Marsh entertained Middleton Cheney for the first time ever at The Recreation Ground and entertainment it was as the advantage flipped one way and then the other before siding with the home side courtesy of some impetuous batting and an exhibition of cool catching.
Cheney won the toss and decided that the preceding 24 hours of rain and humid conditions would favour the ball, despite the deck still being hard and flat. The first indication was it was the right call as Nadin got through Willo with the 2nd ball of the match and Marsh were a man down without any runs on the board. Thankfully Hanson from the other end was errant in line and length and Skipper creamed away with 5 quick boundaries. Vadivale (4) looked to do likewise from the other end but could not keep his Square Cut down and was caught at Point off Nadin in the 7th over. 25 for 2.
Nadin was bowling tight and Smith replaced replaced Hanson with a better away swinging line, making runs hard to come by. Skipper (35) seemed comfortable at the crease when he got a thin edge behind to give Nadin his 3rd wicket and reduce Marsh to 44-3. That soon became 59-4 in the 22nd over when Kyle mistimed a Cover Drive and departed for 15.
Guns Leonard was determined to stick it out and crept to 8 before missing a straight one from the returning Hanson in the 27th over and Cheney were firmly settled in the Box Seat with Marsh reduced to 74-5. Only 18 overs remaining (to survive and) to post some sort of defendable total. Well whilst Cool Hand Luke was at the crease there was hope for quick runs. Some cracking drives sped past the agile fielders and he rolled the scoreboard forwards at a run a ball as Sammy got settled in. In keeping with the rest of the batters, just as Lofty started to get on top, he got out. 92-6 at the 33rd over mark and Chambers Senior strode out to join Richardson.
There had been great debate amongst the watching Marsh players when Guns had announced that Jules was nearing 6,000 runs for The Originals, after consulting the 2018 Wisden. Jules looked on quizzically as he thought he had scored more. It turned out Guns had read the number of runs conceded from his Bowling! In fact, he only needed 26 to reach 7,000. No pressure – No Problem.
Chambers and Richardson found their straps and worked the ball to all parts constructing a 59 run partnership in 9 overs to deflate the confident Cheney, during which a loud cheer and applause went up when Chambers passed the landmark. Possibly the loudest cheer for a batsman on 25 pushing a single to midwicket (in trademark Chambers fashion.)
Sammy was caught after scoring 34 from just 45 deliveries and Timdog (7*)was reunited with Jules to continue their unfinished (winning) business from last week and add 16 from the last 3 overs, taking the total to 166-7 from the 45. Jules unbeaten on 34 from 33 balls.
Certainly Cheney had held the advantage when Marsh were slumped on 74-5, but the last 108 balls had brought Marsh 92 runs and shortened the odds. Despite this rear-guard defiance, 166 was still less than par and the question was, “Could it be defended?”
Another excellent Tea provided by Amy and Selena with sarnies and savouries rounded off with a vast scope of cakes (which Tom stashed for later!)
Marsh knew they could not afford for Cheney to get off to a lucrative start and it was Callow who decimated the top order sending back Merry (Stump out the ground), Markham (LBW) and then Twynham (with a great leave onto his off peg!) 6 overs gone and Cheney 19-3. Advantage now with Marsh.
Des Smith was somehow surviving at the other end from the carnage and joined by Dan Smith the two sought to survive rebuild. Indeed, they did just that and when they reached their 50 partnership in the 22nd over the pendulum was swinging back to Cheney. Only 100 needed in 23 overs and 7 still in the hutch.
Partnership breaker Vadivale had been putting more zing into his deliveries and got reward trapping young Smith (36) in the 25th over with the score on 91. Would this chink of light become brighter? Marsh needed to keep taking wickets, especially Des Smith who continued to score and ride his fortune.
Vadivale kept the light shining in his next over as he Bowled Hanson and Cheney were 101-5 off 28 overs. At the same point Marsh had been 78-5, but the momentum was now with the Marsh bowlers and despite a short sharp expensive interlude from Sammy, the bowlers had restricted the run scoring opportunities with no one going for more than 3 per over. Despite this economy, Cheney only needed 4 per over in the remaining overs and so wickets were the only solution for Marsh.
Tension was mounting and Cheney were closing. Nine overs remaining and only 40 now required. Tommy was bowling big in-duckers and Satty was darting turners from the other end. Boynton had looked secure when he went large, hitting straight off Guns and over Lofty’s head at deep mid-on. You could feel the frustration from Marsh as the ball was dipping beyond Foxy over his shoulder – then an amazing Stokes-style running, turning, diving one handed catch only he could make within his extendable reach!
An invigorated Marsh had spirits lifted and next ball Cheney looked for 2 to the backward square boundary without accounting for Willo’s arm and his bullet to the stumps left Nadin stranded. 126 for 5 was now 126-7. But Smith still there….Advantage Marsh – with the runs on the board, or Cheney – with a batter settled and on 50?
In came Wright and quickly got off the mark with a boundary. That spurred his confidence to try again and where should he choose to hit Tommy? Straight to Lofty Foxy standing (almost) on the boundary line. The buckets swallowed it up and Marsh were jubilant as Cheney now slumped to 130-8 off 37 overs.
But Smith was still there and lining up Satty now…..Marsh had boundary riders ready. Swish and the ball is orbiting toward Cow Corner where none other than Lofty is poised and primed. OUT!
134-9 and it is all over bar the small matter of the 10th wicket, which came next over courtesy of another catch bagged by Sammy off Tom.
Just 8 runs for the last 5 wickets as Marsh completed a superb romp in the field, maintaining belief and delivering bowling and catching skills. Callow, Vadivale and Leonard with 3 wickets a piece
Lofty Foxy stood tall on the boundary and caught all that dared clear him.