Saturday saw the 4ths in action away to new friends in Shalford. The welcome was as warm as the weather, for most of us this was a new cricket venue. Following the initial formalities Tim Fry, Capt and George Brayshaw strode out to bat whilst the rest of us sought shade by the pavilion. The team youngsters were constantly put to good use scampering up and down a set of ladders to regularly access and update the Pavilion scoreboard.
Tim and George looked settled and set fare to drop anchor and build the innings. It came as a surprise when Tim nicked off allowing him to retreat to the welcome shade. Geoff Garrett came into a number 3 and was soon into the action doing what he does every week, scoring runs and dispatching the ball to the boundary with aplomb. Again, just when we all starting to relax into our chairs the Shalford fielders produced some energetic fielding to run out the unfortunate George at the non-striker’s end.
This brought Scott Clarke to the crease, both Geoff and Scott were initially very watchful and set about building the innings platform. Geoff was first into his stride and was out scoring his partner, dispatching the ball to the boundary and sparking some friendly banter with one very hot and bothered bowler.
Geoff was firing on all cylinders and reached his 50 in style, this edged Grayshott closer to the 100 mark and gave hope to setting a good target. Just when the fireworks were in full operation Geoff was bowled for an entertaining 61. The Garrett’s weren’t done with the Shalford bowlers just yet and out came young Henry. He showed great technique and was very watchful getting his front forward to the spinner and blocking like a Test Match opener. Just as he started to flex his muscles and skills he unfortunately holed out and was caught.
This brought Will Farrar to the crease and he got off the mark in great style stylishly nudging the ball past the slips for a well judged 4. Again, just when we thought he was going to fill his boots he missed a difficult in-swinger and was bowled.
The debutant was next, step forward a slightly nervous Graeme Aggar. Despite turning up at the start of play with ‘Reg the dog’ and sporting shorts and flip flops, he found himself enthusiastically encouraged and cajoled into playing and was soon looking splendid in loaned kit and some dubious looking blue tracksuit bottoms. Despite a cricket playing absence of 10 years and slightly rusty timing he entertained those watching with some big hits and a short run; eagle eyed umpire. Racing to a very credible 19 in quick time before holing out, I suspect some big scores are not far off. Well done Mr. Aggar.
Paul Heath came out for the final over, a frantic finish saw Scott bring up his 50 with a last ball 6. Tim had seen enough and called time on our innings, posting a credible 176-6 from 40 overs.
Tea was enjoyed in the pavilion, before Grayshott set about defending our score.
This was a tale of two halves and the Shalford openers were into the action form the start. Allan Lang was as dependable as ever and did what Allan does best. He bowled in tandem with George, who was quickly zipping the ball through beautifully. Despite numerous LBW shouts and some near misses, the openers maintained their direction. It was Allan who predictably got the breakthrough catching the Shalford opener LBW. That was unfortunately the end of the wicket excitement.
Tim shuffled the bowling pack everyone gave it everything with all the youngsters toiling hard in the heat. There were creditable bowling performances from all concerned - Allan, George, John Lee, Henry, Will, Maxim Clarke despite their best efforts and some determined fielding our hosts reached their target comfortably.
We all retreated to the pavilion for some well-deserved refreshment. An enjoyable day’s cricket that saw our youngsters taking centre stage and they can be proud of their efforts.