After capitulation against Thorverton last week, a much-improved batting performance gave us a battling draw at Barton today.
After being reduced from 12 to 8 players by a number of pull-outs on the day, the contest was reduced to 30 overs a side and as usual we took the field first. Due to a lack of quick bowlers I opened the bowling with Aaron with Al taking over keeping duties, but Barton’s opening batsmen generally found the going rather easy against us and the boundaries flowed. In Aaron’s last over and with the score approaching 50 Ian Jarman hit one hard and flat straight to me at mid-on, but I didn’t pick up against the hedge-line until late and juggled and dropped it. Fortunately Aaron made up for it, bowling him two balls later. A few overs later a ball was hit high to me at midwicket, and though it was going behind me and over my shoulder I got a hand on it, it should have been pouched but wasn’t. After I missed a drive that went through my legs shortly afterwards Al took charge and thrust my keeping gloves back into my hands, and I was gently ushered back behind the stumps where I could do less damage.
This was a good move, as in the next over the batsmen took a single too sharp and AB threw in perfectly over the stumps for me to take the bails for a run out. After Bellamy and Harford retired for their 50s, at last we started to get some reward. Chip was rusty and bowled a bit filth, but got a wicket when Lipton chased a wide one and hit to AB in the covers, and got a second when Al intercepted a boundary-bound ball at deep square leg. In between I got a sharp stumping off Al’s bowling, and in the last over of the innings Si took charge of a skier and dismissed Larder caught and bowled after a long and uncharacteristic wait for a wicket. There was still time for me to run out Leroy, who had done sterling work for us as a substitute fielder, with a rolling shy at bowler’s end. Barton made 191-7 off their 30 overs – not spectacular by us, but we were pleased to have got some wickets and kept them to less than 200.
At (another magnificent Barton) tea I explained to Steve, the Barton captain, that we wouldn’t chase down 192 and suggested that they might like to bowl us out to win the game. This would give us the chance of trying to bat out a draw, which seemed unlikely given our last outing but would give us something to aim at and would keep the game alive. To his credit he agreed, despite the fact that he was already virtually certain of winning on his only captaincy outing of the year.
Chip and AB took the field and Aaron looked to be defending his wicket well until he was bowled on the last ball of the first over. This was not in the script. We needed to show some resilience and Chip and I felt we were up to the job. Barton’s talented youngsters bowled accurately and didn’t give much away, with M Lipton causing us much consternation in the early stages. But we dug in and took what we could, and although it wasn’t the most exciting partnership ever over the 12 overs we were at the crease together we ground out 32 runs. Leroy got his revenge for the run out by having me caught at square leg, which seems to be my favoured form of dismissal this year. Chris Ward was next in and showed how much he’s improved this year by batting straight and defending, and although our run rate dropped even further the two got us past 20 overs before Chris was caught by that man Leroy again and Chip retired for a solid 16. Stoic batting from Gary, Al Dave, Si and Aaron (coming back in to make up for his duck) got us to the end with two wickets spare. Just what the skipper ordered.
Huge gratitude to all Barton’s players for another great day out and a wonderful tea. Particular thanks to Steve Bellamy whose handshake at tea really gave us something to aim at – perhaps not winning the game, but certainly ‘making a game of it’.