Shaldon Optimists

A glorious sunny day and the usual friendly smiles welcomed us on our annual visit to Hazledown School, but there was no mercy shown as Shaldon’s talented young batsman gave our bowlers a damn good thrashing.

The day started unusually, as we won the toss and elected to bat. This caused some surprise, but Aaron and Karl duly went out to open the batting for us. Unfortunately the partnership didn’t last long as Karl was bowled for a third ball duck, and as Chalky wasn’t padded up I scrabbled around for some kit and ran out to bat.

Conditions were not easy for batting. The new ball was swinging around and Shaldon’s bowlers made very good use of it. Chas Woolnaugh was his usual mean self, starting with a wicket maiden and a maiden, Langley-Pope had Aaron caught at the other end, and after launching a trademark massive six over long-on Chalky was soon out bowled. we were 17-3, and I’d faced something like 15 balls without scoring.

I’d ridden my luck a bit too – there was a good lbw shout against me that the umpire correctly reckoned had scraped my bat (I couldn’t have complained if given out) and mistimed a drive that arced over the diminutive point fielder. But I was still out there. A partnership with Chip threatened to flourish but ended with a mistimed drive back to the bowler, and debutants Chris Ward and Les Dawson were out for four each. We’d struggled to 51-6, and some of the fielders were wondering aloud how we could make a game of this.

Fortunately I was starting to find my range, and the man for the job was next in. Dave has looked impressive in defence recently and his good form continued, as he clearly wasn’t in the mood to throw his wicket away. We set ourselves the target of getting to 100 without losing another wicket, and although it was probably painful watching at times we slowly got the scoreboard moving along. Dave was unlucky to be bowled with the score on 98 but he played just the innings we needed at the time, and by then I’d moved past 50.

For me there was better to come, as I was seeing the ball clearly now and was starting to find the boundary regularly. I passed the club record and finished on 79, and a useful last-wicket stand between Kev and Bob got us up to 133, which I think is the best score we’ve made batting first.

We were quickly brought back down to earth. We started off ok with the ball but Shaldon’s openers were soon clattering the ball all around the park, assisted by a number of slow leg-side full tosses, and after they reached 50 after just six overs it was poor captaincy on my part not to change tack. Instead of persevering with the spinners, who were getting mullered in defence of a low total, I should have looked to some seam and swing earlier. Lesson learned. As it was, Chip and Karl got our only two wickets as Shaldon got to their target in just 17 overs. Small Boys tend to do a lot of damage to us, and we couldn’t do much but stand and applaud the very talented Small Boys of Shaldon.

Thanks to Shaldon for another great game and hopefully we can squeeze in a return match later in the year.


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