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With a round 2 wash out and midweek heatwave fortunately behind us the club’s premiere Second xi took their talents to the Eversley Sports Association on a seemingly pleasant, placid afternoon.

 After an enforced hiatus, Skipper Jag Bhabra returned, while last week’s leader Richie Noble stayed in the side to play the role of ‘stabilisers’ to Jag’s tactically wobbly bicycle. [Edit: Andy Chorley was also on hand providing tactical nous, however I didn’t think the word ‘stable’ would have applied].

 Jag won his second toss in row and decided to keep with the winning formula by batting first. With a slightly rejigged top 4, Chorley and Noble, RW. took on the new ball and did so very admirably. The openers put on a 55 run partnership on a genuinely deck that resembled the proverbial licorice, with deliveries on a length rocketing up and peppering Noble and Chorley including one gloved over the keeper. The partnership broke as Chorley was felled for 29 by a misbehaving ball but had set us up nicely at just over 5 an over. Enter Her Majesty’s personal vocal coach Tom Lilburn. The Royal chorister dug in with Noble and kept the game flowing as conditions toughened, and got us to 99 before Noble departed for 32 – with a brief interlude where he asked for a change of gloves as his had reached their demise, only to realise he had been wearing left handed gloves for last year. For all of Nobsey’s qualities, I’m afraid to say he literally didn’t know his left from his right.

Eversley were relentlessly accurate with their bowling, keeping the ball on the side of their fielders and found fortune as we failed to find the gaps.

One Noble replaced the other, as Richard strode to the crease with the mighty aura of a man that belied the fact he had yet to pick up a bat this year. Meanwhile, Robert returned to the boundary with his pitch report and contorted hard not to ‘sound like Tugboat’ before uttering the phrase; “it was doing all sorts”.

Another partnership looked to blossom; Richie battled his way into some form, hitting some lovely shots en route to a well earned 12, however the run rate suffered at Eversley seemed to zero in and give less away both in the field and tight bowling. Tom Lilburn continued with some lovely drives and before he became the next victim for 38, without adding to the score of 130.

By now we were deep into the innings Karl Christian Ziemkendorf struggled to get off the mark and when joined by skipper Jag, the pressure was on with less than 8 overs to go and little time to get settled. The pair struggled to find gaps forcing some aggressive running, something not suited to Karl who struggles with a condition akin to someone who runs through treacle. Bhabra was then bowled for 3, bringing in Ryan Lewin. Lewin, who was incensed by the idea of missing his beloved Arsenal win the FA cup while he stood in the field smashed his way to a vital 20. Ryan was supported by Karl, who was removed for 2, then Omar Mubarak who only scored one but who’s running between the wickets was so electric and opportunistic the opposition had to accuse him of cheating to try and hinder his brilliance. We finished on 172 for 6, 3 runs off a potential batting bonus point – a point that’s importance is not lost on this side after last year.

Another alfresco tea, this time without Birchy’s Basket, flew by as Windsor took the field and Dean Bean took the new ball with Omar.

The bowlers started well without much success, until Dean hit the pads on what looked plum. The decision wasn’t given, and when the umpire gave his beyond preposterous reasoning, it seemed as if his decision making was fait accompli, incensing Bean and souring him for the rest of the game. There were a couple of LBWs that never were, which really created a hostile cynical mood amongst the men. 

Omar made a breakthrough after an opening stand of 39, and Bean took the other opener not long after. The opposition were 47-2 and we were in the game but the mood had soured and the team struggled to keep themselves calm after their discontent was confused for dissent, which seemed to escalate the situation on the field. Ryan Lewin had come on and bowled well down the hill, whilst Tom Brooker toiled up the hill in a thankless role he did with genuine enthusiasm, which was made more difficult as some overzealous umpiring repeatedly pinged him for overstepping the crease. To which crease he was referring was a mystery to me monitoring from Mid-on. Alas, tensions flared again. With Ryan bowling well, he was rewarded with a wicket, caught by Chorley, taking his second slip catch. George Smith took over from Brooker who by this point had departed his normal self to a version of Kevin the Teenager in an attempt to protest the perceived injustices. Smith had more luck with a wicket, helped by a good catch by Tom Lilburn and laboured well.

 Jag came on and bowled tidily, taking a wicket with his first ball to break a mini partnership, caught by Karl, then followed with another one, Rob Noble taking a good stumping. 145-6. We were still in the game however needed to bowl them out, Eversley number 3 was still in and bludgeoning his was to 50, with was one of those innings that could have burned bright and been snuffed out early, but came off as he found the gaps and played his as the key innings to his credit. Of one of the many skyward shots, one fell just short of the diving Jag, and bounced in a vengeful manner splitting the skippers lip and almost sending him to the dentist again as a Div 7 captain for the CC.

Ryan got the danger man, another catch, well watched by Lilburn; 145-7.

Very much in the game.

 Brooker contained them well down the hill after Lewin’s spell but without a breakthrough, so Smith was brought on and broke took a ket wicket shattering the stumps with a yorker 161-8.

Bhabra hit the pads again but to no avail – the umpire’s explanation leaving the feeling that the spirit of the game may have been slightly tainted.

Eversley got over the line with time to spare and deserve an abundance of credit for their outstanding bowling and fielding. Windsor’s middle order deceleration seemed costly, but great catching from the Gents kept us in a game that felt like a handicapped race at times, with Windsor being adding to their own hindrance.

 We look to bounce back at home against Finch this weekend in what looks like a scorcher of a day.

 Runs:

T Lilburn: 38

RW Noble: 32

A Chorley: 28

Bowling:

Bhabra 2-23

Lewin 2-37

Smith 2-25

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