Just the ticket!
By James Quinlan
A winning start was vital!
After an off-season full of uncertainty, and the disappointment of relegation last year, the 2s travelled to Wembley keen to start their season strongly.
With rain in the air, captain Adam Baxter decided to bat first on what looked like a tricky wicket. After a solid, if uneventful, start, Arthur Ebbs (11) miscued a full toss to mid-off. Opening partner, Jack Ryan, continued to look comfortable at the top of the order and Baxter looked set to continue his pre-season form. Unfortunately, Baxter (14) fell to a loose shot, inviting Australian James Hawksworth (22) to the crease. Another good partnership started to be built before Ryan snicked to first slip for a valuable 32. Soon after, Hawksworth was gone too - a somewhat questionable LBW decision causing immense frustration.
At this point last season, we might have crumbled and let a reasonable start fall away. Fortunately, there was a good 5th wicket partnership between Harry Wilkins (21) and James Quinlan (27) before today's collapse! Wilkins was bowled between his legs (he'll tell you it didn't bounce) and Quinlan missed a straight one, before we lost the last four wickets (three of whom for ducks...) for 9 runs. Despite the lower order malaise, we'd posted 173 - a total we felt might be difficult to chase.
The first four overs of our bowling effort comprised 32 balls, with wides threatening to run away with the top score. However, after the inauspicious start, the bowling was tightened and we began to build pressure. Neither opening bowler managed a breakthrough,but the introduction of spin did the trick. Hawksworth came on to make the difference and claim two quick wickets. With runs (well, extras...) beginning to slow up, captain Baxter introduced himself which looked like a risky decision after his first over. The doubters were soon proved wrong as he rolled back the years (he's only 25) to claim figures of 4-29 in the middle overs - a spell that proved to be vital to our chances.
With 12 overs to go, Wembley were still very much in with a shout, needing 70 to win with 4 wickets left. With good bowling building pressure, a run-out claimed a vital breakthrough. Callum Anderson (0 - 5) bowled well without reward, but the re-introduction of opener, Joseph Mani (3-24), brought the match to a close. He grabbed three wickets in quick succession to wrap things up and bring home the points.
It was a performance that centred around a fantastic team spirit, both on and off the field. If that continues for the rest of the season, we'll be well placed! It, also, saw everyone make a contribution - a true team effort!