Saturday, August 06, 2011


Bath C.C. 4th XI v Easton Cowboys C.C. Saturday XI

Arriving at the Brownsword ground in Lansdown, the well-organised opposition appeared to be going through their exercise routines in the far distance. On closer inspection, they were in fact much nearer, but mostly tiny.

With Budge away at Eastnor Castle for the weekend, RT1 took the helm, lost the toss on what looked like a fine batting wicket bathed in sunshine and was asked to bowl.

The opposition captain, one of the few adults in the team, opened the batting with a very competent colt. Together they proved solid against RT1 and Ev's opening overs, finding the boundary several times across a fast outfield. Rob bowled a particularly tight line but it was Ev who was unlucky to have their skipper dropped to a diving chance at point when barely in double figures.

Disconcertingly, the same batsman developed a propensity for hitting a good length ball on off stump across the line, behind square to the boundary. After ten overs Bath were 40-0 and Ev's usual tight rein on the runs had been loosened, so RT1 decided to bring on a bowler who'd been spanked for eight an over last week.

Fortunately, the muscle memory or whatever kicked in and he bowled a tidy line and length which didn't get clobbered, at first, but then their skipper lashed out successfully across the line into a vacant leg-side field to the boundary. It was a risky but effective shot. The ball wasn't swinging and there was little movement off the pitch. In the 17th over he reached his fifty with a six over mid-wicket and the bowler was not amused. Two balls later he attempted something similar and was bowled to much relief.

Rog had replaced RT1 at the other end but not initially mirrored his economy. The new batsman hit an early boundary but the next over Simon covered ground to pouch a great catch - the Cider Moment if memory serves. Rog then immediately struck, trapping the remaining opener LBW and when he removed the incoming batsman in the same manner for a duck in his next over, the screw was starting to tighten on the opposition.

The next batswoman distracted a few Cowboys, not only for the rumour that she'd played at a national level and it fell to your correspondent to, er, tie her down. Eventually, in her attempt to break free, she clipped a ball to leg and was half way down the wicket before she realised that she'd been sent back: Calm proficient fielding and keeping ran her out by miles.

In six overs, the Cowboys had taken five wickets for thirteen runs and reduced Bath to 89-5. Kalu then came on to bowl and without getting much turn, took the remaining five, four of them ducks, in a spell of 5 for 10 causing the innings to capitulate to 113 all out in the 35th over. Given the regularity with which he is mentioned in these despatches, suffice to say it was a fine mopping up job, aided and abetted by keen attention to field placement and a couple of regulation catches. The fielding had been close to excellent, Gretch had coped admirably behind the stumps with a back injury and opinion was divided as to whether batting conditions or performances had deteriorated as the afternoon had unfolded.

Tea was taken just as the rain arrived and sandwiches were postponed as the covers were rolled into place. There were brighter skies in the distance and after an extra wedge of fine fruitcake the showers passed and the Cowboys' innings commenced.

The opening bowling appeared fairly friendly and batsmen Ev and DaveB looked comfortable until the latter fell on the offensive to a sharp catch in the covers, bringing BenP to the wicket. The score ticked along nicely, both batsmen looking in good form, playing straight and picking off the bad ball. The bowling was rotated frequently but rarely threatened and the fifty came up in the 14th over, just as it had for the opposition. The partnership was looking invincible when Ben imagined a second run which Ev had no chance of finding and was run out on n-n-n-n-nineteen.

Simon looked at home and capable of reproducing the bludgeoning witnessed in the nets, until bowled by the wicketkeeper who had taken her pads off to come into the attack. When Iggy was well caught in the covers the following over, that familiar nerve jangled for an instant, despite the depth of the batting to come, but with only thirty runs required, six wickets in hand and Ben and Kalu at the crease, Bath were about to be rinsed.

Ben brought up (not last night's curry) his fifty with a boundary having made the most of a good wicket in a near chanceless innings while Kalu got in on the act and smote three boundaries, both remaining not out and earning Man of the Match nominations for their respective superlative roles in the game as the Cowboys comfortably crossed the line in the 26th over.

Returning to the main ground in the city for a pint, the Cowboys reflected on the afternoon's play and as the match in front of them concluded, dared to imagine the possibility of playing in a higher division.


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