The first day of a new season, the first game in a new home for The Blades as we headed up (or down in GT’s case, or across for the Badger) to Winchester and our new Fortress North Walls. The forecast was for overcast skies and a dipping temperature as Farmer and Humphrey took to the square to raise the curtain on 2017. It was honours even in terms of season firsts for the two Blades with Farmer hitting the first runs of the year and Humphrey the first boundary, The surface was giving little away, and a long damp outfield meant that anything hit low didn’t travel, and as a result runs were hard to come by. Humphrey saw the keeper put down a very tough chance from a nick off one that popped up in the 5th, the nearest St Giles came to a breakthrough in the first half of the innings and Blades reached 32-0 from the first eight overs. The 9th saw Farmer bowled for 13 and two overs later Humphrey followed for 18 and Hurst and Whitear took over. There were slightly more runs to be had, allbeit mostly singles, as St Giles rotated their bowling. The clouds were gathering and the temperature dropping as Hurst was stumped for 13 in the final over as Blades reached a tough but defendable 72 for 3.
It didn’t take long for the first Blades breakthrough. In the first over, with St Giles yet to score, a batting mixup gave Lowe the chance to bowl Crown Green style at the stumps with the opener in no man’s land. The second over saw a regulation catch by Farmer off Galpin, and the third gave Hurst his first catch of the season from Afzal’s bowling. Runs were being scored though, and the scoreboard trotted on the 12-3 from three. The threatening clouds began to gather and the fine mist became a drizzle then full on rain over the next eight overs or so, but the two teams played on. At the halfway point, St Giles had the upper hand and reached 44-3 but Meering was having none of it and his miserly deliveries slowed the rate. Breakthrough in thy 11th as Humphrey caught from the bowling of Meering but still only 20 were needed from the last five overs. Chamberlain took to the attack, giving away just two in his first over, then took two wickets in his next – the fifteenth – as he eyed a two-wicket maiden and the Blades wondered if there was a possible shock result was on the cards, but the fifth ball of the over went for four, giving St Giles the runs they needed with seven balls and four wickets to spare 73 for 6.
RESULT: St Giles WIN by 4 wickets
Champagne moment contenders:
Lowe-‘s perfectly weighted run out
Chamberlain’s two-wicket almost-maiden under pressure
Whitear’s tennis shot for four