• Shrewton Cricket Club

A New Year, A New Season

Updated: Apr 28

Saturday saw the long awaited first game of the season, with the Shrewton 2nd XI once again led by Captain Newbury converging on the Wyle Valley for a friendly against Steeple Langford. With two weeks to go until the start of the season proper, the 2nds will be hoping that the hard yards put in during winter nets will pay off and have the lads challenging for promotion come September. It’s also good to see some new faces on the WhatsApp group, and hopefully they’ll soon be piling on the runs and in the wickets!

With a brisk wind blowing along the valley and spring sunshine breaking through the clouds, a number of shiny new bats were on display during the warm up. But only time will tell whether they’ll make any difference. In addition to the batting hardware, Alex was sporting a pair of his mum’s sunglasses. Whilst the lads were very kind and provided constructive feedback on his fashion choice, Alex had the last laugh, catching a ball travelling like an exocet missile, one handed, high above his head.

In what is hopefully a positive sign for the season, Newbury won the toss and elected to bowl. Stiggy opened the attack from the sheep end, bowling with pace of old and getting plenty of movement off the track. His six overs resulted in 3/8, with an economy of just 1.33, hopefully an indication of good things to come for the season. Hatch meanwhile took the new(ish) ball from the bungalow end, bowling with a mixture of width and more width. Unfortunately going wicketless, his variable lines nevertheless restricted the batsmen to 21 from the first seven overs.

Reliability was the order of the day next, with Bentley (2/24) summonsed to turn his arm over. Trundling in off what appeared to be a longer run up than previous years, he used the early season pitch to great effect, keeping the ball low and extracting grip from the track. It was then all change, as White took over from Stiggy and in a departure from the norm, bowled seam up for the first time in about 25 years. Will this be something that continues throughout the season? Only time will tell. Finishing on 2/17 from his allotted six overs, he had the opportunity of a hat trick, only to squander the chance by bowling a filthy wide delivery. It was at this point in the match that Newbury tossed the ball to new boy Castle. Would Newbury’s much hyped signing be able to deliver or would he be subjected to Parish’s sharp wit and creative humour for the rest of the season? Fortunately, he seemed to have played a bit of cricket in years past and was soon in the wickets, trapping Huntley and Bennett leg before. This closed out Langford’s innings for 87 from 24 overs. But, in a sudden change to the rules, Newbury agreed a second innings to ensure maximum benefit was gained from the pre season friendly. The second innings scoring all gets a bit confusing and is therefore way beyond the ability of this scribe to reflect it in an intelligible manner. The upshot of this is that Langford closed out their second innings on 186 for an unknown number of wickets, off an unknown number of overs.

Notable highlights of the Shrews fielding display were the afore mentioned catch by Parish, Jacko not trusting his throwing arm, so instead running the batsman out by out sprinting him down the track, Withers’ lighting reflexes behind the stumps and the Italian flair of Boselli, in the wickets with a catch and lbw. The only blemish on otherwise outstanding display of catching was Newbury, who dropped an absolute sitter, chipped up directly to him.

In these post Covid times that we now live in, it has unfortunately been decided that cricket teas will be consigned to history. Arguably, what was once the centre piece of any village cricket match will be no more. Will Laura’s lemon drizzle cake ever return or are we forever at the mercy of garage bought sandwiches and flat coke? On a more positive note, it was good to see a large crowd of Shrewton supporters in attendance, as well as the Clarke family providing encouragement.

Once fully nourished, Newbury and Hatch set about chasing down what was felt to be a fairly regulation total. However, as last season showed, compliancy is the mother of all disasters, so it was good to see Newbury striking the ball cleanly and even running a few singles, much to the delight of the crowd. Within nine overs, Newbury had scored 50, built a 50+ partnership with Hatch and been stumped. Hatch departed soon afterwards having only contributed two runs to the effort. Battisson in at three, smoked a quick fire 26 before holing out going for one big shot too many. Keeper Withers reached double figures before falling to Bennett and apart from a well constructed 28 by Bentley, the rest of the batters failed to make double figures. Shrewton closed out their first innings being bowled out for 159 from 26 overs. Keen to wrap things up and get to the pub, their second innings opened with Parish and again Hatch, neither contributing much in the way of runs or anything else worth writing about. The remainder of the runs were scored by Castle and Jacko, wrapping up what was a most enjoyable afternoon in the early season sunshine.

Next Saturday, sees the second pre season friendly being played at Tidworth against local side Laverstock. With the first league match only two weeks away, and a wealth of cricket talent to choose from, Newbury will have to start considering his options and refining his team choice. At Monday night selection, he’ll need to find that careful balance of youthful enthusiasm versus hard won experience and batting firepower versus bowling guile.

Will 2022 be a season to remember or a season to forget? Watch this space!

Shrewton II – Newbury (c), Castle, Withers (wk), Bentley, Hatch, Battisson, McClure, White, Boselli, Parish, Gray and Jackson.

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