Last week’s disappointing cancellation was long forgotten as The Blades returned to the grownup size pitch at the Sporty on a warm, sunny summer night. Lowe was triumphant in the toss, and Blades batted first. The KH2 opening partnership struck up a steady start reaching 9-0 from 3 but in the fourth Humphrey was bowled and Farmer caught to set up a hat trick ball which Whitear flat-batted away. Hamer was bowled soon after as The Blades began to struggle and with only 9 players, thoughts were turning to a potential early visit to the pub. A bowling change after six overs triggered a recovery as Whitear and Hurst got the scoreboard ticking over, reaching 25-3 in the seventh when Hurst succumbed to a close run out, beaten by a strong and accurate arm. Whitear then retired with the score on 47-4 at the halfway point, Galpin and Afzal taking over the batting. Runs became hard to come by as Shirley turned the screw but Blades dug in, the wickets had stopped falling and another bowling change brought more runs and plenty more extras. At 16 overs Blades were 76-5 and looking to amass a defendable target, but again in the closing overs Shirley got the upper hand, taking wickets and restricting runs, and the innings closed on 101 for 8.
Not a huge total to bowl at, but Afzal took the first wicket in the first over, and although a couple of fours in the next over pushed the score on, a wicket an over for the next three overs gave The Blades the slight upper hand. Shirley wrestled control though, stopping the pavilion door from revolving and building a 40 partnership for the 5th wicket. At the halfway point Shirley stood at 55-4, slightly ahead of the required rate, but Galpin’s spell was as miserly and productive as Afzal’s and The Blades kept Shirley from building a lead, their scoring rate rarely going above the required 5. With four overs to go, the hosts needed 27 to win with four wickets in hand, and they set about the target with some smart running and big shots. With two overs left only eight runs were needed, and these were polished off with seven balls to spare. A brave effort from a depleted Blades side who, after a dodgy start, were again part of a thriller and were unlucky to come off second best as Shirley reached 103 for 6.
RESULT: Shirley WIN by 4 wickets
Champagne moment contenders:
Afzal wicket in the opening over, steadying Blades nerves
Lowe’s quick but fast-scoring 10
Whitear’s two catches behind the stumps