Thursday, July 5th, 2022
Our home ground may not have the classic English village setting, but it must be one of the lovelier town cricket pitches in England, all the same. So it would be churlish to mention the eccentric painting of the bowling crease that greeted us on arrival, or the mown grass lying heavily on the outfield. Or indeed the 90s dance anthems pounding out at the fitness boot camp on the other side of the poplars. The atmosphere, while the music lasted anyway, was more Balearic than bucolic.
We lost the toss and were put in the field. Not that there’s anything to fear from that, as England supporters have discovered in recent weeks. Knowle Village came out fighting, though, and finding those remarkably distant boundaries: the Doc’s second ball was hit for 6. Once Knowle’s opening bat had retired, though, we managed to contain their stroke-play fairly well. The Talks brothers bowled with focus and penetration, ending with figures of 1 for 19 (Tom ‘Ted’) and 2 for 21 (Harry). Mike F took one (for 13), and Aussie Stu two (also for 13) – one each for his wife and daughter, who were watching, though he reckoned they didn’t notice). Tom Lamb collected two tail-enders, both bowled, and if those balls were a touch fuller than a classic yorker then who was complaining? Most notable, though, were Miguel’s first catch for the Racqueteers (¡bien jugado, amigo!) and a phenomenally good take by G, diving for a high one flying away down the leg side with one outstretched glove.
Knowle finished on 124 for 8 off their 20 overs. Our run chase was on. It proved challenging. Perhaps the boundary had expanded since Knowle’s innings; combined with the lowering sun in the west, on the Hyde side, this made running between the wickets quite demanding. Knowle set a canny field, too, and employed some defensive bowling down the leg side. Guy Shepherd (5) and the Skipper (5) lost their wickets unusually quickly, for them, but some attacking stroke-play from Nathan (27 not out) and Stu (21) got things back on track, and after 10 overs we were 60 for 3 – almost halfway there. The Bard (11) and G (7) contributed a few more runs, but we couldn’t quite sustain the necessary rate, and ended with 109 for 8. Not quite Bazball, but respectable. And everything looked better, even that wobbly bowling crease, after a pint and a sausage in the ever-welcoming Alfie.
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