On the hottest day of the year so far Fort Augustus travelled over to Strathpeffer to play Ross County for the latest game in the senior league. After heading to middle for the toss, Kev trudged back to say we were fielding… did I mention it was the hottest day of the year so far?
We toiled away in the field with the bowlers keeping things tight but no chances were coming from the Ross openers. The first change brought on Charlie T with his off spin. Chris Blake watched a couple then drifted outside of his crease and missed the ball. Off came the bails up went the call… and square leg umpire lifted his finger… out, stumped.
In came Carney, two balls later he was back in the shed. Another missed shot from Charlie’s spin, another stumping by Ryder, a great start.
Nilesh bowling from the “shinty” end was quick and hostile and eventually skittled the Hardwick’s wickets but Scott was still there knocking off the runs. Steve Embleton came in and stuck around, scoring twenty before getting bowled by Nilesh.
The fielding was hard work. The bowlers were toiling in the heat. But wickets fell steadily and with Scott out on eighty-four after a great knock, Ross County finished on one hundred and sixty-four for seven.
Charlie ended his overs on three for thirty-seven, Nilesh managed three for thirty and Anjum ended on one for thirty-five. Great work all round, but there were just too many extras who were second best scorer with twenty-six.
Ross and Charlie went out to open and batted steadily for the first twenty overs before Charlie was run out by some great fielding by Ross County. Anjum in at three was caught after a mistimed shot. Charlie Luxton was next in but out in a similar way to a donkey dropper from Blake.
Nilesh was looking good but after a good start was caught in the deep on twenty-four. When Ross was out on forty-nine (after a great innings), a mini collapse of the middle order, swung the game in RC’s favour. In came Mayank who hit thirteen not out ably assisted but the other two youngsters, Harshal and Yule, who both added runs. In the end we fell just twenty-seven runs short of the target.
A learning curve for sure, positives a plenty, with the U18’s showing some of the seniors how to do it. Could we have won? Yes. Should we have won? Maybe, but we will move forwards and learn from this. We are competitive and capable of winning against any of the other teams.
Skye was the first team I faced in a competitive match when playing for Fort Augustus and it was during that game that the cricket bug really bit. That first game was a fantastic match, which FA lost, but was played with a very friendly atmosphere who just wanted to enjoy a brilliant day of sport in the sun. Since then I have always looked forward, and tried to make myself available for, the fixtures against Skye. They are excellent opponents.
This time round I was asked to skip, which made it an even more enticing match. But thanks has to be offered to Kev, the actual FA Skip, and Shep, Chairman, along with all those who made themselves available. We were struggling for players as the game was on the Sunday of a double header weekend and so without the endless efforts of those mentioned above, we would have had to forfeit.
It did mean, however, that we were able to include club patron Bim and his son Dillan in the final eleven as we tried to make it a winning weekend (FA having won their first ever senior league match the day before). Having stepped onto the pitch with the opposition skip, I achieved another club first by winning the toss, something I had yet to manage on the few occasions I had captained the side in the past. We elected to bowl first. I want to claim this was some form of tactically genius decision making but was really because we had a number of players who had to leave by a certain time and I wanted eleven in the field.
This actually was a must win game in some senses as we had lost the first reserve cup match against Ross County. And so with that in mind, Ronan and Prashant opened our bowling attack. Both were steady and consistent, keeping the initial run rate down but neither made a breakthrough against the opening pair, which was a shame as they both deserved a wicket.
I then came on for Ronan, and bowled my six right through, which is not something I would normally do as I am not that type of bowler, being slower pace and somewhat erratic. I ended my spell with my best bowling stats to date, something I was so surprised about at the time that I had to double check the scorebook. It was in my second over that we took our first wicket when Angus, looking confident at the crease, cut a ball outside off straight to point and unfortunately, one of our best fielders.
The second wicket fell to a brilliant catch from Harshal, who took it on the move after it was hit straight and high from a slower ball (well only slightly slower in my case).
After that though, it was all about the youngsters. Yule, Harshal and Dillan all bowled two or three excellent over each, again, keeping the extras down and limiting the run rate. We are so fortunate this year to have some youngster join the club. They are enthusiastic, energetic and determined both in the field and when batting. A Sunday reserve game is the best time to get them bowling and batting up the order to build their confidence and (mentioning it again) when playing an encouraging and friendly side like Skye, it will have hopefully boosted their confidence no end!
