Report by Ian Garrett
What was virtually a 3rd XI side met Droitwich Spa with little confidence last Saturday, but in fact produced a very combative performance in an excellent game of cricket, where many of our youngsters showed up well, and with a bit more luck, Ways could have scraped a win. Droitwich batted first by mutual consent, Ways skipper Jonathan Tovey anticipating a long afternoon chasing the ball, with a scratch bowling attack and only ten players. In fact, it didn’t turn out like that – the bowlers acquitted themselves well, and were backed up by a committed and excellent performance in the field, that ended up bowling Droitwich out with an over to spare.
Droitwich began with a solid opening partnership of 74, but the openers could never get away. JT bowled with guile and variation from one end, bowling his 13 overs through in one spell, and Sabir (apart from one loose over) and Abid bowled well from the other end, despite taking a blow in the ribs from a fierce straight drive. It was Abid who broke the opening partnership when one of the Droitwich batters chipped to Sabir at mid on. However, the real turning point came with the introduction of Zoheeb’s wrist spin. Zoheeb struck twice in his first over, a full toss shovelled to JT at midwicket, and then a perfectly placed googly to trap the new batter LBW for a duck. Zoheeb was to bowl right through his allotted 13 overs to finish with a maiden 5-for for Ways, his figures of 5-42 speaking of the control he exerted as well as the threat he consistently posed to the Droitwich batters. The remainder of the innings was carried by young Phillips, who made a maiden fifty, striking the ball well straight and over to cow corner, supported for a while by his father. But no Droitwich batter past number 3 reached double figures as wickets fell steadily, Zoheeb backing up his bowling with two good catches in the covers, as well as bowling Phillips for 56 to achieve his 5 wicket haul. Lucy Hardy bowled well to take two wickets, and Sabir Khan came back to remove the tail and a total of 179 seemed within Ways’ reach.
It proved to be just out of it. Most batters got starts, but only Zoheeb got beyond 20. If anyone had been able to convert their useful 15 to 20 into a more substantial 30 or 40 we would have won, but it was not quite to be. Laure Hill and Jon Gregory got us off to an excellent start in an opening partnership of 38, Laura powerful through the on side before lifting a drive to be caught at mid on. Jon and Ian Garrett took the score past 50 before Ian slapped a short ball to gully (53-2) and Jon was yorked two overs later. Harry Mac and Zooheen to slicveheeb repaired the damage, Harry unleashing some powerful drives before being bowled by their young spinner for 19 (97-4). Zoheeb and Simon Legood put together another sound partnership before Simon was caught and bowled the ball before the 30 over drinks. Jon Tovey then slashed and pulled three boundaries in an over to take Ways ahead of the rate, only for Zoheeb to slice a drive into the covers for 27 to lose a wicket at a crucial moment. Sabir struck some powerful blows before falling to the guile of Edwards, and at this point, for the first time, the odds tilted towards Droitwich. When left armer Grainger trapped skipper Tovey LBW, the task facing the batters was too great, and the lack of eleven players was significant for the first time. Edwards mopped up the tail, and Ways fell 22 runs short.
Even so, this was an encouraging performance, and one suspects that at the beginning of the afternoon, a result we would have gladly taken. It was one of the best performances in the field of which I have been part, as ever well led by JT, and the performances of the usually 3rd XI youngsters, Harry, Abid and Lucy, was a real encouragement for the future. 5 Ways cricket is in safe hands for the future on this basis.