Saturday 7th May, the Badgers opened the new season with a gritty win over the King’s Road Cricket and Social Club. A ‘Wandsworth Common Special’ pitch and overcast skies provided spicy batting conditions for most of the day. KRCSC’s Skipper, Giles, won the toss and elected to bat despite the patchy, uneven wicket. KRCSC Openers Raju and Barnesy, took the crease to face the attack, the ball was thrown to Alex Morse and the Badgers got their 2011 campaign underway.
The first ten overs were economical, with the KRCSC openers unable to play shots and runs proving hard to come by. The slow start eventually proved too much for Raju. The first wicket of the season coming in the tenth over, Bam-Bam pushing the ball through an expansively driving Raju, taking his gloves. Sham joined Barnsey in the middle. The second wicket pair continued to play safety first, remaining watchful and conservative, whilst punishing the occasional bad ball. Sham had moved on to seven runs, before he became The Thorpedo’s first victim of the campaign, with a peach that turned sharply and took out his leg stump.
Barnes now stepped up a gear, having scored only a dozen runs off the first 14 overs, he started to accelerate, trusting the eye he had patiently acclimatised and together with skipper Giles changed the momentum of the innings. The fall of Giles’ wicket allowed Cocken and Saker to come to the crease on a pinch hitting agenda, powerfully hitting runs before falling to Morse and Jinks respectively. Keating and Smalley closed out the innings, with the KRCSC amassing an imposing total of 189 runs.
It should be noted that ‘extras’ was the KRCSC second highest score (34), something which surely reflects Badger rustiness in the field.
After a fine tea, (compliments Mr. Cocken), Jan and Clokey padded up to get the Badgers' response underway.
The KRCSC’s newest fast bowler, Glover, opened the attack. Immediately he found his line and length. His third delivery was close to perfect, pitching just short of a length, nibbling off the seam to take Clokey’s outside edge. Not long after, Marchant, who had been clipping and pushing his way into double figures also fell to Glover, feeling for a wideish ball, knicking an edge and steering it into the hands of a grateful gully. With Foord new to the crease, and Josh Lee walking out to join him, the Badgers were under some considerable pressure with score at 26 for 2.
One of the King’s Road fieldsmen asked his bowler to, “find out how good his (Lee’s) forward defensive is.” Some ten overs later they were left in no doubt, as Josh expertly deployed willow and pad in an unbreachable barrier and chipped away at the deficit with a controlled and composed innings.
Meanwhile, Foord took on the bowling scoring quickly with a range of powerful drives and well placed dabs. The pair soaked up pressure and moved the score forward and importantly, saw out the last of Glover’s overs. This accomplishment made Nick Foord’s dismissal, at the hands of Smalley’s tidy slow right arm bowling all the more painful, when he padded up to a ball that skidded on to hit pad in obstruction of the stumps.
New Skipper Jinks entered the fray with the score on 50 for 3, the Badgers in trouble and the King’s Road anticipating another top order wicket. It was not to be. Playing a captain's innings, admirably supported by the determined work of Lee, Jinks first assessed, then dominated the KRCSC Bowling. The first 6 of the game came midway through an impressive knock of 31 and a partnership of 64, which restored belief in the Badgers chase. If only temporarily...
Just as the Badgers could claim parity with the opposition, three wickets fell without a run being scored. Jinks (caught behind), his replacement Morse, walking on the thinnest of edges and Lee, his determined defiance coming to an end, prodding at the slow bowling of Sham.
With the score at 114 – 6, Warman (with Jinks as a runner) and Hirst were need to restore calm and stem the flow of wickets. Erring on the side of caution, the pair exemplified calmness, defending the good ball and allowing the (perhaps overconfident) bowlers to score their runs for them as extras. The score crept forward.
It was clear that Warman was not on top of his game, the ankle injury sustained whilst keeping making front foot play difficult. An obviously compromised shot caused his demise.
With the score now on 126 for 7, 64 runs short of the target, Bam-Bam joined Hirst at the crease, in what appeared to be a losing cause.
Despite setting intimidating close fields, Hirst steadfastly held up an end, pushing the ball through for runs and blocking effectively in support of Bam-Bam, much to the frustration of the KRCSC bowlers. Hirst’s wide bat effectively defended her wicket and a mixture of extras, pinched runs forged a partnership of 24 runs before she was forced into playing a good ball by the increasingly accurate Smalley caught by Raju.
With the score on 150 for 8, the Badgers still had 40 runs to find with only Barker and The Thorpedo left in the hutch. A nervous Barker joined Bam-Bam in the middle.
However, over by over, uncharacteristically conservative batting from both, saw the ninth wicket pair chip away at the deficit. The return of the KRCSC opening bowler, Jeremey, did not much deter the pair from their cautious accumulation and Bam-Bam’s ability to punish a bad ball to the boundary ensured that the Badgers kept in step with the required run rate.
With the equation set at 24 required from 24 balls, Bam-Bam produced the second 6 of the game, crucially from the first ball of Gilo’s over, bleeding the pressure from the batting side and piling it onto the KRCSC bowlers. The ability to bowl dots in the closing overs alluded everyone other than Smalley. Jeremy and Gilo both leaked runs in the closing stages and it fell to a joyful Barker to knock the winning runs, pulling a short ball through mid-wicket.