The Long Winter is Over

It has felt like a long winter, yet all of a sudden the new season is rapidly approaching. A busy April sees us playing in both the senior cup and the reserve cup and beginning our 2023 campaign in the senior league.

I don’t know whether it is just me, but it feels like the season has started early this year and Fort Augustus are yet to get going with our outdoor training. However, we have held four indoor sessions so far and so hope to start this season with some early success.

Following the step up to the senior league last season, we have to be pleased with how things went. We didn’t win as many as we hoped but we were competitive throughout and some tight games made all the difference, if luck had been on our side, we could have been challenging for the top spot. Looking ahead, we should take confidence from our performances last year.

Once again we will be led out by captain Kevin O’Meera, who will be keen to make a winning start to the season.

If you are interested in joining a friendly club open to all ages and abilities, keep checking the information on this website as we will be updating the training dates and times as the weather allows for outdoor sessions.

MATCH REPORT: Friendly – Skye (Home)

Lost by One Wicket

Sundays’ game against Skye and Loch Alsh provided a worthy exciting end to the 2022 season. Skye survived a trouncing only because two retired batsmen were able to return to the middle.

Under cloudy skies, Fort Augustus lost two early wickets, but man of the match Dave, with assistance from Jim (and Mayank (15)), took the score beyond 50 before Os (10) helped Dave continue on his way until having to retire. In the middle of the innings, Nilesh strode out to the wicket to join Osh (11) and they pushed the score along before Nilesh (29) fell in typical attacking fashion. A flurry of late wickets brought Dave back to the wicket and he continued his impressive late season form by reaching his 50 as the innings closed on 167.

In response, the dangerous Angus Robbins (9) fell early, but that brought the impressive ex Freuchie player Duncan to the middle, and then together with Bloomfield, they hurried the score on to 80 before Duncan retired unbeaten on 35. After Bloomfield also retired for 35, only Curtis (19) troubled the scorers as the bowling highlight of the day unfolded. A hat trick for Dave as Mayank stumped Bold first, Os caught McLean close in, and young Robbins fell lbw to complete the three in three. Ashan took two late wickets, including another stumping for Mayank, and left Skye on 120, but with the two retirees to come back in. They battered Skye back into a winning position before Duncan fell for 54. As FA had fielded an extra player, Skye were able to bring Robbins senior back in, and he helped Bloomfield reach the winning target with just two balls to spare. The two retirees were the big difference.

Fort Augustus highlights:-

Dave 50 not out
Nilesh 29
Jim 17
Mayank 15

Dave 3-17
Ewan 2-11
Abbas 2-15
Mayank 2 stumpings

It’s a struggle to find a man of the match, I suppose Dave will have to do!

So, our first senior league season is over. Early season promise gave way to a late run of defeats, and I can think of at least a couple of losses that should have been victories. NC at the Abbey immediately springs to mind. But, by and large we have been competitive, and everyone has contributed. A bit more patience and consistency, combined with cutting down on the extras, could lead to a greater measure of success in future. We are certainly capable of it.

Finally, once again, we thank Mark and his boys who have presented the pitch in immaculate condition for every game. We couldn’t do it without them, and we as a club are continually grateful for all the work they put in each and every week.

MATCH REPORT: Senior League – Ross County (Home)

Lost by five wickets

Here we go again, more Saturday disappointment at the Abbey. Lingering hopes of closing the gap on Ross County were dashed as our visitors stuttered their way to victory in a low scoring affair. I look forward to the day when our team, full of good attacking batsmen, fires again on all cylinders.

The early loss of Nilesh brought debutant Abbas to the crease, and in a brief cameo proved he will be a great addition before holing out under the trees. Mayank followed before the ever-steady Ross was run out with the score on 46. One run later, Anjum was on his way back, but it did bring the one real batting performance of the innings to the wicket. Dave battled superbly for 39, including six boundaries, and was instrumental in getting the score into three figures, before the innings closed on 109.

