Typically chilly April weather and an atypical June pitch met the Waltham Players to begin the 2017 season at Oak Meadow on Saturday. With the teams already picked and captains for the day Asif Ali and Zaheer Gujjar primed and ready, club chairman delivered his pre-season address and we were ready to go.Team A opened up with new boy Ankush Ghandi and returning Matt Andrews and both were quickly into their stride, punishing anything loose. Captain Gujjar was quick to make the changes and brought himself into the attack picking up the dangerous Andrews and the imperious Ghandi. The quick scoring rate was then put on hold as new leg spinner Chris Waghorn replaced debutant Sid Saniani and began to weave his magic bowling Asif Ali with a full length dipping delivery and then spinning a leg spinner to bowl youngster Joe Thompson.
Lower order resistance came in the form of Savva Christodoulou and Siva Kumar, both hitting some sweet boundaries following an excellent spell from Hamid Kiani who took two wickets with some excellent swing bowling. Captain Gujjar then threw the ball to Ziggy Kiani and he didnt let his captain down taking a brace, following a couple of deliveries testing the bounce on the adjacent strips. Finally, Haris Khan and Chris England in his second innings took the score along without further wickets and the former played a very sensible innings before opening up at the end to finish 17 no.
So the WSLCC players ended the session with 186 posted and following a scruptious tea courtesy of Chris England team B looked to chase at a run rate of 6 per over. The initial contest was won by the bat as Sree Venkata and Zaheer Gujjar tore into the opening bowler, racing to 50 for 0 from 5 overs but when Gujjar walked past a straight one from Kumar and Venkata was excellently run out the momentum began to slow and Sharpe and Kiani had to rebuild against the Metronome England and the pace of Matt Andrews.
Both were busy but fell in consecutive overs to Andrews who had Sharpe caught behind by Ghandi and then got Kiani LWB playing back. Waghorn and Connor then looked to move the score on and put on 32 in an industrious partnership until the latter played on to the impressive Andrews.
Victory was not out of the question whilst Waghorn was still out there and with support from Sid Sainani and then the returning Gujjar and Venkarat for their second digs an exciting finish was brewing until the ball was thrown to Asif Ali who showed what a talent he is picking up 2 wickets but drying up the big hitting potential with some excellent yorkers.
In the end team B ended on 172 with Waghorn not out on 45. This was an excellent game, which included some sublime batting from Ghandi on his official debut showing what an excellent asset he will be this year. In addition, Waghorn had an impressive debut in all 3 facets of the game and there were lots of positive signs from Sainani with the ball, Matt Andrews in the bowling department and both Kiani’s with the ball. In addition, Joe Thompson was a continual source of enthusiasm in the field and Chris Sharpe a champion sledger in the gulley.
WSLCC now move into the pre-season practice phase in very good heart following some excellent closed season recruitment.