Despite an unpromising weather forecast following several days of heavy showers, a victory by 34 runs was secured in our first fixture against Harrow Wayfarers – a team that sported white and pink kit and even more striking blazers that resembled bars of nougat and candy floss in an old fashioned sweet shop.
The wicket that we elected to bat on was also suitably sticky and produced some erratic bounce and movement for the opening partnership of House and Thomas. They put on 44 before House (17) hit the only fielder on the legside boundary and then Thomas (34) managed to carve the world’s shortest, widest and slowest ball to cover. The stage was then set for Riley to put the team in a promising position with a well-constructed 54 (not bad given that he was initially accused by the opposition of only having one shot!), supported by Ford-Langstaff, Joe Moorman (28) and Squiff Wordsworth (18). 168 for 6 was felt a challenging score in the conditions and skipper House declared accordingly.
It is fair to say that Harrow’s innings was a bit of a slow burn against a tight opening attack of Paul Wordsworth and Rob Barton. An LBW decision achieved by Simpson with the score on 30 was greeted with relief by both sides, but then a number of Harrow batsman found a series of ‘Stoney-esque’ ways of getting out, including being snaffled impressively on two occasions by Tim Riley at backward short leg. Less spectacular was Ford-Langstaff’s catch to capture the dangerous No 4 Atkinson – indeed time stood still as the ball looped at the perfect height and gentle speed to first slip. Never in doubt!
However, Harrow’s No 5, Buckfield always suggested that he could deliver a Stokes-like innings to get his team within range of the total, especially after hitting eight from his first two balls. When he was able to keep the strike, he found the boundary with regularity and included three sixes in his innings, one of which broke a tile on the pavilion roof.
Our visitor’s acceleration in scoring became a particular issue for George Williams who discovered what it must have been like for Phil Tuffnell to field on the boundary at the Gabba. Only this time the heckling came from his own family following some ineffective dives to try and stop the ball. Never has a player looked so enthusiastic to swap to the other side of the field when offered the opportunity!
But to demonstrate the metal of the man, George came on to bowl the final spell of the innings and picked up two important wickets. When the score was 113 for 9 it appeared impossible for Buckfield to win the day, but a combination of Thomas dropping him on the boundary via his hand and nose (very gloomy conditions!?) and a plucky display by No.11 Withanage meant that the score had reached a tantalising 134. Buckfield (66) then perished LBW as he attempted to lap Williams and the game was up.
It is tempting to leave the match report there, but I probably should mention that our victory was substantially based on a fine 7 for 50 performance from Mike Simpson. Thirteen overs of guile and incessant chat scrambled the brains of Harrow’s batting line-up and once again puts him on the club’s board of honour.