By Skipper Alex Smickersgill
2nd XI Away v Long Marston
4th May 2019
And so it begins… The damp squib of last week was replaced by an icy gale sweeping across the desolate moor of Marston. This on paper was a real challenge against a team that had come down from division 2.
Ever consistent the skipper lost the toss, but to the delight and astonishment of the Crossgates team Long Marston chose to bat. The reason for this choice became apparent pretty quickly as the early overs established that the track was very true. Wickets were going to be hard to come by. This is a challenge to a team’s nouse. On good tracks wickets have to be squeezed out by bowling dry and forcing the batsman out of his comfort zone to score runs. Backing the bowlers is also essential and this was demonstrated in the middle of Shabby and Ray’s tidy opening spell, when a fantastic piece of athleticism by Shabby left the Long Marston opener high and dry.
Then Zaheer applied the game plan to perfection. On the money every ball, his spell of 8 overs, 1 wicket for 8 runs really put Long Marston under pressure. At the other end Will was tempting and bamboozling the batsmen in equal measure. Will made the key breakthrough when he lured the number 3 into a hoick into the deep, where Ray took a good catch in a swirling wind.
The stranglehold was maintained until the 30th over. In the last 10 overs Long Marston gave us a lesson in tactical play. They scored at 7 an over for the last 10, yet only managed 4 boundaries. Credit to them, their running between the wickets was exemplary. Shabby and Ray picked up wickets on their return and crucially Paul winkled out their obdurate opener. For Long Marston, Hill made a nicely paced 50.
When the dust had settled, Long Marston had made 173-7, a total we were happy to restrict them to on a fine track.
Shabby and Adil opened. Their opening stand of 82 was aided by a plethora of wides. The junior opening bowler appeared to struggle for control in the wind tunnel in which the game was played. Between wides, the opening pair kept the scoreboard ticking over until Adil departed for a neat 35. Will joined Shabby and demonstrated once again his cricketing brain by concentrating on giving Shabby the strike, with just the occasional big shot. These 2 saw it home with minimal fuss and with 4 overs to spare. Shabby finished with a well compiled 87* and Will finished unbeaten on 19.
What did we learn from a comfortable 9 wicket win? Well, we can definitely compete at this higher level. Yet we know there will be sterner tests to come. The fielding was spirited, illustrated by Jojo’s fielding point winning performance for some great stops. This was as good a start as we could hope. Now we must maintain it as tougher challenges arise.
Man of the match: Shabby
Fielding point: Jojo