A week is a long time in politics and it certainly was for the M & B Sunday X1, which bounced back from a 10 wicket drubbing the week before to chase down a daunting 255 for the loss of only two wickets, courtesy of a stupendous innings from Nottingham University student, Raoul Cheema.
Playing a new nomads team, A Few Good Men, skipper Armstrong lost the toss again but this week was not given a reprieve and was condemned to 40 overs hard labour in the scorching summer sun. Early in roads were made by opening bowlers Jack Kelly and Arul Appavvo. Kelly impressed again having taken five wickets on his debut on Saturday. He continually beat the bat with movement away and bounce. Sheen gave the opposition a base with an aggressive 45 before senior spinner Chris A Butler snared him courtesy of a catch from George Parsons. The opposition though continued to build solidly and through Aldous and Metcalfe they sensibly accumulated and hit the bad balls for four, as well as benefiting from M & B 's poor fielding. Butler again bowled well showing the virtue of having a reliable spinner in these hot conditions and dusty tracks. Butler bowled through from the Road End to record the excellent figures of 8/1/31/3. Opening bowler Kelly returned to finish off his spell with another wicket to finish with figures of 8/0/20/2. The end of the opposition's innings was built around Metcalfe, who played sensibly and teed off in the final overs to fall just short of a deserved century on 93no, M & B's fifth bowler was punished, as a combination of three bowlers leaked 80 runs in 8 overs. In the end 255 was probably 20 more than M & B should have allowed courtesy of poor fielding again, which for a change included skipper Armstrong's dropped catch off Metcalfe in the penultimate over.
Although 255 in 40 overs looked daunting, with the lightening outfield and boiling conditions it was only about 30 over the par score of around 225, and certainly within M & B's compass, provided they got off to a good start and one batsmen batted through. Having not achieved these aims in the two previous weeks the M & B batsmen finally clicked. Cheema and Will Cunliffe posted 71 in 11 overs before Cunliffe was unfortunately run out courtesy of an excellent stop and direct hit from the opposition fielder. Cheema scored the bulk of the runs, as he would throughout the innings with Cunliffe contributing 18.
Cheema having toiled in the summer sun whilst fielding was determined to make up for his first over dismissal the day before as he was quick to punish the bad ball but showed a tight defensive technique to the good ball. Luckily for M & B the opposition bowlers served up a lot of bad balls, quite a few of which were full tosses. Cheema despatched the bad ball with disdain, effortlessly placing the full tosses to the boundary. What was very noticeable was how Cheema adapted to the lower bounce from the Road End, as he appeared to get down and apparently sweep pull a number of short pitched balls to the boundary.
The centurion from the day before, George Parsons, also contributed 18 as the second wicket partnership posted 56 in 12 overs to keep up the momentum. At the fall of the second wicket 129 were required in 17 overs, at a shade over 7.5 per over, but crucially Cheema was set and focused. New bat Cas Butt played himself in early on and relied on Cheema to score the bulk of the runs and run hard to get Cheema back on strike. Cheema reached his main personal goal of hundred and from then on was determined to see M & B through to their target. It was fitting that Cheema should score the winning runs from the first ball of the last over to finish on a career best 169no in an almost chanceless innings the only glimmer being an edge through the slips. In the end Cheema used his feet to get down the wicket to the slow bowlers and hit over the top or through the covers. He also played number of well executed cut strokes from the River End, where the balled seemed to bounce more. Throughout his innings Cheema's timing was amazing applied to the lightening outfield. In the end Cheema finished with 26 4's but his 23 2'2 were almost important, as they showed his ability to place the ball and retain the strike. In the end Cheema scored 69% of the total runs scored, excluding extras to show his domination of the opposition bowlers and his own fellow batsmen. In the end Butt managed to finish on 38no and feature in an unbroken third wicket stand of 129. Skipper Armstrong will have to curb his enthusiasm as his continual shouting kept groundsman Charlie awake through the crucial closing run chase and in the end offended a few people! Certainly shouting three strikes and your out was not an appropriate call but the majority of the shouting was to cajole the batsmen in to running hard and rotating the strike. Having featured in so few victories Armstrong showed his commitment and passion for the Sunday cause but will definitely need to tone down his shouting in the remaining Sunday games!
M&B inflicted a 9wicket defeat against the Royal Challengers on Sunday…
Mat Armstrong - Jun 28, 2018
About Maidenhead & Bray Cricket Club
The Cricket Club is situated in the beautiful village of Bray, Berkshire, on the banks of the Thames, overlooked by the Church of St Michael. The main ground is widely acknowledged as one of the most picturesque in the country.
Est. in 1798 and a member of the Morrant Thames Valley League, with three senior teams and a thriving colts section both boys and girls
Address: The Pavilion, The High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 2AA
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