Hill sought to build on the impressive victory last time out against a side languishing at the foot of the table. This, coupled with the strong XI that were available for the encounter, meant that all things pointed towards one thing: an underwhelming performance.
At least that was how things seemed to have gone in the last few seasons when all the stars had aligned…perhaps this was the ideal time to stop the rot!
With no obvious candidates to fulfil the roles of batsmen 9-11, at one stage it looked as if the order was going to be picked out of hat! However, with clear blue skies above and a rock hard surface underfoot, it was a good toss to win for the skipper, who duly elected to bat.
Luckily the opening partnership was a given after a promising opening stand saw us to victory in the previous league game. Stupples and Bhups both batted sensibly and saw out a difficult opening spell of bowling and put away the infrequent bad ball to take us to 36 for 0 off the opening 15 overs. Runs started to flow more freely as the visitors brought on the change bowlers and Bhups continued his good form and brought up his half century after a flurry of boundaries.
Bhups was eventually dismissed for 73, much to his frustration, having guided the hosts to 121 off 26 overs. The introduction of Mackay helped to keep the run rate climbing, as he produced a big hitting clinic which included one particularly impressive six that thumped into a neighbour’s garden – hopefully not his sister’s! Stupples also took the shackles off and began accelerating his innings, as Hill rattled along to just shy of 200 when Mackay fell after racing to 39 from 27 deliveries.
Damon joined Stupples for the final 5 overs or so and we sought to pile on the runs. Stupples departed after making a well-made 89 and Elliot finished the innings alongside Damon as we set an imposing total of 242 for victory. The decision to bat first was clearly vindicated and we had a plethora of bowling options to ensure that we made life difficult for the visitors.
Eager to see how they would go about the run chase, the captain opted to bowl in tandem with Charlie. Charlie struck first and claimed 2 scalps as he steamed in down the slope and attacked the stumps. Both wicket deliveries were far too good and sent the stumps tumbling. At the other end, Chipperton got one through the gate to leave Raynes Park 22 for 3, as Hill continued to apply pressure with tidy bowling and immaculate fielding. Charlie’s third wicket saw him comprehensively bowl another victim, whilst Chipperton trapped another batsman LBW to leave their run chase in disarray with the score at 40 for 5 after the opening 15 overs.
However, Raynes Park’s lower-middle order put up a fight as Elliot and Prem joined the fray, digging in and taking the score beyond the 100 mark. Shortly afterwards, Tom secured his first league wicket for the club after cleaning up the potential danger man. Elliot soon joined in on the act after persevering as a well laid trap led to Mackay – stationed at cow corner – claiming a catch. Unfortunately for the former, his mother had already departed after she had evidently seen enough in his first few overs to abandon hope of seeing him claim a wicket! The old adage of “one brings two” came as Elliot took a catch off his own bowling to claim a second wicket. At the other end, a re-energised Charlie returned to mop up the tale and claim his five wicket haul in the process – the third different player to do so in 5 innings in the field.
This meant that we wrapped up victory in the 33rd over and by a margin of 111. Another excellent team performance with some individual highlights – long may the good times roll!
A big thank you also goes out to Clare D, who answered the late call for an 11th player. Clare put in an exemplary fielding display and her scoring of our innings was immaculate; although she admitted the fine tanning weather was also a major lure!
Fielder of the day: Clare D