With the excitement of last week’s dramatic win away to Mayfield fresh in the mind some of us may have forgotten (surely not?) about the thrilling reverse fixture earlier in the season. With our fantastic scorer and match reporter absent for this fixture here’s my attempt at the match report (sorry it took so long, we were waiting to obtain copies of the scorebook from Mayfield)…
June 23rd, dry, bright and a beaut of a wicket at our postage stamp home ground; Manish won the toss and battled any Nasser Hussain like urges, choosing to bat first. Opening up were Jesant & Dom, Jesant getting us off to a flyer with a succession of silky cover drives and late cuts that prompted the now infamous opposing captain Shaf to suggest that he might be playing in the wrong league…
The fifty partnership came up in good time, Jesant taking the lion share whilst Dom saw off the lacquer on the new ball at the other end. With the score on 74 Jesant was unluckily run out taking a quick single thanks to a direct hit from the fielder. This brought me to the crease and saw one of my more fluent innings managing to get a few off the square and to the boundary, meanwhile at the other end Dom, though struggling with a jarred shoulder, had loosened the shackles and the 50 partnership came up as he closed in on an individual 50 himself as we broke for a drink.
Unfortunately as is often the case a wicket followed the break with Dom falling to the youngster Jeffery for 38. This brought Neil to the crease and whilst a nice partnership seemed to be gathering pace I played around a straight one, lbw to Kureshi for 27. In strolls Newton at number 5 and another lovely partnership is formed but sadly broken by a neat bit of fielding whilst looking to steal a quick single; Neil run out for 19 and the score 196-4.
This brought Kosala to the crease and he continued in the same vein as those before him, playing in his usual aesthetically pleasing manner. We saw yet another lovely partnership on this good batting deck until Newton was bowled by Cullen and shortly after Kosala fell to Captain Shaf. In at 7 today was Leo and he did his best Jos Buttler impression smashing the ball to all parts including the most sumptuous of sixes straight over the bowlers head! He was briefly joined by Manish at 8 who became another victim of Shaf, lbw for zero, and Mamun who struck a lovely boundary before being bowled by Kureshi for 5. By this time the score was on 246 from 44.1 overs, Manish waved the teams in, Graces declare.
Tea consumed, Graces strode out confidently but Mayfield got off to a strong start with a 35 run opening partnership broken by Newton, snaffling Starck c&b for 21. This brought the young Nick Starck to the crease and whilst he was settling in Neil got the other opener lbw for 21 and shortly after (the older) Jeffery for 4, clean bowled. The score on 48-3 and Grace’s confidence high.
What followed was the first of two damaging partnerships as young Starck and (not so young) Bhatt put on 52 in good time to lead the counter attack. When Bhatt was out bowled to Mamun for 31 Mayfield had reached 100-4 from 15.2 overs. Shaf in next, joined Starck and quickly got into his stride taking advantage of the short boundaries. This started a period of toil for Graces as Shaf’s hitting and Starck’s elegant strokeplay took them through the drinks break and past the 200 mark. Grace’s needed quick wickets and it was the Australian amongst the ranks who obliged with Neil taking the wicket of Shaf for 59 caught in the outfield, 207-5. Next over Newton to Starck, a fine knick caught behind and he was gone for 60, 213-6 and absolute scenes as Grace’s believed again that a victory was within reach!
With wickets and time running out for Mayfield they needed someone in the lower order to step up and Kureshi at number 7 was the one to raise his hand. He played sensibly but with intent as wickets continued to fall around him; Jain falling to Neil for 5, Cullen and young Jeffery both run out for ducks. This took us to 235-9 as we all watched on, nerves frayed. Kureshi managed to monopolise strike as Mayfield looked to knock off the 12 runs required for victory, Graces looking for that one wicket to remain unbeaten….
Last few overs, Manish to Kureshi, A CHANCE as Kureshi fires one firmly back to Manish but it was real stinger and would have been an absolute blinder if Manish had held on. Kureshi and Mayfield survive. Final over, Neil bowling, ANOTHER CHANCE as Kureshi launches the ball HIGH into the sky and towards long on where Newton positioned himself perfectly but was unable to hold on. Another incredibly difficult chance made that much harder by the situation.
One ball remaining, Mayfield require 4 runs, Graces require 1 wicket. Neil steams in and delivers a full ball on the stumps, Kureshi swings and the short boundaries come back to haunt us as a thick inside edge flies through square leg and Mayfield win by the barest of margins, by the barest of all margins!!!
Jubilant scenes from the Mayfield players and fans, intense disappointment for Graces but Manish reminds everyone to hold their heads high after what was an incredible game of cricket. To the bar where some friendly beers were shared. We’ll just have to beat them at their place 😉