I guess all our boys must like Carrots - they needed all the help they could get gaining a hard fought win in the descending gloom at Heathcoats last night (Tuesday 30th April) in the first round of the ECB National U15 Cup.
Having arrived to glorious sunshine and cloudless skies, all looked good at Knightshayes, the new pavilion looking resplendent in the setting sun, for the first Under 15 match of what looks like being a long campaign. A good side assembled promptly only to see the start delayed by Heathcoats who were awaiting the arrival of three players from a school match.
This would lead to problems later if we failed to take ten quick wickets - Heathcoats having won the toss and, with only 8 players present, not surprisingly chose to bat.
Our opening bowlers started well, with only the odd wide and no ball causing concern (owing to the late start we agreed two runs per wide / no ball and no extra ball to try and speed things up). Heathcoat's Ollie Mitchell batted well and proved to be a thorn before retiring for a well constructed 55. At the other end, we had far more success - Dom Gaywood (3-0-21-3) bowling accurately and with pace to remove three batsmen clean bowled. He was well supported by the pacy August Aalto who also claimed a clean bowled wicket in his spell of 1 for 15 from 3 overs.
Skipper Jamie Telford kept up the pace attack, bringing on the left arm fizz of Oscar Martin (3-0-15-0) and the pure pace of Harry Molins (3-0-19-1). Both bowled well, and Harry struck with his very first ball to remove Jacob Wood - clean bowled again! The accuracy of our bowling was a credit to the effort of all the boys, especially as it's still very much early season. I guess the freezing cold session we had on Friday must have worked!
Seb Lewis was bought into the attack, but lasted only two balls as he was hit in the head, losing a return throw in the setting sun. I'm pleased to say that as of this morning, despite a headache, he is ok - thankfully he wasn't knocked out!
With one eye on the failing light, JT employed the spinners in an attempt to hurry through the last few overs. Ben Howkins came in to the attack at a difficult time, with Heathcoats looking to push on to a decent score on a small pitch. Ben got his reward, with Jamie's quick hands getting Jack Lockwood stumped. Jake Reddick (2.3-0-11-2) came on to bowl at the death at the other end, and the entry 'stumped Telford - Bowled Reddick' appeared for the first time this season in an Exeter score book (having already appeared in the County & District score books this year).
Heathcoats finished on 132 for 9, which was below par given the small boundaries and 2 runs for a wide / no ball. However, we would be batting in failing light with no sight screens and things were going to get interesting! After Seb's injury and a 'no show', we were down to 9 men, so couldn't afford to be too rash in our pursuit of victory. Jake and Jamie opened and the pair played cautiously against some tight bowling, particularly from Ollie Wilkins (4-0-15-1). Having lost Jake, edging behind to Jordan Travers, JT was joined by Matt Marsh who immediately set about getting us back ahead of the run rate. Matt proceeded to wield the willow with gusto as he despatched the ball to all parts on his way to a rapid 30, before one hit too many went to hand. A great knock which put us in the driving seat, helped by a few wides along the way.
Paddy Poustie entered the fray as the light failed fast, and given the worsening gloom and lack of sight screens, Paddy never got going in his own inimitable style and was caught for 10. Oscar Martin was bowled by one he never saw, and at this point discussions were had between the two managers with regard to the safety of the boys. Words were exchanged and the compromise was to finish with a bright pink ball for the last 6 overs.
Heathcoats delaying tactics came back to haunt them as our batsmen seemed to be able to see the ball better than their fielders. Jamie Telford eventually fell for an excellent 41 and we were now only a dozen or so runs away from victory.
Dom Gaywood (9no) was joined by August Aalto (2no), and it was fitting that our opening bowlers should see us home with 5 balls to spare.
A good win in very trying conditions, and once again the exemplary behavior and sportsmanship of our boys was to be commended. We now visit either Thorverton or Exmouth in the next round.
Thanks to Jo Telford for the photo to prove how dark it was!