UWMCC’s 4th XI arrived to a remarkably picturesque ground on Wednesday morning, not all that far away from the scenery in Bambi. However, unlike in Bambi, there was no ‘man’ except Jewson’s team and a hard-working groundsman, with the first Staffordshire 2nd XI team member turning up at 11:28, having requested an 11:30 start specifically. After they slowly filed in, and the umpires turned up, it was agreed on a 12:30 start, simply sacking off 20 overs of the match as there was Staffordshire 1st XI training at 6:00.
Fortunately, for the sake of controversy, UWMCC’s batsman, put in to bat on a pitch that would make Lakeside astroturf look dry, made no great attempt to get near the 40 over mark. Sturrock, looking to reverse his all losing record for UWMCC, had little success, chipping one to cover in the first over for 0. After that, wickets fell regularly, and despite the tricky conditions (virtually every ball was creating a divot), Sittampalan, Haque and Hall all made the same mistakes in providing absolute dolly catches to grateful Staffordshire fielders. The UWMCC batsman certainly played a great part in giving Staffordshire’s opening bowler undoubtedly career best figures of 5-8.
Some resistance was provided by skipper Jewson, scoring all of 12 runs, before receiving what he claims to be a genuinely good delivery. It was with great frustration that UWMCC’s batsman watched the poor standard of the opposition’s bowlers post their opening attack. After a hopeful flurry of rain, there ensued some heroic late order hitting from Maneka (15), Fern (17) and King (14), taking UWMCC’s score of 8-36, to a more credible 86 all out. Perhaps they were inspired by Jewson’s team talk, declaring ‘We bat down to number 9’. Shot of the day goes to Brad Fern’s maximum over cow corner, simply skipping down the wicket and dismissing the ball over the ropes.
After an excellent tea, Staffordshire’s batsman came out aggressively, trying to get the job done as soon as possible. Whilst the pitch had got better, the bowlers failed to bowl consistently enough to provide a challenge in chasing such a small score, along with a few chances being put down. Two wickets fell, one caught behind by Jewson off the bowling of Smulian, the other, a bowled dismissal after a big spinner from King. Generally though, the Staffordshire batsman seemed relatively untroubled, especially the predicted ‘gun’ batsman of the opposition, who dismissed Maneka for two colossal sixes (cue Umpire- ‘that should be a 12’) over his head off the back foot. A hugely disappointing day for all involved, UWMCC’s 4th XI will need to embody the spirit of Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce to avoid a relegation scrap this season.