Mayank needs a special mention too, keeping for the first time in a competitive match, and he was fantastic. He was a wall behind the stumps, letting very little past him and he ended the day with a catch and stumping. Very well deserved after a great performance.
After thirty overs Skye finished their innings on one hundred and thirty-two for seven. A decent target for our young side to aim for.
With that in mind, we sent Mayank out to open with Kev, an experienced hand, to get things going. Both hit double figures, Kev was stumped on twenty-one and Mayank bowled on twenty-eight. A good start. I headed out at three and played one of my best innings. The other reason I secretly like playing Skye is I seem to bat with much more confidence and usually end up scoring well. Bim joined me at four and we each raced to retirement.
In cup games, each batsman must retire at thirty-five. Once I reached that target, Dillan made his way to the middle. These moments are what makes reserve games so special; father and son being able to bat together at the crease. Unfortunately, it wasn’t destined to be a lengthy partnership as Bim was already close to retirement and a final boundary saw him replaced by Harshal. Dillan was bowled soon after and Charlie joined Harshal at the middle.
By this point we only required five more runs and with some quick singles, Harshal was able to hit the winning shot with seven overs to spare.
It has already been said, but a great game needs a great opponent, so thank you Skye for a wonderful day. It could not have been better for Fort Augustus, the second win of the weekend and great performances from our younger contingent: Mayank, Yule, Harshal and Dillan. Excellent bowling from Prashant and Kev also kept the game within reach during our time in the field. The match could not have gone any better.
Saturday, game day, and our first home game in the senior league.
The weather was okay for cricket and the track looked resplendent with the new fresh paint applied by Mark Dallas, who had been reading the law book and had put all of the correct lines down onto the track much to the pleasure of the umpires.
With the sight screens up, Kev, our skip, walked out to the middle for the toss, which he won, and chose to field.
As we went out to start our forty overs, the Nairn opening pair were looking confident, as they always do. Anjum bowled the first ball which was quick and accurate and this carried on through the first over, giving the batters a few headaches right from the start.
Ross opened his overs at the canal end and his first ball shocked everyone, including those at the crease when it hit the seam and became the perfect bouncer, great start. Our bowling attack did well to keep the runs down until Ross bowled a slower ball that was returned straight to him, one down, caught and bowled.
The bowlers were changed on a regular basis so that Nairn were unable to get used to the pace. After three overs from Anjum, Nilesh was brought on and from the first ball was sending them down quickly and they were hard those facing him to get them away. Still, Nairn toiled away, with Woodward batting particularly well.
Ronan was brought on from the canal end. Bowling left arm over at a brisk pace, the change of angle brought a wicket, clean bowled. Two down and things were looking reasonable but we still needed to get wickets. Woodward was batting well and was proving a problem, scoring steadily and leading the way.
It was time for some spin and so on came Charlie. By this time Woodward had scored fifty, a great innings where he gave us very few chances but Charlie was up to the challenge and floated one up. It was hit straight to Charlie’s safe hands, caught and bowled, a great wicket to get.
Then came the middle order eyes wide open thinking that with a spinner on one end they could get the runs to maybe make us struggle chasing, however, our bowlers had other ideas. Keeping everything tight at the canal end, Charlie went on to tease and frustrate Nairn’s middle order. Next a big swipe went straight to Ross, a great catch. Now the runs were starting to dry out but Charlie wasn’t finished; another swing, another high shot caught by Ronan quickly followed by another big swing and another catch by Ross. The first left hander came in and Charlie bowled what would have been a very wide, wide, but swing and click, bottom of the bat into the keepers glove. We were on a hattrick ball. It wasn’t to be this time but another great over followed and the next wicket fell with another catch by Ronan.
After forty overs, nine wickets had fallen thanks to great bowling figures from everyone and exceptional bowling figures from Charlie: eight overs, one maiden, sixteen runs and six wickets, a club record.
Time for the batters to do their thing chasing a total of one hundred and forty the only down side to this score was the twenty-four extras that we gifted Nairn.
Out to bat went Ross and Nilesh and they started quickly putting on twenty-five for the first wicket with Nilesh being bowled for eleven. In went Charlie who put on thirty runs with Ross but unfortunately fell for fourteen. Anjum follower and put on another twenty-two runs before Ross fell for twenty-six.
