Baking hot sunshine greeted the Blades’ first visit to North Walls this season as a shuffled Blades line-up battled the ever-joyous Winchester traffic to face Knowle village. Fay senior and junior making their first appearances of the season.
The Badger Lowe is nothing if not a traditionalist and duly lost the coin toss. Knowle opted to bat and, further sticking with tradition, Afzal took the fresh cherry. Tradition the theme then, Knowle were treated to typically miserly stuff from Afzal with just one scored from the first over. K-Dog opened from the other end and Knowle were 7 for 0 from the opening 2. The pudding wicket was clearly slow and regularly keeping low.
However, one of the Knowle openers quickly got their eye in and the pitch didn’t seem to bother him – Afzal getting milked for 12 in the next over. It’s rare to see the main man taking quite a beating but it was happening at both ends. I don’t recall the last time an opener was walking back to the pavilion with 25 not out in the middle of the 5th over.
Afzal and K-Dog toiled away but Knowle found themselves on an ominous 44 for 0 off 6. Knowle were adopting the “go big or go home” Lance Kluesner mentality but maybe a shade to soon. The other Knowle opener went for an Afzal delivery that turned out to be a yorker and the stumps were inevitably splayed.
Our Newportian skipper then made a change and brought Saad into the attack who bowled a fine over and went for just 2 runs. The Badger then backed himself and, despite going for a few runs, brought the second as another Knowle batsmen threw the willow at a straight one and then had to get straight on the phone to DFS for fresh furniture.
In the next over Hall took a routine catch off Saad’s bowling and suddenly our heroes looked back in the game. At the 10 over halfway stage Knowle were on 62 for 3. A strong start but the wickets were tumbling. Knowle continued to take healthy swings at a variety of deliveries and regularly found the middle but they all seemed to be falling safe or to the Skipper – which essentially meant they were falling safe. Lowe got under three chances that were, admittedly, travelling – but none would stick. He was dropping balls like a contestant on Danny Dyer’s The Wall – check it out, good clean fun – but to be fair to the Badger, none were as easy as this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWtCUKwaTgU
Where were we? Oh yes, Blades cricket – Blades struggling. However, Hall and Juggy combined to create a run out but Knowle were now on an eye watering 108 for 4 with 5 overs to come. Hall and Meering kept things tight and in the 18th over the “Barrier” conjured up a caught and bowled and almost got another after that. A Knowle colt came to the wicket and batted well for a couple of runs and whilst the run rate appeared to slow a little, there was sufficient Knowle bat wafting at the other end to see them end on 133 for 5 off the 20. Oof.
A slow wicket, keeping low and a big pitch made it look an ominous total.
Hamer and Hall lead the Blades response and found the going tough – straight and accurate bowling on a slow pitch with long boundaries. That runs were hard to come by somewhat underlined just how good the Knowle opening batsmen were. Runs were slow to come by indeed – Hall hitting some fine shots but on a few occasions the ball stopping short of the rope. Hall and Hamer did a lot of running to see Hall to his retirement for a very fine and well-earned 27*. Hamer followed Hall back to the pavilion almost immediately getting bowled off his pads to a swinging delivery for 11.
Blades found themselves on 51 for 1 in the 12th and, frankly right up against it. K-Dog and Harry Fay were at the crease now and wasted no time getting amongst it. Boundaries remained at a premium but the runs came a little quicker. 68 after 14 overs still leaving surely too much to do. Acutely aware of this, K-Dog was caught at mid-wicket going after one which brought ‘Juggy’ Marsh to the crease.
The Blades returning academic Harry Fay edged the scoreboard towards respectability with a mighty heave to cow that brought about what was easily the biggest six of this Blades season. Possibly trying to repeat the trick he was sadly clean bowled next ball.
Meanwhile, the Newport Express had been working on his catching – catching some rays umpiring out in the middle – but it was time to come in and pad up as he would soon be needed. The Barrier was out all too quickly bowled for 2 or possibly 3 – I can’t read Afzal’s scoring, this bloke must be a doctor or something.
Now, Harry Fay claims to be studying business at University but one wonders if in fact he is actually studying witchcraft with Potter’s crowd. As Fay senior took the crease, Harry, with fine precision, predicted that his Dad John would “just hit it and run” and he wasn’t wrong…… John hit it, set off and at around halfway realised that Marsh wasn’t interested in the dodgiest of singles – Fay sprinted back to his original mark but didn’t quite get there, effectively running himself out. Colin ‘Crazy’ Johnson, formerly of this parish, holds the record for run out involvements but I don’t think he ever brought the sword down on himself. This is just how the day was going for our heroes.
Blades needed 51 off the last 2 overs and I’m afraid it is difficult to give this story even the faintest whiff of climax. Marsh and Saed gave of their best but the Blades were well beaten on 93 for 6
Result: BLADES LOSE BY 40 RUNS
Champagne moment contenders:
Hall’s 37 not out in difficult circumstances
Andy ‘Safe Hands’ Lowe shelling pea
Harry Fay’s soothsaysong prediction