Having lost the toss and asked to bowl on a (notice a pattern emerging here?) green topped wicket, the ten men gathered together in the name of the Exiles (six members, three friend of members and Chas Lambert, a man who sometimes makes up the numbers for Nuxley) were thankful that the fixture was viable. With the previous two games lost to the weather and lack of opposition the boys were just glad to be getting some Cricket, although judging from Waseem's opening comment "let's get this over with" optimism was not at an all-time high. He was more optimistic about Skipper Paul Shorrock's ability to find the edge, and suggested himself as second slip (quite a "luxury" with only 10 men). Chris Evans was the Wicket keeper for the day, he stood half the distance back any of our other 'keepers would dare and forgot to wear any inner gloves, When he inspected his battered hands at tea he first mistook the black dye-stains to be bruises! Waseem's faith was soon rewarded as John Hahn edged Shorrock's second delivery straight to him, and he held the catch. Shortly after Stuart Shepherd initiated a run-out by convincing Jones that a second run was on, unfortunately for the other batsman Shepherd's pedigree is better than his profile suggests (his father Barry did play 9 tests for Australia!). Jones was safe running to the bowler's end but Shorrock relayed the throw into Chris Evans' big gloves and there was no need for a third umpire!
Thereafter there was a bit of a stand between Martin Jones and Adam Hudson that never moved out of second gear, thanks to some accurate and intelligent bowling by all the Exiles' seamers who all ended with near identical statistics. Off-side fields were set, sometimes with only two on the onside, and very few balls were pulled or hooked. Two slips, or a slip and a gully were kept through most of the innings. The fielders all played their part, Chas Lambert showing no lack of application on being asked to bolster the depleted Exiles. Vinny Brooks showed a willingness to learn, worked hard and has an arm of a much larger man, easily reaching the keeper from the boundary. I hope we will see him in the winter nets developing his batting and bowling, which were not needed this time. Naem finally ended Jones' innings as he went on the charge once too often and was clean bowled. Ian Barker picked up a wicket, clipped straight at midwicket were Greg Hollings made no mistake. Greg was the fifth bowler, he had bowled a few overs of left arm seam-up in the Heavy Rollers game but decided that this drying wicket might suit his left arm spin better. He was held back as long as possible, a gamble that paid off. Nuxley have effectively targeted the fifth bowler in previous encounters, and some of the earlier Nuxley batsmen may have had sufficiently agile footwork to cope with the new problems set by the bowl spinning away from the bat. So as the last 16 overs began, Greg had the down-wind end all to himself, whilst the seamers had to bowl their remaining overs into the wind (some complained less than others). Waseem's mood was lifted by a wicket, late in his second spell, another clean bowled. Just as Nuxley attempted to accelerate, with the overs dwindling and wickets in hand they lost crucial wickets. Greg had settled into a good rhythm, his stock ball slapping into Chris's hands as the batsman swished and missed. By the last over, with five wickets down Nuxley desperately needed a few more runs, instead the first ball was hit straight down the throat of Tony at long on and he never looked like dropping it. The second was a dot ball, swish-slap, the third was a stumping, the fourth a dot ball, the fifth was runs (one or two I don't recall) the sixth was a vertical skier that most fielders could have reached but Chris knew his duties, shouted "Chris's!" and took it on a good line and length at the batsman's end. Nuxley 140 for 8 off 40 overs.
The Exiles innings got off to a slow but steady start, Tony Brook has finally started to look less permeable and Greg Hollings looked absolutely watertight! He met every delivery with the full face, head over the ball, and held the pose as if to demonstrate his perfect balance. Nuxley kept the field in tight and The Exiles took few chances, knowing that the batting order had a long tail. The rate was around two an over, but there were no chances until Tony opened his shoulders into an off-drive that stopped on him a bit and went nicely to mid-off. Twelve runs is not a lot but Tony should be satisfied that he is getting the basics right now. Ian Barker, playing his penultimate game for the Exiles before moving to rural Worcestershire, managed only an edged single to slip before padding up to a straight one from Jones that had his neighbour and Captain Paul raising the finger of death. Naem joined Greg as the light deteriorated and they set about winning the game, softly-softly at first, always behind the rate, but always with an eye on the impressive new scorer's hut. (surplus to NatWest Bank's requirements, not often you get anything for free from those guys!) When the last ten overs came up the rate required was near 6 an over, which required a doubling of the rate so far. Greg called for a change of bat, came back with Tony's and promptly hit the next two deliveries from Warner for four. After that, in spite of a small shower and the stygian gloom, the result seemed inevitable. Naem upped his rate too, but his 28 had only one boundary. Adam Hudson was no-balled for fast full pitches on several occasions but fortunately his much quicker (but no-more accurate) brother was not playing. He would have been a very dangerous proposition in the circumstances. Stuart Shepherd had sat with his pads on for hours but Chris Evans was asked to pad up too in case his Flintoff-esque batting was needed at the death. In the event neither was needed and Greg Hollings creamed the first ball of John Andrews last over through the covers for 4. The Exiles win by seven wickets with nearly four overs to spare. Greg carrying his bat for 73*. The rest of the Exiles, sheltered in the lee of the impressive new club house taking shape, as the wind won out over the sun, and were generally happy not to have to bat in the gloaming. Within seconds of the result the heavens opened so a game that only just made it to the start, managed a satisfactory conclusion in the nick of time. Credit to Nuxley for ensuring that there were sufficient players to make a game of it and honours even for the season, two well contested games played in the right spirit. Hopefully we will be back next year to enjoy the lottery-grant enhanced facilities.
|T Brook||Ct||M Jones||12|
|I Barker||lbw||M Jones||1|
Total 144 for 2, Exiles win by 7 wickets.
Next week, The New Barbarian Weasels at home.
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