Old Boys v Pearce
Tuesday 29th June at The YMCA
By JS Smith
It's not easy being good. Ask Roger Federer, and he would surely tell you, being a champion brings pressure. Every one raises their game; they all want to beat you.
As double league champions, this season has seen Henleaze face stronger and more cunning league opposition than ever before. The Old Boys would be the first to admit, they haven't reached the usual high standards of previous campaigns, not helped of course, with injuries and departures of important players. However, in recent weeks, a corner seems to have been turned, culminating in a patient and calculated run chase against the tough playing Renishaw. The fielding was a bit iffy in that fixture so it was important to set the standard today.
Current leaders and joint holders Pearce were tonight's opposition, and Henleaze were determined to continue their good form with another win and to send a message out to the rest of the league.
Captain Adams lost the toss and the Old Boys were put into field. Although Stu would have batted first, there was a feeling of confidence around the team.
A run out in the first over thanks to some quick thinking from Ed and quick hands from Fillingham gave Henleaze an excellent start. There was a close muggy feel to the evening thus providing potential for swing, which Hawksley and Smith took full advantage of both upending the stumps.
The fielding remained tight, The Old Boys on their toes, walking in, supporting one another and backing up, the standard set by the ubiquitous Barry and Thomas. Pearce soon found them selves struggling at 38 for 3 after 8 overs.
So to the first change bowlers, and the welcome return of Will Thomas to the HOB pace attack. His partner in crime was to be Anth Barrett, normally an opening bowling stalwart, how would he react to the skippers change?
Anthony Barrett has always proved something of a bowling enigma. For years, consistently bowling almost unbeatable balls past the outside of utterly clueless quivering bats, and then bowling a five foot wide outside off… a less laid back character would surely have murdered a teammate by now, considering the amount of dropped catches off his bowling! That's not the big mans way though, never grumbling, just a mere shake of the head and on with the next ball. The general consensus being that Anth had never really got the rewards his bowling deserved.
This season Anth has dropped his pace a bit, been a bit wayward, but the strangest thing has happened, he has started taking wickets! Before today's game he was on 15 wickets for the season, an outstanding return. Well, in a nutshell the tall Tasmanian took 5 wickets, a straightforward catch to Smith, two straight bowled, an lbw and a caught behind from Ashley, A pumped up and triumphant Tone, Shook his fist in celebration as his teammates mobbed him. I'm not going to mention his 9 wides though.
Will bowled fast and looked good for his first quick bowling of the season, he was pleased to see Paul take a beauty on the boundary to get a well deserved wicket on his return to the league side.
So to mopper Adams, who finished with almost perfect figures of 2 balls no runs 1 wicket, and Henleaze had bowled Pearce out for a weakling 83. And so concluded one of the finest Old Boys fielding performances for quite a while.
After last weeks batting performance, the Old Boys approached their innings with confidence. Ashford, now an opener on merit, started in confident style with Ed, racing to 22 and 15 respectively. Unfortunately both quickly fell. Barry in next and then Smith. So with plenty of time thanks to the excellent start by the openers, they just needed to tick of the runs. Which, Barry did, until he somehow was bowled leg stump trying to pull. Smith was caught and bowled after hitting a straight one very hard. Another two down, would we collapse? It wouldn't be the first time.
Craig was in next, a nervous innings, but not the nicest of times to bat for the first time this season! He did play a couple of good looking sweeps before getting bowled.
Still at this stage the Old Boys didn't need a great many runs, and so it proved, Will playing two in his words 'proper cricket shots', a sweep and a cut and the job was done. Henleaze had reached the less than average target with nearly 5 overs to spare.
The jubilant team looked deservedly pleased with themselves after a superb all round performance for the second successive match. A real shame the YMCA have cancelled next weeks match, as momentum is definitely with HOBs now. This would surely send shockwaves reverberating through the rest of the league, The Old Boys are back, Underestimate them at your peril!