Detail: 02-05-2021 - Shepperton
Result: Won by 101 runs
Shepperton CC v Blues CC
40 over game - Blues 240-8 (Ward 54, Fitzgerald 47), Shepperton 139 (Gaunt 4-25)
Blues won by 101 runs
The best was saved to last. As the opener ambled to a single, having inside edged to fine leg two balls after being dropped, Hamish Fyfe swooped on the ball. Opener, even when warned by his partner, neglected to quicken his pace, no doubt assuming - having previously seen the fielder bowling - that there was little chance of an accurate throw.
Hot-shot Hamish fizzed in a 50-yard bullet, which initially looked like disappearing for four buzzers as bowler Moore wasn't risking his arthritic fingers to halt its rapid passage. But the throw was deadly accurate and in a explosion of woodwork the stumps were shattered. The Blues celebrated. We'd been reprieved 11 overs in the field, the bar was open, and we'd won by 101 runs.
More than six hours earlier Blues had assembled in this bucolic corner of SW London ready, despite hangovers, for an extensive net. This is the New Blues, a professional outfit. After Fitz had lost the toss but still negotiated batting first Alex Keating was given a chance at the top of the order alongside Scarborough's finest. Dealing brutally with some wayward bowling, and peppering the short boundary, the pair raced to 40 in six overs before Ali took one swing too many to perish for a swift 23. That brought Yousef to the crease and he adopted his familiar anchor role. Though Keating went for 29 the scoring rate remained high as Skip despatched a series of fours and a six. He had moved to 47 in under ten overs when, seeking to play cautiously before drinks, with the intention of accelerating afterwards, he was caught on the long off boundary having not given his lofted drive the full Fitz. A half-century gone begging, but on the plus side, Skip could now follow events at Newmarket.
Fyfe arrived for a cameo, scoring 23 in a 23-run partnership with Youcef before finding a leading edge. Nevertheless, at 144-4 in the 23rd over Blues were handily placed. Then, however, the pace slowed. Mo, given the chance to show he deserves to bat higher than his usual No.8, decided to play himself in. Youcef continue to nurdle singles.
A hush descended. In the surrounding woods squirrels scampered, birds sang, bears took a crap. Time slowed. Fitz focussed on the nags. Then, unexpectedly, Youcef was bowled trying to cut, and departed for 34. In came Jack, who had been chomping at the bit and chuntering on the sidelines ('I better bloody keep if I'm batting 7').
All that pent-up aggression was unleashed on the unsuspecting Shepperton bowlers. Suddenly Blues were running threes on this compact ground. Mo, perhaps exhausted by this, was bowled. Fuming at wasting this rare opportunity he angrily stripped off his kit on the boundary line, fortunately stopping before it became a public order issue. Then Sam R, fired by Jack's enthusiasm, was run out attempting a second. With Will taking over the nurdling role Jack continued to batter the bowling to all parts bringing up his 50 with a straight six. He was finally bowled for 54 in the final over as Blues racked up 240-8.
Moore and Mullet, feeling quite spry given the age of some of the oppo, took the new ball. Setting the tone for the innings each bowled a wide in their opening over. Jack would soon regret his desire to keep as successive bowlers channelled their inner Mitchell Johnson. Unfortunately, with the exception of the very rapid and very straight Keats, this was the Barmy Army's preferred Johnson ('he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite'). Between us we bowled 30 wides, four no-balls, and eight byes. Add seven leg byes and extras, totalling 48, were by some distance Shepperton's top scorer (next best was 18).
Shepperton had thus progressed to 36-0 after nine when Gaunt forced the breakthrough, the relatively stylish left-handed opener walking after gloving a leg-side half-tracker through to Ward. The Welsh Express, with a sly mix of the unreachable and the unplayable, went on to pick up 4-25, primarily through his extra pace surprising batsmen when dropping short.
Moore dismissed the other opener. Softening him up with a beamer to the nuts, which made him even Grumpier, he was then lbw. In fact, Blues' bowling cohort, despite the general waywardness, managed enough straight deliveries to win a trio of leg before decisions from the home umps and three bowleds.
Besides Gaunt's quartet there was a wicket apiece for Moore, Mullett, Fyfe, Mo and Keating. Only Robinson went wicketless, but as there was evidence that the net sessions are bearing fruit it can only be a matter of time. The bowlers were well backed up in the field with many runs saved even when reduced to ten after Ali took a painful one to the knee.
With Shepperton low on numbers the openers were allowed a second dig each, a generosity that briefly threatened to leave Blues parched, but then Fyfe took aim and it was time for jugs of Whitstable Bay followed by presentations of the bowling plate and President's Cup.
Having begun the season with three successive wins The Blues juggernaut now moves a few miles up river to Hampton Wick.
[updated 04 05 2021]