Sunday XI v Fleet Street Strollers 28th May 2017
M& B triumphed by a mere four runs in a 544 run glut on the Sunday over the Spring Bank Holiday. The batsmen on both sides benefitted from the slippery fingers of the fieldsman as countless catches were spilt. Skipper Armstrong had no hesitation in batting as soon as he won the toss. A new pair of openers walked out for M & B as colts Josh Wallace and Sam Murray opened proceedings. M & B got off to an inauspicious start as Murray patted back a full toss to mid-off and departed the scene in the second over with only 10 on the board. However the entry of Faisal Aziz soon led to M & B surging ahead. Aziz was quick to dispatch the bad ball, of which there were many, as he powered the ball to all parts. Opening bowler Wood, delivered a good spell from the Road End without much luck, only going for 15 in his first 6 overs. Wallace saw off the majority of Wood's spell, rotating the strike with 1's and 2's. Albeit at the very start of Ramadan, Aziz conserved his energy by virtually scoring in boundaries, only ending a sequence of 10 4's with a 6, over long on, off spinner McAuley, followed shortly after by another one over mid-on, only higher up the net. Admittedly Aziz was dropped off the hapless McAuley moments earlier. M & B reached drinks after 20 overs in the happy position of 125-1. As so often happens the next over brought a wicket as Aziz advanced down the wicket to the wily Brodbeck and missed and was bowled off stump, otherwise he would have been stumped, for a boundary laden 70(12 4's and 2 6's), ending a partnership of 120 in 18.4 overs. The wicket brought colt Kieron Grey to the wicket and he continued where Aziz left off, scoring freely. He again benefitted from an early drop off McAuley though. Wallace was the next to go, following just short of his half century, stumped for 46, as he advanced down the wicket, attempting to hit McAuley over the top again, also on this occasion he missed and was stumped. The wicket brought Mike Parkinson to the wicket with 166 on the board, instead of the normal perilous position. Parkinson batted accordingly and rotated the strike getting Grey back on strike and hit the gaps for a couple of 3's and a boundary in a quick fire 16 in 5 overs. By now Grey had warmed up nicely and had hit may drives, mainly straight, a couple into the net. He was joined for the 6th wicket by Ash Becker, who attached from outset with 200 almost on the board and 9 over left. As always Becker was strong on the drive and quick between the wickets. Near the end opposing skipper Oliver brought himself on, even though he was nursing a back injury, to try and stem the flow of runs. Oliver succeeded in reducing the flow as only 13 runs came from his first three overs, that said plenty were plundered from the other end. In the end Becker was caught behind for a rapid 31, including 4 4's and a 6 as he and Grey added 57 in 7 overs. Although Oliver was hit for a few boundaries in last two overs he also took a number of wickets, one of those being Grey In the final over caught at deep mid off going for another boundary. His innings spanned 19 overs with 7 4's and 2 6's with his total ending on a top score of 77. In the end Oliver claimed four wickets in his final two overs, as Armstrong declared the innings with one ball left as Butler was not changed. Regardless of that the skipper was more than happy with an over par score of 274 for 9, courtesy of too many dropped catches from the Strollers.
With Becker claiming a sore back it was left to Armstrong to take the new cherry with Ambar Moorthy. Although the bowlers conceded a few boundaries the batsmen were generally kept in check, scoring at around 4 an over. Armstrong recovered from bowling a loose delivery which was despatched through square leg for 4 by bowling Wood as he played back and across the line and was castled. Armstrong followed up with a wicket two balls later as he got one to nip back and keeper Grey took a brilliant catch standing up as Brodbeck got an inside edge. These two wickets kept the batsmen in check as Moorthy & Armstrong were able to both finish their allocation with reasonable figures. Again Moorthy was unlucky to finish with no reward in his 8 overs for 32 runs. Armstrong managed two scalps whilst conceding 36 runs. As to type spin twins Allen & Butler then began to spin their webs. Butler snaring Cummings lbw for 31 and Allen gaining the key wicket of opener Addis for a well compiled 51, in the over after drinks. Addis played an authentic guide through slips but was expertly pouched by Becker above his head at first slip. At this stage their seemed no way back for the Strollers but skipper Oliver had other ideas and he began his one man assault on the M & B attack. Spinner Allen bore the main brunt, as Oliver mainly peppered the leg side boundary/ netting. Admittedly skipper Armstrong spilt a difficult chance at deep mid off as the ball was shelled to him and the ball dipped. That said Armstrong would have hoped to catch it instead he dropped it and the ball careered through him for 6 and left him with a damaged finger! Butler managed to get away mainly from the wrath of Oliver to finish with 2 for 42 off his 8 overs, Allen wasn't so lucky, going for 2 for 69 off his allocation. With 8 overs remaining for a change Armstrong was looking around for bowlers, Becker injured, Aziz fatigued and Gunbarul away in Poland !
As always Armstrong turned to his faithful Sunday stalwart Tifller. Alas these days Tifler has trouble getting his shoulder over so the onslaught continued aided by a number of wides. On GT's advise Arnstrong turned to Sam Murray to bowl darts, unfortunately his back wouldn't allow this so the deliveries were more of the flighted filth variety. Oliver continued on his merry way finding the leg side boundaries. Armstrong positioned Becker at cow corner and thought he had his man as Oiver smashed another ball in that direction. Alas from deep extra cover Armstrong saw the ball sail over Becker's head and onto the road ! Armstrong began to resign himself to an ignominious defeat, unable to defend 274. Luckily for M & B two overs of Tifler was enough to galvanise Faisal Aziz into action and his two tight overs kept M & B in the game. In the 38th over, Oliver by now a centurion, again smashed one to cow corner but this time straight to Becker who pouched the catch nonchalantly, to dismiss oliver for a brilliant 107. With Oliver out of the way M & B thought they were home, but the Strollers continued to pinch singles. In the end it came down to 9 off the last, which quickly became 5 as the first ball was hit to the boundary. Luckily for M & B McAuley went for another big hit only to be caught easily again at cow corner by Becker. Murray went on to bowl no.11 Patson with his 5th ball to bring M & B a victory by a mere 4 runs. Murray finished wit the interesting figures of 3.5 overs4 for 43. A great game of Sunday cricket for the crowd of Brett van Niekirk's family and friends to watch on the occasion of his 40th birthday.