In reply. Ross County tootled away at four an over until the first breakthrough, Carney, superbly caught by Dave off Anjum with the score on 20. All the time though, the extras were piling up, and were the main reason the score got to 39 before Hardwick was castled by Nilesh. Meanwhile, Blake was plodding away, and was joined by Sugden who really took the game away from Fort Augustus. Blake was finally out, LBW to Abbas for 12, with the score on 84, and Sugden followed 6 runs later for 30, but by then the damage had been done. Embleton fell to Abbas, but that was the last wicket to fall as RC hit the winning runs in the 23rd over. 36 extras were conceded in their total, we only got 12 off them. That imbalance certainly didn’t help the cause.

MATCH REPORT: Senior League – Northern Counties (Home)

Lost by seventy-three runs

Well, the Northern Counties game on Saturday was a really frustrating affair, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory seems quite an apt statement.

We had very welcome visitors, Davy Duncan and his partner Helen watching from the boundary. Davy has been an integral part of both Fort William and Fort Augustus over the past seventeen years, and I’m sure team mates of old will have been delighted to see that beaming smile of his again. Hopefully we’ll see them again soon.

Title favourites Counties got off to a steady enough start, putting on 29 before danger man Alex Green was caught by Anjum off Ronan’s bowling. Ominously the extras total began creeping up though, helping the score along to 56 before Thomas’ dismissal triggered an amazing collapse to 62/6 with superb bowling from Ross (3/20) and Anjum (2/18), before a drinks break broke the momentum. After that, Ford, with stubborn support from Pacey, ground out an unbeaten revival that saw their innings close on 195/6, a total probably 70 more than would have been expected before those drinks.

Fort Augustus’ innings started off in similar fashion, steady going until Nilesh (18) holed out at deep mid off with the score on 32. Then, possibly the decisive moment. Ross and Anjum comfortably moved the total on to 61 before Anjum flicked one to backward square leg. It went like a rocket, but straight into the waiting hands of Impey, catching the ball about an inch above the turf. A yard either side and it would have been a 4. In that instant the game was probably decided. Ross and Charlie staged a mini revival, taking the score to 107 before the latter edged behind and was dismissed for 14 and the score on 107. When Ross (42) was out the innings succumbed quickly to 122 all out.

A tale of ifs, buts and maybes, and a victory margin that certainly flattered the visitors. FA gave them a mighty scare.

MATCH REPORT: Reserve Cup – Highland (Away)

Lost by eighty-three runs

You will need to excuse the short report however, life has got in the way of the chance to write much these last two weeks.

Ultimately, there are times when you need to hold your hands up and admit where you went wrong. I was lucky enough to be captain for this match and while I knew it was likely to be a difficult match, I was confident, with a good start, we could win it in the end.

Highland won the toss and elected to bat and steadily built a total. Ronan bowled right through and delivered an excellent spell while the attack was rotated at the other end. By the half way point highland were on ninety-three. A couple of smart catches meant we were in with a chance of limiting them to less than two hundred and now would have been the time to alter our tactics.

Call it fatigue (having played the previous day) or simply a loss of concentration but in hind sight we should have move the field out towards the boundaries, we were playing with ten so there were a few gaps but by keeping in tight, Highland were simply hitting over our heads. In the end the second fifteen overs went for one hundred and fifty-nine.

While it was still possible, we would require four players to retire on thirty-five to really have a shot at winning the game. Nilesh, leading the team out to bat, put in a great knock finishing on forty (with two enormous sixes hit over the heads of the scorers). But we simply couldn’t keep up with the rate. When I headed to the crease it was already too late.

It is a disappointing loss, more so because a change of tactics could have made the difference. But, I live and learn and would hope to avoid such problems in the future.

Highland were a great side to play, a lot of smiles and laughter during the game. The pitch was immaculate and a testament to the hard work of Mark Dallas and his team at the Abbey. We can not thank you all enough.

MATCH REPORT: Senior League – Nairn (Away)

Lost by six wickets

Fort Augustus headed to Nairn with their confidence riding high after a record win over Elgin the previous week. This time they were travelling with a strong team, almost their ideal starting eleven with depth in both bowling and batting.

