The 3rd Xl set out in pursuit of the third promotion in three years with what looked to be a routine game away to Clyst St George. Despite some late changes and a whole host of unavailable players, a strong 3rds assembled on a bright and breezy afternoon.
Visiting skipper Reddick (senior) called it wrong, but surprisingly Clyst chose to bat. The deck looked good, firm and dry with a little grass. How would it play though? The ever dependable Boz (senior) had the honour of the first over of the season in anger, and despite a hernia and a knee problem, he hit the spot straight away opening with a maiden. His new ball partner was Will Street, fresh from his success in the friendly against Whimple, and providing good pace and movement removed Tim Read in his very first over with a 'nip backer' which rattled the top of middle stump. First wicket down with only 2 on the board.
Boz and Streety kept it tight and Boz picked up a wicket in his fifth over to reduce CSG to 21 for 2. The pair put in a good shift with Boz completing 9 overs, 1 for 30, and Will finishing with 1 for 21 from his allowed 7. Jake Reddick took over from Boz up the hill at the road end and the game really started to turn our way. Striking with the last ball in his first over, he followed that with two maidens, and we were giving nothing away (apart from a few byes courtesy of the old git behind the stumps!). Joel Heatley was strangling things at the other end and progress was slow for Clyst St George.
By now it was clear that we needed to remove opener Nick Dubuisson, who was proving to be a thorn in our side. Jake was extracting prodigious turn and was picking up regular wickets, including skipper Paul Laverick - stumped by the 'old man'. Joel had Jed Rosser caught behind and CSG were 93 for 6. Jake produced a wonder ball to bowl the left hander Debuisson - pitching well outside his off stump, turning across him and hit leg. A great delivery which opened up the tail.
Jake continued to cause all kinds of problems, claiming a wicket with the last ball of an over 3 times. Having narrowly missed out on a hat-trick, Jake completed his 9 overs, claiming 6 wickets for 21 runs.
Joel bowled with accuracy and completed his 9 with figures of 1 for 26. Naj was into the attack and finished their innings off, thanks to a sharp diving catch at slip by Boz. CSG finished 122 all out in 36.4 overs.
After the customers excellent CSG tea, Naj and John Hurrell set of in pursuit of what looked to be a below par score. Naj picked up where he left off at Whimple, stroking the ball well and looking comfortable. John got one that kept a bit low and was LBW with the score on 13 - not what we were looking for! Joel was well caught at short fine leg without troubling the scorers, and the target looked a long way away at 27 for 2. Late replacement Sami Islam thrashed a four and then holed out ( in at 4 because he had to leave early for work), and a steady knock was needed. Naj was playing with panache and, in partnership with Sam Reddick, things calmed down a bit. The pair had added 43 before Sam missed judged a pull and was out LBW for 17 - 76 for 4, but plenty of batting to come.
Alex Reddick (0), Boz (9) and Streety (6) came and went cheaply, whilst Naj watched on in disbelief. 115 for 7, surely we couldn't blow this with only a handful of runs needed? Bowling hero Jake joined Naj and dispatched a square cut for 4 and victory was almost there, Naj charged Paul Laverick, nailed him for a one bounce 4 and victory was ours buy three wickets and 10 overs to spare. Far closer than it probably should've been, but a win is a win! 17 points, thanks to two outstanding performances. Naj Choudhary finished unbeaten on a classy 64, finishing off what had been started by Jake's quite brilliant 6 for 21.
Improvements in the batting department will be needed if we are to beat a good Thorverton ll Xl next week, but with our line up we should be fine. A good start, but a lot of hard miles to go! Thanks to Ben Howkins for stepping in at the 11th hour, his great work in the field was much appreciated by his teammates. Another one of our talented Under 15's who didn't get a chance to bowl, thanks to Jake's success! His chanc will come.