The penultimate round of Saturday fixtures was somewhat overshadowed by the death of Queen Elizabeth II two days earlier; local cricket was given the go ahead to continue and so the various TSJ sides took to the field determined to pay a fitting tribute to our longest-serving monarch.

Fuller's men travelled to A&T eager to get their title charge back on track after disappointing back to back defeats. Fortunately our bowling attack was in prime form, with the home side skittled for just 82 after being 30-0 at one stage. Burnsy took 4-11, with Callum, Lenny and Niko all chipping in. Niko and Deardo then knocked off the runs in short order, a 10 wicket win sending out a statement and keeping us in prime position to reclaim top spot on the final weekend. Some nice highlights are available on CricHQ if you'd like to see Deardo repeatedly hoiking to leg on his way to an unbeaten 47 (mentioned as he arrived at the Meadows after the 1sts game and shouted at your reporter twice to "play straight" without so much as a hello first!).

With United Stars winning, it's all to play for on the final weekend - if Stars win they will become champions but any slip up and Fuller's lads can overtake them with a home victory.

Down at the Meadows 2nd XI skipper Doc P was called upon to lead the tributes to her Majesty before a beautifully-observed minutes's silence. It was perhaps the longest certain members have been quiet all year! Anyway, with a slightly damp outfield, winning the toss and inserting the opposition looked to be the right call. Despite some very tight bowling, Ry was unable to break through, but Awais took three wickets to leave the visitors at 43-3. Youngsters Whittaker and Connor batted very nicely; the latter added some momentum to the innings before being neatly run out, while the opener passed his half century before falling to Awais. Patel came in and despatched a pair of big sixes off the Doc, and at 156-5 with five overs left, a total close to 200 looked on the cards. However the introduction of Big Bird completely reversed the momentum, a delightful mix of beamers, long hops and three absolutely unplayable jaffas bringing him season's best figures of 3-12. The innings ended at 177-9, which was probably more than we'd hoped but less than it looked going into the final overs.

A new look opening pair of Tom and Mooro took to the field to begin the Totts reply, but the innings couldn't have got off to a worse start with Mooro dismissed first ball and then Ry Marsh falling to a somewhat interesting LBW. We've not been short of those this year. To be completely fair, Egerton umpire Paul was pretty excellent throughout, though I'm not sure Ry was in agreement!

At 4-2, the Doc and Tom began the rebuilding process. Tom decided to book himself in for bed, breakfast and much of the next week, alternating some steadfast defence with any number of beautiful shots hit straight to the fielder. I don't think I've ever batted with someone who plays so many unrewarded shots. The Doc began to get going and launched spinner Whittaker for 14 in three balls to general delight. Having begun cautiously, the partnership eventually yielded 95 before Tom departed for 33. Season's revelation Sam Collins joined the Doc and having been badly dropped off his first ball began to add some real impetus. Sam smacked a couple of sixes while the Doc passed 50 and, more importantly, 60! Paul fell for 66 before Birdy and Sam took us within sight of victory. Sam ended up with yet another red inker, his 36 including plenty of lusty blows.

The 2nds thus secured 5th place in the division. They would have been looking to break the top 2 but after a very good start a season blighted with injury to key players as well as some powerhouse play from Thornham, Bradshaw and champions Woodbank meant that a title charge was not to be. Perhaps 2023 will be the year?

Back at the Meadows on Sunday, the 2nds came up against a tough challenge in Astley Bridge. Awais continued his good bowling form, getting through 8 initial overs for just 12 runs, but with Patel hitting five maximums, the innings rapidly accelerated. A couple of cameos ensured that the total passed 200, with a final score of 217-6 looking to be a bit too many. Awais remained the most economical of the bowling attack, while Dom Kay popped up with a pair of wickets!

The Totts reply stuttered, with Saturday's hero Sam falling for a duck and the innings imploding to 48-7. Birthday boy Bret looked to be in prime form again, blasting 64 from 52 balls with a dozen boundaries, but once he fell it was left to Nick T to enjoy some time at the crease and score an unbeaten 34. The innings concluded at 168, which was a reasonable effort given the poor start.

Katie's troops have given it everything this year, and the experience the youngsters are getting is invaluable. With two games left, another win could be just the perfect end to the season they deserve.

As always thanks to everyone for their hard work to get the games on, especially given the poor weather during the week and Friday's golf/evening events. Thanks also to those who worked at the club both days and our loyal band of spectators who gave Saturday's run chase a nice backdrop. More of the same next weekend please!

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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