Sunday XI v Regals 28th April 2019
M & B started their 2019 campaign with a well earned 52 run victory against The Regals at Bray on Sunday. Upon winning the toss skipper Armstrong had no hesitation in electing to bat as new opening pair of Brian Dixon and Paddy Searing started proceedings. Dixon making a welcome return after missing the 2018 season with a back injury and new recruit Searing looking to get some time in the middle on his new home track. The early overs were characterised by a plethora of extras as the M & B struggled to get bat on ball due to the wide deliveries. Searing opened the boundary count with a pull to leg. Dixon was the first to go trying to sweep a delivery at the end of the 5th over with 25 on the board, with only 14 of those coming off the bat. This year's Crusaders Aussie, Ethan Walker, came in at the unfamiliar position of no.3 but was quick into his stride rotating the strike and running well between the wickets with Searing. Walker was strong on the drive and was quick to dispatch a few just short of a length deliveries over widish mid-on. Paddy played a number of searing drives coupled with a few lucky edges. The pair though built a strong partnership of 80 before Searing was stumped trying to loft spinner Raman into the net less River End. Searing ended with 34 but would have hopefully benefitted from his 19 over stay at the crease. Ben Ward Snr was in at 4 and opened his boundary count with an elegant cover drive to the scorebox before hitting his second boundary over the more familiar region over the bowlers head. Next to go was Walker, for 52(7 4's and a 6) as he attempted a lofted drive over extra cover with stripy jumper man Kartik making no mistake and giving spinner Raman his second wicket. Mike Parkinson jnr was in at 5 and he slowly played himself in albeit making sure the strike rotated as he was quick to seize upon singles. The bulk of the scoring was left to Ward, who by now was unfurling his normal lofted drives and flamingo cuts, although a pull to the square leg boundary was also spotted. Two of Wards lofted drives went or 6, Ward was clever enough though to target the Road End rather the net less River End properties. Parkinson continued with his pushes and drives with a few cuts as well as an Andy Parkinson sweep thrown in. Alas for Parkinson he was castled for speed by eleven year old Vivian for 20, having putting on 52 for the 4th wicket with Ward in 11 overs. Ward followed Walker by reaching his 50 with a maximum. Sunday stalwart "Tin man" Tifler surprisingly also hit a maximum, dispatching a high no ball over the cover boundary. Tifler departed in the final over aiming a big drive over mid off but missing , leaving Gunbarul two balls to face. Gunbarul swept a boundary and pulled a ball to square leg to finish with a strike rate of 350 and walk off with Ben Ward, who deservedly carried his bat for 56 off 21 overs, which included 6 4's and 2 6's. Bray's total of 211 was about par but certainly a defendable total. Spinner Raman surprisingly only bowled six overs finishing with 2 for 21.
After a leisurely tea M & B opened up with Ambar Moorthy from the Road End and Gunbarul. Despite no apparent pre-season practice Moorthy hit a reasonable line and length from ball one. Gunbarul, bowling seam for the first time this season, having had a few games already for Wargrave bowling spin, erred on the leg side initially. Despite his first game Moorthy insisted upon moving his square leg into the covers to bowl to a strictly off side field and was promptly pulled for a couple of boundaries through square leg by opener Raman. Despite his leg side predilection Gunbarul made the first breakthrough as he managed to get the umpire's decision with a full length delivery swinging into the pads. In the next over after being hit high over mid on for four, Moorthy extracted his revenge by having Raman caught behind by Dixon, as he tried to drive through the covers. Dixon seemed relieved to pouch the catch as he moved to his right. From 18 for 2 the Regals consolidated with Billy and Nav, Billy often playing some pleasant cover drives. After an initial burst of six overs Gunbarul was replaced by Swappy Manchanda, who immediately managed to bowl a full off stump line. One such delivery in his second over tempted Billy into the drive and the outside edge was snaffled by GT at cover point. Moorthy finished his excellent spell with figures of 8/1/31/1 and deserved more than the one wicket as he bowled a consistent off stump line, beating the bat on numerous occasions. Thomas Allen came on at the Road End to form a spin partnership and carried on his good bowling from the previous day by creating pressure from ball one. Manchanda bowled the decisive 20th over as he bowled Nav, playing across the line to a ball which hit the top of off. Next ball Vishal played across the line and was lbw. Despite not getting a hat trick Manchanda completed a triple wicket maiden by having Dharam expertly taken, standing up by Dixon, as he feathered a probing off stump delivery. Next over GT sent Nav packing as he got the lbw decision despite being the only one to appeal, leaving Regals in the cart at 63 for 7. Stripy jumper man Karthik took the long handle to GT hitting him over mid on a number of occasions. GT exacted his revenge by having Kathik caught, eventually at deep mid on by Moorthy, after a juggle. Whilst all these wickets tumbled Sandeep soldiered on, hitting the odd boundary. GT picked up the 9th wicket, courtesy of a comfortable catch by Armstrong at cover . Both spinners finished with excellent figures, particularly Swaps Manachanda, those figures of 8/2/26/4, were testimony to bowling a full length and nagging off stump line. He benefitted from bowling the previous day, when he dropped too short regularly. GT carried on from the previous day by recording extremely tidy figures of 8/1/36/3. Armstrong finished off the final four overs from his favoured Road End and he had to ask Searing to bowl his flighted filth from the River End. At this late stage of proceedings, with the game long gone, Sandeep decided to play a number of forceful shots off Armstrong whilst 11 year old, Vivian dropped anchor at the other end, whilst surrounded by a posse of close in fielders. Wardy blotted his copybook by dropping Sandeep, off a relatively easy chance at mid on, condemning M & B to another four overs in the field. Despite having blocked out the best part of 10 overs Vivian decided to try and hit Searing over the top off the game's final delivery, giving Walker an easy catch and presenting Searing with a rare scalp. Sandeep remained 45 no and the 10th wicket yielded 42 to leave Regals 159 all out.
Despite this being the first Sunday game of the season the trend from the previous season of extremely late finishes continued, as the players left the field at 7.45. Despite a late start, 2.10, and a leisurely tea, Regals were mind blowingly slow in completing their overs, although no time details were kept it seemed M & B were a good 20 - 30 minutes quicker in bowling their overs. Who said slow play only applies to golf!