Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Football, it is often said, is a game of two halves. Well tonight we went one better, conjuring up a cricket match that was a game of three thirds.
The first third of the game - the first 10 8-ball overs of our innings - were bathed in a golden glow, both literally and metaphorically. Openers James Robinson (28 off 34 balls, with 4 fours) and Kanwar Singh (43* off 24 balls, with 6 fours and a six) combined beautifully with a plentiful supply of wides and no balls (32 off 13 balls) to have us cruising at 112/1 affter 11 overs. Form batter Cam Petrie (13 off 13 balls) looked set to take us to 160-odd, only to call for a crazy single . . .
. . . that meant he got to experience the start of the mid-period of the match watching alongside the rest of us in the pavilion. In the final three overs of our innings there was only one scoring shot that was more than a single - an absolutely delightful leg glance off the returning opening bowler by Nick Johnson (8 off 11 balls) - and our final total of 142/4 somehow didn't feel enough.
This sense was rapidly confirmed when UCLES's "stand and deliver" opener N. Griggs stood and delivered. It wasn't all one-way traffic - Daniel Mortlock (1/11) kept him quiet after his first-up loosener was effortlessly dispatched to the boundary, and Faruk "Farooq" Kara will go to his grave convinced he had him LBW not once but twice - but we kept serving up half-trackers that he happily pulled to - or, mostly, over - the high netting on the far side of the ground. Several match reports from last season made much of the canny experience of the veteran members of our bowling attack, particularly in the late-season race to top the averages, but today was an unwelcome inversion: Paul Jordan took three overs to concede 41 wicketless runs; Faruk outdid him by taking just two. With UCLES's total 60/1 after 5 overs our apparently challenging target had been reduced to a run a ball . . .
. . . but after Griggs's retirement (no more consequential than Kanwar's earlier) the two teams suddenly found themselves in a pretty even battle - the only problem for us was that UCLES definitely came into this final stanza of the game ahead on points. We at least finally found a pair of bowlers to trouble the batters at both ends simultaneously: John Moore (2/18) bamboozled all-comers with one of his best-ever spells; and Vishal Bole (2/25) was comparably dominant when he was able to stick to his intended off-stump line. Equally important, we backed our bowlers up with some great and brave fielding: Cam Petrie was peppered at mid-off, sacrificing his kneecap for the cause; James Robinson simultaneously attempted a forward-diving catch while preventing what might be termed a hard-ball/soft-ball collision; Daniel entertained with some unnecessary juggling in completing what should have been a simple catch off John's bowling; wicket-keeper Neil Grover was much more "job done" in holding an edge off Vishal; and Andy Bell ignored his injured knee to make some surprisingly sharp stops close in. If we'd been trying to stay in the game then John and Vishal's efforts would probably have been enough; the problem was we were trying to get back into the game, and there was just too much to do. In the end we didn't even get to the final over.