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“We remember not the scores and the results in after years; it is the men who remain in our minds, in our imagination.” – Neville Cardus

The start of the league season has sprung upon as it always does, sluggishly lumbering through the depths of winter before cantering briskly through spring to catch many of us unprepared and undercooked.

Last year, Windsor’s premiere side, the Second xi, built on a promotion winning season with a solid mid table finish. Through the bizarre workings of the TVL meant that the side finished one place above relegation despite leaving 4 sides below them.

2022 takes on a new look with Sam Jordan the man steering the ship, and looking to continue to pull the side up through the divisions to return the side to its former glory. 

As is the the usual fuore with the early season, Sam selected a side with mixed experience but foremostly their ability to turn up to  Home Park on the day.

Lot’s of returning faces, with club staples Rob Noble, Tim Hale, Nilesh Bhandari, Pankaj Garg, Tom Brooker, Jag Bhabra, Trig Soni & Ben Svenson all showing up, with younger faces Harry Bicknell and Bailey Niblett graduating to the side to take on The Old Merchant Taylor’s side.

SJ won the toss and judged it best to put OMT into bat, with Tommy and Bailey taking the new ball. With lots of stiff bodies in the field on fantastically warm day (contrast to the wash out to start last season), the boys battled through the innings. The opening seamers battled with little cut through but containing the run rate, before Bailey felt some back tightness.

Trig made a breakthrough as first change with the help of a cracking catch by Harry Bicknell, but the bowlers continued to plug with little success.

Nilesh nabbed up the second wicket, deeper into the innings, using his preferred Modus Operandi of LBW, but this time without the aid of his chief accomplice Umpire Keith Bristow, who was on duty with the 1s. The 2s buckled down, trying to keep the run rate down on what was a flat deck for the seamers. Everyone toiled, non more so than Ben Svenson. Ben, who is preparing for his international call up to the Kuwaiti national side, qualifying through his Swedish grandfather, bowled well but without the figures to show. Nobsey, who was thrust into keeping despite his rapidly deteriorating back, managed to make it to drinks before giving way to the younger but less capable Harry Bicknell who filled in admirably. 

Tommy came back to close out the innings, bowling OMTs star bat for 93 and opening his account for the new season. A tough innings came to a close, with OMT finishing on 250-3. The boys battled well, and Sammy did a great job of adjusting to preferential batting conditions and a quick outfield. Had a couple of catching chances stick rather than go down, the outlook of the innings would be very different.

After a lunch break that went way too quick, the usual suspects of Hale and Noble padded up to take on the new ball. The pairing, legendary throughout the division for their robust opening partnership, faltered uncharacteristically. Hale was the first to go, bowled by wily OMT vet Paul Katz for 3, with Nobsey falling the next over for 6. 10-2 off 6 overs.

Pankaj came to the crease with skipper SJ and the two started about rebuilding. A Fluid 50 partnership was felled on 67 when SJ was the Home park sniper’s latest victim, the sniper’s bullet managing to fell the man in both calves at the same time. Credit to the OMT skipper for reluctantly not running out SJ while he lay wounded and immobile as an overturned turtle, on the C1 strip. Former skipper Jag took his place, before Oud soaked umpire Trigun adjudged him LBW second ball despite the whole of Home Park hearing and seeing bat on ball. The salt was well and truly rubbed in as one of the OMT boys gave Jag a hug as he walked off, and club coach Mehmood asked Jag if he had been caught when he returned to the sideline. Thankfully for Trigun the only other person to maintain it was a fair wicket was the OMT skipper. Shock.

Harry Bicknell strode in, and he and Pankaj really laid into the opposition. The pair bludgeoned a club record 5th wicket partnership of 164, with Pankaj reaching, his much teased, first league hundred and Harry proving lightning does strike twice, and scoring a fifty in his first start of the year. The electric pair eventually were removed for scores of 109 and 81. Pankaj clearly so relieved to get to 100 clearly forgot there was a run chase still happening and started swinging for the fences, and was caught at long off. In his moment of glory, as he strode off, Bicknell’s hell hound of a dog lunged at him putting more fear in him than anything OMYT could muster. It’s good to have cricket back.

SJ returned in hope of closing out the match with Tom Brooker. The pair sauntered the side over the line in the 35th over and red inking for their averages.

Great win for the side who’s issue was scoring runs early last year. Promise lies ahead for round 2 away at Chalfont St Peter.

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