Berkswell CC was the stage for the 1s home opener against Loughborough 2XI on a very pleasant Wednesday afternoon. With captain Hayes absent due to Paper Aeroplane throwing, Jonny Gonszor would undertake skippering duties for the day; the most valuable player in UWMCC fantasy this year celebrated his promotion by losing the toss. Loughborough’s decision to put us in came as a bit of a surprise on a deck that looked flat and in excellent nick for this stage of the season.
Charlie Yorke-Snakey, fresh out of retirement, was given the nod to open up alongside Vivek in an effort to make the most of the powerplay overs early doors. A tight opening spell from the Loughborough seamers did much to halt the run rate however, and Snakey was caught behind attempting to pull a short ball. Aamish then fell first ball to the same bowler, getting a leading edge as he attempted to work the ball into the leg side.
Oli Thornley came to the crease with a rebuilding job to do, and set about seeing off the Loughborough quicks with Viv nicely set at the other end. It was somewhat inevitable however that the ‘nervous twenties’ would yet again be Mr Naker’s kryptonite. After a fluent 27 which included five boundaries and a few glorious cover drives, Viv offered up a chance which Loughborough duly pouched, setting the stage for Gonszor and Thornley to negotiate UWMCC safely through to drinks.
Thorns and Gonz batted nicely together, digging in and punishing the bad ball when it came. A wild throw from one of the outfielders pinged Thornley in the helmet upon his completion of a quick single to bring a brief halt to proceedings. After initial concerns for our number four’s wellbeing, a quick swig of juice propelled him back to his feet just in time to dispatch the Loughborough spinner over his head for four. Hand-eye clearly unaffected.
Loughborough’s Aussie seamer then provided one of the more comical moments of the innings. After Thornley blocked his very first delivery, the fired up ‘paceman’ used his extra adrenaline to make the stop and throw the ball over the keepers head for four. Cue excessive laughter on the UWMCC balcony. But, the cocky Australian would have the last laugh after Thornley edged behind for a resilient 29 in the next over. A real shame after we had just seemed to get through a good spell of Loughborough pressure.
Man in form Tim Edmonds came out to join Gonz, with the latter increasingly getting on top of the Loughborough attack. Some delicate reverse sweeps had the dressing room purring, but the skipper was lacking a permanent fixture at the other end as Teds was well caught in the slips.
Taking a break from international duty in the Caribbean, Joe Root trotted to the middle still sporting his Barbados tan and fresh new lid. The pride of Staffordshire looked comfortable from ball one and he and Gonz both reached fifty in good time, striking sixteen boundaries between them. One reverse sweep too many saw Gonz cleaned up by the Loughborough offie for 63, but Rooty continued to bat nicely. Supported by the tail in the final 5-10 overs, our number seven helped propel UWMCC to 230 off our 50 overs. A huge six over mid-wicket in the final over woke the balcony up, after an exquisite in-to-out drive over cover by Moose a few balls prior had sent the rest of the team into shock.
A gun tea proved an exercise in limitation for several UWMCC darbs as the prospect of 50 overs in the field took shape. Moose notably taking advantage of a strong gust of wind which saw all of the plastic plates sent everywhere, mopping up other clubmen’s samosas for fun in the wake of this.
Snakey must have been pondering why he ever sacked the club off last year as he took the new ball with Clayds in addition to his opening gig in the first innings. The two pacemen had the new Woodstock balls doing plenty as tight opening pressure eventually frustrated Loughborough’s attacking left-handed opener. Attempting an ambitious lofted drive off Snakey, he holed out to Suraj at mid-off, who safely pouched the catch. The two debutants combining for an early strike and plenty of buzz was forming in the UWMCC huddle.
However, after Viv dropped the other opener in the slips early on, wickets were hard to come by. The Loughborough number 1 would go on to score 84 and despite a few wickets tumbling towards the end of the innings courtesy of Suraj, Thornley, Rooty and Starkey again, Loughborough cantered to our modest target fairly comfortably. Snakey’s figures of 9 overs 2-31 made him pick of the bowlers, with the others backing him up well. The bowling was pretty tight and UWMCC were perhaps unlucky not to pick up a few more wickets, especially considering the number of runs scored in the third man region. However, 230 ultimately wasn’t enough on a very flat pitch. Still, plenty of positives to take from the game, and it is worth giving Loughborough some credit who proved to be a very good outfit.