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Combe Down Vs Venturers, Sunday July 9th

Combe Down 178-8, Venturers 179-4

In the end both teams surprised themselves by having eleven players, and surprised themselves more by having eleven capable players. We didn’t have a regular wicket-keeper, though, and Charlie ended up doing it. He didn’t complain, and he didn’t do badly, but it wasn’t ideal.

It was a long time before we took any wickets, or even got very close. Of the two openers, the right-hander was the more positive, but both hit anything loose firmly. There wasn’t much of that, and our fielding was sound. Ian, Jack, Sunny and Mushtique each had a go, and were economical, but it wasn’t until the fifth bowler was tried that there was anything like a chance. Then there were two off the same ball: Charlie dropped an edge and didn’t recover in time to make the stumping. It was not an expansive error the same batsman drove a catch of Venkat to Jack at mid-off. Gregory made short work of the next two, thanks to catches by Duncan and Matt rather than the qualities if the actual deliveries. Then we were held up for a long time by a young bloke in a pink helmet, who looked as if he couldn’t bat but actually wasn’t in much trouble. However, his game was to push ones and two, and his partner, the left-handed opener, was not easy to push. He for his part waited for bad balls, but we didn’t bowl many of them. Late in the innings, Duncan and Jack both dropped catches no harder than the ones they had caught earlier, but again, neither miss was expensive although Bruce, whose figues got spoilt, might not think so. Ian bowed the man with the pink helmet, and Sunny eventually bowled the opener, who had stalled by then. Sunny picked up two more wickets in a good display of death bowling, and Mushtique got one with his very last ball.

We felt that if we didn’t get bowled out, we would win. We very often do get bowled out, of course, and after a bright start Charlie began what we might have expected to be a fatal slide when he got into a tangle and was bowled off his pads. Sunny played and missed a lot at first, and the bowling was never less than steady, but he and Matt stuck to their task and didn’t worry about the occasional barren spell. They took few risks until somewhere around the seventeenth over, at which point Sunny suddenly decided to attack the accurate spinner who had been on for a while and launched him for a series of boundaries including a very big six to the longest boundary on this big ground.

The likeliest way for a wicket to fall seemed to be a run-out, and there were a couple of near misses, but just after one of them Sunny tried to hit another six ang got stumped. That slowed the scoring rate, but not by very much because Jack was more adept at getting singles. Still, a rather competent leg-spinner had appeared, with accurate medium at the other end, and their fielding was as sound as ours had been. But Sunny’s brisk sixty-something had left us with no need to accelerate, and we were coasting gently home when Matt, on a similar score, missed a straight one. We needed only a few, but some signs of pressure appeared when a couple of quiet overs went by. It was Jack who succumbed, miscuing to mid-off off the first ball of the thirty-seventh over with seven needed. All we wanted was calm. Fortunately the batsman still in was Kapil and the new non-striker was Duncan, neither of them prone to panic. Kapil collected a two, and then a controlled edge through the vacant slip: we have seen enough of Kapil to know that he can do that on purpose, but the wicket-keeper was outraged. Duncan, now facing, simply waited a couple of balls, at which point the bowler produced a wide.

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