Sunday XI v Royal Ascot 5th May 2019
In slightly calmer conditions on Sunday M & B managed to defend their total with 14 runs to spare. Upon losing the toss Ascot inserted M & B, so for a change M & B batted first! Rich Lawrence was back opening with Paddy Searing as company. Disciplined bowling from the Ascot bowlers made runs hard to come by, as Searing was all at sea against the seam movement of 1st X1 bowler Andy Murray. M & B crawled to 3 after 5 overs, with three successive maidens. From then on the openers managed to get the scoreboard moving, with Searing getting the first four, with a clip off his legs behind square. Lawrence followed suit albeit his was all run from a clip off his legs to the long clubhouse boundary through the long outfield. First change bowler Carr bowling brisk off spin kept the batsmen tied down. A better understanding by now of running between the wickets led to the scoreboard ticking over with greater regularity as ones and twos were scampered, to compensate for the scarcity of boundaries. First change bowler Wing struck in his first over as Searing was caught in the gully for 31 in the 17th over with 55 on the board. M & B's Australian Crusader, Ethan Walker, was in at three and he was able to score fluently from the off, especially with his driving, as he easily found the boundaries, mainly straight, one just creeping over the line for 6. Lawrence's stay at the crease was eventually terminated in the 26th over for 35. Hopefully he should have benefited from the time at the crease, even though he admitted his timing wasn't quite there yet. Last week's man of the match Ben Ward entered the wicket at 97 for 2 and he again played a crucial part in proceedings in building a sizeable partnership with Walker. Ward was off the mark with a square cut to the cover boundary off a high full toss. Probably due to a lack of bowling Ascot turned to slow bowler Pal, which proved crucial, as he haemorrhaged runs. Walker continued to bat sensibly but simply played the ball on it's merits, three friendly full tosses were dispatched for 6 through cow corner, square leg and widish mid-on. The first 6 nearly taking out one of the throng from the christening party. Ward got in on the act as well dispatching the poor balls to the boundary as well as surprisingly rotating the strike as well. Ward departed for 30 in the 36th over, well caught by Wing , with the score on 177, meaning a stand of 80 in 10 overs, which had taken M & B to a reasonable score with a few overs left. Walker was unable to stay to the end, departing for 76, courtesy of another well taken catch low down by Wing , in the 39th over. His innings lasted 22 overs and his 76 include 6 4's and 5 6's. A couple of late wickets fell in the last overs as M & B were unable to make the final overs count. Nonetheless 194 represented a good total from where M & B had been in the early overs. The total probably was worth more 210 with the slow outfield, skipper Armstrong from around the 10th over had said 160 -180 would be a decent total.
In reply Ambar Moorthy continued where he left off the previous Sunday by hitting a line and length immediately, beating the bat outside off stump 3 times in the first over, including one unbelievable delivery, which seemed to take off seam and burst through the startled keeper's gloves for four byes(apparently there was an error with a severe indentation in the pitch). The extra slip in the second over, prompted by Rich Lawrence, proved beneficial as Moorthy found a leading edge which floated to the aforementioned Lawrence for an easy catch at second slip. Moorthy also dismissed the no.3 Barter courtesy of a strangle down the leg side and a good catch from keeper James King. Opener Dunnett and new bat Wing then knuckled down to build a platform for Ascot against Moorthy and fellow opening bowler Gunbarul. Wing played some fine leg side strokes off Moorthy including a flick and tickle for two boundaries in one over, which slightly dented Moorthy's otherwise excellent bowling analysis of 8/2/19/2. Skipper Matt Armstrong replaced Moorthy at the Road End, where else, and was equally frugal with the run scoring opportunities. Alexander LeClerq replaced Gunbarul after 6 overs and settled into a steady spell, generally bowling a full length. LeClerq leaked a few boundaries but they were generally to straight and cover drives to over pitched deliveries. LeClerq had the last laugh though as Wing strangely played across the line and was castled to leave M & B in a strong position. LeClerq also dismissed the obdurate Dunnett with a swinging delivery which flicked the edge, off an attempted drive, to offer King a catch which was easily pouched. Although definitely on top M & B were aware of the danger of first team player Andy Murray. Le Clerq finished with steady figures of 8/0/47/2. Armstrong brought back Gunbarul for his final two deliveries, probably unfairly saving two, instead of bowling him through from the outset. A couple of consecutive friendly full peas were dismissed into the net over long off for 6 by Murray to give Ascot a launch pad. Armstrong matched Moorthy's parsimonious spell recording figures of 8/1/19/1.Armstrong was forced to split the last four overs from each end between Messrs Walker & Searing. Walker's first ball was pulled over cow for four by Murray and a beamer later in the over raised questions. Searing's first over of buffet bowling went the distance, culminating in a towering 6 over the net at long off from Murray. Genuine concern was now etched on the faces of the M & B players. Murray was greatly assisted in the counter attack by Carr at no.7, who played strongly on the drive and dispatched the poor ball. Searing thankfully found his length in the second over and was relatively economical. After Carr clipped a full toss off Walker to the square leg boundary he surprisingly swung across the line and was castled by Walker. Equally surprising was Murray's dismissal to Searing in the next over, again swinging across the line and being castled, when playing straight to the shorter River End boundary was the way to go. The relief was palpable after Murray's dismissal as the M & B bowlers finished the last two and a bit overs with considerably less pressure. Searing was denied a second wicket courtesy of a diabolical drop by Alexander LeClerq(yes full name and shame)as he proceeded to not lay a hand at gully on a looping catch travelling so so slowly. The fact he ran the man out in the end is incidental, fair play to ALC though as he did buy a jug to recognise his awful take of attempting to catch a sitter and failing ! M & B won an enjoyable game by a closer margin than had looked likely a dozen overs out.