At this point were sitting at seventy-seven for three. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, another quick wicket and the game would suddenly turn around. Carrying this burden, in went Oz and who in great style took the game home with Anjum scoring forty-six not out and Oz scoring twenty not out.
A great game, a famous win – our first senior match victory – and one played in a hard but fair way. On to Ross County next week with the hopes of keeping up the momentum.
Sometimes cricket seems like a sport of what ifs. What if we hadn’t dropped that catch? What if we had scored ten more runs? What if a fielder didn’t slip? And it is close games where those ‘what ifs’ become bigger, more prominent. Coming close to an important win can sometimes make it difficult to find positives in a forest of ‘what ifs’.
The reality of Saturday’s result is that Fort Augustus came very close to winning their senior league debut against a very strong team, one of the toughest in the league. In the end only fine margins made the difference. And while any loss is disappointing, there are so many positives to take away from the match that the season ahead is looking very promising indeed.
Having won the toss we elected to bat first and sent our openers out to get our innings going.
Strangely, the game started in somewhat desperate fashion as we lost our two opening wickets early. Neilesh being bowled and Ross catching a leading edge when flicking it off his pads to leg side, leaving us seven for two wickets off three overs. It was our stalwart Chairman who said it best, ‘In the past FA would have collapsed after such a difficult start’. At this point in came Ash and Charlie who stepped up and steadied our innings. Here is another positive to take away from the game. Having a steady batting line up takes the pressure off our opening pair. If things go wrong, as is want in the game of cricket, there are others who can come to the crease and confidently take over.
Charlie slowed the proceedings and built a route back into the game by hitting a half century on his senior league debut, eventually being bowled for fifty-eight. Ash’s innings was a similar story until he was given out LBW on twenty-three. Despite Ash’s disappointment we were back on track to at least post a competitive total, if the rest of the order can add some double figure innings to the board. Oswald, another senior league debut, did just that with an excellent knock of forty-four before being caught.
Unfortunately, on a day when we could have made an impact, myself and Kev were unable to add much between us. I was out for a duck with a terrible forward defence that nicked inside onto the stumps from an in swinging delivery. Kev was caught for two at mid off from the same bowler.
This left us with one hundred and twenty-five for six wickets off twenty-six overs. At which point Jim came out and once again steadied the decline. Playing sensibly, keeping Oswald on strike (who was still toiling away at this point) and hitting the occasional boundary, their stand lasted nearly ten overs until Oswald was caught and Jim bowled.
Our tail end came out and batted out the overs, some vital experience for our youngsters, leaving us with a final total of 155. Defendable, but not comfortable by any means.
After teas, where more amazing snacks were provided by our younger members, we buoyed ourselves up and headed out to field. There are so many positives to take from our time in the field. There was a determination and intensity which I haven’t felt for a while. A step up from our time in the reserve competitions and fitting for our senior league debut. Maybe it comes from the knowledge that Fort Augustus has built a very solid team over the last few years and we have a genuine chance of being very competitive.
Our bowling attack was something to be proud of, it was consistent, venomous at times and limited the scoring opportunities throughout Forres’ innings. Ash was the stand out bowler once again ending the day one for twenty-two off eight overs. But all our main attack bowled well. Neilesh, Ross and Ronan all pegging the opposition back to ones and twos.
Charlie made a great start to his senior league bowling career, opting to bowl off spin in this match. He was threatening a breakthrough each over but unfortunately luck was not on our side. A sniff at an LBW for Pal. Dhami was turned down which could have been a game changer. He was rewarded with the wicket of D. Durrance later in the innings.
The game was tight the whole way. Forres built a steady score and we were in contention all the way to the thirty-fourth over. And while our bowlers were doing incredible work, everyone on the field was doing their bit; chasing every ball, making few mistakes and limiting the runs at all occasions. But, Forres had their not so secret weapon.
Sometimes you just have to applaud an excellent performance and once again, something many who have played against him will testify, Pal Dhami was imperious.
It was a beautiful innings to watch. He was controlled, patient and merciless when the bad ball came. Knowing, as he would have done, that a steady run rate of four an over wins the game, he kept that scoreboard ticking over. He was ably supported by D. Durrance, who rotated the strike, and G. Farr who came out in strong form taking the game away from us (hitting six boundaries during his innings).
