The 4’s superb start to the season was about to be seriously tested with the arrival of co-leaders Wimbledon for an early season top-of-the-table clash. Both teams went in to the game on the back of 5 wins in a row, and both teams feeling confident.
Sunbury won the toss and elected to field, on another belting wicket. Wimbledon absolutely flew out of the traps, landing early blows as Sunbury’s opening attack failed to find the right line or length for the first time this season, on a wicket with extremely little room for error, the opening pair took Wimbledon in the 90’s in as little as the 14th over.
Ranjit Gopi came on first change and slowly, along with Yash Patel, we re-gained some control, and particular mention must go to the way we all stuck together on what was the biggest test we have faced so far. Such has been the success this year we were in unfamiliar territory, but all 11 stuck at it well, and when the run rate fell below 12 (it was actually 6, but it felt like 12) wickets started to fall. Ranjit Gopi bowled very well and was unlucky to not pick up more than the 2 wickets he got. When he was replaced by the ever relaible Nobby Clarke the runs really dried up, he picked up 3 wickets in a lovely bowling partnership with Yash Patel, what looked like a 300+ scored ended up being 242/8 off 45.5, with the impressive Saga Patel coming back from an impressive opening burst to finish with 2/62 off 11, very respectable figures. A fine fielding and bowling effort. Someone has replaced Mugsy with an imposter, as he took another 2 catches with ease. Worrying times.
If Wimbedon though they had got off to a stormer, it was nothing compared to us. By the end of the 5th over we were 52/0 and 80 came up in the 11th over. The ball was disappearing to all parts as Sehmi and Manro dispatched all that was thrown at them. Unfortunately the former departed for 42, but Mark Ventham took over where Mugsy had left off, and quickly added another 38 before we had time to blink. With the required run rate below 5 thoughts of a victory crept in. However Wimbledon, like us, took pace off the ball and three quick wickets left us on the ropes slightly, but we recovered well and the game ebbed and flowed, a real battle between two good sides. Neither side pulling away at any time.
Ranjit and Anoop, still there and doing a wonderful job holding the innings together, had a real good go at the total, Ranjit in particular dispatching the bowling around including a straight six as the target was kept within sight. Unfortunately with the inevitable risks being taken a wicket fell, with 60 still required and 10 overs to go, nerves were creeping in, as young debutant Sam Burnley, fresh from the U14’s made his way to the middle…..
What followed was probably the best innings by someone of his age i have ever seen. Simply superb batting and he drove cut and hooked a very good attack all round the park. Putting the quick opening bowler back over his head for four, before hooking the left arm seamer for a one bounce 4. Not just his attacking play though, he defended well in a pressure situation, with i’m sure a few offers of advice from the close fielders, he blocked and left on merit and grew in confidence as the innings went on. So much so that when the message went out to try to take 11 off the final over for an extra batting point, there was no doubt in my mind he would get it, and get it he did with 2 balls to spare. A real gem of an innings, i’m sure the first of many. Though presumably, and hopefully for him, in higher XI’s than us.
So honours pretty much even after a hard fought, and very enjoyable game of cricket. There isn’t much between the sides at all, Sunbury 9 points Wimbledon 11.