First XI improve, can't find winning formula
With Euro 2020 providing a Friday night distraction for one or two members of the first XI and 'keeper Dan Bingley pulling out on Saturday morning, it is fair to say preparation for Saturday's game at Odiham & Greywell could have been smoother. With a deluge of rain falling throughout Friday, the side were surprised to find out the covers had seemingly not been used and were greeted with a surface that was closer in resemblance to a marsh than one you would normally expect for cricket. They were therefore bemused when the neutral umpires, perhaps taking the ECB 'get-the-game-on' guidance a little too literally, deemed the pitch fit to start on time. Knowing time would dry the wicket out and improve conditions as the day went on, skipper Will Harries strode out to the middle for his most important job of the day, the toss of the coin.
It has been said before that the Shrewton side is full of useless tossers, and never has this sentiment been more justified than on Saturday with Harries duly returning to the dressing room to inform the side that we would be batting first. With the high-flying home side eager to get a game in, a frantic start saw the over rate skyrocket as they sought to take advantage of the conditions and what has looked a fragile batting line-up this season. However, the visitors provided a much more steely resolve this week, with survival the initial order of the day. A mature innings of 48 from Chris Brewer provided the bedrock of the innings before knocks from Rich Barnett (39) and Will Harries (38) pushed the score to what would be best described as a competitive total. The final tally of 178-9 represented comfortably the best team effort of the season so far as even the batsmen who didn't contribute significant runs managed to occupy the crease and allow the score to tick along thanks to scoring from the other end.
Having studied the hosts scorecards from earlier in the season, the Shrews knew they would face an attacking approach from the outset and sure enough, Alvin Cameron was on the receiving end in his opening spell with Philip Thomas punishing anything slightly loose. With a dryer wicket behaving much more in the second half, the scoring rate remained high throughout the innings, but the Shrews chipped away with wickets from Harries (2-23), Jackson (1-20) and Bentley (2-27) who removed the dangerous Thomas for 62 just before the half-way stage. At 118-5, the game was fairly evenly poised albeit with the run rate well above what was required, but the breakthrough just would not come after this point. Not helped by a couple of dropped catches and two injuries which left the Shrews with effectively nine players by the end of the game, Elliott Walker (43*) saw the hosts home, Ollie Bate (1-23) picking up an extra consolation bowling point right at the end thanks to some spectacular fielding from Chris Brewer.
A four wicket defeat undermines what was a much better performance from the Shrews who once again were beaten by the better side on the day. In a weird quirk of scheduling, the 4 sides Shrewton have completed games against this season have so far combined for a 16-1 record, with the 1 defeat handed out by Shrewton to Bishop's Waltham. The schedule doesn't get any easier next week with the Shrews at home to the other unbeaten side in the league, Bransgore.
Shrewton - Brewer, Sleeman, Wood, Barnett (wk), Battisson, Harries (c), Gillott, Cameron, Bate, Bentley, Jackson