Five Star Second Team Continue Charge
An overcast and damp Saturday saw the Shrews 2nd XI host Michelmersh and Timsbury 1st XI at the Rec. A number of changes to the team from last week’s win at Brockenhurst saw the addition of Gurd, Pownall and without a wedding to attend, the 'all-rounder' Pottage.
With four back to back wins under their belt and occupying the top spot in County Four West, the Shrews confidence was sky high. Skipper Newbury had selected a balance of batting firepower, bowling guile and experience in an attempt to make it five wins on the bounce. With a number of the team nursing ailments (Little – sickness, Pottage – E. coli, White – hip, Williams – hangover and McClure – old) Newbury decided, for once, to forgo the pre-match warm up and fielding drills and concentrate on tactics and discussing England’s embarrassing effort at Euro 2020. In another break with tradition, Newbury somehow correctly called heads and won the toss, choosing to bat and hopefully put an imposing score on the board.
In the absence of Wood (promoted to the 1st XI), the opening batting combination was broken up for the first time this year but in his place strode out the mighty Mark Gurd, making his season debut for the 2nd XI. The opening bowlers of Loescher and Weeks were arguably the best that the Shrews had faced so far this season. Bowling tight lines and getting movement off the pitch, they restricted Gurd and Little to a glacial 50 off 20 overs. Knowing that a score close to 200 would be required to allow the bowling attack to do their damage, skipper Newbury shared some words of wisdom during the drinks break, urging both batsmen to increase the run rate. This encouragement clearly had the desired effect, with runs starting to flow immediately. With Gurd striking lofty blows to find the boundary with ease and Little driving and cutting strongly, the score accelerated before eventually, Gurd was bowled for 53 but a solid foundation and a very welcome tally for his fantasy team! Little was joined briefly by Newbury (0), who obviously felt that Pottage needed time at the crease, deciding not to trouble the scorers and returned to the pavilion to direct proceedings from there. Pottage in at four, played in his usual manner, riding his luck and being dropped regularly, before being bowled for 21. With the score on 149 and six overs remaining, Withers headed out to put a shift in. Making up for his lack of runs last week, he set about timing the ball well and scoring freely. The Shrews innings ended on 186/3 with Withers on 14 and Little carrying his bat for 83.
Following a delicious tea kindly served by Taz, Newbury led his team out into the field. With rain in the air, Gray and Pownall marked out their run ups. Gray (1/34) charging in from the Appleford end, found movement from the first ball, trapping Brooks LBW in just the 3rd over. Pownall (0/14 from his allotted eight overs) made use of the footmarks, keeping the batsmen guessing and the run rate down with plenty of movement and just the occasional moonball. The 17th over saw a bowling change with White and Little given the ball. White (2/29), bowled a consistent line and length relying on the fielders to stop the runs, with Newbury showing remarkable agility close in. In what was arguably the catch of the season so far, Withers avoided a visit to the dentist and a new set of front teeth, by catching a rapidly climbing edge from Littles bowling. This was soon followed by Little dislocating his finger whilst trying to hang on to a solidly struck drive from Young. Fortunately, Dr McClure was able to administer first aid, and Little finished his spell, ending with 3/18. Under sustained bowling pressure and some sharp fielding from Parrish and reliable catching from Williams, wickets continued to fall regularly.
With the required run rate climbing, Pottage, for reasons known only to himself and skipper Newbury, was brought into the attack. Bowling short and wide, he somehow managed to burgle two wickets, one of which was skyed towards White at long on. Steadying himself under the swirling high ball, and with confident shouts of encouragement from the skipper, White employed the mythical “El Crocodilio” catching technique to pouch what was arguably an exceedingly difficult catch. Pottage finished with figures of 2/17 but in another remarkable turn, the lesser spotted Gurd was also seen to turn his arm over, closing out the match with figures of 1/1 from 0.3 overs. Michelmersh and Timsbury ended their innings on 137 from 38 overs.
Another win, against a competitive side, sees Team Newbury move to five wins on the trot. With 22 points in the bank, side remains top of County Division 4 West. Next Saturday, they travel south into the New Forest to take on 4th place Woodgreen. With competition for places strong and several key players injured, it will be critical that Newbury selects a competitive team for a match against one of the stronger sides in the league.
Shrewton II – Little, Gurd, Newbury (c), Pottage, Withers, Williamson, Pownall, McClure (wk), White, Parrish and Gray.