Sunday XI v Fleet Street Strollers 2nd June 2019
Spinners were on top(as opposed to a spinning top)on both sides as M & B managed to wrestle a 53 run victory against the Fleet Street Strollers, who were at one stage in a commanding position. Normal service resumed as skipper Armstrong won the toss and elected to bat. Paddy Searing and Ben Ward snr opened up for M & B and were immediately threatened by the wily medium pacer Hodgson, who made things difficult early, that said Ward managed to get two lofted drives away off him to the boundary in the first two overs. The more erratic Love at the other end allowed the batsmen to score on both sides of the wicket. As always both batsmen were strong on the drive, Ward straight and Searing preferring to sear the turf through the covers. The openers raised the 50 in the 10th over and were not parted until the 13th when Searing departed for 27(4 4's) to the persevering Hodgson with the total on 65. Ward was joined at the crease by Sunday debutant, Wyatt Michaux, Maritzburg College, Pietarmaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. The partnership didn't last long though as Ward succumbed in Hodgson's last over for a well made 38(5 4's), which included a number of classy leg side strokes, for a change. His 38 took his Sunday tally to 160, but his average came tumbling down to a mere 80! Hodgson ended with deserved figures of 8/1/28/2. M & B's crusader, Pieter Ethan Walker, didn't last long this time as he hit a a four'n twenty pie from Simon Brodbeck to Addis, who took a good catch running back at mid off as the ball got caught up in the wind. Entering at 5 was Sunday stalwart, tin man himself, Tifler Amin, the arch crease occupier. For a change Amin was off the mark fourth ball with a streaky drive through the slips for 4. Amin was though able to occupy the crease as Michaux did the bulk of the scoring. Although a very able batsman he was greatly assisted by a plethora of pies, which were dispatched to the boundary, courtesy of drives and pulls. Michaux muscled his way to 50 and celebrated by immediately hitting a 6. Alas Michaux was caught trying to launch another pie, which he caught high up the bat and was pouched at cow for a fine 61, which contained 2 6's and 7 4's. Still a valuable 4th wicket partnership of 60, of which Amin contributed 9. Colbeck celebrated his wicket by claiming Gunbarul two balls later, sent on his way LBW by umpire Ward. From looking in a healthy position M & B had once again come unstuck and slipped to 152 for 5 after 24 overs. Skipper Armstrong told all the incoming batsmen to stay with Amin and bat out the overs. James King mustered five overs before he perished plumb lbw, back on his stumps, playing a cross a straight delivery. Amin occasionally managed to open his shoulders playing a nice cover drive to the boundary as well as a straight drive. Allen, Manchanda & Armstrong all succumbed to Colbeck, who bagged a five wicket haul, courtesy of a couple of questionable decisions given by the M & B umpires. Amin batted manfully on and smashed Colbeck for 6 into the sight screen in his final over, to leave him with figures of 8/0/42/5. Amin was assisted through four overs by Moorthy, who batted sensibly. Amin played a fine off drive off Oliver in the 49th over but with a half century beckoning he was cleaned up by Oliver attempting another drive for a fine 48, crafted out of 22 overs of crease occupation. M & B's again didn't manage to bat out the overs and their total of 214 was around 25 short of what it should have been, albeit something for the bowlers to defend.
As always messrs Moorthy and Gunbarul were tasked with opening with the new cherry. Moorthy bowling to his customary 7 / 2 offside field. Gunbarul made the early breakthrough hitting the top of Pitten's off stump with a goody. There then followed a partnership as the left hander Beale caused the bowlers to alter their line. Gunbarul managed to counter this by bowling over the wicket to the left hander and repeatedly beat the bat, once edging between slip and gully for 4 and another time inducing the edge, which wasn't accepted by King. Moorthy also beat both the left and right hander but was prone to letting deliveries drift down leg with no protection. Eventually Armstrong put himself at deep square and moved the gully to mid wicket, whereupon Moorthy promptly bowled in the corridor of uncertainty and Addis went for the drive and was well pouched by Searing at first slip, to leave Strollers at 45 for 2. Moorthy and Gunbarul both finished with commendable figures of 8/0/31/1 and 8/1/25/1 respectively. Armstrong promptly got his spinners on at first change, messers Allen and Manchanda. New bat Sam Brodbeck immediately took to Manchanda hitting two respectable deliveries over mid off and mid on for 6 and 4 in his first over, forcing Armstrong to put both fielders back on the boundary straight. Allen preferred the slower flighted approach to Manchanda's quicker flatter trajectory. Allen's approach worked as Manchanda continued to leak runs more profusely. The left hander right hander partnership continued to cause problems for the fielding side as the batsmen rotated the strike regularly. At drinks Strollers were still two down with an asking rate of just over five. With the total on 122 for 2 and Manchanda still bowling Armstrong was thinking of bringing on Michaux, luckily he didn't as during the over left hander Beale left a straight ball and was given out lbw, much to the relief of M & B. Later in the over a more flighted offering from Manchanda led to Sam Brodbeck trying to work the ball to leg but only resulted in the ball getting a leading edge and looping up to the oncoming Manchanda, who thankfully managed to catch it. Both the set batsmen were gone, bang bang, both for 47. This was the turning point of the match as soon Frederickson was bowled hitting across a flighted Allen offering and again in the same over Love was plumb lbw on the back foot. Allen grabbed a further wicket in his next over as Colbeck hit a delivery high over midwicket, where Gunbarul took an excellent catch running back over his head, the Gunbarul of old. Thomas (GT) Allen finished with excellent figures of 8/0/27/3 and bowled with a lot of maturity, mainly reducing his pace and often flighting it. Swapnil Manchanda's figures were more expensive, 8/0/64/2, but he got the two prized wickets of the set batsmen in the same over. Perhaps Manchnda's spell can be summed up by the fact that he hit a batsman with his quicker beamer! Although the Strollers had subsided from 122 for 2 to 143 for 7, Oliver still remained . Armstrong remembered the brutal century he scored a few years ago. Armstrong bowled this customary second change spell from his beloved Road End and let Michaux finish off from the River End. Armstrong didn't take long making inroads castling Oliver to effectively end the game. Michaux had to borrow Tifler's boots to bowl and finished off the Stollers in his second over castling Hodgson and getting Fiala lbw next ball. Stollers innings having crashed from 122 for 2 to 161 all out, a spell of 8 for 39, to leave M & B the victors by 53 runs. It will be interesting to see how Michaux goes with new boots next week.