After an early 9.15 meet, the 3s headed to Nottingham with their sights set on a vital first win. Despite Larkins’ scepticism, the team had been assured by the ever-reliable BBC weather department that it was to be splendid day of cricket and there was plenty of optimism about our chances upon arrival. A swift pitch inspection of a track that was still covered revealed as much as most UWMCC pitch inspections and shortly after, our warm up of Grubber Cricket and a hasty net session was halted by a spattering of light drizzle.
Captain Cooper proceeded to lose the toss and we were put in to bat. Cooper and Hall strutted out to open out innings and despite the opposition’s distinctly average bowling attack runs were hard to come by; a slow, sticky pitch being the overriding factor. After scratching around for 14 balls, Hall [0 (14)] was eventually winkled out by the same bowler who illegitimately claimed him leg before wicket last season. It is safe to say the correct decision was given this time around. The early wicket and Cooper’s “cunning plan” gave rise to a five place promotion for Jewson, renowned for the ability to defend his wicket more fiercely than Hockey do their meaningless CMD title. Soon after his appearance at the crease the incessant drizzle became a light downpour and the umpires called the covers on. As play resumed, it was clear the wicket had become even stickier and after a couple of attractive shots for no runs, Jewson [3 (9)] pushed one in the air to short extra cover.
There were high hopes for Chandi as he approached the crease, a batsman with the ability to pile on the runs, especially against the ordinary bowling Nottingham 3s provided. His stint, however, lasted just one ball after leaving one that hooped in onto his stumps. Aqil, not expecting this flurry of wickets, rushed to pad up and joined Cooper in the middle. A few balls later, however, the skipper [5 (40)] departed, having offered some resistance at least in an innings that looked like it would be very short. Aqil and Jaimin managed to lay the foundations of a partnership; the bowling changes led to some loose deliveries and Aqil took advantage with a couple of lusty blows through the leg side. The military mediums soon found their line and length, snicking off Jaimin [14 (32)] whilst attempting to drive a slightly wider one. With Aqil growing into his innings, there was still hope of setting a respectable target, however the slow wicket continued to bother our batsmen and after seeing out a few overs Larkins [0 (11)] played inside a ball which hit his stumps.
Beauclerk’s arrival at the crease saw the introduction of a leg spinner, slower and loopier than even Kimmerston. The F&G (Flight and Gash) provided by the new bowler frustrated for a while as the umpire decided to abolish wides from the rules of cricket. Eventually, he did bowl a straight one which Aqil managed to scoop over the keeper’s head with the back of his bat, only for it to be signalled byes by an umpire who was giving us a masterclass in incompetence. The medium pacer continued from the other end, bowling good line and length, with some short stuff sprinkled in between. It was one of these short balls which did for Beauclerk, the ball pitching halfway down the track and rising a mere 3 inches off the ground to bowl him. Aqil’s wicket was later claimed by the very same bowler in bizarre circumstances; a play and miss from the batsman hit the keeper and rebounded onto the stumps. Aqil [21 (56)] had dragged his foot out slightly and was (as it had to be classified) stumped. Unfortunately, the tail could not wag us past 80, Hobbs [2 (10] and Kraus [2 (18)] both caught, leaving King not out [0* (11]. The bowler who Hall, Cooper and Jewson had all thought was a TFC/ B Oddie had taken 6-6 and the 3rd XI were 74 all out.
After the driest tea known to man, the 3s took the field with every intention of winning the game; Cooper set some attacking fields to start and sprung a surprise, opening the bowling with Kraus. The pitch had dried up under the sun during tea and was much more conducive to run scoring. Kraus was, however, turning the ball sideways and the openers struggled to get him away. Beauclerk bowled the next over but there was little in the way of movement and the batsman were quick to pick up on some slightly shorter balls. With Nottingham cruising, Cooper brought on King. The pick of the bowlers, King was troubling the batsmen with his length. When King eventually dropped one short Chandi, strategically placed at short mid-wicket, held on to an absolute scorcher. It was a moment of fielding brilliance that kept our glimmer of hope alive. King’s troubling length invited batsman to push and Cooper snatched up the opportunity to field at short leg without hesitation, using his cap as a box. This proved a masterstroke as the number 3, looking to take Cooper’s head off, hit nothing but air and was bowled. King then picked up another wicket with the quick-thinking Cooper, not to be outdone by Chandi, taking a diving bat-pad catch at short leg. Confidence grew on the field but soon the number 1 batsman showed his class, dispatching the bowling to earn his team a 7 wicket win with almost 30 overs to spare. Kraus (0-11), Beauclerk (0-13), King (3-18), Larkins (0-10), Hobbs (0-22) The fact that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th highest run scorers were wides, byes and no balls put an already diminutive score into worse light. The 3s need to significantly improve their batting performance to knotch their first win or it is curtains for any hopes of survival.