Sadly Higham and Mockbeggar were unable to raise a side for the opening league game on Saturday, and so the 5th XI travelled to the always welcoming Wickham Park for a friendly. We were all keen to get going, so much so that we beat the opposition to their ground.
The wicket looked a tad green and we were keen to look at a few bowling options so the plan was to bowl. Alas Shanksy loss the toss and we found ourselves batting. We welcomed Humza to the club and he headed out to open the batting with Stephen Course, but was unfortunately caught and bowled in the first over.
The hosts bowled fine overall, but a combination of the odd very bad ball early in spells and some howlers in the field meant that Coursey and Rick were able to keep the scoreboard ticking without taking too many risks, other than a suicidal single from Coursey as he struggled against our oppo’s England over 70s international. Both batsman had 40* at drinks but from here Rick really pushed on, bringing up his 50 with a series of straight drives, whilst Coursey got to 49 (of which as many as 5 had come in front of square) before his luck ran out and he picked out point to bring an end to the 108 run partnership.
Sam Hart came to the crease and supported Rick well scoring an entertaining run a ball 28 as Rick really accelerated through the gears despite seeming to pull a muscle an over, and he deservedly brought up his 100 just before Sam departed LBW looking to flick the ball onto the leg side. Dave Dixon and skipper Ian Shanks threw the bat with Rick at the end to get us to a respectable 220-4 at tea with Rick finishing on a superb 109*, well batted sir.
Tea was excellent. We took to the field feeling full and knowing we had a lot of spin options, but began with the seam of Connor Daly and the returning Fred Woodgate (It was great to welcome Fred back after his injury problems). It wasn’t to be Fred’s day though as he couldn’t find the edge in his excellent opening overs. Connor however did find the edge and Hendo took a great catch standing up to get the first breakthrough. A bit of a stand then developed, before Connor once again struck, this time trapping the player that was looking to take the attack to us LBW.
Mike Dixon and Ben Bleksley replaced Fred and Connor in the attack. Both bowled a very good length at players who wanted to attack and were rewarded with 3 wickets each, quite simply tearing apart the middle order of our opponents. Mike (3-18) had a plum LBW, another good catch behind the stumps by Dave Hendry and a catch at point for Humza. Ben (3-19) began with a bowled before getting the anchor of the innings caught at mid-wicket by the skipper and finished with Rick taking a high catch at slip. During this time the hosts had collapsed from 70-3 to 90-8.
New man Humza’s leg spin was introduced to the attack shortly after drinks, as was Sam Hart for his first bowl in some time. Our opponents found Humza’s variations hard to score off and he picked up 1-5 from 4, but it was off the bowling of Sam that the innings ended. A sharp low chance went to Ben Blekslet at backward point. Ben dived but spilled the chance. Meanwhile the striker had taken off for a single but his partner was not interested. Ben threw the stumps down, and the game was over. 102 all out, Bexley win by 118 runs.
All in all whilst it was disappointing not to have our league game we were fortunate enough in the circumstances to play a very worthwhile friendly on a decent wicket against a good bunch of guys and we are all set to start this week. Bowlers got a bowl, batters got a bat and we fielded superbly which is an area we are looking to improve in, bring on the league.