Playing league cricket in April will provide weather forecasters accurate long range data…the preceding two weekends will be warm sunshine then it will be cold. Freezing was the word used by most Waltham St Lawrence players though Scottish import Chris Apps will tell you it was almost tropical.
Waltham St Lawrence 2nd XI opened their 2017 Berkshire Cricket League Division 4 season with an away fixture to Falkland Development at their excellent and very well maintained Wash Common grounds. Given the slightly overcast and chilly conditions Chris Herbert had no hesitation inviting Falkland to bat first after winning the toss. Opening the bowling with speed sensation Matt Nebbett and the medium pace of Herbert against the dangerous opening batting partnership of Patel and Natarajan who set about punishing any loose and wide deliveries swiftly taking the score to 28 from the opening 6 overs. With Herbert contemplating an early bowling change Nebbett took the first wicket with the score on 30 clean bowling Patel with a quick late moving delivery. This did slow the run rate down with Nebbett removing Natarajan and Herbert bowling Lennox with a straight(ish) delivery edged onto middle stump. Herbert changed both ends replacing Nebbett with the up and coming talent of Hamid Kiani and himself with the experience of Siva Kumar.
After early nerves Kiani removed Sankar who attempting to force a shot from a slow ball offered a straight forward catch to Ziggy Kiani in the covers. With Hamid unable to repeat his early success and Kumar tying up one end, Herbert introduced the leg spin of Harris Khan to the attack. Though it took time Khan removed home captain Thomas (38) who holed out to Kenneth Simpson who took an excellent catch in the deep as the ball came down with snow on it. With Kumar having bowled his allocation of 9 overs conceding only 21 runs 10 of which were conceded from two deliveries Herbert introduced the medium pace Ziggy Kiani to the attack while at the other end Khan was putting the home batsmen under considerable pressure. Khan bamboozled Strachan (0) and Ziggy removed the watchful Bhandari but I don’t remember how! With scoreboard pressure telling number 9 Hawkins attacked immediately but his eagerness caused the run out of young Le Roux run out by Herbert short of his ground. Khan ended his 9 overs removing Camplin (1) with the score at 180/9. Herbert re-introduced himself and Nebbett to the attack hoping for a quick end to the innings but number 11 Vaidyanathan despite being dropped twice off Herbert’s bowling had other ideas scoring a quick 25no with an array of attacking shots. Nebbett ended the innings bowling Hawkins with a quick delivery. Falkland all out for 217 at the end of the 43rd over.
An excellent home tea completed, the opening partnertship of Ziggy Kiani and Chris Sharpe faced the rather quick new ball bowling of Vaidyanathan and the left arm medium pace of Hawkins. Vaidyanathan clean bowled Ziggy (1) then Sharpe (14) caught behind while attempting to cut a quick delivery too close to his body. Returning Nick Philp and young Haris Khan were watchful early in their innings before Philp was bowled with a rapid full delivery from Vaidyanathan which broke one of the bails. This brought Kenneth Simpson to the crease who settled quickly punishing loose deliveries but also defending well when required.. By drinks the partnership was 85 but inevitably drinks breaks produce wickets shortly after and Khan (34) played a rash shot held by Hawkins off the bowling of Natarajan.
With the experience of Savva Christodoulou joining Simpson at the crease the Waltham players supporting from the boundary edge sensed this partnership could be the one to take us close to victory. With Christodoulou playing some fine early innings shots he took the pressure off Simpson who turned his own innings into his maiden 50 in adult cricket. From this point the partnership had some freedom with both players sending the ball to all parts of the ground and despite the late re-introduction of Vaidyanathan to the attack the game was up and the 99* partnership came in 13.3 overs with Simpson finishing on 88no and Chistodoulou 49no providing the second team with it’s highest successful run chase since victory over Twyford and Ruscombe at the end of the 2013 season.
Most importantly credit is given to the young players of Falkland Development who never allowed their heads to drop at any time during their fielding innings and who played cricket in the correct spirit which is sadly missing from the modern game and I believe they have some good young players who will represent Falkland at a higher level of cricket.