For the first time this season, and probably last season and the season before, there was a full compliment of eleven blades on show as we gathered at North Walls to take on Winchester Hospital. It was a sunny evening as the Blades were put in to face their 16 overs first. The opening Winchester bowlers were giving no quarter with both Richardson and Hamer succumbing to splayed stumps in the second over. When Farmer followed in the same fashion in the fifth leaving Blades on 5 for 3, statisticians scrambled for the record books in search of lowest totals. However, returnee Adamson and new wunderkind Davies began the recovery as the bowling changes began. Adamson in particular, claiming not to have played in the four years since he donned the baggy blue (lie detector test pending) was great value for his 22 including some lovely stroke play for his boundaries before being bowled. Davies and Hurst both kept the runs ticking over before they and Lowe were also bowled – all seven wickets coming the same way. Galpin and Terry saw the Blades home to a total nobody had seen coming an hour earlier, a potentially defendable 62 for 7.
It wasn’t a huge total but it was something to bowl at, and with the very first ball came the first wicket. A horrendous confusion in the middle saw both batsmen in the bowler’s crease, leaving the easiest run out in Blades’ history. Afzal and Lowe, opening the bowling, kept the total low, aided by deft fielding. The fourth over saw a Meering catch and an LBW from Lowe, as Winchester matched the Blades’ 5 for 3 from four overs. This was to be the theme of the match as virtually over for over, the scores were equivalent or one side were a run or two ahead. One over here and there contained a boundary or two, but this was matched by the opponents as the scores rose at the same rate. The number five batsman retired on 27 in the 13th over, with Winchester on 54 for 3, compared with the Blades’ total of 53 for 4 at the same point. The game balanced on a knife edge as the Blades bowled and fielded valiantly, but with two overs left, Winchester seemed to have it won, needing only 5 to win with 7 wickets in hand. Terry only allowed them three, and Meering took the ball for the final over. Three balls and two catches (from Lowe and H
urstamer) later, Winchester still needed two, Meering was on a hat trick, and the Blades traveling army dared to dream of an incredible victory. Or at least a tie. A dot took that chance of hat trick glory away from the Barrier though and a thwack through long off gave Winchester the two they needed with just one ball to spare. A real nailbiter, a close finish nobody expected, this was a true classic which the hosted just edged, finishing on 63 for 5.
RESULT: Winchester WIN by 5 wickets
Champagne moment contenders:
Adamson hitting 22 like he’d never been away
Meering’s two wickets in two balls
Davies’ text book debut with the bat, stroke play with leaving and calling like a pro