Welcome to Fenland!
A cold, grey afternoon.
Big pitch, believed to be an old marshalling yard, consequently an intimidatingly large boundary. This was very much a proper pitch, complete with professional scoring box and permanent pavilion – a heady treat for the travel-weary Grantchester cohort.
Playing a very young March second team, estimated median age of less than 18.
We lost the toss and were put in to field for a season-busting record of 40 overs, with J. Menzies and T. Kennedy as the opening assault.
We could tell from the standard of batting by the two openers that these boys were well coached and the game was going to be competitive. The first wicket fell to Kennedy in the 8th over with March at 27, thanks to a remarkable catch by Dawkins at short third man. The second wicket was taken at 55, again to the arm of Kennedy, triumphantly uprooting the middle stump. 55 runs off the first 16 overs and we knew it was going to be a long afternoon.
Two wickets for AP Stafford in the 20th over put March at 67 for 4 and created a palpable sense of optimism amongst the Grantcestrians .
Unfortunately this optimism proved somewhat premature as a plucky batting partnership added another 55 for the subsequent wicket, bringing the total to 122 for 6 after 29 overs. March had a stronger middle order than we had anticipated, batting out the full 40 overs for 163 with 4 wickets in hand.
Notable highlights in the field included some top-class individual sight-screen pushing by S. Ludford; excellent tradecraft fielding display care of Menzies at midwicket and an athletic C and B from Stafford. All round competent fielding patrol on a sizable pitch kept the run rate in check. There was however some confusion over the catching of a skied ball in the closing stages, which to a casual observer might have been construed as an on-pitch bromance, luckily not resulting in a clash of heads.
Our two Grantchester openers strode out with great purpose, but some testy bowling proved too much for both of them, with Anderson ct behind in the 3rd over and Menzies bowled in the 4th. Stafford steadied the ship ably assisted by Ludford with a stand of 37, the partnership ending in the 13th over with the score at 52, Stafford continuing onto a very respectable 37 from 38 balls, until being cruelly caught behind. We were ahead of target at this stage and there was a definite sense of runs to be had. Wilson minor and Kennedy chipped in with a heartening 18 and 17 respectively. A useful middle order pushed us up to 119 for 8 at the 32nd over.
Plugging up the rear Dawkins and Greggain forged a spirited partnership of 37, a stalwart out-striking from Dawkins propelling us toward our target, with a distinct lack of boundaries giving Jerry more running between the wickets than might be considered desirable for a man of his maturity. We started to believe. Dawkins’ wicket fell in the 38th over for a hearty 25, and at 156 for 9 it seemed that victory was still within our grasp. However, an unpleasant and pernicious delivery from a March youth proved to be the undoing of Berman and the match ended with no more runs being scored. A deflated Grantchester were able to take some small satisfaction in knowing they could legitimately buy a post match alcoholic drink in the bar.
Thanks to N. Heath for umpiring duties – 29 no-balls and 20 wides were helpful to the total.
In conclusion, a game worth traveling for, albeit with a regrettable lack of WAG support. Possibly we were a bit too soft on the March middle order batsmen – perhaps the bowling attack might put aside its moral dilemmas if we make a home fixture.