An exciting encounter finished just as the rain set in at Himbleton on Saturday, as a superb innings from Matt Stanczyszyn, well supported by Ian Garrett, took Ways home comfortably enough in the end. On a green wicket that perhaps did less than expected, and with Himbleton’s tiny boundaries facilitating run scoring, the run rate blazed along at over five in both innings, but Ways proved to have the greater depth.
Skipper Jon Tovey won the toss and inserted Himbleton, who approached their innings as if they were playing a T20. Both openers went quickly, Sajid Ali striking aided by an excellent low catch from Chris Webber behind the stumps, and Anthony Jones, who had had a straightforward chance missed a slip then got one to hold its line and clip off stump. By this time however, the Himbleton number 3, Jeremy Pilgrim, was already blazing away, smashing 39 in just twenty balls, reaching the boundary six times and over it twice. He rode his luck – one six, a top edged hook off Jones, would have been caught on almost any other ground but just cleared the 45 metre Himbleton straight boundary – but also hit the ball at times with awesome power, until trapped LBW by a ball pitched right up to him from Matt Stanczyszyn, who then struck again in the same over to reduce Himbleton to 63-4. This brought Sean Jenkins, normally the first team captain to the crease, and he built his innings sensibly, whilst quick to drive anything over-pitched. The score had risen to 96 when Sabir Ahamedzai struck, bowling with pace and some movement, and this precipitated something of a collapse, as the Himbleton batters continued to blaze away, but missed as frequently as connecting. Matt and Sabir each finished with three wickets, and 114-8, it looked like Jenkins would be left high and dry, and Ways could be chasing a score well short of 150. But Jenkins stepped up a gear, perhaps with the bowlers tiring, and Thaker at number ten batted with much better technique than several of those who had gone before him, and took full advantage of Iain Wingfield struggling to find a length in his first couple of overs. The scoring rate touched on six an over at one point, and as Jenkins went passed fifty and beyond, the 200 came up, and still ten overs remained, it started to look like Ways could be chasing something past 250. But then Wingfield took the key wicket – Jenkins superbly caught by Stanczyszyn on the long off boundary for 75 – and Hannah Murray then wrapped up the innings an over later, and the target to win was 205.
In conditions that throughout alternated between pleasantly sunny and distinctly gloomy, Ways made a poor start with Wingfield falling to opposition skipper Caspar Jones, but were steadied by a good partnership between Stanczyszyn and Jim Braddock. Matt played the ball pleasantly off his legs and was quick to pull anything remotely short, like the Himbleton batters, benefiting from the short boundaries, as anything that got past the fielders on three sides of the ground was four, even if not perfectly timed. Jim got under way with two powerful back foot drives off Jones, but then had a piece of good fortune when edging Pilgrim to the wicketkeeper, who missed a fairly straightforward catch, something the bowler seemed to find difficult to forgive. As the fifty partnership came up, with Ways up with the scoring rate, a good position was being built, but then when Thaker came on, Jim fell to his first delivery, a slow long hop outside off stump, which somehow he mishit almost straight up in the air to be caught and bowled for 18. Thaker now settled into a very good spell, having Chris Webber caught behind and bowling Glenn Richardson, and at 87-4 the advantage was with the home team. Ian Garrett[ then came to join Matt, and they built a century partnership that took Ways almost home. Ian began by chopping four and square cutting two to get under way, Matt soon went to his fifty, the score progressed past 100 and beyond. The main danger was some adventurous running, and three or four times, direct hits would have seen the end of the partnership, but equally, pushing for runs kept the scoreboard ticking over and meant that the dangerous Thaker in particular could be sat on without the required rate rising too much. The turning point came when Matt hit Jenkins for three fours in an over, and then Thaker in his final over was encouraged to dig the ball in at Ian, who responded by smashing it over square leg, leading to an entertaining exchange with the close in fielders. The return of the pacy Pilgrim saw the scoring accelerate further, as Ian drove his first ball on return through the covers for four, and Matt then smashed a short ball over square leg for six. Now Ways were far enough in front of the rate to afford the odd quiet over, and when Pilgrim’s final over went for twelve including a square cut three from Matt, four byes from a ball that shaved Ian’s stumps, and then a classic Garrett nick through the slips for four leaving the bowler close to spontaneous combustion, Ways were almost home. The hundred partnership came in spectacular style in the following over from Street as Matt crashed a shorter ball to the off side fence and then launched a straight drive back over the bowler’s head for six. Nine to win in as many overs, but sadly Matt could not see Ways home – the returning Jones gave him a ball so short and wide he could barely reach it and the resulting toe-end was pouched at point. Matt out frustratingly two short of his hundred, but it was a magnificent innings, with very few false shots and rising to a crescendo as he and Ian chased the target down. Four leg byes raised the 200, and Ian then faced Street with five needed. The first ball was pulled through square for four, the second driven off the back foot past mid off for another boundary to win the match, and in the process raise Ian’s fifty too.
So an impressive win to begin the league season with a fantastic all round performance from Stanczyszyn, but testimony also to depth in both the bowling and batting, and a great confidence booster for the season to come.
Match report by Ian Garrett