In the absence of the Kiwis most likely to open the batting Kevin Hobley cast around for someone to partner him at the top of the order. For some reason his eye settled on the imposing figure of Stephen O'Connor, fresh from a golden duck against Nuxley. It's true that a certain S O'Connor has done sterling service at the top of the order for The Exiles for a number of years, but that has been Sean not Stephen. Kevin fell early on, undone by one that leapt off this rapidly deteriorating square and gloved him on the way to the keeper. Stephen however stuck around and unfazed by the pressure began to unwind his big pull-drives that soon had the bowlers flinching. Terron Miller, also given some responsibility up the order after a golden duck, stuck with him for a partnership that yielded 44 runs. While Terron was the minor partner he had plenty of time to acclimatise and began to reveal the kernel of a technique that has lain dormant for too long. His relaxed languor proved his undoing when he failed to regain his ground quick enough to give Wong his consolation wicket to put the thinnest gloss on his battered analysis. His three overs had yielded 37 runs, his first three full tosses were all dispatched to the boundary by Stephen. Steve Du Preez, who also has Swazi roots, then joined his countryman in the most productive partnership, worth 64 in only 6 overs. The "Swinging Swazis" climbed into Booth, Brown, and Tambyrajah like they were a plate of biscuits and a nice cup of tea. Steve fell to a good catch for 26. Tony Brook. who is having a hot and cold season, blew cold this day, playing all round a rare straight one from Brown. Roric kept pace with Stephen who was now deep in "the zone". He had taken his batting to places it never knew existed, again and again his bat scythed across the line, again and again it came right out of the screws and disappeared over the boundary (I was going to say rope, but we don't have one anymore). He even began to play some high-elbow defensive shots and straight drives, the occasional cut, was that a leg glance? Roric eventually fell to a tidy catch by our own Guy Hatton, on as sub, for 45 that included seven fours and three sixes. By this time Stephen was moving with unstoppable momentum towards a maiden century that seemed as inevitable now as it had seemed unlikely just an hour earlier. It was greeted with an enormous cheer, and applauded by The Flying Wickets who were probably under the impression that he did this sort of thing every week. He joins a select band of only a handful of Exiles to have made the magic three figures. When he fell, exhausted on 103 the total was looking unassailable. His century included seventeen fours and three sixes (that's 86 out 103 in boundaries). Phenomenal hitting that left The Flying Wickets somewhat shell shocked. The tail batted with some freedom with the pressure off for a change and everybody contributed something. Kevin expressed a pang of regret that we didn't bat out the forty overs but over tea the general consensus was that it should prove a winning total. The converse of the "lack of batting" was a surfeit of decent bowling.
|K Hobley||Ct Moore||Jones||2|
|S D O'Connor||bowled||Brodie||103|
|S Du Preez||Ct Jones||Brown||26|
|R Coleman||Ct Sub||Tambyrajah||45|
|P Shorrock||Ct Jones||Brodie||13|
Flying Wickets bowling figures:
Once again the Exiles bowlers hit the ground running, the successful partnership of Lindsay and Weir were soon amongst the wickets. The fielding was generally of a high standard and by the time the openers had finished their short spells the game was slipping away from the Flying Wickets. Only Wong, who maintained his concentration by beating himself on the pads with the face of the bat, had the defensive technique to survive all that The Exiles could throw at him (even Roric's wild stumping attempts). He was a defensive rather than aggressive batsman though, so all the while the asking rate crept up, and all the while the Exiles chipped out wickets. Paul Shorrock did for Brown with a slower ball just as he was looking to make an assault on the run rate, then next ball cleaned up Tambyrajah with one nearer his usual medium pace. The hat trick was avoided by the left handed Brodie who burned brightly but briefly before he was bowled by Kevin Hobley's occasional wobblies. The asking rate was now getting silly when the returning Stuart set up a fittingly dramatic coup de grace . Jones's mis-timed a drive and skied behind Tony at mid off, who is no spring chicken, but he chased it down and caught it at arms length running flat out. Catch of the season by a mile. Wong was undefeated on 58, The Flying Wickets all out 95 runs short. An easy win in the end but built on a remarkable century from an unlikely opener. He's probably still waking up grinning to himself, man of the match Stephen O'Connor.
|M Jones||Ct Brook||Lindsay||5|
|Total||129 all out|
|S Du Preez||4||1||13||0|
Next up Occasionals away in at South Bank University.