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George Smith reports

Pendant le weekend, je suis allé à la village jouer du cricket. A sentence which translates to: During the weekend, I went to the village to play cricket. Some may think this is a quote from Jag’s review of debutant Zack Robert’s outing, or a segment from a GCSE french oral, however on this spectacular occasion, it means neither. This multi-layered review sums up Windsor’s ‘Premiere second XI’s’ pilgrimage to Maidenhead and Bray’s ‘unique’ 3rd XI arena. Whether their style of protracted grass and erratic square was due to the downpour on Friday, or simply just a ploy used to perturb last week’s C1 heroes, it had no effect on the mentality of the ardent 2nd XI as we set ourselves the challenge of another win. The clouds instigated a breeze to the eerie bitterness of the brisk afternoon. The stage was set for the contest to commence.

Having won the toss and finally remembered our choice of barrage, Jag led Windsor to the field where Dean Bean and Zack Roberts took the ball to showcase their finesse. The tag-team of pitch and pace, by Dean and Zack respectively, pinned back the opposition as they tried to weave the ball through the long, unforgiving grass. Zack finally got his man, clattering the stumps with a doozie of a delivery. Although the eventual wicket may not have been such a surprise, Dean Bean’s exclusive experience of Southwest train services was, as Zack leapt from his position during the portrayal of the train’s cue to begin movement. What better way is there to be welcomed to the 2nd XI?

The opening pair complemented each other very nicely, unlucky not to strike again as Dean finished on remarkable figures of 8 overs for 7 runs and 2 maidens. George Smith then entered the fray. Having been encouraged to take a certain end to George’s displeasure, George took the ball and bowled accurately as Bray edged and nicked their way free of Windsor’s tight grasp. To join George in his endeavour for a breakthrough was motivating captain Jag Bhabra. The contrast between working hard to working smart was apparent in this pairing as Jag used his tactical nouse to trap the batsman into smacking a full toss into the safe hands of Andy Chorley.

However, this masterclass was not over from Jag, oh no… Just like a Wetherspoon on a rowdy night out, Jag thought it appropriate to use the double bouncer to stop his man from causing trouble. Clean bowled, the batsman was baffled by the quality that had come before him. George then finished his spell and was replaced by ‘the closer’ Tom Brooker who was doing his best to continue his run of form, but without the fanatic support from his girlfriend, would have to do it on his own. Tom bowled some beautiful lines and swiftly took another wicket as the bat was caught behind by the self-acclaimed best keeper in the league, A.P.Haynes. Jag decided that he hadn’t bullied the oppo enough as he returned to take 2 more swift wickets, helped along by the catching abilities of specialist fielder Ben Svenson, who’s garrulous qualities kept the noise in the field above par throughout the afternoon. A spell that would end on 8 overs 17 runs and 4 wickets. Zack then aided Tom in his finishing spell and was unlucky to have not taken another wicket with Alex Hill instantly caught in the crossfire of a moving ball which was ultimately put down. Maidenhead and Bray finished on 131-6, saved by some classy pinch-hitting at the death.

Windsor knew this score was deceivingly low. The nature of the game meant that it was ideal for our very own tactical longeur and stoic opening bat, Rob Noble. Tim ‘Jason Roy’ Hale retaliated right from the beginning as a huge 6 was dispatched in the third ball of the innings. Unfortunately, Wally was soon dismissed by a low-swinging peach of a ball, a familiar outcome for many batsmen throughout the afternoon. 21-1. Next in was a man desperate to get back in form, batting out of his preferred position, he was subjected to the wicked task of finding his way on a deck that would punish even the technically innocent. Unfortunately for Master Chorley, he was one of the bystanders that were just another collateral statistic on the rain-affected wicket. Bowled for 2, the search for runs batting outside the top 2 continues for chuckles, backed by an unshakeable belief in him by his skipper, and with 2 games to go, class is permanent if not temporarily AWOL for the former 1st XI captain.

In a bid to stop the beginning of a momentum-building landslide was the seemingly unbeatable prolific runscorer, Alex Haynes. Expectations were high as the Old Reptonian took the stage to defend his 91* over the previous 2 fixtures. Alighting with the legerity of 2 men in their prime, many quick singles were taken, propelling the scoreboard to the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, just as it looked as if the Keeper-Batsman would run rampage again and take the game away from Bray, one of the more contentious umpiring decisions of the day occurred where a pitch assisted in swinger toppled the stumps, dispatching the talisman for just 11. The confusion was rife as both sides forgot whether being clean bowled meant a wicket, lucky we had Ben Svenson umpiring as he took matters into his own hands and confidently gave the dreaded finger signalling Saucey’s dismissal. Panic started to build as Windsor fell to 58-3, the unfamiliar icy chill of defeat seemed to become ever more present as perplexed Jag searched for a saviour.Regular shake ups of the batting order caused confusion but were later rewarded as coming in at number 5 was a man who knew no fear or nerve, the 2nd team’s prodigal son; Alexander Hill.

It was soon apparent that Alex wasn’t here to play games as a classy and aggressive innings saw him reach 45 with 6 4s and 1 6. An innings which more than makes up for the earlier dropped catch, an affair that seemed to haunt A.Hill throughout the afternoon. Furthermore, the innings pulled Windsor out of the depths of a harrowing, unjust defeat, towards the seemingly elusive 131.

The steady increase in runs from Noble in what came to be a calming influence over the frenetic surroundings saw Windsor now within touching distance of another victory. All that was needed now was a few runs from captain Jag. Yet the star bowler didn’t see it this way. With what the former opener claimed to be an incredible ball, Bhabra was bowled for a golden duck, allowing cricketing mastermind Ben Svenson to take the plaudits and finish the game in Windsor’s favour. Windsor win by 5 wickets. A result that wouldn’t have been possible without the dependable R.Noble who finished with 37* off 35 overs. A man who clearly has Home Park running through his veins.

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