THUNDERSTORM SEALS WSL AS CHAMPIONS

Report by Chris England.

Waltham St. Lawrence CC became BCL Division 2 champions when a late afternoon thunderstorm brought an early conclusion to the game eight overs into the home teams reply.

The eagerly awaited delayed final game of the season against Earley CC looked like being intriguing one when thunder, lightning and rain arrived. After a delay, the WSL groundsman inspected the wicket and surrounding area only to discover that water had run under the covers and onto the wicket. He, in agreement with both captains, called the game off.

In an attempt to get the game on both sides had agreed on an early start. Stand in captain, Ravi Sainani, won the toss and elected to field. WSL needed a win to secure the title and the best route to achieving that seemed to put the opposition in and bowl them out.

Siva Kumar, continued his excellent season by bowling three consecutive maidens and he was well complimented by Zee Gujjar who bowled Early opener Owen Bye, leaving Earley struggling at 4-1 after 6 overs. However, Earley skipper, Gary Shacklady and new comer Mit Patel steadied things until the former was sharply caught in the slips by Chris England, off the bowling of Zee Gujjar. Ollie Johnson now joined Patel, and quickly set about the WSL bowling. Skipper Ravi Sainani rotated his bowlers but the two batsmen were looking increasingly comfortable and dangerous.

After an impressive partnership of 103, Chris England finally broke through, bowling Johnson for 61. Wickets suddenly came more rapidly, with Earley needing to up the run rate, England trapping Ram LBW and the returning Gujjar had Aduri well caught in the deep by Ravi Sainani. Waltham sensed they were into the opposition tail but another new- comer Machupalli came in and smacked an aggressive 40 in quick time. He was finally bowled by England and the stubborn resistance of Patel (69) was ended by when he was caught by Ankush Gandhi off Chris Waghorn. The Earley innings concluded on 203 for 7, a few more than WSL would have hoped to have chased.

In reply, Waltham openers Ankush Gandhi (26 n.o.) and Sree Venkata (21 n.o.) set about the task brisky, with both looking confident and scoring boundaries. But the rain clouds were gathering, and when thunder and lightning arrived, the opposition skipper requested to take his team off. After a good deal of rule discussion and checking, the ground was finally declared unfit. Waltham St. Lawrence CC were champions and remained unbeaten all season.

It was a slight anti-climax as Waltham felt they had the batting to see the job done. Poor Lee Capeling spent even more time with his pads on and not getting to the crease! However, Earley had clearly come for a draw to secure their third spot – they even included three new players – and the BCL rules meant the WSL task would become increasingly difficult with reduced overs. However, health and safety prevailed.

So the league season is over and there is much to celebrate. Firstly, the amazing batting of Ankush Gandhi, whose 900+ runs will surely win the whole BCL batting award. Further great knocks from Asif Ali, Zee Gujjar, Sree Venkata and Chris Sharpe; Siva Kumar having his best season with the ball; the arrival of all-rounder Chris Waghorn; also our gregarious overseas player, Sid Sainani and many more memorable moments. But as ever success, was due to strong team performances. Congratulations to captain Andy Malliff and vice skipper Ravi Sainani. Finally, recognition should be given to the everyone who played for the 2nd XI who must take the award for resilience and commitment.