In the end it was a disappointing loss, we were tantalisingly close, twenty more runs for us may have made the difference. However, we were chasing the game from early on and throughout we kept our heads up, worked hard, and kept believing. On the day we lacked a little bit of luck and the thing about luck is, it will always even out in the end. We will be ready for another fiercely contested fixture when Forres comes to us.
Notable Mentions – Batting:
C. Thornton – 58
O. Crasto – 44
A. Anjum – 23
P. Dhami – 96 (Not out)
G. Farr – 30 (Not out)
D. Durrance – 19
Notable Mentions – Bowling:
A. Anjum – 1/20 (8 overs)
C. Thornton – 1/30 (8 overs)
N. Pote – 0/31 (7 overs)
G. Farr – 3/25 (8 overs)
D. Durrance – 3/28 (8 overs)
F. Du Toit – 2/35 (8 overs)
Just a quick apology for the length of time it has taken to write this report. It has been one of those weeks!
This fixture has been a long one in the making. COVID, the perennial frustration over the previous two seasons, prevented the bout taking place for two years but this year Oban were able to travel and it was a match worth the wait. In the end the contest wasn’t close but it was played with great friendly spirit. We would like to thank Oban for being brilliant guests and an excellent opposition to play against.
The match was quite eventful in the end. There were some stand out performances from our newest members, an injury that reminds one that cricket can be a dangerous game and some beautiful displays of batting.
Oban travelled with nine so I, and newest club member Raj, volunteered to play for the opposition, something that is not always easy even in a friendly. But I have to say what a pleasure it was to play for Oban, they were a fantastically welcoming and an enjoyable side to play for. It was also great to see Raj on the field as well, although he wasn’t expecting it at the beginning of the day!
Fort Augustus went in to bat first and despite an early wicket, with Neilesh falling for four, it was a wonderfully dominant display at all points. Ross was metronomic at the crease, quickly building his innings to fifty-three retired with ten boundaries. Charlie added another thirty before being caught by myself at mid-on, something he would later get me back for. Oswald, amazingly only now in his debut for the club – rain cancelling all his games last season, added an excellent twenty before Ash came out swinging and raced away to fifty-three and retired.
Early on in the innings, however there was one of those moments that reminds you that cricket is a deceptively dangerous game. A short ball zipped through to the Oban wicket keeper, bouncing a little higher than expected, and skipped through his gloves. The ball struck him just above the lip causing a gash which bled significantly and required a trip to A&E for some stitches, but luckily wasn’t any more serious than that.
It was a great batting display from some of our newest members too. Mayank looked confident, eventually being bowled for thirteen, and Prashant and Harshal, father and son, were able to bat together at nine and ten, which is one of the best things about friendlies. Fort Augustus ended their innings with two hundred and nineteen.
With tea finished and more than one beverage drunk, Oban’s innings started well, with Neilesh, not happy with his four, volunteered to help make up the numbers of Oban and bat again. He quickly raced off to fifty and then promptly returned to field and bowl for Fort Augustus. Oban’s innings was steady but never really looked like challenging the run rate needed. This was due to some excellent bowling performances. Ash and Ross were as reliable as ever but this game saw some excellent bowling performances from Prashant, Mayank and Oswald all making their bowling debut for the team.
Prashant and Oswald took three wickets between them, unsurprisingly – I myself (still batting for the opposition) faced Oswald and he was sending down some fiendish in swinging deliveries. Special mention needs to be made for Charlie as well. Having switched this match to off spin, he took three wickets, including my own with a delivery which kept low as it turned and caused me all sorts of trouble. It was fair recompense for my earlier catch. In the end Oban were out for one hundred and thirty-seven meaning Fort Augustus won by eighty-three runs.
A huge thank you has to go to Oban for making the trip. They were excellent opposition and we all really enjoyed the day. While I was scoring with Oban’s skip he commented on the quality of the FA team and particularly the sharpness of our fielding. Given how far we have come over the last few years, it was really heartening to hear someone else mention it unprompted and proves we are still making continuing progress. With good performances, we have the makings of a team that can put forth a stern challenge across the season.
The start of any season is a chance to blow off the cobwebs, get rid of the rust that has gathered through a wet winter of inactivity and see how the team stacks up in competition. And while it is disappointing to lose the first game out, there were lots of positives to take from the match.
