So after the glories of last Sunday, I came crashing back to earth on another beautiful sunny day in leafy Bucks. Such is the nature of the fickle art of leg-spin: one week you feel like Shane Warne, landing every ball pretty much where you want it, and turning it square. And the next, it seems as if you’ve never bowled before in your life – the ball seems to weigh a tonne, it sticks in the hand, and your action goes to pieces.
Anyway, enough of my travails. What about the rest of the match? Well, as usual Hyde Heath fielded first, and with a depleted bowling attack (why do our frontline bowlers never turn up?) we dished up a load of old drivel. Ley Hill’s almost shotless openers somehow managed to rack up a hefty (but tedious) hundred partnership (helped no end by around 28 wides). Luke Brennan came back with a good second spell, bowling with pace and better control, and Jez picked up two wickets in his last over, one courtesy of a brilliant running catch by Henry Capper on the long on boundary.
So at tea, we were set 208 to win the match. Given the belting track and our strong batting line-up, it looked like a stiff ask, but by no means impossible. We needed a good start. And we didn’t get it. Ley Hill’s 17 year-old quick rattled through our top order with pace and bounce. Capper went in the first over, popping a catch to mid on; Shrimpton miscued a pull to mid off, 2 balls after one of the most sumptuous lofted cover drives you could wish to see. Then Dom Haddock was bowled by a slower ball yorker, and Will Reynolds had his off stump pegged back first ball.
Fortunately, just as we were staring down the barrel of an ignominious first loss of the season, their quickie who had taken all four wickets was taken off – something to do with young players only allowed to bowl six over spells I think. Our experienced middle-order pairing of Tim Barnsley and Simon Napier-Munn took full toll. Barnsley made 44 and Napes 68 – the highest score of his career. He started off in calm and orthodox fashion, but as the required rate rose to around 10 an over, the cross-batted shots became more frequent. Everything seemed to come out of the middle though, and 10 an over was hardly a problem. At one stage it looked like we might be able to chase the target down.
Unfortunately the loss of these two experienced players put the brakes on. I came out with 30 required from 3, but the return of the opening bowler dried up the run-rate. We finished 190 for 7 and the match was drawn. On a hot day, it was a tame end to a good game, but with most of our bowling attack missing, I think we did well to challenge against a strong Ley Hill outfit.