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Venturers Vs Poplars Wingfield, Wednesday June 13th

Poplars 101-4, Venturers 104-5

“He keeps playing the ball on its merits,” chuntered Imran as he walked back to his mark after being hit back over his head for a classy boundary. At that point Poplars Wingfield were on 51 after 6 overs, and the two openers - both named Hudd - were looking ominous. The problem was that they defended good balls and hit anything short or full for four. (Always four, never six, because six on the Poplars ground is six and out.)

Matt had won the toss, realised he’d forgotten to think about what he should do, panicked and chosen to bowl “because that’s what Simon would do”. He was now beginning to regret suggesting that there should be no retire-at-35 rule, or even a retire-at-50 rule. But then Jamie and Farooq started to slow the scoring rate, and Jamie picked up the key wicket of Hudd the Younger, a good catch by James at deep mid-off. From there they never really recovered; although Papa Hudd stuck around, his boundaries dried up and our spinners, Farooq and Jujhar, bowled really well to keep the scoring to a minimum. Helped by some miserly death bowling from Alex G and Steve, we restricted Poplars to 31 from the last 10, for a total of 101.

Our innings was also one of contrasts. Duncan and Jamie opened the batting; most overs consisted of Jamie hitting a boundary, then taking a single, and Duncan carefully patting back the rest of the over. Which worked well as we only needed 5 an over. Jamie kept offering to retire, partly because he thought he had more runs than he actually did, and partly because Josh - down to bat at 3 - had been telling him about all the sixes he was planning to hit. Matt, umpiring, kept telling him not to be stupid and to keep going because had he seen the Venturers bat before? One wicket would no doubt lead to a collapse.

And it did, although it was Duncan who got out first. Josh followed, and then Alex G, and then Farooq, whose pad fell off as Jamie tried to get him to run a third; maybe a contender for the Wolstenholme? Matt came in and told Jamie to forget about the run out and win the game. Jamie had a wild swish and got bowled. Suddenly we were 5 down and they sensed a chance; but Jamie by that point had scored 59, and we only needed 15 from the last 4 overs. Matt and James R chipped away, and when James faced down the penultimate over we only needed two. He tried to nudge the ball into the leg side, got a top edge into his head, and started bleeding from his ear. But after a few moments he decided he was OK to carry on, blocked the second ball, and then swished the third to the square leg boundary with his eyes closed to win the game.

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