Berkshire Stags vs Metro Devils – 22 Aug 2021
Welcome to a match report from the beautiful Maidenhead and Bray cricket club, a ground overlooked by a screen of trees behind which could be glimpsed a very English stone church and an imposing brick mansion.
The weather was almost as beautiful, despite the poor forecast, as for much of the game there was warm sunlight and a largely blue sky just trimmed by fluffy clouds.
On the fourth ball of the thirteenth over of the first innings Chris hits strongly to mid-on, where a great catch is taken by Rob; Shiv was next in and his shot was a carbon copy and caught by the same fielder.
The bowler is on a hat trick and the umpires call for drinks – is this the first time that a drinks break has broken the bowler’s rhythm when on a hat trick? A break for drinks was needed as this game had got off to a very rapid start after Hassan lost the toss and the Devils were asked to bat.
The first over went for three but Prem and Everton then raced to 50 from just 4 overs, as they put on 68 for the first wicket before Everton was bowled by the home skipper. The score was 123 for 5 at drinks; with Asif also having claimed a primary club membership when caught at short 45 off one bounce by Camile.
Was it drinks break that made Alan’s task easier in facing that hat trick ball – who knows but it was a wide. Alan did become Dion’s fourth victim when he was also caught off one bounce as the home side did well in the field to take seven wickets for 54 runs and leave the Devils at 151 for eight.
Hash then held up one end while Nick raced to 25 and Prem came back to add another 22 to the 50 he had before retirement, with an array of shots all around the ground that included six boundaries and a six over square leg. This strong hitting allowed Hassan to declare on 201 after 24 overs.
There was no tea prepared by Berkshire but food was available in the pavilion, although the service was not quite fast enough to enable the Devils to be able to order and eat a pizza during the innings break. Back on the ground there were 28 overs to take the nine wickets needed for a win.
Asif and Alan opened the bowling and despite the home captain sweeping the ball for a boundary 8, he was then bowled by Alan and the Stags had half the devils score after 4 overs.
There was fantastic fielding from the whole side to back up the bowlers over the next 10 overs with no more boundaries conceded until the fifteenth over.
By that time Chris had taken a great catch at mid-off from Asif’s bowling and Prem had held a nick off Alan’s. The home side had just 79 at the half way stage in the chase.
However the game looked to be swinging their way as 57 were added rapidly for the fourth wicket before Prem look another catch behind the stumps – this time off Ahmed to break the partnership; was there to be another twist.
Nick took two catches at square leg after having previously missed some half chances and so with six overs left the equation was the Devils needed three wickets and the Stags needed 54 to win.
The home side then gave a wicket away as Camile was run out as Rob was attempting a third run as Nick ran down the pitch after bowling to break the wicket at the keepers’ end. When Rob reached his 50 and had to retire with the score on 160, Devils sensed an opportunity.
The score was 170 as the opening bowlers returned to complete the innings and with his second ball Asif beat Ruth and Rob had to come back. Three balls later he drove into the waiting off side cordon of total fielders where the ball went into the skippers hands and then onto the floor! Rob carefully steered the next ball to square leg for a single before seeing out a maiden for the final over.
The Devils end their season next Saturday with their first home match!
They host the Gloucestershire Growlers – while a week later Metro aim to complete a league and cup double at the BBS Cup final in Northampton. Yes – the double as results this weekend have guaranteed them the league title before their final away fixture at Lancashire.
Match report by Paul Toplis
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