Faisal fizzes versus Fiddlers
Posted by: Mat Armstrong
The Sunday X1 returned after a three week break to start a run of four weeks of premier fixtures. First up was John Hewitt's Fiddlers, a long established touring side. With no game the previous day the game was played on a freshly prepared wicket, expertly crafted by Charlie hours earlier. Not surprising with it being a damp wicket so generally one would bowl, which is not generally the Sunday theme. Luckily Armstrong loss the toss again so didn't have the decision, M & B were inserted anyway !
The omens weren't good when Brian Dixon was caught in the first over trying to repeat the cut of the ball earlier. To be fair it was there to be cut and he was slightly unlucky to be caught as the first slip inadvertently parried the catch to second slip, who held on. Youngsters Blair King and Todd Lindley though batted sensibly in tricky conditions, more akin to April not late June! To be fair to King he batted very fluently and benefitted from the fuller length bowled by Beard, which enabled him to unfurl a number of pleasing drives. King's innings thought was ended by Boyne Hill's Nigel Couzens as he was castled trying to whip a straight ball through leg to end a fluent innings of 30. Still the pair had added an invaluable 39 in 9 overs to build a solid platform in the conditions. Worse was to follow though as Sunday star batsman Gunbarul was also castled next ball, leaving Louis Blackwell to face a hat-trick delivery on a rare Sunday outing. Blackwell survived the hat-trick delivery and went on to play a valuable innings which under pinned M & B's total. Lindley & Blackwell posted 40 for the forth wicket before Lindley was prized out by the impressive Boyne Hill slow bowler Mark Firth. Although Lindley only made 22 hopefully his 19 over tenure at the crease will hold him in good stead further down the line. Firth impressed during his spell of 8/1/18/2, which included a number of dropped catches as well. His spell ended in the 30th over with M & B on 116 for 5 with 10 overs left. The spirit of Sunday in giving people a bowl / game meant that M & B benefitted in the final 10 overs. Key recipient was Faisal Aziz, batting at number 7. He played out an over from Firth, hitting his final ball for a boundary before cashing in against slow bowlers Haines and Salmon. Together with Blackwell the pair added 81 in 10 overs. Aziz was quick to dispatch the ball through leg but was still able to clear the ropes over mid on and over the cover boundary. In the end Aziz scored 60 in 10 overs, which contained 2 6's and 8 4's. Next ball Blackwell also departed for an excellent 53, nonchalantly caught by Jessup at square leg. Blackwell batted for 28 overs and underpinned the innings and struck 4 boundaries. In the end M & B scored an above par score of 194 from their 40 overs.
Armstrong opened the M & B attack with Atif Amin and spinner Faisal Aziz. Aziz bowled a few loose balls early, possibly due to the new ball, which were dispatched by left hander Simon Jessup. Jessup was looking in ominous form strong on the drive and pull, as he scored the bulk of the runs early on. Aziz though castled Jessup with his quicker ball to make the breakthrough in the 12 th over with the score on 49, of which Jessup made 38. Next over Thomas Allen bowled Bhachu through the gate in his first over to give M & B the upper hand, from which they never really lost. Aziz finished with figures of 8/0/26/1. Sunday spin wins Allen and Chris Butler then turned the screw getting wickets and restricting the scoring, as the ball gripped on the surface. Allen snared M & B player John Hewitt courtesy of a steepling catch from Armstrong. Butler was backed up in the field by Amin, who surprisingly took a slip catch. Allen finished with figures of 8/1/31/2, which were trumped by Butler's figures of 8/0/20/2. The spin twins left the Fiddlers in a precarious position of 88 for 5 after 25 overs. Armstrong continued the spin theme with Jai Chopra and Louis Blackwell. Jai Chopra finished off proceedings taking 3 for 27 in 6 overs, figures which probably flattered him, albeit he bowled better the longer he bowled, finding his length. With the drizzle near the end if was difficult for the leg spinners to grip the ball. Mark Firth fought a lone hand at the death reaching 50 no in the last over, which included 7 4's and a 6, predominantly on the leg side. In the end M & B won by 22 runs as The Fiddlers closed on 172 for 8 off their 40 overs. The game could have been a different contest if Fiddlers star batsman Couzens hadn't had a back spasm, and was unable to bat.
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