“I think we’ll have a bowl first” our captain said after a quick inspection of the track. He then lost the toss and we were put in to face first. With the innings that followed it seems that having a bowl was the correct call given the slightly earlier midday start.
We took our places with a confidence that soon proved unfounded as my debut as an opening batsman ended in an ignominious duck and Anjum was caught out by a great diving catch from the wicket keeper following a heavy top edge. From early on the initial bowling attack of L. Pacey and Wolfie was consistently frustrating our top order as we struggled to get used to the track and lacked patience.
One of the few exceptions to this was Ross Lavin whose 63 contributed to what turned out to be a flattering total. Ross batted steadily through impressive bowling from Northern Counties only to be run out after a moment of confused communication – a shame given what was a brilliant and vital knock. Particular mention needs to be given to Shannon Thorpe whose eight over spell was troublesome and earned him two well deserved wickets.
Our lower order kept the score board ticking over but still only the two Ryders in Josh and Jim could reach double figures (adding 15 and 13 respectively). After a disappointing innings we limped to a final total of 125 but given our confidence before the game it felt like a missed opportunity. Despite this, 125 was a target to be chased by Northern Counties and defended with good bowling by Fort Augustus meaning either side could still claim victory.
Our turn in the field started well. Ross and Anjum kicked off our bowling attack and, as usual, were consistently accurate preventing the opening pair building a rhythm. However, after three overs Ross was beset by a niggling shoulder injury which ended his spell on 0-10. The first change brought Nilesh and myself into the attack and we continued in much the same vein. Nilesh’s bowling was impressive, zipping off the surface and always feeling like a threat. He brought the first breakthrough in the eighth over dismissing Lewis Pacey following a good catch from Anjum.
The second wicket fell soon after as I squirmed one through the defence of G. MacDowall with a ball that moved more than expected off the seem and took the middle stumps. Nilesh’s second wicket was a superb caught and bowled with him having to dive to his left and snatch a forward drive that just carried to his follow through. At this point Northern Counties were 3 – 23 but with danger men still to come, the game was far from over.
This danger manifested itself in the 19th over. N. Polata having faced a number of my deliveries had clearly got his eye in and in three balls had struck three boundaries. I was in all sorts of trouble, struggling to find line and length but, as is often the way, a little luck helped out. He struck a fourth delivery with pace but into the air and Nilesh, running at full tilt, managed to get underneath it and drag it in. Another great catch. Another two wickets had fallen in quick succession leaving NC on 6 – 39 and while there was still a chance the game was starting to come to us.
Kev took another important wicket catching Dave Dugdale out with a plum delivery for LBW and while their lower order caused problems by staying stubbornly at the crease, they eventually ran out of overs and we took the win by twenty runs.
Obviously we were a little rusty and our batting performance wasn’t as impressive as we were hoping however, our work in the field was hugely improved with far fewer errors such as those that plagued us last season. It is definitely something for us to build on and a great way to start our preparation for the 2021 season and our competitive league debut.
A huge thank you to Northern Counties for hosting us. It was a fantastic afternoon against an impressive youth side who look to be a strong asset for the team for many years to come.