An excellent game of cricket which swung one way and then another so Ways lose out in the final over when a dropped catch that would have tied the game went down to allow the Worcester batters to scamper through for the 48th run of a match winning tenth wicket partnership. Fine margins throughout – 35 extras given to Worcester (though in fairness they gave us 32), three dropped catches including that crucial one at the end (though in fairness some excellent catches were taken), a loss of momentum in the final four overs of the Ways innings (though in fairness, it was a very good and consistent batting display overall). It was a fine game in which to participate – but would have been even finer if we had just managed to come out on the other side of the result.
Skipper Jon Tovey won the toss and chose to bat, and after the early loss of Laura Hill, neatly caught down the leg side, and Chris Webber, bowled playing back to a full length delivery, Abdul (Frenchy) Ali and Jim Braddock rebuilt the innings with a well constructed partnership. Jim played the anchor role, and Frenchy put away the loose ball through the leg side, and cashed in on this season’s innovation, the post no ball free hit. As drinks approached, the innings seemed to be progressing well, only for Frenchy to be the first of two run out victims in the innings, both caught just short of the crease by a direct hit from cover : 89-3. Ian Garrett then joined Jim, and added a breezy 21, as the pair ran hard between the wickets, and looked to cash in on the inevitable loose ball from the spinners. Ian fell at 128, another sharp catch by young wicketkeeper Williams as he looked to cut a ball too close to him. The scoring rate then accelerated further as captain Jon Tovey played an excellent cameo of 33, including three sixes swept or picked up over the leg side, and when Jon was trapped LBW by Cook, Sabir Khan also hit some big shots, including a massive leg side six, before gloving a hook to Williams from the returning Ali. At 200 – 6 from 41, Ways seemed well placed, but crucially as it turned out, only ten runs came from the final four overs, Braddock holing out to cover just short of his fifty, Zoheeb becoming the second victim of a direct hit run out, and the later batters struggled to get bat on ball and work the singles. There was a feeling at tea that we were about ten runs short – a prescient feeling as it turned out.
The Worcester innings got off to the best possible start however, when Sabir induced an edge first ball which Laura Hill clung on to behind the stumps, and then a few overs later dismissed the other opener with an athletic one handed caught and bowled. Ahmed and Fletcher fought back though, both driving powerfully, and the run rate accelerated until Chris Webber came on and beat Fletcher’s sweep, followed by Shakir Khan, in another excellent spell, inducing an outside edge from Ahmed. 73-4, and Ways seemingly in control. There followed a frustrating partnership between Ali and Jones-Cook, with half chances missed and Webber in particular being unlikely with several mistimed shots that landed just short of fielders or just cleared the. Eventually, he trapped Jones-Cook LBW, and when Zain Arif had Ali mishooking to Laura Hill, at 141-6, Ways seemed back in control. Zain picked up two further wickets, both caught by Zoheeb, the second a diving grab from a sliced drive at cover, and when Jon Tovey bowled Cook to make the score 163-9, the game seemed as good as over. It was not. Williams was already batting well, and Hussain opened his shoulders powerfully to find the boundary, and the target required dropped rapidly. The returning Sabir couldn’t find a way through, a tiring Zain began to lose direction, the batters ran aggressively and kept the required rate from rising above six. A loose 49th over made the Worcester batters favourites and left them needing just four from the final over. A three from the first ball made the scores level, but Shakir kept up the pressure and induced a loose drive from the fourth delivery which curled into the off side – to be spilled by the advancing fielder. Never easy – but the difference today between a tie and a defeat.
So, fine margins. Too few runs at the end of our innings, too many extras at the end of theirs. Missed opportunities in the field. In many ways an excellent performance with contributions from every player. Next time maybe, the luck will be with us. This time, success just slipped through our grasp.