After last week’s HowwetwasthepitchreallyafterallthatrainGate, it was a pleasure to arrive at Riverside to a dry pitch and an evening so sunny that we probably could have fitted in 40 a side. OK, maybe 22. With both sides a couple short as the hour of 6pm arrived, stand in skipper K-Dog negotiated Blades batting first, and battle commenced.
Marsh and Webber started the innings in brisk enough fashion, marshalling the score to 15 in the third before Marsh was caught at square leg for 6. Webber continued the attack, hitting the second four of the innings in the next over but was then back in the pavilion having been caught for 10. 23 for 2 was soon 25 for 3 then 26 for 4 as both Kumar and Shedh were victims of the Brookfield “See how many we can catch in one innings” Challenge.
Tubb was the next catchee at 34-5 in the seventh and although the Runs For column was ticking along at a reasonable rate, the Wickets Down column was chasing it annoyingly closely.
A wide pitch with a dense outfield was doing Blades no favours. Boundaries were at a premium and Blades were forced to rely on running their runs, although to be fair Tras was having a decent knock too.
All that changed when Grimes came to the middle when the fifth wicket fell though. It didn’t so much start raining boundaries as lightly drizzling them but at least they were coming. Three of them in the eighth helped Blades to a respectable 49-5 at the end of the ninth. K-Pup was supporting Grimes well and showing good technique – the Blades Academy clearly teaches them well – but the runs weren’t coming for him. He was unlucky to be C&B in the tenth to a spectacular diving catch. There were murmurs around the media centre that perhaps another bowler wouldn’t have tried quite so hard against a Colt batsman and he was perhaps thinking of his figures, but to be fair it WAS a good take and they do all count. 50-6 at the halfway point was probably about par.
K-Dog replaced the Pup and he joined Grimes in keeping the runs ticking over whilst building a partnership. Brookfield were beginning to turn the screw though and a maiden sixteenth meant Blades were 68-6 having scored only 18 in the last six.
Grimes retired next over with an impressive 25, leaving Hamer to bring the innings home with Humphrey.
It had been an innings of two halves, with the flurry of wickets around the mid point, and the scoring in the second ten overs had slowed. Blades innings closed on 93-6.
So not a huge total but a rate of around five an over would be needed on a pitch that offered the batsmen little, and an outfield that offered less on the occasions the batsmen could get the ball away. It was very much game on.
Humphrey Sr and Lowe opened and although they both had a couple of expensive overs, the rest of their respective spells was tight enough, and Brookfield had only made 22 when a run out brought the first wicket at the start of the fifth.
A routine catch off Lowe for Hamer at short extra cover (or thereabouts, positions aren’t this correspondent’s expertise) in the sixth and another run out in the seventh and the ancient Cricketing Gods of Dukwuthe and Luës were beginning to smile down on our gallant heroes.
At the halfway point, Brookfield were 50-3, matching Blades run for run.
From that point on though, Brookfield seemed to flick a switch and although they were struggling to find the rope as much as Blades had, they were running the ones and twos. I would say they kept the scoreboard ticking over but we didn’t have the numbers to do that so they kept the Brookfield scorer’s ECB scoring app ticking over instead.
The twelfth over saw the biggest four of the night which took two bounces before arriving in the media centre – smart fielding by the scorer preventing loss of life – and shortly after the 4 and 5 batsmen both reached their retirements, the number 5 hitting the evening’s only six back over the bowler’s head.
They may have been back in the shed but their work was done and the game was as good as Brookfield’s. 92-3 after fifteen overs meant there were only three needed and five overs to get them in. Humphrey Jr and Grimes made them work for the final runs and they didn’t cross the line until a leg bye mid way through the seventeenth brought them to 94-4.
Overall a decent Blades effort in an enjoyable and generally close match but it was the Brookfield middle order wot won it, the Blades total being around the twenty short that some pundits had suggested at the break.
Result: BLADES LOSE BY 6 WICKETS
Champagne moment contenders:
Grimes hits three furs in the eighth
K-Pup’s respectable 0-6 with the ball
Grimes 25 not out