Having won the toss Kev opted to bat first after some back and forth and openers Ross Lavin and Oswald Crasto headed out to the crease while the rest of the team settled in their seats, glorious sun shining, to watch some excellent cricket.

Unfortunately, the confidence it didn’t last long. Ross fell early (1) to an excellent ball that swung in and clipped the top of his off stump. Even walking in disappointed, Ross praised what was a quality delivery. And so Ash Anjum headed out to the crease and once again showed his prowess. Fort hoped him and Os could form a decent partnership but Os fell quickly too, cleaned bowled once again by Nairn’s Haywood on 0.

While disappointing, we had depth and with Nilesh heading to the crease there was no need to panic. But again, Nilesh fell quickly (0) and Hardwood was looking likely to claim man of the match in the first 4 overs.

It fell to Kev and the middle order to pick things up and try to build a competitive total. At this point Fort Augustus were sitting on 16 for 3 after 4 overs. But with Ash still at the crease and hitting the ball sweetly there was every chance they could revive their innings. The intention now was to see out the overs and simply keep the scoreboard moving.

When Ash fell (caught on 35) it was really time to dig in. The opening two bowlers (Hayward and Whitehorn) were proving dangerous but if Kev and DJ who was now heading to the middle could see them off, there were still a lot of runs on the table. With some batting potential still sitting in the lower order we were not out of this yet. So when DJ fell to LBW on 5, Dave Peers took over to hold out against the opening attack.

However, when the first bowling change took place, and Macleod took over, the pace was taken out of the attack and, caught between two minds to place or slog a delivery, Dave Peers was caught (7) from a lazy shot pitched right to mid on. Fort Augustus were now at 72 for 7 after 15 overs.

Kev lasted a little longer with Jim at the crease but was again caught trying to lift one over covers (29) and Jim’s wicket fell for (5).

It fell to our ten and eleven, Tim and Ronan, to try and put on a final tally we could defend and they did the team proud. A final wicket stand of forty-seven gave us a chance and meant we finished on 145 with most of their runs coming from boundaries and an excellent maximum of the bat of Ronan.

There was still a chance, we could defend the total with the bowling attack we possessed but we would need a couple of wickets to fall cheaply to expose Nairn’s tail. However, this was obvious to Nairn too and with a required run rate of less than four an over needed they could dig in, block the good ball and attack the bad.

Ronan kicked off the bowling, deserved after his batting performance, but found the openers got on top of his line and length quickly. The outfield was concrete hard and fast, anything through the gaps in the field was likely to run for a boundary and it was hard work out there for Fort Augustus in the warm sun.

Ash Anjum at the other end of the track delivered another master class of contained bowling. It was accurate, quick and offered little for the openers to work with. He was eventually rewarded with the wicket of Woodward on 18.

Nairn were sitting on 23 and another quick wicket would give us the opportunity. Despite the best efforts of Ross Lavin, whose bowling was excellent, and another wicket falling from a of a nick behind (Davies 8)), the runs kept ticking up. Nilesh and DJ took over the bowling but were unable to make another breakthrough. Meanwhile, led by Dave Wolton, Nairn just kept moving the scoreboard, slowly but surely, with few risks being taken.

Even so, we were still in with a shout and it fell to Kev’s leg spin to make the next breakthrough, but it was all too little too late. Dave Wolton was still at the crease and was the danger man. He saw Nairn home with a six to put him on 66 not out. Fort Augustus lost by six wickets.

It was a frustrating loss. We never really put Nairn under pressure and didn’t perform at our best. Our batting and bowling line ups were strong but simply did not put enough runs on the board. Another day and it could have been a different story. A win would have left us with an outside chance to challenge for the league title. The loss has ruled that out.

However, we are still exceeding our hopes for our first season and there a huge number of positives to take from our previous performances. On to the next one.

