Saturday XI vs Malmesbury
Malmesbury 206-7 45 overs
Bears 131-9 42.3 overs
The Bears’ away day blues continued on Saturday as they succumbed to a 75 run defeat at the hands of Malmesbury.
The usual pre-toss vote produced a slim verdict for the bowl campaign: Euro sceptic Mike Smyth at pains to point out that 52% represents an overwhelming majority these days; however the discussion was rendered moot with the skipper losing the toss and being invited to bowl.
The next three and a quarter hours were spent sauntering around the hosts’ spacious pitch; one commanding beautiful rustic views at this gateway to the Cotswolds. Sauntering really is the operative word for a Bear Flat performance that lacked intensity in the face of a batting approach which was at first explosive, but after the loss of opener George Royale for 69, increasingly attritional as Malmesbury accumulated 206-7 from their 45 overs. Keep an eye out in the future for Toby Kershaw: a precocious talent (just 14) whose lofted six over extra cover even managed to momentarily divert Smyth’s attention away from the action at Lords.
Whether it was the extremely humid weather or the refusal of the ball to reach the distant boundary, there was something lacking: only the reliable Henry Smith hitting his line and length consistently as he returned tidy figures of 1-26. The remainder of the wickets were shared between the bustling Jay Morris, the indefatigable Joe De Souza and the evergreen Chris Bence, with three more catches for the increasingly impressive Sam Vesey behind the stumps.
Unfortunately, especially given the current lack of playing resources, in the process of courageously denying the batsman four runs, Jack Mainwaring suffered what are hoped to be only bruised ribs.
Onto the response and for the second time this season the Bears found themselves in an early doors pickle as they again lost their first four wickets for only a handful of runs: Malmesbury’s Stuart Brazington and Bradley Toseland wreaking the initial damage with a brace apiece.
Chris Bence and Henry Smith knuckled down for a sedate fifth wicket partnership of 35 as some athletic fielding kept the pressure on, before Bence was left lamenting the absence of DRS as the sound of bat hitting ground was confused with leather on willow.
A further spate of wickets followed as the Bears hobbled to 90-8, but a couple of potentially crucial batting points were secured thanks to the efforts of Henry and Tom Harris: the latter providing some much needed comedic relief as he unfurled his full range of shots in an entertaining 21 run cameo. But when he was adjudged LBW with the Bears still some 75 runs short and the injured Jack Mainwaring struggling to swing a bat, time was called on the visitors’ innings: Henry finishing unbeaten having made a very accomplished 64.
Our thanks as always to our sponsors, Chef de Party, The Devonshire Arms, RH Hayes Roofing and Josh Sutton Plumbing.