Sunday 26 July 2020 (at Bentworth)
After a successful season opener against the White Hunters, the Racqueteers ramped up the match program with a Sunday outing against the distinctly useful Vagabonds. The Bentworth ground is an annual delight, including the traditional drive over the pitch to the clubhouse parking, and surrounded by fields, trees, wandering animals and great views. Our match from last year had resulted in a heavy defeat by 10 wickets, with one of their batsmen on heavy-hitting fire and frequently finding the corn field over the road with hefty blows.
The Racqueteers batted first, and we were immediately tied down against a strong bowling attack. Edmund strained a quad muscle with his first run and limped through the next few overs. The pressure told and wickets started to fall. Mike C, Edmund and Mike F fell cheaply. No matter, Paddy came in and smote a mighty four. For once, though, even he couldn’t turn on the magic and was bowled a couple of balls later. This left us at 15-4 after 9 overs. Jack stabilised the ship, but when Gaurav went for one, leaving a ball that mysteriously nicked leg stump, we were in trouble at 29-5 and potentially staring at an innings well short of 100. However, Jack dug in and built a great innings of 42, including seven fours, well supported by Tom W with 10 and then Tom T. When Jack was finally out (caught), we were 98 for 7. Tom T had carefully played himself in and gradually opened up, hitting some nice fours and ending up second top scorer on 17 not out. The innings was timed and Angus came on for the last couple of overs, playing a great cameo by hitting three fours from the final three balls, leaving us with a respectable 138-9 against a strong bowling and fielding side.
Angus and Lawrence opened the bowling and after nine went from the first over, it was clear we needed wickets. One duly arrived in the next over, with a great pickup by Jack – after the ball had seemed to go past him – and a throw to Lawrence who took the bails off. Their opener grumbled but it was clearly out. The first ten overs were a fairly even battle with Angus and Lawrence restricting them to five an over, despite the occasional four or six. When Lawrence took the second opener in his final over with a good catch by Jack, the match was very much on at 53-2. However, it was not to be. Their captain and number three, Boote, pushed on with a big-hitting 66, including 7 fours and 4 sixes. Lawrence had earlier had a difficult caught and bowled chance against him, as did Guy, but otherwise chances were limited and despite dedicated fielding, the opposition had reached 114 by the time the next wicket fell, when Jack bowled Boote with an excellent ball. Guy, Tom T, Paddy and Jack bowled reasonably economically but were unable to stem the tide, with their number four also hitting strongly, including eight fours. The Vagabonds reached their target in the 23rd over, but the Racqueteers could reflect on an improved performance against a team who win most of their matches (and wear blazers), and a pleasant beer in the late afternoon sunshine.
Vagabonds beat The Racqueteers by 7 wickets
Racqueteers: 138 for 9 off 36 overs
Vagabonds: 142 for 3 off 22.2 overs