Saturday afternoon, sun out, warm, whats with this weather? - what had happened to the seasonal downpours?! As we arrived at Uplyme on an unusually nice afternoon, the photo on the notice board showed the ground 3 feet under water only two weeks ago. Astute visiting Captain Reddick deduced there may be moisture in the pitch! A good toss to win.
Toss duly won (about the only thing the skipper is good for these days), Uplyme inserted. Boz (senior) opened from the pavilion end and bowled with his usual accuracy. Pitch behaving! No sign of any unusual bounce, seeming a bit, but not massive swing. Had the skipper goofed? Ever reliable James Vanstone opened from the far end and yielded only 3 runs from his first 3 overs - 2 of those were wides. The pair continued to bowl well and despite Boz bowling opener Perry off of what was called a no-ball (very late), and having some very good LBW shouts turned down, the pair kept it tight and gave little away.
Brian struck in the 13th over, having opener Perry caught one handed by Alex Reddick, employing his left 'go-go gadget arm' as his long reach took a sharp catch close in. 35 for 1, run rate slow on what was a surprisingly quick outfield. Anything in the air plugged, but if it was struck firm and low it found the ropes.
1 down, 9 to go. James had bowled is allotted 6, again bowling very well and unlucky not to take a wicket. 6 overs 0 for 16 was a good stint by the 15 year old and he still had a big part to play in the game. Enter the league's leading wicket taker. Surely Jim 'The Hoop' could get something out of the conditions. Short answer - no! Dave Norman had joined the ever frustrating Eddie Clarke at the crease and the pair set about building a platform. Norman was particularly hard on anything loose, not helped by the fact that we were shelling catches at an alarming rate. Jim battled hard for 8 overs with no result, so Jit Singh came on at the far end, and in his second over he had Clarke caught by Alex (using two hands for a change). the pair had added 70 for the second wicket, and at 105 for 2 after 32 overs, 5 bowling points were looking a very long way away.
Naj (1 for 28 from 10) was getting a bit out of the pitch at the pavilion end and had the dangerous Mark Brimicombe (4) brilliantly caught at slip by Joel 'safe hands' Heatley. 112 for 3, 35 overs gone. Surely with a few youngsters in their line up we would be able to take some late wickets to boost the points tally. Jit was bowling very well and his pace might unsettle the middle and lower order. First we had to get rid of Norman who had passed 50 an was looking to really push on as the overs ran out.
Jit to the rescue, clean bowling the troublesome Norman for 66 with the score on 148 for 4 in the 42nd over. Now the tail was exposed, could we take 6 more wickets in 4 overs? The way Jit was bowling, it might be possible. Jim came back to finish things off at the pavilion end and had young Tyler Wellman caught by Boz, but not before the youngster had made an impressive 20.
Jit was up for the challenge, he struck 5 times for 1 run in his last 3 overs and we had managed to take 9 wickets, with Uplyme scoring what looked to be a below par 161. Jit had finished with another impressive haul of 9 overs, 3 maidens, 6 for 24.
So to the reply - yet another opening combination was tried, this time Lucian and Joel. It transpired that Lucian was somewhat dehydrated after his stint behind the stumps and despite a couple of fine fours, he was bowled by Michael Holding (no, not that one) for 11. Having lost Joel for 0, we were now faced by a sticky substance striking a rotating air circulating device!
18 for 2 soon became 23 for 3 as Sinth was brilliantly caught by Brimicombe - his second sharp catch of the innings. Naj was next to go, another stunning catch taken by the flying 13 year old Rhys Davies high to his left. They were certainly showing us how to catch! Enter Alex, at 26 for 4 we need to build a partnership. there was no run rate pressure, but we were losing wickets fast! John Hurrell and Alex started to build, Alex looking fluent, regular boundaries came from his bat as John supported at the other end. Things were on the up. No they weren't - Alex called a sharp single which never looked on and John fell on his sword - 45 for 5.
Brian Bosomworth joined Alex and this really was time for a stand. Boz was setting his stall out to be safe, stay watchful, and build. Alex continued to put the bad ball away until he was bowled for 30 (including 6 fours) trying to pull a short ball that shot - 75 for 6. James Vanstone joined his opening bowling partner Boz, and the pair played watchfully.
with 20 overs to go, 86 were needed to win when the pair came together. Holding was still going, he was effective, and he was the one we needed to see off. Assorted bowlers had come and gone, with only Holding and Blackmore looking like offering a threat, so how were we 75 for 6? Oh yeh, they caught everything well!
Boz and James played steadily, James playing some excellent shots square both sides, and Boz belligerently punishing the loose stuff. Carefully, cautiously, the pair got us to 100 in the 29th over - a batting point! still 62 to win, but 17 overs left. Holding finished with 2 for 3 from his 13 and skipper Brian Rattenbury bought himself on to bowl his assorted 'moon' balls. James was't tempted, batting with maturity helped by advice from Boz, James only took on the full tosses or wider ones. As the runs started to come easily, the tension grew as the teammates looked on - superstitions evolved "we haven't lost a wicket since you sat there - don't move!" "but I need a p!$$" "tie a not in it". We were trying anything to support from the boundary.
Boz started to open up and some sweetly timed boundaries saw the score moving on swiftly to the required total. James joined in, despatching a Rattenbury 'Moon Pie' for a superb six over square leg to the long boundary. Victory was in sight! with 6 overs to go, and the scores tied, James finished what He and Boz had started six hours earlier. An invaluable unbroken stand of 86 had seen us home by 4 wickets and 19 points in the bag.
The contribution of both Boz and James with the bat and ball was immense - the pair had set up the low score with tight opening bowling and then finished the game off from an unlikely position at 75 for 6. Brian's calm head and good advice had helped James finish unbeaten on 32, and Boz's superb 48 not out was richly deserved. A win made all the more important by the news that Feniton had also claimed 19 points in their win over Kentisbeare.
25 points clear, 6 games to go. If we can hang on to our catches, then things look good for promotion. A potentially awkward game at home to Countess Wear next week, with no Naj or Jim.