Saturday XI vs Winsley
Bears 257-3 45 overs
Winsley 119ao 33 overs
As the dust began to settle on the Bears’ emphatic 136 run victory over rivals Winsley, a palpable sense of relief descended over the spent bodies gathered in the away changing room; the new month ushering in a renewed sense of optimism.
With only 13 runs separating these two sides over two titanic encounters last season, the one-sided nature of this latest instalment would have surprised many.
For the Bears, it was back to basics: bat first and bat big, letting scoreboard pressure do its work in the second innings. Though Gunners had no choice in the order of play with Winsley winning the toss and inviting the visitors to bat first; undoubtedly swayed in their decision by the Bears’ early season batting frailty.
But on a hot afternoon and a flat pitch, the home side’s gamble backfired: Gunning (22) and Brendon Bester (22) putting on 48 for the first wicket in less than 10 overs before Brendon was unlucky to lace a pull shot in the direction of ex-Bear, Neil Gibson, who took a sharp catch. The skipper then followed Brin in the next over, falling victim to his Winsley counterpart, which brought Chris Bence to the crease to join Saturday debutant, Adam Keane; yet another player to be plucked off of the Bath Uni conveyor belt.
Over the next two hours the pair added 195 for the third wicket (possibly a Bear Flat record for that wicket): Keane initially the aggressor; a glorious on drive followed the next ball by an imperious pull shot a shoe-in for the highlights package, before the more watchful Bence began to go through the gears as the partnership built.
At 130-2 after 30 overs the Bears were ideally placed for an onslaught on the last 15 overs, and with both batsmen now scoring freely, 127 runs were duly plundered in this final period: Bencey completing his second century of the season with a sweetly timed six over long-off. He though was dismissed in the 43rd over giving Mike Sherring an opportunity to showcase his athleticism as some excellent running between the wickets advanced Adam towards his hundred. Six was required from the final ball of the innings, but with the new Keaner only managing a single, he was frustratingly left stranded on 95 as the Bears closed on 257-3.
Despite their total, the Bears were fully aware that it was not unassailable if two batsmen got set; and that looked to be the case early in the Winsley reply after the irrepressible Henry Smith accounted for John Keepen, as Tom Wheatley and Giles Williams took the fight to the visitors.
At the first drinks interval (15 overs) the pair had advanced the score to 70-1: both driving the ball sweetly. But two caught and bowled dismissals turned the tide in the Bears’ favour: Tom Harris securing his first league wicket for the Bears as he removed Williams for 26, before the suave Shreyas Malhotra snapped up a sharp return catch to account for the dangerous Wheatley (44).
From that point on the Winsley effort lost all momentum as the Bears pressed home their advantage to bowl the home side out for 119: braces of wickets for Shrey, Harris and Joe De Souza, though once again the bowling plaudits went to Henry Smith as the metronomic seamer returned figure of 4-34. And mention must also be made of Sam Vesey, who added another three catches to this season’s already impressive tally of dismissals.
And finally, it’s with a heavy heart that we wish a fond farewell for the rest of the summer to our student friends Joe De Souza, Tom Harris and Adam Keane (Henry is about for another couple of weeks). All have added something over the course of last six weeks: Joe with his self-deprecation and boundless energy and enthusiasm, Tom (Stretch Parkyn) through his bowling and general oddity, so similar in his mannerisms to the absent Josh Parkyn, and Albino Adam with his classy batting and translucent skin. Good luck for the rest of the season boys and we can’t wait to welcome you back next year.