Thirds Refuse To Hand In The Towel
Wellington's 3rd team found Condover too hot to handle in their league opener - but clung on to earn a draw.
On an unsettled day, the captains agreed to reduce the game to 35 overs per side to ensure the best chance of a result. Within minutes of the scheduled start the rain duly came down; but it soon cleared and – although it remained bitterly cold with strong winds throughout – the rest of the match was unaffected by the weather.
Not so Sam Topper, who appeared strangely put out by the conditions. So much so, in fact, that when umpire Stuart Green asked him to run to his bag to fetch a rag to help keep the ball dry, the youngster returned with a hotel-sized bath towel. In fairness, whilst young Topper might be a little wet-behind-the-ears from time to time, his bowling thankfully isn’t. His spell of 10 overs, 1-31, was the stand-out performance of the day and deserved greater reward.
Stand-in skipper David Ross was delighted to win the toss and bowl first - always an advantage in reduced-overs games. Ben Pilkington shared the new ball with Sam to good effect in the opening 10 overs; and the latter in particular made it hard going for the Condover openers. Nevertheless the wickets were not forthcoming in this opening period, which meant that at drinks the home side had a good base to build on with all ten wickets still in hand.
Wellington’s performance dropped in the second half of the innings, particularly in the ground-fielding and catching departments. Condover’s total of 164-5 could have been significantly lower had it not been for a flurry of dropped catches and sloppy misfields. Nevertheless, the innings of Condover’s opener, James Upton, who hit 82, was a lesson to his Wellington counterparts that batting at this stage of the season takes graft and patience early on in the innings – with the benefits to be reaped later on.
Wellington lost opener Corey Kernick early in their reply. However, for a time, a promising partnership between Ian Murphy (32) and Bruce Harris (19) began to kindle faint hopes of victory amongst the visitors. In particular, Murph looked in fine nick, following up from his strong showing in last week’s friendly against Reman.
But then four quick wickets – two either side of the drinks break – changed the complexion of the game, shifting Wellington’s attention towards salvaging a credible draw for their efforts. Henry Davies (9*) and Alex Harris (14) adjusted well to this new task, continuing to rotate the strike, and navigate their team into the draw points with some accomplished strokes – to the frustration of the Condover bowlers.
It was a difficult start for Wellington against a Condover side relegated from Division One last term. Certain aspects of our performance – both with bat and ball – were ragged and will require improvement in the weeks to come; however, the team showed a lot of character, particularly youngsters, Topper, Davies and Harris, and that must serve as a positive.
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