Second's fall to defeat in Local Derby
A moist and overcast Saturday saw Shrewton 2nd XI host local side Steeple Langford at the Rec. Hoping to build on the previous weeks convincing win and with Captain Newbury back in the fold, the Shrews were in a confident mood. Incredibly, Newbury won the toss for the second time this season and rightly chose to bowl. At this point a special mention should go to George Clift and the grounds team for their hard work in getting the ground ready so this mach could be played. Following a slightly delayed start for rain, Bentley and Wood (the big one) opened the attack. Unfortunately the first couple of overs were rather loose, and the Shrews found themselves retrieving the ball from the nettles on more than a few occasions. Nevertheless, Bentley (1/26), managed to dismiss Bennett for a duck, caught by White at backward point. Wood (1/27) briefly joined the party, sending Hughes back to the pavilion for a single, courtesy of Pottage. Following this, Newbury was quick to ring the changes and at the ten over point, brought the Italian spin of Boselli and the boredom of White into the attack. Boselli was quickly into his stride, clearing up the other opener, Gibson for a well made 36. Finding plenty of turn and building the pressure, he then bowled Harvey for 5, returning decent figures of 2/23. With the sky darkening, drizzle starting to fall and the runs building, a short break was taken to let the rain pass. Fortunately no overs were lost to the weather and White returned from the Appleford end, bowling a tight line and length and extracting some very late movement. It was at this point in the match that, No 4 McNeilly, drove a solidly struck shot straight at Parish, fielding in the covers. Rather than heeding the lessons from the Withers school of catching, he proceeded to take an absolutely outstanding catch, grasping the ball in one hand and then doing a strange half backward hybrid roll move, the likes of which have never been witnessed at the Rec before.
Regular readers of these match reports may recall that in previous iterations, high praise has been lauded upon Withers for his outstanding catching and reliability in the field. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and this week it came crashing down, when Withers shelled an absolute sitter of a catch at mid off. As was to be expected, the team rallied around him, providing kind words of encouragement, constructive direction and support. Unfortunately, as a result of this “laissez faire” attitude to catching, White finished his allotted overs with figures of 2/17.
With a change of bowling required, Newbury turned Parish (0/19). Briefly turning his arm over, he struggled to find his normal length, and got carted all around the park before Newbury rightly took him off. It was at this point in the match that the Shrews lost their way a bit and the runs continued to mount. Whether it was a combination of fatigue, the weather or just a mid season dip, we’ll never be sure. But needing to take wickets to stem the flow of runs and bag maximum bowling points, Newbury then turned to Battisson for the first time this season. Bowling with pace and using the facilities, he combined well with McClure behind the stumps and Pottage in the field, both taking genuine catches and stemming the flood of runs. Finishing with 3/24, he’ll be a useful addition to the Shrews bowling attack going forward.
In seasons gone by, you always knew when batsmen seven onwards were at the crease, just by the sight of Newbury marking his run up. Alas, like cricket teas, this has been absent for a while now, so it was with some excitement that Newbury removed his cap, adjusted himself and scratched out his mark. With baited breath, the crowd (Kenny) waited to see whether he still had it. Now it may have been the fact that former Shrewton player, Nicholson was facing, but Newbury showed glimpses of a pre Covid time, when he would regularly mop up the tail and recount the stories over a beer afterwards, much to the delight of the younger players. In the end Newbury bowled really well, picking up Nicholson’s wicket and finishing with figures of 1/24. Langford were all out posting 161 from 36 overs.
Following a delicious tea kindly served by Taz and Laura, the Shrews set about chasing down what was felt to be a fairly straight forward total. Newbury opened with Battisson, and with the runs starting to tick along nicely, Newbury (6) was unfortunately bowled by Huntley. This brought Pottage (25) to the crease, who along with Battisson (28), both timed the ball well, hitting a number of fours and sixes losing two balls in the process. Langford soon got wise to this and moved fielders to the boundary. Both batsmen continued their hard hitting, but eventually holed out going for one big shot too many. Plank, running the occasional single much to the delight of the crowd, looked to be in control of the chase, working the ball to both sides of the field, rotating the strike with Withers (11) and hitting the loose ball to the boundary. Unfortunately, he was soon to depart for 15 with the score on 75, bringing Bentley (6) to the crease. Even at this point in the game, with the big guns all back in the hutch, it was felt that with seven wickets in hand, 24 overs remaining and only 86 runs required, it shouldn’t be too difficult to chase down. Alas this was not to be the case. A combination of tight bowling and decent fielding by Langford saw the Shrewton tail struggle to get into double figures. Wood (4), Boselli (3) and Parish (5) only scoring 12 between them. With wickets falling, White (33) managed to get the score to within 13 runs of the total before McClure (2) was trapped lbw by none other than Nicholson! Shrewton finishing on 147 all out and Langford winning by a well deserved 13 runs.
A second loss of the season puts a serious dent in the 2nd XI title hopes. Dropping to third in the league with an average of 18.38, it is going to be an uphill struggle for promotion. Next Saturday, sees the boys on the road again, heading to Dorset Indians for a game which will arguably decide the top three places in the league. A critical match, that simply has to be won for any chance of a top two place come September. With player availability still uncertain, Newbury will have to fight hard at Monday night selection for a team heavy on batting firepower and bowling pace.
Shrewton II – Newbury (c), Pottage, Withers, Bentley, Wood (big), Battisson, McClure (wk), White, Boselli, Parish and Plank.