The season is never decided in early June but this top of the table clash would give a good indication to the destiny of this year’s title. Both teams had 100% records (5 out of 5 wins).
Unfortunately, availability was not what Captain James Birch would have hoped for with four of the previous week’s team being selected in the 2nd XI. However, this gave valuable opportunities to some of the squad players and at the start of play, confidence was high, especially after James had won the toss and was happy to field on a soft green wicket which actually played better than expected.
Our opening attack of Shirsh Bedi & James Birch bowled with good control and took early wickets and after the introduction of spinner Colin Bentall and seamer bowler Neral Gunawardena, good control was maintained. At drinks after 25 overs, Wimbledon were 60-3 and a Sunbury felt a par score would be 150. Wimbledon responded very well after drinks and built a solid partnership and for the first time this season, luck seemed to desert our hard working attack. Catches were put down, a missed stumping and then a bizarre moment which proved to be the turning point.
James Birch returned for his second spell looking to take wickets and halt the Wimbledon run-rate. He decided to attempt his back-on-the-hand-off-the-wrong-foot-slower-ball (which got slapped for 4) and Birchy ending up, in a big heap, in the middle of the wicket. After he had finished his mid-wicket undeserved rest, he was helped from the field on one leg.
The innings was completed with only 10 men and without our most effective bowler. Wimbledon declared on 234-6 from 53.5 overs which was disappointing considering the start we had made.
The wicket whilst difficult to score quickly, held on horrors. However, after 34.2 overs we had been bowled out for 114 with nobody making over 25.
Linky Sharma & Kieran Crichard made a reasonable start put on approx. 40 for the first wicket and a useful first knock for the 3rd XI of 24 by Jacob Amyatt-Leir were the only contributions worth a mention.
We probably got what we deserved from the game (1 point) and losing only becomes a problem if the team can’t bounce back straight way. Saturday’s game at home to Dulwich is now crucial!
Birchy may be missing for few weeks but the team needs to work hard to maintain our challenge for the title.