WHCC - 88 AO
by Ed Smith
Although we were missing several of our regular players, the side selected was strong including two new members making their Brewery Rd debuts.
The pitch, having it's second outing (used in the abandoned match against Sutton), had greened up since cutting the day before, especially the low patch in the middle. It was not clear as to whether it had been rolled.
Overnight rain had left it very damp. Losing the toss and being inserted though not ideal, was seen at the time as possibly to our advantage.
So far this season, the square has behaved itself at 2nd XI level. The pitch in question did offer a great deal of seam against Sutton and wasn't on that occasion dangerous, even when it got a thorough drenching.
On Saturday though, the first ball of the match from Walton's skipper Blair shocked everyone, not least Mark Surridge. Pitching a fraction short of a length, body line, the ball reared and crossed Surridge's chest taking the glove to be caught in the cordon. Elbow guard was requested by Smith.
Ed Smith & first drop Toby Aldred survived the next couple of overs, taking tight singles before Aldred got another shocker from Blair on glove to be caught. 7-2! Blair was going to be a tough customer, particularly for left handers with the body line cutter, rearing and crossing the bat at a brisk pace.
Right hander Staples on debut showed good application and technique during the inning's best partnership of 22 with Smith. Staples also took a heavy blow on the bottom hand from Blair.
The partnership continued on, batsmen giving little away and by the 11th over feeling comfortable with the score havingmoved on to 27-2.
Staples then departed for 10 adjudged LBW attempting to work the ball to mid wicket. The 3rd wicket breathed life back into Blair just when we didn't need it. Blair continued to exploit the tennis ball bounce against Smith to the point where he just had to go. Smith charged putting the last ball of Blair's 7th over into the trees. Using feet and attacking anything over-pitched appeared to our best chance of setting a total.
Peter Day at the other end joined in by putting the other opener over the tractor shed. Day facing his first over from Blair soon followed his leg cutter edging to the keeper. Andy Mouzoures, making his home debut soon settled after being put under pressure by Smith to make the singles.
Mouzoures opened his account with a six into the trees at long on at the Brewery Rd end. Again a promising partnership was snuffed out when Smith was adjudged LBW to Blair, a bowler who had up to this point been struggling to keep anything short of a length from bouncing above head height, never mind hitting the stumps! The Umpire having contributed a number of no-balls to our total on such occasions.
Only Mouzoures managed to deny Walton his wicket, picked his shots well and compiled a patient 25 not out. Unfortunately nobody in the tail was able to help him put together a decent partnership, most falling to the left arm spin of the other Blair.
Woking struck back restricting Walton to 34-3 before tea. Ambrose was unlucky not to have bagged the first wicket when a leading edge flew up landing short of cover. To turn a game like this, we needed to throw ourselves at chances like this.
Ambrose was soon rewarded with an edge to Faulkner and Surridge taking 2 had Walton's left handed top order in all sorts of trouble at the end Blair had enjoyed his success.
Mark also had problems controlling the excessive bounce putting several balls clear over the batsmen's heads. Fortunately, the umpire at that end had long ago given up no-balling these deliveries.
After tea, bowling support at the other end wilted as the surviving Walton batsmen decided to attack. They didn't have it all their own way giving chances off Surridge and then Johnson. Skipper Faulkner was outstanding, especially whilst standing up to Surridge and Johnson.
Woking & Horsell 88 all out, Smith 21, Mouzoures 25*, I Blair 5-35,
In the final analysis, the pitch and the toss were main factors influencing the outcome of this match. Surridge for one could not be expected to anticipate that a quick ball short of a length would come through at shoulder height. Most of the side tried to overcome the condition of the wicket but most got out to the first horror ball they saw.
Others simply failed to apply themselves to the big job of trying to set a total to bowl at.
In the end, we simply didn't take our chances with 5 going to ground.
Staples and Mouzoures (the former sustaining a hand injury, and the latter a bruised forearm), both new members to our club and decent batsmen. We can only hope they have the chance to enjoy better batting conditions and will not be too disillusioned by what they experienced on Saturday.