Match report from Ian Garrett
A senior club member commented at the end of the game “That was a jolly good win” (he may have used a different adjective, I couldn’t be sure). But he was right – in blazing heat, and with injury striking, this was a game Ways looked like losing for much of the Himbleton innings, only to win in the end by a comfortable margin. Like last week, the standout performers were Khizar Khan and Anthony Jones, with Anthony’s second spell the decisive moment in the match.
Himbleton won the toss and perhaps surprisingly elected to field, and Ian Garrett and Zo Ahmed made a steady start against tight bowling, with Ian striking successive fours from Jones to take the score past 40 after ten overs. But both then fell in successive overs from Rose, leaving the score on 48-2. Hamza and Khizar then put together a sound partnership, with Khizar more circumspect than usual (though “more circumspect” is relative – there were still a couple of enormous sixes!). Ways seemed to be building a good platform when the innings was turned by a spell from young Godwyn, who had started off as wicket-keeper. Bowling at pace and swinging the ball into the right hander, he bowled Hamza and Craig Heath in successive overs – 89-4 and the run rate on four an over. Khizar and Chris Webber then repaired the innings, aided by plentiful extras (Himbleton were to end up giving us 26 extra runs in wides), only for Chris to end a sharply run two flat on the ground writhing in pain. The opposition GP, who would have a busy afternoon, diagnosed a problem with the patella. Chris soldiered on and although hampered in his running, made a valuable 18, before being bowled in a similar manner to Craig, and then Godwyn trapped skipper Jon Tovey LBW to finish with figures of 4-31 and leave Ways wobbling at 144-6. However, as Godwyn came off things became easier, and perhaps in the heat, Himbleton’s outcricket, sharp in the early stages, faded, with Khizar the main recipient, dropped four times, two at least from pretty straightforward chances. Khizar went to 50 with another mighty blow over the covers, and had reached 63 when swinging once too often at Thaker – 189-7. The followed probably the best batting of the innings, as Iain Wingfield and Anthony Jones added 49, despite Iain clearly suffering from the heat in the final couple of overs, leading to more involvement from Dr Garner, the opposition’s busy GP. A final total of 233 looked strong, especially given our large outfield, which meant many 2s and 3s for shots that would have been boundaries at Himbelton.
But for the first fifteen overs, the target didn’t look threatening at all, as Himbleton raced to 91-0, by which point all-rounder Godwyn was passed fifty. In Anthony’s first over, fours streaked through cover and midwicket, and so it went on. Anthony came out of the firing line after four overs, but Hamza could not stem the flow either, and nor initially could Iain Wingfield’s spin, with Godwyn launching them both for leg side sixes in the last two overs before drinks at fifteen. Ways were sufficiently off the pace for captain JT to gather us on the outfield before resumption for an official bollocking. This seemed to have the desired effect, as the run rate slowed, with Iain bowling a superb containing spell with four successive maidens after drinks, which helped get us back into the contest. Hannah Murray took the key wicket – having rapped Godwyn on the gloves with one that lifted, and exchanged impressive stares, she then pitched it up for Godwyn to slice his drive into the covers where Sabir took a comfortable catch. Dr Garner entered and went for his shots immediately, with Preece continuing to play the supporting role. Hannah came off after a four over spell, to be replaced at the top end by the returning Anthony Jones. Anthony found pace, length and movement at once, and his first ball struck the off stump of the obdurate Preece. Garner should have gone soon after, when a stumping chance was missed in Iain Wingfield’s next over, the bowler’s disappointment rigorously expressed, but it made little difference as Garner advanced down the track to Anthony and yorked himself – 154-3. Jon Tovey replaced Iain as his spell was complete, and struck immediately as Thaker looked to launch him over the leg-side and top-edged the ball straight up in the air for Zo, standing in for Chris Webber, to take behind the stumps. 165-4, and now the Himbleton innings went into free-fall, as no one could partner the experienced Rose. Anthony struck the stumps twice more in his final over, to finish with outstanding figures of 4-43 (but most of the runs from his initial four over spell), and then Hamza returned to keep the pressure on. Panic was starting to set in, and having rehearsed mid pitch confusion twice in the previous over, Byrne was run out when Craig fielded and returned smartly to Hamzah at the bowler’s end. The run rate now above 7 and rising, Rose then followed, aiming the big shot at Hamzah and missing, and Edmunds was left bowled and looking slightly foolish by Hamzah's in-dipping slower ball in the same over.
Sabir returned to finish the innings off an over later, and the victory margin of 51 runs would have seemed scarcely credible fifteen overs previously. Once the breach came however, the dam burst, with the last eight wickets falling for just 28. This was a victory that showed resilience, in the face of heat, injury, and opponents seemingly coasting to their target at one point.
It was an important win, that keeps us ahead of Alvechurch and snapping at Old Halesonians’ heels, and maintaining our momentum into the games ahead.