With a grand total of one player available by Monday afternoon, things did not look particularly positive for Park Will ahead of their clash with the Sharks at Fishponds. However, special thanks must go to everyone’s favourite Welsh Zimbabwean (Daf) and Clare H for stepping in and ensuring that we could field 11 players.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, Hill were hoping for more of the same from the budding partnership that has developed in recent games between Bhups and Stupples. With a flat track and a relatively short boundary on one side, hopes of another score of 200 plus were optimistically ventured, although as is becoming customary, runs were hard to come by in the first 15 overs. Both Bhups and Stupples played sensibly – alternating the strike wherever possible and punishing the rare bad balls to keep things ticking over.
Bhups then enjoyed a profitable spell against the change bowling and a spate of boundaries meant that we upped the ante and increased the run rate to over 4 an over as the halfway stage loomed. Just as he was getting into his stride, Bhups was trapped LBW on 44 whilst attempting a sweep, but he had played a key role in another solid opening partnership. Morten was the next man to arrive at the crease to make his delayed league debut, having fielded in the abandoned fixture versus Sutton Challengers back in May. With the unerringly accurate young spinner having settled into a metronic rhythm that Jeavons would have been proud of, Morten was pinned at the crease and bowled as Hill fell to 78 for 2. The much uttered old adage of “one brings two” regrettably transpired and Hill looked to be in danger of squandering their promising start when Elliot holed out to cow and Aarsh succumbed to the pea-roller, leaving us at 97-4.
The remainder of the innings was punctuated with fleeting partnerships that edged our total towards something defendable. Initially, this was mainly thanks to Stupples playing the role of aggressor as wickets continued to fall around him. Max was the first of these after producing a carbon copy of Elliot’s shot and finding the same obliging fielder. Dafydd, still reeling from the Uber inspired odyssey from Ewell to Tooting via Twickenham, threw the proverbial kitchen sink from the get go and was duly trapped LBW. When Charlie’s well struck drive was expertly caught at cover, the creeping suspicion that this might not be our day entered the captain’s thinking, but this was soon replaced by the enervating and crushing realisation that he was the next man in!
Stupples evidently harboured fears of being left high and dry, so proceeded to ‘tee off’ and launched 3 maximums beyond the man patrolling the boundary at cow corner, going past the 50 mark in the process. Whilst his teammates were unsurprisingly shocked and delighted in equal measure, the Sharks would have been forgiven for feeling that “we’re gunna’ need a bigger
boat boundary!” Unfortunately, the grinning glovesman enjoyed no such luck on the fourth attempt and was caught behind for a valuable 64. Jeavons joined Chipperton at the crease and Hill eked out a further 20 runs in the closing stages to post a total of 171. All credit to the hosts, who were comfortably the best fielding outfit we have come across in a long time! This would need to be replicated if Hill were to go on to claim a third successive victory.
Charlie, suitably amped up on Nurofen, led the charge and claimed the first wicket as Bhups held on gratefully at slip, after fabricating an ankle injury to claim the absent Mackay’s spot at slip. After dropping a sharp caught and bowled chance at the beginning of the second over, Chipperton’s opening spell did not yield any wickets and the hosts were in control of the early stages as they passed 50 after the opening 15 overs. The captain redeemed himself thanks to some inspired fielding to break the fledgling partnership. Charlie was rewarded for his industry as he lured the batsman into a prod that looped over cover and was caught following a full length dive.
Elliot came on to continue the pressure on the Sharks and was unfortunate to see aerial shots land in the gaps, in addition to eating a dropped catch off his bowling. However, Hill claimed a vital breakthrough with the score just shy of 100 as Daf held on to a top edge at point from the bowling of Jeavons. So confident in the outcome when the ball sailed towards the fielder, the despairing Jeavons muttered “oh no!” when realising who was under the catch, yet Daf belied his lack of faith and held on. Scoreboard pressure can lead to strange things, and Spencer were made to pay for one too many risky singles in the second moment of fielding brilliance. Stationed at mid-off, Ransom attacked a firmly struck drive and took aim at the bowler’s end, comfortably running out the despairing batsman.
The tension was suddenly palpable and the tie was delicately poised on a knife-edge. Both sides displayed signs of nerves: Hill were occasionally guilty of erratic bowling and fielding and the Sharks maintained their attacking stroke play and dangerous running. The latter came to the fore once more as Bhup, initially beaten at backward point, retrieved the ball and combined with Stupples to claim another run out. Max was then given a baptism of fire on his league debut as he was charged with bowling the 34th over with around 40 runs required for victory. Showing the signs of rust that understandably come with not bowling regularly, 2 beamers and 16 runs later, his eventful over ended in a prized scalp and Hill’s 6th wicket.
Spencer had 4 wickets in hand and 24 runs to claim the victory – now the nerves were really about to kick in! Bhups was the man tasked with piling on the pressure and after a tidy first over, he exploded to life in his second over. He produced a peach for his first wicket that sent the stumps sprawling and found an outside edge to bring about a quickfire double. Not willing to rest on his laurels, Bhups claimed a third wicket after trapping their captain LBW to set up a nervy finish.
The fall out of the wicket prompted an immediate umpiring change that probably meant that a favourable decision would not be so forthcoming. Clare was given the ball to support Bhups from the other end and showed an iron constitution! She bowled a tidy over and the Sharks were left with slim pickings as they were limited to a few singles off the over.
This meant all eyes were on Bhups for the next over.
He didn’t disappoint.
After starring with the ball, the Spencer colt managed to keep the wolves from the door for a series of deliveries, but you can’t keep a good Bhups down (even with a dubious injury)… Another unerringly accurate yorker proved to be too much and sparked jubilant celebrations.
Hill showed tremendous spirit and determination to record a third league victory of the season. There were a number of obvious highlights, but every player made a difference on the day and the result would not have been achieved without 11 on the field!
Surely the game of the weekend?
Fielder of the day: Bhups