Saturday XI 181 / 2 (45)
2nd XI 180 / 9 (45)
After the frustration of a rain effected and ultimately abandoned game last weekend against Purton the Bears welcomed Chippenham to the Glasshouse in what was a must win game in the fight for division 1 survival.
The skipper won the toss for the third time in a row and asked the visitors to bat (who made a bowler captain!). Newman and the Skipper opened the bowling and bowled a probing opening spell with Newman picking up one wicket caught by Wilson behind the stumps and Morris blagging another wicket caught by Reeves at square leg.
However, after this start this was to be the last of the wicket taking action for a while as Chippenham made it to 95-2 at drinks. While the rate was not getting away from the Bears on an increasingly fast outfield, the boys knew picking up the wickets of the set batsmen would be key to keep the away sides total down.
What followed was the tail of two bowlers and their accessories…. De Souza (and his head band) came on and bowled his 9 overs on the spin trying to emulate his housemate and cricketing icon Harris from a few weeks ago by ‘bowling some good pressure’.
Reeves (and his singular sleeve) came on at the other end and this is where the innings began to turn. The Sleeve bowled his best spell for the Bears with pace, control and movement bowling a number of ‘seeds’. He picked up both set batsmen who had passed 50 bowled, then an LBW, a caught keeper and finally a perfect yorker to claim his first 5 wicket haul for the Bears finishing with figures of 5-19 off 9 overs.
Newman returned to pick a second wicket and thanks to the skippers excellent maths leaving the him one short at one end, Parkyn bowled the final over of the innings only going for 6 singles and fantastic effort by the ‘off spinner’, Chippenham finishing on 180-9 off 45 overs, the Bears very happy with the post drinks performance.
So with 181 the target De Souza and Wilson walked out to open the batting knowing a solid platform would be required to make sure the chase was successful. The pair provided that and more as they set about the chase. Both batsmen paired solid defence with excellent attacking shots as the runs began to flow.
Some trademark Wilson pick ups over midwicket (too controlled to be called a slog sweep) along with De Souza pulling and driving the Chippenham bowlers to all parts the pair batted superbly. Wilson eventually fell for 48 top edging what I will describe as a slog sweep this time, but not before the pair had put on 98 for the first wicket.
The arrival and unfortunately the swift departure of Gunning who got a good one (going by the head nods from himself and the umpire) bowled for 2 threatened to make this into a nervy chase, but this brought Bence to the crease. Bence showed all of his experience by soaking up some pressure before taking the low risk attacking options keeping the board moving and the Bears on track in the chase.
De Souza meanwhile was in the zone at the other end. Playing some outrageously good shots as he passed 50 and beyond. A particular highlight was the way he manoeuvred the ball into the gaps on the floor (after the second over at least) to keep the scoreboard ticking at all times and a lofted straight drive with a pose to match which had the growing number of onlookers applauding.
The pair saw us home, Bence finishing the match with an extra cover drive that many (including the writer) could only dream of to finish 35* and De Souza finished 93* his highest score for the Bears and a knock to remember.
Next week the Bears face Winsley in the final home game of the 2021 season, and with the success of the Head band and Sleeve expect many more accessories to appear!