A warm day on the new pitch at Loring Hall, and the 5s welcomed Orpington. Both sides were thus far unbeaten, however we knew little of our opponents given their 2 victories thus far were by concession. Shanksy won his first toss of the season and invited our visitors to have a bat.
Joe Harris and Conor Daly (1-16 (Apologies for mis-spelling Conor’s name in previous report)) opened the bowling and kept things tight early on, despite the batsmen being keen to hit off their legs, with Conor bringing in some fantasy cricket points with a few maidens. The more positive opener soon skied an attempted shot over mid-wicket, and the ever safe hands of birthday boy Dave Dixon did the rest. Steve Shanks and Ben Bleksley entered the attack and kept the runs to a minimum, but the second breakthrough was not coming. Eventually the number 3 tried one shot over square leg too many and was bowled by Steve Shanks. With the door opened, wickets began to fall with a bowled and 2 LBW’s at the end of a fine spell by Ben Bleksley (3-31) and an LBW for Shanksy (2-24). An Orpington youngster was also hung out to try by his partner which Sam Hart took full advantage of with a direct hit from some way away, and the visitors were 89-7.
Mike Dixon joined the attack and quickly picked up a wicket with an LBW, but the final 2 wickets hung around and added another 28 with some big blows from the number 4 who had watched the collapse unfold at the other end. Mike picked up the final 2 wickets though with a caught and bowled and a caught behind for Dave Hendry to finish with 3-13 from his 3 overs. We were happy to have dismissed Orpington for 119 despite the late push.
For the second week running we lost Stephen Course early, this week bowled off stump in the second over for 2. Lucas Hart soon followed for 7 caught and bowled to the same bowler, however Sam Hart and captain Ian Shanks went about rebuilding the innings and saw the 50 up at a rate steady enough to put us on course for a victory. Shanksy unfortunately fell LBW for 18, but Dave Dixon joined Sam and injected further pace to the innings as Dave does. By the time Sam fell unluckily with a ball that bounced off his foot onto the stumps, we were 87-4 and looking like the hard work was done. What happened next was extraordinary. According to their square leg, the chap who bowled Sam was a new player who had never bowled for Orpington before. He proceeded to take a further 5 wickets, taking advantage of the low bounce and bowling many of the middle and lower order. Dave was caught for 28 in amongst all this, and the 5s had lost their final 6 wickets for 10 runs to fall to defeat by 22 runs.
Having played some really good cricket on the whole for the first 57 overs of the 71 that took place, the result was hard to take, but we only have ourselves to blame. We picked up 12 points and must pick ourselves up and go forward from here as we still sit top of the league at present.