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Venturers Vs Longdown, Thursday May 3rd

Longdown 97-6, Venturers 81-6

We had quite a good side on paper but everybody seemed a bit off their best. Contrary to what the scorecard might suggest, it was the bowling that had most to do with our losing. Nobody bowled badly but everybody gave away a few runs that they would usually not have done.

At the beginning, our best chance of a wicket seemed to be a run-out. Not that Ian and Imran didn’t seem likely to get wickets, rather that a run-out seemed very probable because one of the batsmen was much more enthusiastic about quick singles than his partner. He lost some of the enthusiasm when he tried a second run and found that on this pitch (the second pitch at Sulis) it is one thing running the first one hard, and quite another coming back up the hill afterwards. In fact it was an easy two anyway.

Imran removed the less enthusiastic runner with a sharp return catch, and took another wicket via a top-edged pull, competently caught by Matt. On the other hand, he and Ian both got slogged into the distance occasionally. Gregory dropped short twice before adjusting to bowling up the slope; Jack produced a high full toss, pulled for four, before adjusting to bowling down it. Jack did get wickets, though: one perhaps fortunate LBW (rather high, it seemed to many of us) and another one bowled, owing nothing at all to good fortune. The enthusiastic opener survived all this and carried on until he reached 50 and retired, in the seventeenth over. He never cut loose but was the only batsman on either side who played with any freedom.

The last four overs were entrusted to Chris and Bruce, who made a good job of them. Bruce started by dropping the ball: the umpire signalled no ball at first but then decided that it didn’t even amount to that and changed it to dead ball. Bruce’s next two, a leg-side wide and an off-side wide, were scarcely any better, and the two after that also might have been called wide by a less generous umpire. Langdown prepared to seize their chance. Bruce, though, spluttered into life at the sixth attempt, like one of those tankless water heaters, and produced a steady stream of good-length slow-medium wobblers. The set batsman tried to hit one: aided perhaps by a surreptitious blast from Abdul’s angle grinder, it wobbled through and bowled him, and the rest of Bruce’s spell was treated with great care. Chris was slightly less erratic but slightly more hittable: not much, though, and he also got a timely wicket. We weren’t sure whether 97, on a rather unpredictable pitch, was a good score or not. We suspected it might be.

Longdown’s opening bowler started off with a no-ball, also adjusting to bowling down the hill, but then bowled accurately and well. Matt and Jack could do little with it, and not much more at the other end, where quite a lot went down leg. A dozen came from the first three overs, a reasonable start under the circumstances, but then Matt got squared up by one that moved away off the seam and clipped his off stump. Not much he could have done about it, really. Aadil and Jack saw the openers off but raised the run rate only a little. By the halfway stage we needed about a run a ball, which was always going to be difficult. They made it slightly harder when Jack turned the ball out to deep square and ran two, but Aadil appeared to get bored just before the end of the first run and simply turned round and ran back. Gregory implacably signalled one short. Otherwise Aadil looked composed and it was something of a surprise when a ball stopped on him and he pushed a simple catch to short midwicket. Shortly afterwards Jack got an edge to the slow bowler, whose first over had been relatively expensive. Abdul and James P, with no opportunity to play themselves in, found it hard to push the score along, and Abdul also ran a short run, signalled by Matt this time. James got out in exactly the same way as Aadil had, except that the catch went to cover (Aadil bats left, James right). It was dark now, and one of the Longdown players was loudly counting down the balls in each over and the overs remaining, getting them both wrong. Simon, Abdul and, after Abdul had got stumped, Ian did what they could, but it was nowhere near enough. Simon got bowled having a swing at the final ball, which was pointless as we needed seventeen off it.

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