RAGTAGS TAKE LEADERS TO THE WIRE
It won't be a surprise that the 1st XI on Saturday was possibly the weakest we've ever fielded, certainly in recent times - with 17 out of about 25 senior players unavailable for one reason or another, it was a decidedly shoestring side that took to the field to play runaway leaders ELPM. However despite the lack of resources, morale and team spirit were high.
Matters got worse almost straight away when our two regular first team batsmen, Doc and Duncan, were out quickly - the remaining 9 players had scored less than 70 first team runs combined in the whole season so it could have been chaotic. Watty managed a few lusty blows, and with the injured Nelly B also defying pain to play a couple of big shots, the innings developed. Dickie P was playing his best looking innings in a long while, and Asif came in to frustrate Wadey with a number of hefty strikes.
However once the skipper played across a fairly straight one from Kiwi the innings fell apart, a final total of 78 clearly unlikely to be enough but also a lot higher than was feared 15 minutes into the innings! Confidence remained high throughout tea, though the focus of conversation was less on the innings ahead than on Jess Ennis and also Abbers' catastrophic run out of young Matt Bradshaw, a single than Usain Bolt may well have struggled to complete.
Doc was clearly revved up for what may well have been his final appearance at ELPM, and steamed in for the first few overs. He cleaned up 4 wickets quickly, including Gav Greaves, who he'd already hit in a delicate area. When Asif got Matty Partington to a slightly fortunate LBW decision and then 3 balls later Doc knocked Wadey's stumps over first ball, the hosts were tottering at 24-5 and an astonishing victory was on the cards.
The game hinged then on a couple of dropped catches - Etesham did remarkably well to almost hold onto a rocket at square leg and then Abbers just failed to hold a nick from Kiwi who was on 0 at the time. Thereafter the ELPM batters played with a great deal of guts to weather the storm. With no backup bowling available, the boys ran out of steam and the Millers eventually eased to victory with young Dan Ashburner and Etesham bowling the final couple of overs. There was also time to see Duncan unveil a wonder ball which bounced 6 or 7 times and Doc to add a bruised hand to his collection of injuries.
Congrats to ELPM, who look worthy champs this season after last year's narrow miss, and well done the rag tags, juniors, injured and those who turned out last minute to make up a side. Great team spirit, great experience for the kids and with a tad more luck and even one other bowler ... we may just have pulled it off!