Match report from Ian Garrett
A game particularly enjoyed by opening batters on both sides (who ended with a combined average of 94) saw Feckenham set a target that whilst it was still in sight at around the 25 over mark of Ways’ innings, proved to be just too great to chase down. A combination of a friendly astro pitch, and to be fair, fairly friendly bowling on both sides, combined with short boundaries and a rugged outfield that made fielding near the boundary difficult saw over 500 runs scored in total, but Ways ending up 60 runs short of their target.
The Feckenham openers rattled up 200 in a massive opening partnership, the tone set when Curtis crunched the first delivery of the game for four, and two over later, sliced the first of several sixes in the match over third man. Anything short sat up to be punished – anything overpitched could be driven. Banks provided support, but also took advantage of the short boundaries and put away anything wayward. In the absence of Steve Moore, who dismissed both these batters last week, there was little Ways could do to stem the tide. Brian Varley gave the greatest control, and was comfortably the most economical, bowling his eight overs through in one spell at four an over. In his final over, Brian had Curtis missed twice, one a fairly straightforward chance to backward point. If this had been held and Curtis dismissed in the 80s, Feckenham might have been held to around 250, which would certainly have bene chaseable. By the time he was dismissed, walking past Will Leach’s off spin to present Laura Hill with a stumping, he had made 122. Abi Crampton then bowled a good spell of inswing and dismissed Sam Curtis, athletically caught by Jon Gregory at point, and then Banks, falling nine short of his century when slicing the ball into the covers, where Will Leech took a comfortable catch. Not easy conditions in which to keep the run-scoring under control, but too much of the bowling, with Brian and Abi honourable exceptions, gave at least one easy ball to put away per over.
Even so, for much of the Ways innings the game seemed to be in the balance. Ian Garrett imitated Curtis by hitting the first ball of the innings for four, but it was Laura Hill, having escaped a chance to square leg in the first over, who was the dominant partner early on. Cull bowled pacily and well from the bottom end, but this also meant that any bat on the ball sent it away behind the wicket to the boundary, and Laura especially profited behind square. Ian meanwhile drove Raxster when he overpitched, the fifty partnership came up in ten overs, and when Shearer came on as first change, this tended to present more deliveries both short and overpitched that could be put away, the youngster’s line and length seemingly affected by the left / right hand partnership. Laura brought up her fifty with a rare two, the 100 partnership was raised, and Laura celebrated by pulling Shearer for successive fours. However, in the next over with the score 114, Laura was trapped when backing up too eagerly, young leg spin bowler Sam Curtis fielded an Ian drive and with a smart piece of work, swept off the bails with Laura short of regaining her crease. Curtis then ran through the rest of the middle order, with Harry Mac swinging across a straight ball to be bowled and Will Leach, after a pleasant drive for four at the other hand, charged past Curtis’s last delivery to be easily stumped. Ian meanwhile had gone to his fourth fifty of the season when hitting Curtis over extra cover to the boundary. At the twenty over drinks break, the score was 129-3 – behind the rate, but not by too much.
Ian began the final session by pulling the first two deliveries from Raxster to the square leg boundary, and in that bowler’s next over, Zoheeb smashed him over long leg for six. On came the very slow Conway, and Zoheeb eagerly chopped successive twos into the off side, but fatally changed tactics next ball, attempting a sweep and being caught off the back of the bat – 155-4 in the 24th over, with Ian at this stage on 63*. A single from a high no ball full toss got Jon Gregory off the mark, and left Ian facing the free hit, which resulted in a most un-Garrett like shimmy down the wicket and straight hit for six. The next ball, dropped in short, disappeared over square leg for six more. Raxster, still tending to bowl too short, was pulled for two fours in the next over. Cull the opener returned at the “school” end with Ian on 87 – a cover drive for two, a full toss slashed to the third man boundary and a sweet pick up over square leg for six took Ian to 99, and a dabbed single into the onside saw him reach his hundred on the last ball of the over. This was in fairness something that escaped all concerned at the time, an edged single in the forties having been given as leg bye, and when Conway got one straight in the next over, Ian missed it, looking for the nudged single on the off side, and believing he had gone for a frustrating 99. But when Feckenham loaded up the scores onto Play Cricket, 100 it was. That dismissal at 195-5 left the task too much for the remaining batters, although Jon Gregory batted nicely until a little unfortunate to be bowled off his pads. Cull’s pace was too much for some of the later batters, and the innings finished when a direct hit from Shearer from cover ran out Anas Ahmed.
Sixty short then, and the absence of both Steve Moore and Lucy Hardy hurt us in the field, but a more than creditable performance with the bat, leaving some people at least looking forward to the next round of MVP placings.