After a comprehensive defeat by title favourites Crouch End last week, this was an early proverbial ‘must-win’ game against a Wycombe House side who tend to be far more competitive at home than away from their Isleworth base.
With Tom Bolt and Nick Jackson unavailable, the bowling attack on paper did not look overly strong, however we were able to welcome back the experience of Chris Long, both at the top of the order and in the field, with Joe Naughton also returning. Also 17 year old Jack Ryan came into the side for his 1st XI league debut.
A quick tea-time calculation indicated the side had an average age of 23, likely one of the lowest Enfield has ever had in League cricket, with Plumb now the ‘grandfather’ of the side. Rumours that he is now specifically only seeking to recruit players aged over 31 cannot be confirmed....
In the absence of Bolt, opening bowling duties were shared by Jay Sarna and Tony Sayers. Both bowled loose first overs with Wycombe House racing to 16-0 from two overs, but then found their lengths and started to test the Wycombe House batsmen. The initial breakthrough came from Sayers, swiftly followed by a three-wicket burst from Sarna, as Wycombe House’s good start suddenly became 37-4. Sam Martin and Joe Naughton were then brought on to bowl in partnership and combined nicely. Naughton finished wicketless, but his 9-2-27-0 was important in supporting the pressure being applied by Martin, who once again bowled very well indeed and was rewarded by excellent figures of 9-3-16-3 (including a wicket with what is now known as his “oh no” delivery, absolutely smashed at and caught by Long at mid-wicket) as we reduced Wycombe House to 88-7.
This week the absence of a front-line fifth bowler was not to prove a problem as captain Plumb (4-0-7-0) kept things tight at one end, while the nippy Isuru Perera (3-24) took care of the tail. A real team bowling performance with everyone who was thrown the ball playing their part.
Mention must be made of our fielding once again which returned to the high standards that were consistently shown in week one, and not shown at all in week two. Being good in the field is likely to remain a critical aspect of performances. Runs saved and catches held will be crucial in seeking to achieve our objectives for the season. The enthusiasm, desire and mobility displayed on Saturday (typified by Ryan and Long) needs to remain the norm and not the exception.
With Wycombe House having been bundled out for 121, hopes were high of securing a second win of the league season. But with a young, unproven middle order and facing a decent spin bowling attack, including Aamir Ihsan, who was in the ECC ranks last season, nothing was being taken for granted.
Concern was further heightened as James Cormack (2) and Long (4) departed early, leaving us precariously poised at 9-2. However Plumb and Australian wicketkeeper Luke Hawksworth came together and gradually built a partnership, Hawksworth being the more aggressive, with Plumb content to drop anchor. Hawksworth departed, bowled by the dangerous Elahi, for a-run-a-ball 39, with the score at 64-3, but Tony Sayers (40) came to the crease and struck some lusty blows (as he likes doing) to steer us home - almost. Sayers fell with scores level, so it was left to captain Plumb to hit the winning runs. Harry Wilkins, batting at six, acquiring a 1st XI career red-inker without adversely affecting his scoring rate stats.
In the end the margin of victory was fairly comfortable, but make no mistake this was a vital win. Wycombe House did not appear overly strong and are likely to be one of those teams towards the bottom of the table come September. It is imperative we continue to perform and defeat such sides to secure the points we will require.
This Saturday we make the trip to Brondesbury to face a strong team, who are keen to make an immediate return to the Premier League, defeated us in a pre-season encounter and will be buoyed from a nail-biting win at the weekend. This match will represent a real test of our young side but one that we look forward to meeting head-on.