Another Saturday, another dodgy forecast, another important toss. As the 3's arrived at Kentisbeare in light rain, the wicket was used, very grassy, but surprisingly firm given the torrential rain of Thursday. Given the prediction of rain from around 5pm, the skipper felt that the best chance may be to insert the hosts, knock them over, and then go hard at the target.
Most important part of the plan was to win the toss - for the first time this season the skipper called it wrong and feared the worst - being asked to bat. Surprisingly, the Kentisbeare captain said nothing "if it helps, we were planning to bowl" offered Reddick, to which he replied "yeah, we'll have a bat". What a result!
Thanks to a surprising decision, we had got what we were hoping for - a chance to take the 10 wickets as soon as we could. Kentisbeare had the formidable pairing of Gary Farley and Richard Norman in their ranks, and both were more than capable of holding up our plans. Reddick chose to open the bowling with 16 year old Jacob Carah (making his first appearance of the season for the 3's) and 14 year old Dom Gaywood (making his 3's debut). Both started well, Dom opening with a nerveless maiden, but the pitch looked likely to behave and not offer maybe as much variable bounce or movement as the skipper had hoped for. Not to worry, bowl at the stumps and 'make 'em play' was the message.
Jacob struck in the 5th over, claiming young opener Bourne, very well caught by Joel Heatley (first of two catches well taken by Joel) in the Gulley off of a flashing edge. That bought Norman in to join Farley at 14 for 1, and this was the partnership we needed to break. Jacob and Dom plugged away for there allowed 7 and 5 over spell respectively, but without further success. Jit Singh replaced Dom, and Naj came on at the road end to see if spin could be the answer. Farley and Norman continued to punish any width, and the three very short boundaries meant that if the ball found a gap - it went for four. Despite the occasional boundary, the scoreboard never ran away from us, but if we were to take maximum bowling points, Farley and Norman had to go! To make matters worse, we decided to start shelling catches - our usually impeccable catching seemed to desert us as a series of chances hit the deck.
The pair had added exactly 100 before Naj got Farley (45) driving, and off the outside half of the bat, the ball flew to the reliable hands of Boz (senior) at point - one end open? Smith joined Norman and defended resolutely, but was happy to put the bat through the line at any wayward delivery. The old adage of 'one brings two' was proved as two runs later Jim Wenley, replacing Jit at the Hedge End, and had Norman trapped LBW for 56. 116 for 3 - still a lot of work to do to max out the bowling points!
Jim's formidable swing bowling was proving difficult for Kentisbeare to deal with, and despite having several very good LBW decisions turned down, Jim stuck to his task. Naj plugged away at the other end, bowling 10 tight overs claiming 1 for 29, but not getting the results he desreved. Jim kept going, and despite suffering a pulled six off of the top edge to the very short boundary, returned figures of 2 for 31 from his 8 overs. For those that don't know the Kentisbeare pitch, 280 is about par given the small boundaries, and our bowlers were keeping things tight, but changes were needed if we were to finish them off.
Naj was replaced by the returning Brian Bosomworth, and after several weeks out with a foot injury, Boz and the skipper thought it might be time to test the foot! Boz struck in his second over, reducing Kentisbeare to 128 for 5, still 5 to get with only 10 overs or so to go. Boz bowled a tight 4 overs, claiming 1 for 12, and not wishing to aggravate the foot, Boz was replaced by Jit for the final two overs from the road end. Dom Gaywood came back for the final two at the Hedge End and the pair claimed 4 wickets between them, Jit finishing with 2 for 45 from 10, and Dom with a very creditable 2 for 23 from 7 on his debut. The late flurry of wickets saw Kentisbeare finish on 173 for 9, our first failure to take 10 wickets this season, although we only had ourselves to blame, dropping 6 catches between us.
After tea, with the hills slowly disappearing in the distance, Lucian Cawthron and 3's debutant Dion Bulner strode out to start the chase. Dion had acquitted himself well behind the stumps, conceding no byes, and now we needed him to get us off to a good start. The pair were watchful early on against some accurate bowling from Richard Norman and K's skipper Tom Wilkinson.
As forecast, at around 5.30pm, the rain began to fall. It wasn't heavy, so we all carried on regardless. Having added 21 runs, Lucian was bowled by a good in-swinger from Norman for 9. This bought last week's match winner Sinth Theveraj to the crease. Dion was looking comfortable against the bowling, and as his confidence grew, so did the number of expansive shots. Progress was steady and the rain even abated for a while. Dion tucked in to some wayward bowling as the K's opening pair tired, and the boundary count increased, as did Dion's score.
Sinth wasn't timing it, but he was rotating the strike and giving as much to Dion as possible, who bought up his 50 with a six. 15 overs in, 71 for 1, still a little over 100 needed and the rain began to fall again. At drinks (23 overs) we were 120 for 1, with Dion and Sinth really pushing on to beat both Kentisbeare and the oncoming heavy rain.
During drinks the rain was getting heavier. Sportingly, K's Skipper Tom confirmed that they were happy to stay out and carry on, but we didn't have a lot of time to get those final 54 runs. Kentisbeare had limited bowling options and this was our big chance to finish it. Dion showed no mercy against the young under 15's who were bought on to bowl, taking 16 in one over and 20 in another. This took us to over the line, finishing 176 for 1 in 28 overs, scoring 105 runs in the last 13 overs, with Sinth recording another 'not out' on 25.
Dion also bought his 100 up with a six, and finished with a faultless 114 not out, hitting 17 fours and 5 sixes. An awesome innings from Dion giving us fantastic win claiming 19 points on what could of been a difficult day. Full credit to Kentisbeare for allowing the game to finish in was becoming steady rain by the end.
The result was made all the better by the news that Feniton had lost to Axminster, which means that after 8 games we are 35 points clear at the top of the league. A victory against Feniton next week could see us 50 points clear half way through the season.
7 wins out of 7 (one game rained off) and only 5 points dropped so far. If we can keep it up, promotion should be secured with games to spare. Another strong team performance from all concerned, and a dry week should set things up nicely for the big game at Bicton against Feniton - fingers crossed!!