Date: Wednesday 21st April 2021
Location: Oak Meadow, Waltham St Lawrence
Photos: TOP: WSL Before the First Ball (Siva Kumar); BOTTOM: Debutant Yas Sebarajah
Report By: Andy Malliff
Wednesday saw WSL take to the field for their first T20 of the year. An early 5.30 start, along with 16 8-ball overs each necessary in order to get play complete before light. We welcomed newly formed Silchester CC to the club – many of whom had been playing for WSL last season.
As with Reading United, it is pleasing to see that there is so much interest in cricket that new clubs are able to form with relative ease. It was great to reunite with many of the players that we had become close with last season with regular players: captain Saad Jaffary, Usman Ali, Sami Awan and Malik Tahir turning out for the opposition, as well as other players who had played their part last season: Taimur and and Ziggy.
Silchester won the toss and elected to bat first (although, Saad knows had I won the toss, they would have been batting anyway, right, Saad?)
Silchester got off to a great start with Usman (38 retired n.o.) and Nazish (31) taking advantage of any loose bowling from Siva (1-40) and George (0-24) getting the run-rate up to over 10 an over. Even when Nazish fell to Zee at long-off from Siva’s bowling, Ziggy came to the crease and kept the scoreboard ticking over alongside Usman. With Ziggy picking up and injury, both he and Usman retired, allowing fresh batsmen to come to crease and get their eye in before the season-proper starts.
With Hari (0-19) coming onto bowl with WSL’s ‘borrowed’ player, Kiran Alluri (0-18) of Reading United, the scoring started to slow for a bit as both bowled with control, allowing very few wides and restricting the scoring. The pressure mounted on Silchester to post a more competitive total and there was some quick changes as Fawwaz (7) retired not out, Shakeel (1) was run-out by Hari and Malik (4) retired not out also.
This brought Saad (12 n.o.) to the crease along with Sami Awan (0) facing up to Ravi (0-22) and Andy (1-14) and with 36 coming from the last 48 balls, WSL appeared to have potentially restricted Silchester enough to chase down the total with their strong batting line up.
And things got off to a steady start as WSL went into bat with Chris Sharpe (31) and Mazher (12) keeping up with the run rate for the first few overs, despite relatively effective bowling from Taimur (1-22) and Sami (2-29). However, things then started to take a turn in the 4th over as Mazher was caught off of Taimur’s bowling and by the 8th over, Rehan (3) and Hari (0) had also been caught, leaving Zee (18) to join Chris to try and pick up the pieces.
Again things started to pick up for WSL, with Chris taking advantage of anything loose, now that his eye was in, and Zee operating in his typically aggressive style, bringing the game back to the required run-rate and giving WSL the hope that we might come close to a win. But as is ever the way with WSL, the tide turned again, with Zee and Chris both losing their wickets to the bowling of Saad (2-24).
Debutant, Yas, took the crease in his first cricket match, confidently driving Saad through mid-off for his first ever run in cricket, but sadly this was all he could muster as the next ball he faced from the pacey-Sami Awan (2-19) saw his wicket fall, leaving Ravi (24) and Kiran (3) at the crease. For a while, Ravi was able to work the ball around, but time was running out, as were his batting partners as Kiran fell to a questionable LBW that appear to be going over the stumps, George (8) was able to get a decent return from the balls he faced but fell to Sarvesh (2-21) and Siva (5) retired with an over to go, leaving Andy and Ravi needing 16 runs from 8 balls.
First ball 4 wides, second ball 2, third ball 2, fourth ball 1, fifth ball dot, sixth ball 1. With two balls to go, WSL needed 6 runs to win, and unfortunately, that is where it all ended, with Ravi attempting to get there, was bowled out by Sami, clinching Silchester the victory by 5 runs.
The most enjoyable games are always the close ones and the even more enjoyable ones played between friends and familiar faces. It was a pleasure to host Silchester and we look forward to having a rematch once the season is underway.