It was one of those matches where it is difficult to identify something specific where we could improve. There were a fair few extras given away, but nothing unusual for the first game of the league. A little rustiness in the field but nothing dramatic (in fact there was really positive energy in our fielding and some determined efforts to limit scoring as much as possible). In the end, luck wasn’t with us on Sunday and that may have been the defining factor.
Before going further it is important to say how delighted we were at Fort Augustus to welcome four new players who debuted at Sunday’s game. It was fantastic to see you all in action and we’re really excited to welcome you to the club. Special notice has to be given to the excellent snacks provided by Prashant, they were delicious! If anyone didn’t have a sample, you really missed out.
Having lost the toss RC opted to bowl first and so we led with tried and tested openers Ross Lavin and Nilesh Pote taking to the crease. They made a fantastic start with Nilesh racing away to thirty-six and retiring out (as per the reserve cup rules – to retire at thirty five). Ross showed typical rhythm and patience building a steady innings before being bowled by H. Singh for twenty-one.
With a solid foundation, two further retirements, Charlie Thornton (thirty-five) and Ash Anjum (thirty-seven), left us 127 for 3 after twenty overs. Unfortunately our middle order (me included) struggled to add many more runs, nine and seven being the most notable scores in the final six wickets. Despite this we managed to end our innings on 161 having seen out all thirty overs.
It felt like a competitive score, defensible given our strong bowling attack if a little bit of luck went our way. Therefore we took to the field fairly confident of at least taking the game to the wire.
Over the previous years we have seen a steady improvement in our fielding and this was obvious on Sunday. On this note a huge thank you has to go to our two youngsters, who were determined and hardworking both on the field and with the bat. And equally huge thankyou to Prashant and Charlie for your massive contributions in the match, as a club we are really grateful to have you join our team.
Our bowling attack started strong limiting Ross County to thirty-seven in the first ten overs with our first wicket coming curtesy of a run out in the seventh for seven runs. Following on from our opening bowlers (Ross Lavin and DJ Duncan) Nilesh Pote and Ash Anjum took over and despite our best efforts the scoreboard started to creep up.
Anjum bowled right through and his spell was excellent ending the day 1/14 from six overs but the chances never really fell FA’s way. It seemed luck wasn’t on our side. A nick behind would sail just out of reach of the keeper, an opportunity for a catch wouldn’t quite carry or sail just over the fielders heads, tantalisingly out of reach, a great ball would just skim past the wickets. We were threatening all game to create chances but they never quite materialised.
The longer the RC batsman were at the crease the quicker the score rate rose. The second wicket only fell in the nineteenth over and with a retirement at thirty-eight (R. Morgan) a thirty three not out (S. Embleton) and a twenty-seven (H. Singh) we just couldn’t quite hold them back. And so with a final boundary put away square the game ended with six balls remaining.
In the end the difference came from the extras. RC gave away eleven wides, while we gave away two byes, nine leg byes and twenty-five wides. In a tight game giving away twenty-five more extras than your opponent is always going to cause problems. However, first game back from the off season it is to be expected and it is something we have always been able to rectify as we head into the season!
In the end it was a great game. Close and hard fought from both sides. Its always a pleasure to play RC and we hope to get our revenge next time out at home. In terms of the Reserve Cup, it is a round robin format, so while the loss makes it more difficult, we are not down and out yet, we just need to make sure we win the rest and hope for the best!
With the 2022 NOSCA season rapidly approaching, it was about time I got to work updating this site. Especially given some of the changes taking place for the club. This year we will be competing in the Senior League and knowing the performances we are capable of, we stand every chance of challenging the top of the table.
The offseason has been busy with a number of new faces (and some old faces returning to the fold) joining the club and ready to make their debut. Hopefully the weather proves cricket friendly each weekend and they get a chance to take to the pitch soon. We as a club are excited to have you all on board and wish you the best of luck going forward. Hopefully you all have a long and successful time with the club.
If the rest of the team are like me, some idle months have left me in desperate need of practice. These will be held, once again, on Wednesday evenings (usually from 4.30pm onwards) and sometimes Sunday’s if there is no game scheduled for the weekend. If you are interested in coming down, all are welcome of all skills and abilities. Send a message through the contact page on this site and we will make sure to add you to the mailing list. Occasionally it rains in the highlands so sometimes training sessions end up being cancelled, being on the mailing list is the best way to keep up to date.
Fingers crossed for a great summer of cricket ahead!