After coming off the back of two unsuccessful chases versus Spencer Bruerne and Old in previous weeks, I could be forgiven for fearing the worst as GP found themselves in the field first on a hot day with a good pitch at Mears Ashby.
Mears Ashby Innings
GP had a difficult start with Goodall, the Mears Ashby opener, making light work of reaching fifty and Mears Ashby being 60 without loss after 10 or so overs. Thankfully skipper Pinny had found some extra swing from changing ends and was able to trap him lbw for 52 and allowed GP to get into the game.
Tony had been brought on early to stem the flow of runs and was duly rewarded with a wicket shortly after. Mears Ashby were on a very strong 81-2 off 15 overs but GP wrestled back some control in the middle overs with another wicket for Pinny and Ryan, who had also changed ends to great effect, picking up 2 of his own. From 81-2 at 15 overs GP had restricted Mears Ashby to only 123-5 going into the final 10 overs.
Nevertheless, Mears Ashby were able to accelerate going into the final overs. Despite appealing for lbw on what seemed to be like every ball, ‘off-spinner’ JB had to catch one off his own bowling in order to bag himself a wicket. Tony picked up his second with an absolute screamer of a catch from Ryan at cow corner. An acrobatic, one-handed attempt to get rid of the big-hitting Fernando. A jaw-dropping effort which almost made my dentures fall out, desite the drop two balls earlier the Aussie blamed on his broken footwear!
Some late order slogging from Mears Ashby resulted in them achieving 201-8, with JB picking up his second on the last ball of the innings despite injury, which prompted a theatrical display which could have only have been inspired by watching Portugal at the World Cup. Despite chasing over 200, GP were confident at tea that this was an achievable total on this pitch.
Grange Park Innings
GP began their chase poorly. Despite being in horrible nick and given sound advice to ‘bat for time’ by skipper Pinny, Adam’s half-hearted swipe at a wide one on only his fifth ball was probably ill-advised as he found the top edge and was caught at cover to depart for a duck in the first over. This brought the returning Ian P to the crease and, along with Ben, GP started to tick.
Some loose bowling from Mears Ashby was punished and GP piled on the runs, 74-1 at 10 overs and, with wickets in hand, 120 was passed by the halfway point, with only Ian departing for a superb 59 in the meantime.
To their credit, Mears Ashby tightened up in the next dozen or so overs, Mark hit an important 22 before being caught, Ben was given out lbw for a well-made 52, Ryan departed for 9 and Pinny finding mid-off for a duck. What had seemed like a cruise to the finish at 20 overs became 168-6, requiring 34 runs from the final 6 overs.
Thankfully JB, usually at the top of the order, came in at 8 due to his ‘injury’ and set about picking off the final few runs with the dependable Steve. Two superb overs for GP meant that the target went from 31 off 5 overs to just 9 off 3 with some superb hitting by both. GP made it to 198 before the Mears Ashby bowler putting one down a fraction short, JB’s eyes lit up, rocking back before launching a six over deep-mid-wicket and cue pandemonium amongst his teammates. JB finished on 23 not out with Steve battling to a gutsy 20.
Overall a superb win for GP which gets a monkey off their backs when chasing big totals. However, the tense final overs will have aged me even more, if that’s possible. Here’s hoping for a smoother ride against Barby next Saturday.