After four successive washouts the 3rd XI were keen to get their season finally underway against opponents Worcester Park.  New skipper Matt Lock was able to name a strong looking side and injected some fresh blood into a team that came so close to honours last season. Nick Tune carrying two separate injuries (whiplash / hangover) was a doubt and Eddington was also feeling the effects of a big night out. Perfect preparation for the first game of the season then.

The day got worse new skippering partnership of Lock & Tune who lost the toss and it was no surprise that we were duly inserted on what looked a sticky wicket. The new opening partnership of Bhade and Eddington got us off to a solid start, with both openers playing themselves in and making sure they saw the new ball off in difficult conditions.

With Malcolm falling for 10 Bhade continued to keep the scoreboard ticking and was well supported by Sharpless (21), Horlock (30) and Parthasarathy (18). Horlock and Sharpless in particular looked in good form and played some confident strokes. With the innings set up for a crash bang wallop finish big hitters Hussein & Jones were promoted in front of Lock & Tune to inject some life into the innings and get us close to 200. Jones fell cheaply but Hussein fired a credible 20 runs.

With only balls remaining the Lock / Tune combination edged the 3XI to 189-7 off 49.5 overs. A really good score on a slow wicket and even slower outfield, if we could bowl well it would be a tricky score to chase down.

The tea was superb, food critic Horlock was quoted as saying “very healthy portions of cheese in their sandwiches.” So a thumbs up for the tea lady.

Opening up the bowling was Amir Hussein who struggled a little to get the ball to move about, however Jack Allen had no such struggles bowling superbly. Allens spell was quick, controlled and included his customary wild all arms and legs approach to the crease.

Allen had the Worcester opener plumb LBW for this first wicket before Nick Tune rolled back the years to run out another after a mix up between the wickets. Allen had his second victim shortly after when the Worcester number 4 was a “tad” late on yet another full and straight delivery. Number 5 didn’t last too much longer, leaving a gap the size of a London bus between bat and pad and Allen soon ripped his middle stump out of the ground.

During Allen's frenetic spell Jonesy was methodical and consistent, he was soon rewarded when the Worcester batsmen nicked off only for Horlock to parry the ball into the now comatose Eddington. The ball then looped up for Horlock to correct his initial daft mistake – chaos then ensued.

Jones had his second not long after, a powerful cut shot looked destined for the boundary – that until Mandar stuck his paw out and plucked the ball out of thin air. Wild celebrations later Woking & Horsell were well on their way to a big win. With Allen now suffering from a stitch (knackered) Mandar was introduced and his first wicket with the very first ball – LBW.

From the other end however Woking & Horsell were receiving some tap from Worcester Park’s impressive opening batsman, already on 50 he looked to be the prize wicket. Stephen Jones still thundering in had his prize when a delivery nipped away from the opener, a small nick saw the ever reliable (!) Horlock snaffle the chance.

A lull in proceedings then took hold until Sharpless was brought on to bowl some tweakers, he rounded up an impressive debut with a wicket – LBW. Mandar then rounded everything up when the Worcester Park number 10 got a leading edge which Ramesh made no mistake.

Overall a very pleasing display from the 3XI, an almost perfect display! A few hiccups in the field but apart from that everyone made a big contribution. We now return home and look to push on and get ourselves in a position to be “in the mix” at the business end of the season.

Man of the match : Vaibhav Bhade – a fine knock

Captains Mention: Jack Allen – great pace and got us off to a great start.

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