MATCH REPORT: Senior League – Elgin (Home)

Won by ninety-three runs

On a glorious Saturday, Fort Augustus played Elgin in the Highland Club senior league. The ground was looking perfect and the cricket on show from start to finish was pleasing to the eye for all those who came to spectate.

After winning the toss Kevin O’Meara had no hesitancy opting to bat first in what ended up being the right decision. Normal opener Nilesh Pote was stuck in traffic so a late decision to push Ash Anjum up the order ended up working in FACC’s favour and paid dividends.

Anjum started teeing off from the first ball hitting 6s all around the Abbey. He ended up getting his 50 off about 20 balls but eventually got out playing one big shot too many and ending his innings on 73. His opening partner Ross Lavin also chipped in with a valuable 36.

At drinks FACC were 140 for 3 but shortly after Ross Lavin was out caught behind. Out came out-of-form captain O’Meara to the crease. Nilesh Pote was again in fine fine form and he raced away to a half century and ended up reaching 82 before a suicidal run out which O’Meara held his hands up for the moment of madness. This wasn’t to bother him as in the last 6 overs he rolled back the years hitting 4s and an odd 6 meaning the total reached an impressive 327 off 40 overs. O’Meara ended up 73 not out.

Heading out to bat Elgin started steadily but lost their Captain Scott to a fantastic catch by Oswaldo Crasto off the bowling off Pote. Runs were flowing and this meant a change in the attack was necessary. The league leading wicket taker Charlie Thornton took a valuable wicket of Elgin’s new recruit Smart in his first over, some neat work by keeper James Ryder helping Charlie get his wicket. Some would say that it was a smart move!

Rik Wimble, Elgin’s other opener, scored his half century before falling victim to a clever slower ball by Anjum and caught by the safe hands of Crasto. The game was almost over but fair play to Elgin and especially to young Euan Fairgreave, he played very well in racking up 81 in no time at all supported by his Dad, David, who got 30.

The game ended with Elgin on 234 for 4. A comprehensive win for Fort Augustus by 93 runs which means that FACC are third in the table going into this weekends away match to bottom of the table Nairn

MATCH REPORT: Senior Cup – Ross County (Away)

Lost by four wickets

Well, what an amazing game of Cricket that was. How on earth did we lose it? There were so many twists and turns to the plot, one could point to several different reasons, but losing on the very last ball was a real killer.

Jim won the toss and elected to bat. Despite losing Ross (3) with the score on 31, the top order fired spectacularly. Anjum (42), Nilesh (31), Os (51) and debutant Ruhul (36), rushed the score along to 180/4 after 19 overs. Graeme Carney then made crucial bowling changes, taking pace off the ball by introducing Renato Belli and Chris Blake to the attack. The runs dried up dramatically as wickets fell in another quick procession, and the score slumped to 188/9 before Ronan and Brandon closed out the innings at 197/9. The last 11 overs yielded just 17 runs. Belli finished with 3/11 off 6, and Blake 2/5 off 5.

By contrast, Ross County struggled early in their reply. Scott (8) was soon a victim, caught Anjum bowled Ronan, but Carney and Hardwick took the score to 72 before Os took a smart catch to dismiss Carney off Anjums’ bowling. Embleton and Morgan fell quicky to Ross as they slumped to 73/4 after 17 overs.. From then on though, Hardwick and Sugden turned the game on its head, putting on 57 in 6 overs before Hardwick was caught behind by Jim off Os for 45. The breakthrough only brought Chris Blake to the crease however, and he and Sugden got Ross C to within 4 runs of the target with 3 balls left. Blake (31) holed out to Ross off Ruhuls bowling, but hopes were dashed as Sugden (41 n.o.) hit the winning runs off the last ball.

Frustratingly, extras, particularly wides, made a crucial difference. In total Ross County bowled only 15, while FA contributed 39 to the Ross County total.

On a positive note, the top order was once again in spectacular form, and the contribution by our young lads in the field was brilliant. Overall though, that was a game that should have been won. How frustrating.

