The scene was set perfectly - the visitors were from a Surrey village (Shalford) and the sun was beating down. April? it looked more like mid-summer. A day to win the toss, bat first, score well over 200, let the opposition sweat in the field, have an excellent tea, get them out for less than 150 and down a few pints of Pride.
Things started to go off plan when a sheepish Captain announced we were fielding - jokes flew round the dressing room about changing captains so we can win the toss - the Captain looked even more sheepish!
Young - check last year's reports for the rationale to this one - Albert opened up with the first over of a new season. This is a first for Albie. In his long career he has never bowled the first over of a season before. A tidy first over was followed by an over from the Skipper. Then Albie struck and sent two Shalford batsmen packing in the 3rd over of the day. Maybe fielding first was not so bad after all. Then Shalford woke up. The opener and number 4 struck balls to all parts of the ground and beyond. A quite superb partnership of 193 for the 3rd wicket. W&H joined in the fun by letting lots of runs through and dropping them both quite a few times. The best drop was down to one of our better fielders, Salam, who decided to dive at a ball which was coming straight at him. The result was one unhappy elder brother and a couple of extra runs. Smithy, Uzi, Matt and Angus all toiled away without success and with very little support from their fielders. It was left to Hamza to break the partnership. Having bowled pretty well he decided to bowl some rubbish. The number 4 mistimed it and Salam held a difficult catch. A well deserved 95 with a lot of them coming off Smithy!
The opener completed his ton and Albie came back on to take another wicket before the declaration at a handsome 248 for 4. The highlight was undoubtedly Kevin Huckey's great 121 not out from 138 balls. The reporter has been asked (ordered may be a better word) to add that he (Billy) dropped an absolute sitter at mid-wicket off Smithy. All true - my excuse could be any one from bad eyesight, sore knee, having been in the field first on such a lovely day for batting, or the fact that I suspected there would be no beer. It was a real sitter though!
At least the tea was on plan and then, well fed and having supped a cuppa, we went in to bat.
Salam and Conor started very well. Both looked in good touch against a fair bowling attack. The Sunday heckler was getting into good voice and after sledging the opening bowler he turned his attention to Salam. "He's getting bored" was the cry. Until this point, Sal had looked in great form, but the heckler was proven correct when Sal gave up an easy catch. Billy came and went cheaply and young Albert joined Conor at the crease. Albie top scored with a hearty and tiring 45. Whilst he and Zafar No 1 (Usman) were in, the unlikely prospect of a W&H victory was still very much alive. A mix up - one shouting in Urdu and the other in true British Rail tannoy style - brought an end to a promising partnership when Uzi was run out for 28. Matt joined in with a quick fire 19, but when he went so did the chance of a famous victory. In the end it was left to some stout rearguard action from Angus, Smithy and Hamza to see out the draw. Hamza's batting looked very solid and he was never troubled seeing off a strong Shalford attack who were pressing for the final wicket. This was despite his brother giving a front foot no-ball in the last over - only Salam would prolong the nervous tension in this way. W&H finished on a creditable 204 for 9.
The second pint was being poured when the tears started, brought on by the horrible frothy sound of an empty barrel and the worse sound of someone saying that it was the last one. There was lager and cider, but it is not quite the same.
A very creditable draw for W&H against a strong Shalford team. The Zafar 3 all contributed well and were well supported by the batting of Conor and Matt, the keeping of Peter, the enthusiam of Ferrari, the leg spin of Smithy and Angus (one of them spins it enough for both of them) and the moaning of Billy. Man of the Match for W&H was a difficult call - Albert who took 3 for 43 off 10 overs and scored 45 runs or Charlie for a great first day pitch which saw 850 runs scored over the weekend.
A big thankyou also goes to Erica for scoring the match.