League week 2 and the trip to Belvedere. The hosts had done their best to get the venue ready for play without proper covers and with the extraordinary rainfall we had over the last week. Unfortunately we were confronted with a wicket that had the mud rolled into it though and how the day would pan out was anybody's guess. We had an umpire though, happy days (thank you Paul James)!
Our skipper returned to the changing room slightly wet from another shower at the toss and informing us that:
a) the match was reduced to 34 overs
b) he had lost the toss again
c) he would be joining Coursey in opening the innings.
The 34 overs message had unfortunately gone straight to Coursey's head and fresh from his score last week he set off like an old Romesh Kaluwitharana swinging wildly and being caught at point (for a change) in the first over for a duck. The skipper and Rick then proceeded to bat as the wicket demanded, watchfully building us a platform for the next 20 overs at 3/4 an over. Rick was to depart for 29 shortly after Shanksy had brought up what was a very impressive 50 in the conditions.
What followed here was extraordinary. Now was the time to bat like Sri Lanka did in 1996 and that we did. Shanksy began to hit out and whilst Sam Hart came and went having done just enough to avoid collecting the money, the middle order were in the mood to use the platform to get on with things. Shanksy departed for 69 and cameos from Dave Dixon (19), Joe Harris (20*) and Dave Hendry (8*) left us on a creditable 155-5 from our 34 overs which it is safe to say we would have settled for at the start of the innings.
Our dream scenario occurred with some light drizzle persisting for the entire tea interval, meaning Connor Daly and Joe Harris knew they would have even further assistance from the wicket. Joe struck in the first over, the opener trying an ambitious flick over square leg and finding the welcoming hands of Sam Hart. Connor struck with his first over too, a sharp edge flying to Shanksy at slip who took his time but eventually got the ball under control. Bexley were well on top and every ball seemed to bring 'ooos and aaas' from the field. The oppositions skipper was castled by a superb Joe Harris yorker, whilst Connor had a very convincing caught behind appeal turned down with the number 3.
Connor (2-15) eventually got his man after he tried to go over the top and skied to Dave Dixon at cover, and the new batsman smashed a ball from Joe Harris (3-17) straight at Rick who took a stunning catch by his ankles. 30 odd for 5 and the Rangers were all over their opposition. Mike Dixon and Abdur Rehman took over bowing duties and there was no let up. Abdur gave nothing away in his spell of 1-10 from 7 which included 3 maidens. Mike was drawing some shots from the defensively minded batsman, one of which found his son's hands at square leg. There was also a bowled in Mike's 2-23. Ben Bleksley was introduced and toiled away to no avail, his figures not reflecting how he bowled at all as we moved every fielder around the bat to dismiss the last pair. Sadly the last wicket was not to materialise and we found ourselves a bit deflated to leave with 19 points as the hosts finished on a somewhat fortunate 96-8 (they had 10 men).
It is true to say we left the field with a feeling of 1 point dropped however on reflection we must be pleased with the 18 and how things have gone thus far. One of the top order has stepped up and got a big score every week (and a different person each time), we got 8 wickets against a side not looking to attack and we were faultless in the field again, which has not always been the case with the 5s in times gone by. It is a strange league we are in with concessions everywhere etc, but we can only focus on beating what is put in front of us each week, and that is something we are doing well. Bring on Orpington next week at Loring Hall.