MATCH REPORT: Senior T20 Bash

Won one, Lost one – Knocked Out

This was a day of contrasts.

Having won the toss for our first match, we elected to bat. Ross County had just finished on the field against Northern Counties (our opponent for the second match) and this, we hoped, would give us an advantage.

As it turns out we got of to a great start with frequent boundaries quickly building our score at an impressive rate. The most impressive innings was that of Anjum, who in one over, scored a six, a six, a six, a six, a four, a four and the a six. Thirty-eight in one over and a number of lost balls. Ash’s innings only lasted a couple of overs but he seemed to be at the crease for a long time… turns out most of his time in the centre was spent watching people trying to retrieve various match balls from interesting places.

We finished our innings on two hundred and thirteen, a very creditable score. Our bowling attack took over from where our batting left off. It was tight and aggressive giving little away and causing Ross Counties’ top order difficulty hitting the required run rate.

Good fielding, some half decent catches and pin point bowling took steady wickets and so Ross County ended their innings well short of the required runs. It was a comprehensive victory for the first match.

We headed into the second match against Northern Counties with confidence. Once again, after winning the toss, we elected to bat first. However, we never really got established. A constant stream of wickets fallen meant we were relying on our lower order to generate the runs and it just didn’t click. Our innings finished on one hundred and six.

Northern Counties, in contrast, got off to a fast start. Unlike the first game, the fielding was poor. I dropped a somewhat tricky catch (but one I would have backed myself to take nine times out of ten and really, should have caught) early doors. And Anjum did the same two overs later. That was the difference in the end. We failed to threaten their openers, Dave Dugdale and Alex Green, those two catches could have been the decisive factor.

In the end, in all honesty, I don’t think it would have made a difference. Northern Counties were too strong and we did not post a good enough total for them to chase. It was a disappointment and shows we are still lacking consistency as a squad. But our irritation at such a loss also proves that we are competitive, expect a lot of ourselves, and that we are actually pushing hard for some silverware this season.

Not to be this time, but there is always next week. Easily, for a thirty-eight run over, Ash Anjum was the player of the day.

MATCH REPORT: Reserve T20 Bash

Won two – Progress to the final

Sunday at the Abbey, and the day was cool, breezy and overcast. As the day went on, the sun came out and so did the midges. Against Ross County (again), a new opening partnership of Os and Mayank pushed the score along to seventy-eight before Os was caught two short of a fifty.

A flurry of wickets was halted as Mayank and Harshal put on a useful sixteen run stand to steady things. Then Ross joined Mayank, and rushed the score to one hundred and fifty-four before Mayank was out for a superb fifty-five, caught and bowled by that old fox Renato Belli. So close to carrying his bat. Innings closed on 163/7

In reply, Ross C never really kept up with the run rate, and tight bowling by everyone restricted the visitors to 125/6, thirty-nine runs short. Two wickets apiece for Os and Ronan, one each for Kevin and Ross, but all the bowling was economical. A very good win.

Our second game was against Skye and Lochalsh, who had just inflicted another defeat on Ross County. Step forward young Mr Blakey, who demolished the dangerous opening pair of Angus Robins Senior and Paul Curtis, so often real thorns in our side. Two further wickets followed for Ronan who finished with four for fifteen, a really great spell of bowling. Prashant had his best spell of bowling for the club so far, and finished with one for nine. A rear guard thirty-four not out from Duncan, partnered by Wides (twenty) took Skye to 108/8.

Ross and Mayank opened and put on 12 before Ross was smartly caught behind by Curtis. Dave batted comfortably before being stumped for sixteen and the score on forty-four. At this time FA were a bit behind the run rate, and the nerves were jangling a bit on the side-lines. However, Mayank and Os were comfortable. Pacing their partnership well, they accelerated as required to win the game with one and a half overs to spare, Mayank not out twenty-eight, and Os unbeaten on thirty-eight. Another really convincing all round performance by the team.

Ronan finished the day with six wickets, Mayank with 83 runs. A close call for “Player of the Day”.