This week saw a strong 3rd XI side travel away to play against the bottom ranked Normandy, in an all-day timed game. The pitch was covered with grass, and deemed to be slow and of assistance to the bowlers. Hence, the unbeaten skipper, James Birch, won the toss and elected to bowl first. The young and talented seamer Matt Richardson opened the bowling, putting the ball generally in good areas, and beating the bat consistently at good pace. The ever reliable Mansoor Mirza, again brought his top game, and knocked over the top order batsmen, confusing them with variation in pace and swing. Both openers bowled well in tandem, and ultimately the team reaped the benefits, as Normandy were reduced to 44 for 3 after a slow start.
The return of Nish ‘Maiden’ Madan saw him live up to his name, as he kept it extremely tight after settling in nicely. He bowled in consistent areas, and didn’t give the batsmen anything to work with, and ended up on extremely economical figures of 10-5-16-0. He was unlucky in not getting any wickets, as James Birch reaped the benefits from the other hand, claiming 2 “hard-earned” wickets. Colin Bentall also joined the party and bowled in good areas with turn and bounce, and the Normandy batsmen were not a match for our strong bowling line up. Shirsh Bedi bowled tightly as well, and then Matt Richardson came back to clean up the tail efficiently, getting 2 wickets in 2 balls.
Our batting pair of Lomesh Sharma and Andrew Martin, (possible the most dangerous opening partnership in the 3rd XI), started off the innings in a characteristically aggressive manner. Lomesh Sharma, hit a beautiful cover drive (hit all along the ground!), but then got caught trying to hit one again through the same region. Andrew and Greg Havard, continued scoring runs freely, taking advantage of some poor and inconsistent bowling. After playing some great shots, Andrew got out for 43, bringing the in-form Vik Rathore to the crease. Although, he looked good, he did not last long, and Greg was joined by Sunny Bajwa, with 40 runs still needed. The pair batted with maturity, and got the team to the brink of winning, when Sunny Bajwa got out, trying to finish off the innings. Shirsh Bedi came in and very cruelly denied Greg the opportunity to score a half century (by edging one to the third man boundary!), leaving him unbeaten on 49.
Overall, this win showed the level of discipline that has become a characteristic of this 3rd XI side, as there is no let-up for the opposition, and at no point has the team given the opposition a sniff to get back into the game. This is in stark contrast to last year, and something that we can continue into our tougher games, yet to come.