Report by Cam Petrie:
A few tentative appearances in the winter/spring nets had shown that Andy Owen's off-season knee operation was good enough for him still to be able to bowl - albeit with a short run up - but it still wasn't clear how it would react to the rigours of week after week of 40-over league cricket. However, the fact that at least one half of today's game against Dullingham could safely be called "The Andy Show", proves that there is still quite some life in the old knee yet.
The last time we faced off against Dullingham was in 2016, when both matches went down to the final ball, and we each came away with a heart stopping win on home turf. Today, Andy had managed to patch together a ten (including a mere two from the additional players list) until last minute draftee (and Trinity undergraduate) Anirudh Raghu was found at noon thanks to some last minute facebook messaging. Unusually for our regular Trinity cameo cohort, Aniridh is a batsman, and we were more than happy to have him join us - though he made it clear that he had a prior assignation slotted in for 5pm.
With Dullingham opting to bat, and Cameron Petrie at keeper, Stefan van Eeden (1/29 off 6 overs) and Andy opened the bowling and quickly found the tight lines that we were missing last week. Andy quickly relished this return to his former days of opening the bowling with a maiden in his second over, a wicket maiden in his third, and a second wicket in his fourth, which was a fantastic caught and bowled. Eight overs in, we had Dullingham at 20/2, and things were looking pretty good. However, their number four bat lulled us into a false sense of security by playing himself in before proceeding to attack our first and second change bowlers Huw Davies (1/28 off 6 overs) and Alan Raven (1/43 off 8 overs). Dullingham more than tripled their score to 67 by the 14th over before we eventually removed their other opener - this time to a ball from Huw that drew a lofted shot to one A. Owen. They then surged again briefly before Alan drew the big hitting number 4 into a catch to - you guessed it - A. Owen. 76/4 at the end of the 16th over wasn't the worse place to be, but a few frustrating/worrying signs were creeping into our game. A few hard but catchable chances had been grassed and Cam was being beaten by a few too many edges that suggested he was standing too close, not quite reacting fast enough, or was just bloody unlucky not to take a few caught behinds.
Stefan managed to break the creeping fifth wicket partnership at the end of his spell before John Hill (2/20 off 6 overs) and Nathan Wright (0/17 off 3 overs) were brought on to change the dynamic a bit. Unfortunately, the sixth wicket was a tough nut to crack and it wasn't until Andy came on again in the 34th over that we were able to separate them with the score now on 155/6 - and Andy with three in the bag. The dam was burst and John's next over yielded two wickets - both bowled - and Andy's follow up saw the final two wickets fall, one bowled and one LBW. This brought Dullingham's innings to a close on 161 all out in 36 full overs, and Andy's tally to five wickets (two bowled, one LBW and two caught, for just 16 runs conceded) and three catches (one of which was a caught and bowled).
With an eminently "gettable" 162 to chase, we only needed to score at 4 runs an over, but a combination of blazing sun, addled brains and sensible bowling saw Cam (0 off 6 balls) out in the first over - seemingly affected with the same malaise as the England top order whereby it is apparently sensible to try and drive aggressively from the off, resulting (in this case) in one huge miss, an over-celebrated appeal for an edge (which Cam earnestly believed he hadn't hit and produced much huffed chuntering when the wicket wasn't given), and then a booming drive straight to the extra cover fielder who managed to hold onto the ball before it hit him in the face. Anirudh (23 off 45 balls) remained more stoic and sensible at the other end, but Richard (0 off 1 ball) managed to play on his first ball in the third over, and just like that we had put ourselves on the back foot.
Dom Summers (13 off 22 balls) came out to join Anirudh to put together our first proper partnership, and they proceeded to show us what was needed - sensible defence, aggressive cutting and driving of loose balls, and sound running between the wickets. Things progressed well until the 10th and 11th over when we were just behind the required rate and a double bowling change saw the pace taken off the ball and the brain fade of earlier return. Both Anirudh and Dom nudged the first change bowler around sensibly, but Dom then took an expansive swipe at the first lobbed grenade from the second change bowler only to see his bails flying. Nathan Wright (0 off 3 balls) went back to another grenade and was trapped plum in front and a double wicket maiden slapped us in the face like a wet tuna. Huw (8 off 28 balls) came to the wicket and he and Anirudh were restricted through the accurate bowling before Anirudh finally succumbed - caught behind - and headed off to his previously arranged tennis match (for which he was now over 30 minutes late). New bat Stefan (15 off 18 balls) upped the scoring rate momentarily with a range of big swings and effective nudges before both he and Huw were bowled in consecutive maiden overs from the Dullingham number 3 bowler in the 20th and 22nd. All of this meant that just after drinks, we were 72/7 and had a cautious Andy (4 off 19 balls) and a still injured Faruk Kara (3 off 17 balls) at the crease. Our previously "gettable" total of 162 looked like a far-off dream as Dullingham bowled their 3 and 4 bowlers through and then brought on the speedster that had accounted for Cam and Richard. Sure enough, he added Andy and Faruk to his tally - both bowled, and we were marooned on 79/9 in the 28th over, one short of our second batting point. It was down to our final wicket pair of Alan Raven (15 off 31 balls) and John Hill (2 of 23 balls) to rescue some pride through hitting the necessary single, and then to actually show us what we should have been doing all along as they gradually eked our total up to and the beyond one hundred. Although Dullingham took the opportunity to give the ball to their teenage member of the Baldwin family, who had a few vertical problems, but otherwise gave a good account of himself, before his bowling partner eventually got one through Alan - halting our chase at 107 all out.
Whereas last week we could soothe our wounded pride by the fact that everyone else in the league had also lost one match, this week we sit safely at the bottom of the table as the only team that has not won one match. Reassuringly, we have 19 bonus points from two completed matches, so the only way is onward and upward from here, and one win has the potential to vault us into the lofty heights of the lower middle of the table!