The scene is set, 1st game of the season, a local derby, a maximum of 10 degrees and the slight dribble of rain in the air. Grayshott looking to kick off their season with an early win. Headley looking to cause an early season upset against a team they beat at the back end of last season.
After the boys took part in a vigourus warm up of sitting around waiting for 12.45, Nath continued his unfortunate run off losing yet another coin toss and the 1st eleven were thrown into the field. Young Lucas Hutchinson was given task of the first over against lefty Zach Benstead and newbie Abdul Ahmad. Lucas and his bowling partner Wellsy got the Shotts off to a very tidy start, conceding just 15 runs from the first 10 overs but to no reward for their efforts. Until Wells trapped Abdul in front and although the shout looking a bit high and leg sideish, the umpire’s finger was raised and the home team were off and running for the season. Lucas finished off his initial spell – 5 overs for only 11 runs and with 3 maidens, a fantastic start from the Shotts allrounder, followed by KW who ended a very tidy spell with a deserved scalp.
The Aussie overseas, the english Mitch Marsh… Luke McBain entered the attack alongside Dom Ford, who both followed up the opener’s spells with some tight lines and causing problems, Nath dropping a difficult snick behind while standing up to the stumps off Dom and Clarke, a first slip opportunity he would usually gobble 9 times out of 10 off of Luke.
McBain found the top edge of Marc Hawtin’s bat and the returning Clarkey redeemed himself by flying from first slip to take the catch. Headley were left 2 down for 25 runs as we entered our third hand sanitation break. Having bowled a 5 over spell, skipper Nath told Fordie to take a blow as the death overs specialist would be needed for a spell at the end of the innings. Replaced by the GOAT, Rob Smith (SMITHHHHY) the experienced left arm tweaker was his reliable and consistent self, finishing with figures of 9 overs, 1 wicket for 33 runs, including dropping a simple return catch off Gavin Arend (who later moved to his half century before Smithy got his man, Jacko taking a good catch in the deep).
As the innings progressed, the Shotts picked away at the Headley wickets to stop them from being able to lay a strong platform to launch from. Benstead was a stubborn resistance until he hit to Lucas at mid off for 20. Gav had support from Callum Hawtin (17) Mansoor Ahmad (11), and Craig Johnson (11), Callum and Mansoor both falling to the flight and gile of Rav Sriharan who played a vital role in keeping Headley in check and deserved two wickets in his figures. As the final few overs approached, Ford was back on for his last overs with a couple of back hand slower balls up his sleeve, one of which – a half tracker that was dispatched to the long Grayshott boundary by high quality batsman Ash Cook, the other deceiving the threatening looking Johnson who gave Nath the opportunity to make up for the previous dropped catch, gratefully accepted into his new keeper gloves. Lucas and Wellsy came back to provide great death overs and with some more good out fielding by Stu Kennedy to remove Devin Scott (5), the innings ended 149/8 from the allotted 45 overs. A great effort from the Shotts for the first game of the season. Ford finishing with 9 overs 1 maiden, 2 wickets for 28 runs, Wells 9 overs 3 maidens, 1 wicket for 22 runs and Lucas 6 overs for just 11 runs and Rav 2 wickets for just 19 runs in his 5 overs.
After a bring your own tea for the players, Cav and Cam set out with the task of getting the Shotts off to a solid start. Cav hit a trademark cover drive for four before giving his fans an old favourite and snicking behind for 8 off Matty Hall. Grayshott’s new (returning) opener Clarke was joined by Lucas and both saw off some difficult bowling and picking up runs where possible. Highlights being Cam’s straight drive for four and Lucas impressing the other Shotts batsman with his leave and defensive technique. Clarke was eventually bowled for 8, also off Hall, bringing Mr Smooth Matt Jackson to the crease, MJ picked up the run rate with some boundaries including a couple of great pull shots that hit the rope quickly considering a very slow outfield. Jacko and Lucas started to form a partnership until the former was bowled by Devin Scott for 19. In comes Nath and the Shotts needed another partnership to ensure they would not put the pressure on the tailend to get them over the line. Nath, scratchy at first, and treating the Dom Jonhson short balls with a lot of respect, started to find some form and hit the ball cleanly to the boundary rope. Another slight moment of worry when Lucas was run out by a fantastic direct hit by Craig Jonshon at point for a well made patient and important 20. The Aussie Darren Stevens walked to the crease and looked good, flicking a lovely boundary to square leg while Nath started to open his arms and dispatched a Matt Hall slower ball into the car park. A moment of rest while Headley opening bowler Mansoor Ahmad was getting treatment for cramp at third man, the rain started to pour but the win came closer for the Shotts The score required into single figures and the only question was if Nath would take a jug avoidance fine and not get to his 50. Needing 3 runs, the team only needed 2, the sun came back out and the game was ended when a loose ball meant the Shotts could run two byes. Hitting the 150 mark, beating Headley by 6 wickets and getting their season off to the perfect start. See some video clips from the Grayshott innings here.
A first fines meeting of the season amassed around £25, some of the usual fines appeard, bringing family to a game, Smithy getting to nervous to watch us bat, Stu with his helmet on for 20 minutes waiting to bat and Cav threatening to quit cricket. A trip to Tilford next week with a win behind us, we can go into that game with confidence.