Sunday XI v The Thames Valley Ramblers 8th September 2019
The Sunday X1 returned after a three week break to defeat their old adversaries The Thames Valley Ramblers by 101 runs. Things don’t change with skipper Armstrong winning the toss and electing to bat. M & B were fielding four players under the weather from self inflicted hangovers from the previous evenings. Ben Ward jnr advised he was okay to open despite looking like death warmed up. He therefore opened with Cam Jacobsen, making a welcome return to his original home club. Jacobsen only managed two off a poor opening over from TVR stalwart Dave Boxall, being unable to pierce the off side. Unluckily for Ward D.Singh was right on the button from ball one. Ward managed to get bat on ball for the first two but failed with the third, as his wicket was breached. In at three was tea total bar manager Brian Dixon. Despite being beaten a couple of times initially Dixon was off the mark with a cut for three off Singh as Jacobsen pierced the off side with a sweetly timed drive. Both batsmen began to rotate the strike with Jacobsen also finding the boundary and scoring regularly with forcing shots off the back foot. Dixon began to feel at home as he attempted to unfurl his trademark late cut. As always Jacobsen oozed confidence as he was either assured in defence or confident in his attacking options. Having passed fifty a big score seemed on the cards until he was castled by Boxall’s final delivery which seemed to go under Jacobsen’s forward defensive. Still 55, including 8 boundaries, in a partnership of 77 in 13 overs had put M & B ahead on points. Kieran Grey was in at his favoured position of 4 and he quickly dealt with the spin of new bowler Dhaliwal, hitting him for a couple of boundaries through widish mid on. Drinks were taken with M & B handily placed on Nelson with only two wickets down and a couple of set batsmen in. Grey was keen to hit boundaries rather than run and he hit Dhaliwal into the hedge/ road for a maximum and followed up the following ing over by hitting D Singh over mid on high into the net for another 6. Dixon hit the odd boundary but was content to get Grey back on strike. Grey duly reached his 50 as he struck Deepa Singh’s first delivery into the batting cage at cow corner. He also greeted Walker severely as well by cover driving two of his first three deliveries to the boundary. Dixon duly completed his fifty and it came as a surprise as he holed out off Walker for 57 in the 30 th over with the score on a healthy 196, his innings containing four boundaries and spanning 28 overs. The third wicket partnership garnering 117 runs in fifteen overs. By now Singh and Walker were bowling tighter lines forcing the batsmen to hit straight. Grey managed to do this but master Vaja failed as Deepa Singh bowled a consistently full length which yorked Vaja as he looked to drive. Ben Ward snr’s first ball although full was wide and enabled him to square drive the delivery to clubhouse boundary. In Singh’s next over Grey was castled as he looked to hit over mid on only to leave him standing like a golfer in his follow through, still an excellent 81 from a half cut Grey, which included two maximums and ten other boundaries. There then followed a quiet period where the batsmen (including new man Gunbarul) could only manage to score in singles as 11 runs were scored in the next four overs. What at one stage has been looking like a score in the region of 270 was beginning to look more like 240. A fielding error by the deep mid on turned Gunbarul’s driven single into a boundary as 9 was scored off the 38th over. Gunbarul smacked Deepa Singh’s final delivery over mid on for 6, meaning 11 were then scored off the 39th. Both Gunbarul and Ward hit a boundary off the last over , Ward’s being courtesy of another misfield, meaning 34 were scored off the last three to allow M & B to post 254 for 5 off their allocation and an unbroken 6th wicket partnership of 47 - Ward 24no & Gunbarul 28 no. Ward seemed determined to get a red inker to keep his Sunday average going up whilst Gunbarul’s end of season batting resurgence meant 78 undefeated runs for the weekend.
As always messrs Moorthy & Gunbarul opened up for M & B with Moorthy taking a couple of deliveries to find his range whilst Gunbarul was on the mark from ball one. Dhaliwal managed to find the boundary early with a cut off Moorthy and was keen to work the ball to leg. Smith was happy to block the good length ball and attack anything with width. Gunbarul bowling over the wicket continually troubled the left handed Smith, beating him consistently out side his off stump. Smith pounced on a wide full length delivery from Moorthy which was driven to th point boundary. Moorthy got his man though after having a confident lbw decision turned down he got one in the affirmative to send Smith on his way for 13 with 37 on the board. Gunbarul matched Moorthy shortly after by bowling new man Vishal, as he edged leg side only for the ball to ricochet off his pads onto the stumps, leaving TVR 46 for 2. Opener Dhaliwal seemed secure playing the odd pleasing drive. Gunbarul though got his wicket with a ball angled across, which Dhaliwal looked to cut to third man but only succeeded in edging to second slip where Jacobsen took a great catch above his head to leave Dhaliwal walking back to the pavilion for 32. Ambar Moorthy bowled out for one for 48 whilst partner Gunbarul recorded excellent figures of 8/2/28/2. As per Sunday tradition the spinners were deployed at both end with the old partnership of Butler & Allen back in tandem. Butler started with a tight over whilst Allen started with his normal freebie which was dispatched to the boundary. A Singh looked to slog sweep Allen to the square leg boundary but looked aghast as Grey effortlessly plucked the ball out of the air above his head to leave TVR on 97 for 4 at drinks in the 22nd over.
Drinks bought further wickets as Deepa Singh predictably tried to slog sweep Butler only to find master Vaja at cow corner, who made up for his previous drop by easily pouching the catch. S Singh took the strange decision to stand outside his crease to Allen, which meant Dixon promptly whipped the bails of as soon as he missed the ball and it was no surprise when the umpire gave him out stumped. Brown was tempted by Butler’s back of the hand flighted delivery and was bowled going for a big hit over the top. At 112 for 8 the game was over and it was just a side issue as to whether D Singh would get his 50. Allen decided to bowl continual leg spin which got skipper Armstrong’s back up, whereupon Allen reverted back to offspin and was lofted into the net for six , which brought up Singh’s fifty. A half tracker was driven through extra cover whereupon the previously asleep Ward jnr woke from his slumber to pull off a brilliant catch as he dived across to pluck the ball out of the air, a fine catch from a fine fielder. Singh departed for a well made 59. The spinners both feasted on the middle and lower order as Butler finished with figures of 8/2/22/2 and Allen 8/1/38/3. Davinder swung successfully in Jacobsen’s lone over and it was left to Armstrong to snaffle the last wicket as Boxall went for a drive only to edge through to keeper Dixon to leave TVR 153 for 9 in 34.4 and all out as they were only fielding 10. A hundred run win over TVR made up for the comprehensive defeat the previous year by 8 wickets and only the intervention of rain prevented a defeat a year earlier.