On a bright but chilly afternoon at Whimple, the third Xl (with Tshepo and debutants) started the 2013 campaign off with a tough friendly against a good Whimple side, also fielding some debutants and first Xl players.
Having managed to call it wrong, the hosts chose to bat and the 3's opened up with Boz (Senior) and Teps. Boz found his rly them early and bowled with accuracy with only the odd short delivery sitting up to be hit on a green April wicket. Both Whimple openers rode their luck a little with several thick edges and aerial strokes narrowly avoiding the waiting hands.
Teps shook off the rust to complete a nine over spell without success, but finished his spell strongly and was unlucky not to claim a wicket.
The Whimple openers cruised through the 100 opening partnership, and with a couple of unsuccessful bowling changes only helping to up the scoring rate, Jake Reddick was employed to stem the flow. With the temperature some 25 degrees lower than the last time he bowled outside (Cape Town is 35 degrees in February), constant blowing on the fingers was required to get the required revs on the ball. Jake bowled with discipline and extracted good turn from the wicket and claimed the first wicket, having Harry Gordon-Lennox stumped for 92.
A solid 9 overs from Jake was well supported by the second youngest player in the team, with Will Street bowling extremely well claiming the second wicket with an excellent delivery which swung away and cut back off the seam to clean bowl the other opener for 72.
Will's performance with the ball was a huge positive as the 3's look to replenish a depleted bowling attack with Jit Singh having moved away, Jim Wenley uncertain of his availability due to family commitments, and daddy Boz due to have a hernia operation in the near future.
As Whimple's innings came to a close, a couple more wickets fell, one a superb run out to a direct hit from a throw from the longest boundary by Sam Reddick. Whimple reached 254 for 4 from their 45 overs and our strong batting line up looked like it was going to be needed.
With Naj and Teps having to leave early (Teps for his wedding anniversary meal!), the top order changed a little with Naj opening with regular opener John Hurrell. The pair made a good start with Naj, on a mission, taking the lions share of the strike. As time ticked by and Naj due at work, he reached a fluent 50 playing with his customary freedom and retired. Teps was sent in at 3 to 'have a go' and hopefully get us ahead of the rate early. Unfortunately this failed as he was stumped for 1.
In at 4 was debutant Rory Milla who is clearly a class act (making numerous great stops in the field) and opening bat material. He and John batted patiently and kept us within reach of the run rate. After drinks, John's decision to be the aggressor didn't last too long as he was given out LBW walking across to whip through mid-wicket for a pleasing 34.
Rory was joined by our second debutant, Tom Richardson, and Tom was off the mark first ball with a generous full toss pulled for four over mid wicket.
Whimple went through their bowlers with varying degrees of success, but were accurate enough to tie us down in the second third of the game. As the run rate rose, Tom and Rory looked to move the game on and Rory missed a pull from one that kept a bit low and was bowled for a well constructed 49.
As the rate was now at 10+ an over, a few wickets fell as we played some risky shots. Tom gave of his best and finished unbeaten on 51 with the Exeter innings closing at 240 for 5, 14 runs short.
All in all, a good workout with some lessons learned (not least yours truly is too old to 'keep!) and the strength in depth at the cub (certainly from a batting perspective) is excellent.
A big thank you to hour hosts, Whimple, for preparing a good wicket for the time of year and a superb tea! Good luck to them in their bid to return to D1's, and good luck to us as we go after our after our third successive promotion!