18th July 2015
Saturday this week was a day made for cricket; warm bright sunshine with just a few puffy white clouds around to make sure that while very pleasant it was not too warm for playing – in stark contrast to the challenging conditions of the gale force winds for the Devil’s last game. The home side had two players on debut and both made an impressive start in their first match; showing as the teams held a minute’s applause in memory of David Townley that the game he did so much to promote continues to grow both in the level of skill from senior players and the ability to attract newcomers. After that Metro were further warmed as Dave won the toss and after a moments pretence at thought invited the visitors to bat.
The start turned into the stuff of dreams for the Devils when with the last ball of the first over Alan clean bowled one of the openers. However the dangerous Ryan West was still at the crease and in the next few overs he started to hit the ball well – or perhaps too well as with the penultimate ball of his opening spell Roy Smith tempted him into a lofted on drive which flew towards debutant Everton in the deep – surely distracted by the cries of “catch it” he got hands to the ball to push it into the air and then grabbed it to his chest.
So Hampshire two down and with only one more mid-partial batsman to come they feared for the worst. David Daniels and Dairmund Ware however demonstrated good patience to build a solid partnership and when drinks were taken had pushed the score on to 92 with no more wickets lost. The Devils brought back their opening bowlers to try and break the partnership and Roy, although unable to match the sublime quality of his performance against these visitors last season, delivered the breakthrough as he took David’s wicket LBW; backing up the groundwork laid by Rob McKenzie.
John James joined Dairmund and the visitors continued to press hard – this pair quickly putting on 58 for the next wicket before John was run out attempting to run having hit the ball back to the bowler, a fate that also befell the visiting captain a few balls later just after Dairmund had retired after scoring his first 50. Gary and Dave restricted the runs off the last couple of overs with Gary picking up a wicket as the score was kept three below 200.
After tea then the task facing the openers for this game, Gary and Dave, was to chase the runs down; or perhaps most importantly at the start not to lose wickets against the Hampshire opening bowlers. Both demonstrated good defensive technique against Ryan who conceded just 7 off the bat plus a no ball in his excellent opening spell that included a dozen dots; after five overs the home side had three less than the visitors at the same stage but importantly had not lost a wicket. Facing the back up bowlers the scoring rate was accelerated so much that at drinks the score was 119; so just 79 were needed in the second half.
The home captain was however worried that the team might not be able to keep up the scoring rate after he and Gary finished their innings. That happened when Gary retired on 53 in an opening stand of 128 shortly followed by the skipper for 51. Did they need worry about the scoring rate – no! certainly not as first Mike Brace swung hard for a quick 12 including a great boundary swept backward of square and then the day’s star batsman made his entrance.
Everton lofted his first ball to square leg for two and a few balls later Hampshire were asking “is your surname Weeks?”, as he started smashing boundaries off all their bowlers. He was especially strong square on the leg side making umpiring there a dangerous occupation but also demonstrated a classic on drive while hitting six boundaries in a score of 31 from just 13 balls. So why worry about the scoring rate if you can only score a 50 from around 40 balls when you have a star in the making batting at 5?
Metro wrapped up the win with five overs to spare looking in good form before their next home game when they play the Gloucestershire Growlers, who beat them in the league at the start of the season, in the T20 cup semi-final of the 1st August. That must be an event worthy of some home support, which was lacking today – Hampshire winning that duel easily with a crowd of half a dozen supporters.
– report by Paul Toplis