Our early look at the pitch had led Smithy to declare "don't worry, it plays better than it looks". The outfield grass was long and the boundary markers seemed very small away in the distance.
Captain Matt returned to the dressing room and told the troops we were batting first. The early overs suggested that Smithy was being kind to the local groundsman. On a windy day, the wicket was giving any bowler who pitched it up a lot of help. Conor batted very well again and after seeing off two partners, Billy who went very quickly (only thing he does quickly is get out) and Jamie who looked steady before holing out to a full toss, Conor and Albert started to repeat last week's performance. Conor was looking well set and had just hit a big 6 when he went for a wide one. There was a noise and the Australian umpire had no hesitation in deciding it had hit the bat. Conor gave a good impersonation of a grumpy Scotsman as he stormed off the field, but he can be pleased with his 31 runs on a tough wicket. Ferrari announced his arrival at the crease with a glorious cover drive. This really got the large crowd excited and the buzz was clear - he's back! Yes he was back - back in the pavilion next ball when he edged one to slip! Once again Usman joined Albie and runs came at a pace. Communication seemed better this week and we suspect they actually understood each other. Uzi looked comfortable, but on 14 he mistimed a full toss and joined the long list of W&H batsmen who were caught. The Skipper then joined the fun and bashed an excellent 29 before holing out in the deep. Albie ran out of steam, top scoring with 38 before he too mistimed one and was caught. Peter Allan and Hamza baffled the opposition, their own team, the large crowd and probably themselves by only taking 2 runs of the last 2 overs. Captain Matt called them off with the score at 153 for 7.
Tea was excellent - it was enjoyed by all, especially the local dog which enjoyed the sandwiches it took off the young Smiths' plate!
There were only two Zafars playing this week and Captain Matt decided to generate some family rivalry by having them open the bowling. Usman pulled rank and bowled down the hill, starting with a maiden. One of the Crondall openers looked dangerous until Usman bowled him in his second over. Hamza then joined in, producing a sharp delivery which left the batsman and Crondall were on 14 for 2. The Skipper bowled some of his usual legside rubbish and the score was kept under control by some excellent keeping by his dad. Cheers went up when Matt tossed the ball to Jerry - most of these were from the Crondall players, but they were quickly silenced as they found out that looks can be deceptive. When Smithy entered the attack and Jerry switched ends it was the signal for Jerry to take 2 wickets, ending with a haul of 2 for 20 off 6 overs.
Crondall were still well in the game and their 6th wicket partnership was looking dangerous. Chants of "Albert, Albert" were heard around the ground. Albert duly obliged and bought those who were doing the chanting a pint later in the pub. Hamza dropped a sitter off Conor, who bowled 3 nice overs of leg spin, and things looked ominous. Then the two elderly batsmen tried to take two to Conor whose return was accurate and Peter did the rest. Matt and Albert each took a wicket but Crondall held on for a draw. Of the bowlers, Hamza took 2 for 17, Usman 1 for 16, Jerry 2 for 20 Matt 1 for 11, Albert 1 for 20, conor 0 for 10 and Smithy 0 for 21. In the field Smithy looked very good - diving to attempt catches as he stood close in. The dives were good and occasionally were in the right direction.
Thanks again to Erica who braved the cold to keep score.
An enjoyable game and probably a fair result. The Skipper then changed decades of tradition by suggesting a net before next week's game against Weybridge - is he trying to tell us something?
Highlight of the game - the pub afterwards, Conor's batting, bowling and fielding or Connie (Erica's dog) chewing through her lead - take your pick.