On a swelteringly hot afternoon in Horsell, the returning Captain Matt did the crucial thing and called correctly giving W&H the opportunity to bat first against Shepperton. With the pressure of the wicket taking competition really starting to tell on Jerry he dropped out at the last minute to be replaced by Henry, our overseas star.
Three overs later Henry was back in the pavilion, muttering about retirement, probably not helped by Charlie’s frequent references to the pitch being another road. Meanwhile Sunday debutant Tim Ming was showing just why he is so highly rated with a string of lovely shots and competent defence. At the other end Ferrari batted as only he can, much to the frustration of the slip cordon and amusement of his team mates. When Tim fell to a good catch for a well made 29, shortly followed by Ferrari, a score of 55-3 looked ominous. However Billy continued his rich vein of form, announcing himself with some typical lusty blows and in combination with the steady Albert the score moved past 100. When Albert fell, Gribbler came to the crease determined to make the most of the one extra game his schedule had allowed. With the assistance of some dropped catches he put on 50 with Billy who by now had passed a well deserved half century and was looking well set. It was a surprise to all when Billy played one shot too many and was caught for an excellent 75, including 64 in boundaries. The old adage of “punish the rubbish” was never truer and Henry’s grumbles about where were his half volleys fell on deaf ears. Sunday cricket can be a great leveller! When Gribbler fell for 25, Uzi joined Matt in one of the most entertaining partnerships of the season as they added 46 in just over four overs. With Uzi pushing Matt to the physical limits a three was run without the ball even leaving the square causing Charlie to comment “that’s how cricket should be played”. Not sure he would have said the same had he been bowling! The declaration came at 211-6 off 40 overs.
A quiet tea followed as the heat played its part. After his exertions with Uzi, Matt handed over new ball duties to Henry and John Hargan. Despite a number of play and misses the score moved past 50 without loss, not helped by another shocking drop from the returning vice captain off John. Rumours that this was all part of his master plan to ensure the maximum number of wickets were available when he came on to bowl have been wildly exaggerated. However when Smithy did come on it only took three balls to remove the same player he had previously dropped, this time caught by John. A fine, but unrewarded spell of bowling from Matt was followed by a less successful spell from Uzi at which point in an effort to slow things down Matt turned to Albert to do his best impression of Jerry. By now Lloyd had turned up to watch and was positively licking his lips at the possibility of a return to the fold next week. Albert’s spell proved inspired as he “ripped” the heart out of the middle order, aided by a simply stunning slip catch from Billy who just could not get out of the way of a flying edge. With Peter proving inspired behind the stumps, 116-1 rapidly became 147-6 as Smithy and Albert picked up three wickets apiece. A fine game got better as Shepperton’s number eight joined the not out opening bat who was well on his way to three figures. Matt returned to replace Albert as the overs started to tick away and crucially took the wicket of the opener for a fine 96, well caught by Albert. With the score 193-7 the largest crowd of the season had a close finish on the cards. Smithy was replaced by Henry but still the final wickets would not come as Shepperton continued to look for the win. Once again it was Captain Matt who made the breakthrough as he removed the number eight for an aggressive 30. With four overs to go and two wickets required Matt turned to John to finish the job. He did not disappoint as he bowled superbly, both full and straight, to bowl the final two batsmen and give W&H the win by a mere 11 runs with 9 balls remaining.
An excellent game of cricket all round and a fine team performance. Credit also to Shepperton for continuing to push for the win and making for such a good finish.
As thoughts turn to Old Ashfordians next week, Smithy leads Jerry by three wickets, although Matt is catching fast. Billy will look to continue his fine form and is probably the leading run scorer in the club now. Farewell to Gribbler too for another year, he will be missed, not least by Smithy whose bowling has not always pleased the ex-skipper whose hands were stung on two occasions by some short leg side rubbish. The return of Lloyd is eagerly anticipated, as is the hoped for return of Jerry. Surely the pressure is not too much already?! And the biggest question for next week is can Uzi and Matt actually run four without the ball leaving the square?!
The season is indeed hotting up ...