Sunday XI v Braywood 12th May 2019
Despite a fine effort in the field M & B were once again beaten by Braywood courtesy of another inept batting display. Having mustered a meagre 100 last year, M & B were marginally better this time posting a massive 106 in 35 overs! Having won the toss skipper Armstrong had no hesitation in batting, making it 3 out of 3 in batting first this season. The new pair of openers this week being Kieran Grey and Richard Lawrence. Despite scoring a fifty in the league the previous day Grey lasted until the first ball of the second over, whereupon he hit a full toss straight to mid on and departed for 1 ! Reliable Sunday opener Lawrence only made 2 this week as he chased a full wide delivery from erratic opener Spender and was well caught behind. Further calamity arose in the fifth over as Yusuf Qureshi, making his seasonal bow, stroked a full toss to point instead of hitting and departed for a duck to leave M & B in the perilous position of 12 for 3 in the fifth over. Sunday stalwart Atif "tin man" Amin came to the wicket to support "Crusader" Ethan Walker, who was yet to get off the mark, probably not surprising eight of the 12 runs on the board were extras ! Amin booked in for the duration as the meaningful scoring was left to Walker. Walker again showed his strength at driving and posted a few boundaries. He was given second life as McDermott dropped a sitter at extra cover as Walker played too early at a drive. Walker dispatched a few short balls to the wide long on boundary and Amin managed the odd single from a pushed drive or push leg, between bouts of forward defensive. The pair at least occupied the crease and took M & B to drinks at 75 for 3 after 20 overs.
At drinks Armstrong enquired of Walker as to whether he had been batting with a hang over, to which he replied he had never batted so badly as the wicket was so slow and he couldn't bat on it. Armstrong advised it would be a handy experience as he would come across many of these types of wickets throughout the season. Armstrong said 160 would be a good score. Alas Armstrong's words of wisdom fell on death ears as Walker was dismissed second ball after drinks ! Still his innings of 44 had occupied 19 overs and contained 7 4's, sparing M & B blushes. His partnership with Amin yielded 64. The drinks break caused an M & B collapse as Gunbarul played too early and only succeeded in scooping an attempted push way up into the air to give the Braywood fielders catching practice. Despite guiding his first ball through the gully region James King played back to a ball which kept low and was sent on his way by umpire Meade. Further disaster struck when lynchpin Amin ran himself out attempting to scamper another single and was sent on his way courtesy of a direct throw from point. Amin's vigil of eleven singles lasted 20 overs. At least Amin occupied the crease and provide the ballast as his partners did the bulk of the scoring. Le Clerq was well caught by Nikhil low down at midwicket for 2 as Armstrong arrived at the wicket in the 32nd over with M & B at 93 for 8. Armstrong and Swapnil Manchanda rotated the strike easily against the spinners and took M & B past 100! Skipper then played a poor stroke to the first ball he faced from seamer Malik, as he played across the line at a ball which kept low and was bowled. Manchanda soon followed leaving M & Ball out for a paltry 106 in 35.1 overs. Sure the 1's posted 273 the previous day but this wicket was definitely harder to bat on with the ball keeping low. That said M & B should have a) batted out the overs and b) posted 130 at least. Only Walker & Amin made double figures and Mr Extras chimed in with 26, practically a quarter of M & B runs!
With Moorthy unavailable skipper Armstrong chose to open the bowling with Gunbarul, who bowled a tight opening over, immediately hitting that inswing line and exerting immediate pressure with a maiden. Despite conceded a boundary in his first over Armstrong was able to exert pressure with Gunbarul by bowling a tight full length. Only two boundaries were conceded in the first ten overs, the last ball of which was hit to Gunbarul at mid on , who threw down the stumps with Mohsin out of his ground to leave Braywood 18 for 1 after ten. Armstrong felt his hamstring tighten so immediately replaced himself with Alexander Le Clerq. Despite a few poor delivers Le Clerq snaffled Waqar in his first over as he chased a wide one and was caught by Walker at cover. Gunbarul got a deserved wicket in his seventh over as Modi chopped on to leave Braywood at 29 for 3. Gunbarul bowled through to finish with splendid figures of 8/3/17/1, albeit leaking a few runs down the leg in his final over. Swapnil Manchanda replaced Gunbarul at the River End and immediately settled into a fine line and length. The first bad ball he bowled was smashed by Nikhil but straight to mid on, where Walker took a fine catch low down. Manchanda continued to bowl a good off stump line which created some sharp chances. A drive from Malik off Manchanda led to a brilliantly taken catch low down at first slip by Kieran Grey to leave Braywood at 58 for 5. In Manchanda's fifth over he had Spender stumped by James King as he went walkies and off the final delivery Raju was miraculously caught low down to his left by Lawrence at sill mid off to leave Manchanda with figures of 5/1/13/4 and Braywood at 67 for 7. Rob McDermott then came to the wicket at 9 and proceeded to turn the gamein Braywood favour with the not out number 3, Shinny. Manchanda's final three overs were not a good as his first five and he leaked couple of leg side boundaries in his last couple of overs to finish with still fine figures of 8/1/31/4. Le CLerq was taken off after bowling a tidy spell of 7/0/24/1 and was replaced by senior Sunday spinner Chris Butler, making his seasonal bow. Despite bowling a couple of reasonable overs early on boundaries were then conceded off his final overs as McDermott and Shinny batted well playing a number of lofted straight drives and clips off their legs to bring Braywood victory by 3 wickets with 6.2 overs to spare.
M&B's bowlers and fielders made Braywood work for the victory and at 67 for 7 were eyeing a surprise victory. Ultimately M & B's poor batting display deserved nothing les than a defeat.