|Date||13 May 2017|
|Opposition||Hainault & Clayhall|
|Venue||Oakfield Playing Fields, Forest Road, Barkingside, IG6 2JL|
|Result||W (Brentwood III 151, Hainault and Clayhall III 136)|
Brentwood III 151, Hainault and Clayhall III 136
Brentwood won by 15 runs
New season, new captain, new feeling – a win on the opening day.
A superb innings by Richard Walford backed by a tenacious performance by bowlers and fielders saw Brentwood home in a low-scoring game on the windswept playing fields of Hainault.
Brentwood’s first win of last season came in the fifth game, so the omens are promising for a campaign less bedevilled by relegation fears.
Not that Pocock’s first day in charge did not go without its problems. He lost the toss for a start and was inserted on an overcast afternoon. Pocock said he would have wanted to bowl, even though Brentwood had only nine men at the appointed time. While baker boy Dave Balroop’s tardy arrival had been expected (those Greggs doughnuts will not get jammed by themselves, you know), Nigel Bacon’s non-show was a matter of concern, especially so as he was slated to go in No3.
Luke Brailey and Walford opened up, the first runs of the season coming off Walford’s thigh for leg byes down to fine leg.
Brailey smashed his third delivery to the cover boundary to suggest he was in the mood but fell in the second over, tamely lobbing up a short ball from Daniel Austrie for a caught and bowled.
In Bacon’s continued absence, George Bull accepted the responsibility of No3 and immediately regretted it when Austrie’s first ball to him pitched middle and hit the top of off.
Pocock saw off the hat-trick ball before almost popping up a couple of catches and eventually edging Austrie to slip, to make it 14 for three.
By this time, Bacon had arrived, pleading ignorance of the half-an-hour earlier start time to games this season. Now, any cricketer worth his salt has endured the ultimate frustration dream – you know the one, you are next man in, you aren’t ready, the buckles on your pads keep snapping, or you can’t find your gloves. Well Bacon had an absolute nightmare. In his haste to change and pad up on the boundary edge, he tried to insert his contact lenses with the aid of the dim reflection from an Ipad being used to do the scoring. As the wind howled, one contact lens blew off his fingertip and gently fluttered away in the direction of Romford. With no spare (!!!), Bacon had to go out and bat, effectively, with one eye. The result? Last season’s leading third XI run scorer scratched around for 15 deliveries like Mr Magoo before top edging a yahoo at the spinner and being caught at mid off for a duck – 27 for four.
Never mind, here’s Balroop, jam still on his upturned collar, ready to launch another heroic counterattack. Sadly, not this time – Austrie’s away swing accounted for him in the same manner as Bull: pitched middle, hit top of off. 29-5.
Brentwood were in a spot of bother, although Walford was still there and looking in no trouble whatsoever. Luke Wells joined him and set about repairing the damage. Seeing off Austrie, the pair began to tick the score over, Walford playing some commanding drives and cuts, Wells not quite so textbook but at least digging in.
Wells had reached 17 from 44 balls when misjudging the flight of a full toss from the off-spinning leg-spinner Bhardwaj and being bowled, with the score at 73 for six.
Harry Hobson, possibly the most in-form batsman in the club after a series of pre-season high scores, batted as expected, pouncing on anything in his half and either thrashing it back past the bowler or edging it over slips’ heads. With Walford continuing in imperious fashion, the pair put on 51 for the seventh wicket before Hobson wound himself up again only to edge Bhardwaj to backward point, departing for a valuable 28.
Harb Pabla kept Walford company for a while before becoming Austrie’s fifth victim and then Walford, under pressure to dominate while batting with the tail, holed out to deep square leg, having scored an excellent 77 from 113 balls.
With the score 142-9, last pair Reece Pinchback and Peter Bainbridge edged past the 150-mark before Bainbridge missed a straight full toss and was lbw in the 47th over, to leave Brentwood needing to defend 151 – not a commanding score but a whole lot better than might have been expected at 29 for five.
Over tea (heavy on chips, light on everything else), eyes dutifully pored over the entry sheets for the Fantasy Competition being organised this year by Pocock. Walford enjoyed the fact the values confirmed something he had known since the cradle: “Hey, I am officially twice the man my brother is.”
Energised by chips and Pocock’s first captaincy speech, Brentwood immediately made life awkward for Hainault. Wells was whipping up quite some pace from the ‘wind-behind-me’ end, so when he threw in a slower ball, it befuddled the batsman and trapped him lbw.
Bainbridge trundled into the face of the gale from the other end (well, that’s how it felt) and induced a mishit drive straight into Hobson’s hands at short cover. Wells added another lbw, Bainbridge fluked a strangle down the leg side brilliantly held one-handed by the diving Pocock and Hainault were rocking at 35 for four.
Hainault staged a recovery of sorts and had taken the score to 60 before George Bull’s efforts drew their first reward when No4 Puthawala top-edged high to point where Wells took a good running catch.
Hainault captain Dan Oliver struck Bull for a sumptuous driven four but tried it again a couple of balls later and skied the ball into Brailey’s safe hands. Balroop then gained revenge against Austrie by knocking back his off-stump, and, at drinks, with 17 overs to go, Hainault were teetering at 95 for seven.
Danger man Hassan was in the 30s and looking good but after hoiking the returning Bainbridge for four over midwicket, played a rash drive that went straight up for Wells to catch at point.
Bull splattered No9 Malik’s wickets and it was left to Balroop to inflict the final blow, inducing an edge from No10 Nawaz with six overs to go.
So, a 25-point victory gives Brentwood a flying start. Walford’s 77 out of the Brentwood total of 151 was obviously key, but Brentwood’s bowling attack followed it up in some style.
Report by Peter Bainbridge
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