Ginger Prince makes his Markle
Thomas top scores in fabulous run chase at Alphington
On a gloriously sunny day the Sidmouth side arrived in dribs and drabs, having defeated the non-existent County Show and Chiefs traffic. A couple of the younger players seemed to have a passing interest in events taking place in Windsor; but they seemed unable to explain why. There was little in the way of bunting or fascinators beside the Alphin Brook.
Skipper Anthony Griffiths is a useless tosser. I will elaborate, in stating that he lost his third toss in a row (100%) in this fledgling season. Alphington, strengthened by five returning players including their debutant overseas player, had no hesitation in batting first. It quickly emerged, despite an early Fionn Wardrop breakthrough, that this was to be the biggest test of the 2nd XI's season to date. Positive batting saw Sidmouth conceding close to a run a ball for a large chunk of the innings, in some part due to a poor ball being delivered per over. The incredibly wet Spring, combined with the football played on a large section of the outfield, had left the surface very rutted. This was challenging to both fielding sides and was a devil for clean handling and containment.
The bowling over rate was also down from the first two weeks, largely due the ball disappearing into the many nettles and other deep foliage surrounding two-thirds of this ground. A rotation of three different balls was soon in place as others were recovered.
Star of the bowling performance was Daley Holmes, bowling at the death, returning impressive figures of 3-27 helping to restrict the hosts to a more manageable total than looked likely 10 overs from the end. At tea Sidmouth needed 232 to win. The team realised standards had dipped from the previous week, but confidence was high that this was a chase-able particularly as the previous 7 matches on this ground had been won by the side batting second.
The strawberry blonde partnership of Isaac Thomas and Nick Mansfield got the innings off to a steady side, putting on 50 for the first wicket. The Alphington overseas, opening the bowling from the Marsh Barton end, had an improbable field including 4 slips and 2 gullys. Not much went the way of this cordon, but not too many runs were coming either. This changed when Mansfield, with help of 5 wides, took one over for 19. The slips were dispatched to different areas of the ground from this point on. The Ginger Princes were making their own vows (of intent).
Thomas escaped one scare. Mansfield did not, snicking thinly to the keeper. He fell for a good 29, with many attractive shots, one of which struck square leg umpire Herbert a painful blow on the leg and unwittingly saved the fielding side runs. Of course the primary concern was Colstann's wellbeing. Mansfield's dismissal brought the skipper to the crease. Griff scored from the first ball he faced (a boundary) and looked instantly comfortable. He (53) and Thomas (70) both made excellent half centuries and Alphington didn't appear to have any answers. Interestingly, Alphington only used five bowlers, 4 of whom were in the top 5 of their batting order. A question mark over their depth therefore remains.
Both Thomas and Griffiths fell to catches in the ring and a small tremor of fear was felt in the visitors' line up. It was Byron 'Cuddles' Knowles who steadied the nerves with his particular brand of hard hit shot. Some thought he had scored around 20, but such is the speed that he naturally scores, he had in fact racked up 40 before a dubious leg before decision accounted for his wicket. We saw a hitherto unseen part of Byron's character in this game and cuddling was not top of his agenda as he left the field of play.
Messrs Holmes and Sapiecha concluded an excellent run chase with 9 balls to spare. So, 3 wins out of 3, and a really good contest here, exactly what this team wanted in the new all-through league.
As always thanks to Colstan and Clive for their time and efforts.