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No ducks to a dramatic finish

Saturday 22nd August

The 4ths had the return fixture against the old foe Sutton after last weeks defeat on their turf. Court Lane was ready, but the weather decreed that whoever won the toss would be in pole position, I lost the toss and Walmley were put into bat, with our bowling bias team.

The rain, two stoppages, the powerful gusts combined with Sutton’s mean attack meant we were struggling to keep the run rate up with the overs bowled. The pitch had a soft top, which meant batting later would be an advantage, but for Walmley it was unforgiving. Luke Gillam first to suffer with a nick and caught behind. There was hardly time to put it on the Walmley CC Group chat (which was too quiet yesterday when people want to know what is happening at the other games!) when Yousuf Akbar got a low one onto the pad and LBW.

The task then became could Walmley get to 50! And would the game be over before tea. The Sutton opening bowler ended up with 9 overs for 10 runs to demonstrate the difficulty of the early batting. Rajveer Chauhan and Reiss Chagar both put up a rear-guard action in the face of the weather aided bowling but fell to the late gusts of wind bending the ball back in better than Yuri Gellar with a spoon!

The Shackleford brothers (Calum and Michael) came together and battled. Shots were tried but the Sutton ring was tight and found by many shots, again keeping the run rate down. No one yet had made it to double figures, but no one either had made a duck. A testament to the battling and great team spirit the 4ths have developed this season.

Walmley old boy, James Dalton, ironically a boy forged in the youth section under Shackleford and Carey senior guidance came into bowl to his old teammate Calum who holed out to a catch. The batsmen had crossed, and whilst Viren Mahli was at the non-strikers end, Michael nicked and was caught behind, Dalton is on a hat-trick when I come to the crease. Soft hands and a firm forward defensive and he was thwarted.

It was now a job to make Sutton work and get the overs through. I took the anchor role (and await a sponsorship from Lego) and blocked and left my way through some 19 overs. At the other end Viren Malhi became the first of our team to make to double figures with 10. Tom Cleaver came in and started with one of our rare boundaries before reaching 9 and falling to the Sutton spinner Rishi. His action, well run-up can only be described as unique and could be seen more in dressage circles!

Viren fell to another LBW and I eventually fell to the mesmeric spinner and we had nearly reached 40 overs. The tail wagged spectacularly with Sam Lumb and Zain Ali having fun as they pushed us over the 100, an undreamed-of number at over 20!

Quick running, and explosive hitting from Zain made our tail add over 30 for a last stand, with Zain dancing down the wicket for two huge 6’s in his final not our total of 25.

So, our batting was done, 45 overs and a total of 103. An impressive performance in light of everything. We had scores of 1,2,3,4,6,8,9 and 10 but no ducks and a fight on our hands in easing batting conditions.

103 gave us a chink of hope but Sutton were firm favourites. We opened with the tail twins of Sam Lumb and Zain Ali who carried on the mean bowling without success, but Sutton only had 34 by the end of the 10th over. I turn to spin and brought on Tom Cleaver and the breakthrough came with the first of seven catches (and there should have been more!)

The alternate ends of spin and pace started to have the effect as Sam picked up the second opener. Viren Malhi came on for Sam and the Sutton middle order began to shake. Viren taking two wickets.

I came on for Tom and with two catches from Zain and a bowled we could see a chance appearing, could we do the impossible? Calum Shackleford was excelling behind the stumps with excellent catches, Michael also to a catch. Zain came back on at the pace end and two wickets fell, was victory in our grasp.

From a good Sutton start at 52 for 3 and 77 for 4 our fighting spirit really showed as Sutton got away, we hauled them back 83 for 6, 98 for 7 and then 102 for 9. One wicket for Walmley to win, two runs for Sutton. Sadly, the runs came instead of the wicket and Sutton breathed a big sigh at just getting over the line.

All bowlers got a reward, I was 6 overs, 3 wickets for 21 runs; Tom, 6-1-22, Viren, 5-2-15, Zain, 7-2.25 and Sam 10-1-25. To have got so close when we started without a prayer was a magnificent performance by all.

By Alex Carey Capt

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