Grayshott 124-9 in 20 overs
Oxshott 120-6 in 20 overs
Grayshott won by 4 runs.
Semi-final of the West Surrey League. Oxshott v Grayshott. In the car on the way over Tom dubbed it El Shottico.
And it was indeed a classic game of cricket with lots of twists and a thrilling climax. We knew Oxshott were more of a bowling team. The scores in their matches previously had been on the lowish side. Their strength was restricting the opposition to scores of about 100. So our game plan was to post a score and put them under pressure playing their weaker batting suit.
At 29-5 off 6 overs our plan was not going well. (That might be the biggest understatement of our season.) We were really struggling to cope with their opening bowler, Rogers, who bowled an outstanding spell of 3 overs with 2 maidens and took 3 for 3. But in the end they had to change their bowlers around and with George joining Will at the wicket the runs started to come. George hit 3 fours in the 8th over and at last the scoreboard was moving. With Will he put on 42 in 5 overs against visibly friendlier bowling. Another partnership of 27 in 4 overs with Tom had got us to 98 and with Will well set and 5 overs to go we were suddenly dreaming of a total of135/140.
It was not to be. A good bit of fielding by the bowler accounted for Tom and then a total mix up led to another run out with Will this time left stranded. He had held the innings together for an excellent 54 with 6x4 and 1x6 ( a glorious hit over long on). Slightly disappointingly our last 5 overs yielded only 26 but as we said at half-time we'd have taken 124 at 29-5!
Now we had to bowl tightly and field for our lives. Alex and Will bowled well in their opening spells to limit the scoring to 15 off 4. It soon became apparent that Oxshott might be batting overly cautiously in pursuit. Medlycott and Davies put on 65 for the first wicket but it had taken them 13 overs when Harry pulled off a smart catch at short third man in Tom's first over. We had created a few chances up til then but the top edges and mis-hits just weren't going to hand. The middle 8 overs had been bowled by Toby (0-25 off 4) and Harry (0-20 off 4) and they did well to keep the scoring in check.
Now the wickets started to come. George got Medlycott in the next over courtesy of a safe catch from Ben C and then Julian bowled the dangerous Stephen with a beautiful slower off-cutter. Oxshott needed 29 off the last 4 overs with 7 wickets in hand.
Now was the time for the returning Alex and Will to turn the screw. Just 3 runs came off the 17th over (Alex) and Grayshott suddenly felt odds-on winners with 26 needed off 3 overs. Will's next over saw another wicket but also went for 10 as the pendulum started to swing back with Oxshott scrambling leg-byes and overthrows and a couple of wides being leaked too. It was down to Alex to set up victory with the 19th over and it was to prove a crucial over. 3 balls for just one run meant Oxshott were really feeling the heat but then the 4 th ball went sailing out high to long-on. Tom went running backwards before thrusting out a right hand and taking the catch tumbling backwards. Your reporter only half saw it as he was busy looking up the rules in the event of a tie but judging from the reaction of the fielders it was quite a decent catch and went some way to make up for his 2 scruffy overs.
As important as the wicket the catch saved 4 runs and with the over only going for 5 it meant Will had 10 runs to play with. With one more wicket (a catch from Jac) it was soon 5 off the last ball needed to win and as the ball thudded comfortingly into Charlie's gloves victory was secured.
It was a great win all the more pleasing at having been achieved from the perilous position of 29-5. It shows once again how quickly things can change especially in 20:20 cricket. It also showed the vital importance of batting all 20 overs - how important were those handful of runs in the last 2 overs?! The ground fielding was better than in recent matches but we can still improve there and there was much more "presence" in the field today which was encouraging.
I have to single out Will who had an excellent all-round game and led the team well on the field. He had some tricky tactical calls to make and the win showed he called them all right. Others might have brought Alex back earlier searching for wickets but in the end Alex's tight bowling at the death proved just as effective. In fact the only tactical tip I would offer is that once we got them needing 9-10 an over we should have had every one of our fielders on the boundary except one at cover and mid wicket on the single - protecting the boundary was paramount by then.
So on to the final which will be away against Bagshot or Chertsey. Whoever it is, if you bring your best game, you'll have a very very good chance of winning but it's a big "if" there. You need to show the same desire there was today. It'll probably be on Sunday 4th Sept but is yet to be confirmed. Tom and I will be away. Mrs B is dragging us off to Sicily for 10 days. I did point out to her that the cricket season was still going on but got the shortest of short shrift. (Let me offer you all a life tip, fellas - for God's sake make sure you marry a woman who likes cricket.)
Sri will be back though so you're in safe hands. Good luck in the final! Let's finish the season in style!