• Shrewton Cricket Club

Lotta Runs In That Bat!!

Updated: May 16

And so it arrived, the first league game of the post Covid era! Following intensive winter season training and successful pre season friendly warm up matches, Shrewton’s 2nd XI were brimming with confidence and chomping at the bit to get their 2022 campaign underway. As reported last week, Newbury is again at the helm, hoping to maintain order, control the rabble and steer a steady course towards promotion in September.

Enthusiasm was the order of the day, with a good turnout at Durrington Café for a pre match carb loading session and a chance to talk tactics. Wilf Bate lead the way with an Olympic sized plate of chicken nuggets and chips, all washed down with half a litre of Monster.

A sign of how keen the lads are this season was clear, when arriving at the ground an hour before the start, that the boundary markers were already out and the stumps in place. But before I ramble any further, a massive thank you must go to George (not Withers), the grounds team and the army of volunteers who sacrificed their time over the last couple of months to get the ground and freshly painted pavilion in amazing shape.

So back to the task in hand. A warm and sunny day saw the Shrewton 2nd XI welcome Pylewell Park 1s to the Rec. Having suffered a heavy defeat last season, the Shrews were keen to even the score and had selected a youthful team (relatively), heavy on bowling and with one or two batters in the line up. Unfortunately, Alex’s mum’s sunglasses weren’t on display this week, but their absence was more than made up for, by the return of Bentley’s clown trousers wafting freely in the wind.

Keen to get the game underway on time, Newbury tossed up, called tails and watched in horror as the coin landed heads up. Gregory then chose to have a bowl, hoping to make the most of the grassy track and expose the Shrew’s fragile batting line up to their much coveted pace attack.

Newbury (6) and Hatch (5) did the honours and hobbled out to the middle, in what’s become a good cop, bad cop batting partnership. Regular readers of these reports will remember Hatch recently supporting Newbury in a quick fire 50 partnership, but unfortunately this wasn’t to be repeated. Both batters were dispatched by the bowling of Russell and Ferarer inside five overs, with the score on a shaky 22. In at three was a batter with no name (49). Rarely seen playing for the 2’s, he set about increasing the run rate, stroking well through the covers and tickling down fine leg, before smashing a couple of sixes through mid on. Riding his luck, he was dropped twice in one over off the leg spin moon balls of Doe, before one shy of his 50, he holed out to the bowling of Pritchard. With the score looking much healthier on 110, in strode Vallis. Batting much better than his average would suggest, he wasted no time in smashing a very handy 70, including a huge pick up scoop shot which rattled the roof of the pavilion. Combining well with new boy Castle (38), they accelerated the score to 178 off 26 overs, before M Doe accounted for both their wickets. Withers (duck (0)) was in next, but wanting to save his energy for keeping duties and unwilling to spend much time in the sun, he too succumbed to the guile of Doe without troubling the scorers.

With the top six back in the hutch, and well into the tail, Bentley, hitched up his clown trousers, adjusted himself and took a centre guard. Joined almost immediately by White, the pair of them set about pushing the score beyond the 200 mark. Tucking into the bowling, Bentley played proper cricket shots, striking the ball cleanly, driving down the ground and running ones and twos, before falling to Pritchard, lbw for 27. White by contrast, played what was described by Bentley as, “a rascal innings”. Slogging across the line, employing both edges and attempting filthy, streaky cut shots, he was finally caught on 45, having dragged the score to 264. Gray (0) didn’t trouble the scorers either, before Jackson and Bate arrived in the middle with nine overs remaining. Both batters enjoyed occupying the crease, timing shots well, defending the good balls and scampering quick singles. With the crowd on the edge of their seats, the score board showing a massive 296 and only three balls remaining, Bate (17) sold Jackson (15) down the river going for a third run, and getting run out in the process. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic batting performance, with almost the entire team scoring runs and the tail wagging hard right until the end. Pylewell Park battled throughout, toiling in the early season sun, but having put down a number of catches, they were facing a challenging total.

Following the break, Hatch shared his experience and wisdom with the lads via a stirring motivational team talk. Focusing on the one percents, he almost brought a tear to the eye. Newbury set the field, whilst Gray and Hatch limbered up and marked out their run ups. As per normal, Gray (1/25) was quickly into his stride. Pitching the ball up, he was soon extracting movement and keeping the batters pinned in their creases. The Pylewell openers, aware of the enormity of the task facing them, were quick to punish anything loose, regularly finding the boundary and racking up the runs. It wasn’t until the eighth over that Gray struck, having Adkin caught at mid on. Meanwhile, Hatch (0/40) was struggling at the Village end, regularly getting carted around the park and taking a fair bit of tap from the opening batters. Going wicketless, Newbury rightly decided to get him off before too much damage was inflicted and turned to Bentley to stem the tide of runs that were being racked up. With the score on 68 from only nine overs, Bentley (3/37) steamed in, grunting and snorting like a wild boar on heat. Bowling just short of a length and with banana like movement, he was soon in the wickets, removing Royan with a dirty full bunger for a well made 28 and Francis and Russell for five and zero respectively. Unfortunately, his catching wasn’t up to the same standard, dropping an absolute sitter in the covers off the bowling of Castle (2/34). With Doe (56) still at the crease, striking cleanly and keeping up with the required run rate, Castle got one to grip, spin past the edge and was snaffled by Withers for a lightning fast stumping.

Following a quick break for drinks, confidence was high and banter was flowing. Newbury rang the changes, bringing Bate (0/26) and the bowler with no name (2/17) into the attack. This combination of leg spin and pace worked exceptionally well. Bate bowling inch perfect line and length kept the batters tied down, whilst the bowler with no name took the wickets of Varley (36) and Ferarer (8). With only two wickets required for maximum points, Newbury made his fourth bowling change of the day, turning to Vallis and Jackson to mop up the tail. Vallis (1/16) quickly removed Mills, caught and bowled, whilst Jackson (1/7) sent down a combination of pianos and mystery balls to bowl J Doe and close out the match, with Pylewell falling short by 80 runs.

A great start to the season sees the Shrewton 2nd XI sat jointly atop Hampshire Division 4 West with Bournemouth. It’s early days yet, but confidence is high. Next week sees the lads on the road as they head south over the border and deep into the heart of the New Forest to take on 12th place Burley. Newbury can rest easy this week, confident in an (almost) complete batting display and a team with 9 bowling options.

Shrewton II – Newbury (c), Castle, Withers (wk), Bentley, Hatch, the player with no name, Vallis, White, Bate, Gray and Jackson.

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