The second consecutive fixture at the Village for the 1st team this week, as they hosted an undefeated Old Pauline on an overcast Saturday lunchtime. A few days of heavy rain beforehand did little to inspire confidence that the game would actually be played and the nice, new covers even came back on briefly during the warm up. I’m not usually one to believe in home advantages when it comes to local cricket, but playing at the Village does seem to work in our favour in the sense that the skipper doesn’t actually have to call Heads or Tails. Dan successfully ‘didn’t lose’ the toss for the second game in a row and, quite rightly, sent Old Pauline out to bat on a less-than-ideal wicket with a very damp outfield, in the hope that it would dry up in time for the second innings.

The first wicket fell reasonably quickly, with their opening batsmen being caught behind down the leg-side off Aamir’s bowling for 9. 2 and 3 then settled in for the long haul, building a 119 run partnership for a fantastically calm catch on the boundary from J. Sanderson off Disco’s bowling. The third wicket, a sensational diving grab from none other than Terry Pope himself, was probably the highlight of the innings. Special mention for James Tubby, though who bowled very well and thoroughly deserved his 2 wickets. No one is quite sure how his 8 overs went for 58 runs, I would have guessed it was around half that expensive, but there we are. 224 for 5 by the end of it; a very high score considering the pitch conditions.

All in all, apart from a couple of great catches and some decent bowling, this performance had a certain air of ‘going through the motions’ about it. It lacked the intensity that we have grown accustomed to since the start of the recovery last year and, whilst it wasn’t necessarily a disastrous performance, it was blander than an elderly man’s packed lunch. Middle of the range. 5 out of 10.

Any tea with hot chicken wings is a winner in my eyes. Top stuff as always. No complaints.

Whiteley needed to start off quickly to get a run rate of nearly 5 an over under control, and they did just that with Jim and Dan working well together to reach 50 in good time. The first wicket fell at 57 for 1, with Jim making way for Terry, who hoped to support the rapid-scoring Roberts (Already on 47*) in building a strong team total. Pope’s 17 ball duck was measured and comfortable, and allowed D. Roberts to press on further.

Lewis Razey entered the field and was seemingly in no mood to hang about, smacking 3 impressive sixes and vastly improving the run-rate before being dispatched for 21. Seemingly inspired by Lewis’s big hitting, Dan set off himself in an attempt to win the game in comfortable fashion. This clearly put some considerable pressure on Old Pauline’s bowlers, with their otherwise tidy off-spinner suddenly deciding to switch to some very average medium pace bowling, which was promptly sent for yet another 6 runs. Few people decide to change their bowling action half way through an over, and on this occasion it definitely didn’t work for the poor guy. I’d hate to think what his captain was thinking.

With the rest of the team thinking the game was over, a very impressive catch out on the boundary put an end to the jokes and smiles by the Thatch. With Dan out on 114, it suddenly dawned on the team that they would have to find a further 68 runs against a tidy bowling team with some very solid fielding. Sadly, without time on the teams side, the remaining batsmen succumbed to pressure and couldn’t quite see the team over the line, finishing on 204 all out.

For majority of the innings there was a sense that the comeback could well and truly be on, and a score of 204 at the Village, on a damp pitch, would normally be more than enough to win the game. On this occasion though, it wasn’t to be, as the target was just a little too high. 6 out of 10 for batting, not bad but not enough.

The lack of intensity was noticeable in the performance on the day, particularly in the first innings. As a team, we are capable of much better and it left us with a little too much to do when batting, despite the valiant efforts of the skipper. How often does a player score over half of the teams runs? Let’s put this one down as ‘a blip’. A strong performance and response next week against Long Ditton will see us back on the right track. On the bright side, as it’s another home game, we won’t have to listen to stuff like ‘It looked like a good height for a tails… we’re bowling lads, sorry.’