After doing a few laps around the ground (or in Neal's case a few laps around Cambridgeshire) trying to find a way in, we found our way up to the dangerously low-ceilinged change-rooms or, in Alfie's case, the well-apointed bar. A paradigm of civility, there was even a big TV screen showing Brazil's 4-0 dismantling of China, Croatia's line judge-assisted win over Italy mercifully being over earlier.
Out on the field the usual pattern was continued, and we headed out onto the ``oval'' to try and restrict the Wilbrahams second XI to a manageable total. This did not appear at all likely when, after six overs, our opposition had cruised to 45/1, The Old Geezer (according to his daughter that's what we called him) having swatted a succession of full-tosses and long-hops to the leg-side boundary. Most of these inviting deliveries were served up by Daniel Mortlock (3/49) whilst attempting to bowl leg spin (but he can neither confirm or deny that any putative weakening of bowling wrist is correlated with having a regular girlfriend for the first time in three seasons).
Andy Owen (1/29) was as tight as ever and unlucky to get just the one wicket, but it was Neal Baker (5/46) who did the real damage. He removed the rest of the middle order (including The Old Geezer for a beligerent 84, mainly in boundaries) by virtue of being a bit too fast for them, and would have had six-for and a hat-trick if silly mid-on had been a bit straighter. At the other end Paul Henderson (1/31) was unlucky not to have two wickets -- what seemed to be a clear caught behind left both the umpire unmoved and the batsmen equally stoic -- and kept the pressure on with Neal.
Things did slip in the last few overs of the innings, however -- we bowled too many balls down the leg-side, the Wilbrahams' captain and the ``lucky'' batsman mentioned above both making full use of this to add thirty-odd runs to the total. It should also be mentioned that Alfie Wilmshurst, Arnie Garside and Rod Dennis, who patrolled the boundary all day, kept chasing 'til the end of the innings, although the batsmen's placement meant the ball often got to the boundary just before we got to it. Still, there was very little in the pitch, so restricting them to 174 (and getting all ten wickets for the second week running) was a pretty good effort.
The tea, once we found it, kept up the year's trend of good food and variety, with sausage rolls, keesh and home-made cakes complementing the usual array of sandwiches and crisps (which Andy seems determined to combine). It would have been a 9/10, but for the presence of you-know-what, so it has to be a still-respectable 8.5/10.
For the first six or seven overs of our innings the match was pretty evenly balanced: the Wilbrahams bowlers were sharp and accurate, respectively, giving away few runs; but Tony Desimone and Rich Savage, even if not in great touch from the start, didn't look like giving their wickets away. But it was clear that either a wicket would fall or the batsmen would start scoring much faster . . . and, fortunately for us, it was the latter.
Rich played some great shots through the covers, Tony connected with a few big cuts, and both batsmen ensured lots of singles came between the more spectacular stuff. The opening partnership of 95 was eventually ended when Tony (30) got a nick to the 'keeper and showed what you should do when you know you've hit the ball. Even though there were still 80 runs needed, the win had been all but guaranteed by a great opening stand. However the scoring then accelerated, with Phil Marshall making 40* at a run-a-ball, and Rich finally succumbing to Wilbrahams' promising young spinner for 64. Phil and Neal Baker (15*) then knocked off the last thirty runs just as quickly, although there was some tension with 2 more needed as rain began to set in.
Having chased a reasonable total in under 30 overs we were feeling pretty chuffed -- and pretty relaxed too by the time we got through Rich's watering can of beer (in lieu of a jug). We are presumably mid-table now, and should be able to avoid relegation (How was this even possible?) but, if we can combine last week's bowling efforts with today's batting then promotion back up to Division 2 seems a realistic aim for the season.