatening skies and blustery conditions. For only the second time this season Armstrong could call on the services of the evergreen Chris Lowe. Bowling with the wind and his full length looked ideal for the track. For one though Lowe was actually not the oldest player as ex- Bray player(from the 60's) Brian Jackson was performing for The Stage at 82! There you are Chris the best part of 20's years trundling left! It came as no surprise to see Lowe hit his lengths immediately leaving the batsmen with problems in the run scoring department. Skipper Armstrong decided to open for a change at the River End into the wind, initially struggling with his run up, albeit he did have a catch dropped at slip. In the end the pressure from Lowe told as after bowling four maidens on the trot he forced the opener to loft him over the infield leading to a catch for GT, which he surprisingly caught. In the next over Armstrong had the new batsman plumb LBW as he missed a full length delivery when trying to turn the ball to leg. The wicket brought Ramprasang to the hit who showed his intention first ball by trying to hit Armstrong over the top only to find Joesph Blackett, who made ground positioned himself perfectly and then managed to drop it ! The miss was to prove costly as Ramprasang went about ruining Lowe's and Armstrong's figures as 31 were plundered off the next 3 overs.
Although M & B had bowled tidily and taken a couple of wickets the increasingly heavy rain had begun to make the bowlers run ups slippery. Indeed Armstrong approached the wicket gingerly in his sixth over and was dispatched for 15. Lowe in his last over actually bowled a high full toss which was no balled and began to slip, hence the addition of the sawdust. Although he completed his brilliant spell of 7/4/19/1 this was to prove the last over of the match as the umpires decided after consultation with the fielding side that the conditions were now becoming more than disadvantageous towards the bowling side and possibly dangerous. Armstrong finished with 6/0/32/1 to conclude his 30th season for the club. Although it was disappointing to trudge off the field the sides had done well to get 46 overs in.
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