They say that everything comes to those who wait.
Match Report by Martin Fears
The fours waited and waited and waited at Wem on Saturday for the ground to become fit for play, but the wait eventually proved worthwhile as Wem were swept aside with another convincing victory.
Initially the match was scheduled for 50 overs and a noon start but heavy overnight rain and continuing showers through the morning meant the ground was unfit for play at noon. The groundsman's initial estimate was 1pm, but even without further rainfall, at 12:45 the other cut wickets on the square had not drained or dried sufficiently and fielding was deemed unsafe. Captains and Umpires agreed to inspect again at 1:15pm. At the reinspection the audible "squelch" had become less so on the problem areas and so it was agreed we should commence at 1:45pm, an hour and 45 minutes late. The umpires consulted their league handbooks and declared the contest would be reduced to 35 overs per side. This made the toss all the more important and once Sean Astley had the coin airborne stand-in skipper Martin Fears deployed the tried and tested: tails never fails, except in Wales, call. Sure enough, Queenie was nowhere to be seen so Wem got to bat first.
Naz Akhtar, returning from a back injury, and Ben Keeble shared the new ball and it didn't take long for them to get stuck in. Naz struck twice in the 5th over and Keebs responded with a wicket maiden. It was evident at this early stage that the track was very bowler friendly and batters would need to dig deep and graft if half-decent runs were to be made. With the exception of Mark Ellis (13) none of the Wem batters we able to come to terms with the wicket and / or the superb Wellington bowling attack. Debutant Ryan Lloyd was introduced for the 14th over and served up a mean spell of 2-11 from his age-restricted 5 overs. Meanwhile Naz continued to collect scalps from the other end to finish with 5-24 from his maximum permitted 11 overs. Lewis Gough replaced Naz and started his spell with a wicket maiden to have Wem reeling at 45 for 9. Ewan Griffiths replaced Ryan and halfway through his 2nd over Wem's last pairing took on a suicidal single to Keebs at mid-on who simply lobbed the ball back to keeper Alan Denver to complete the run out. Wem 64 all out in just 25.3 overs - best fielding performance for the fours this season and hugely disappointing for those Wellington bowlers who did not get much / any opportunity to perform - team game lads .....
The Wellington reply started with a wobble, in the very first over, Richard Benting's 33 innings run without a duck was broken and soon after Matt Denver (5) was on the long hike back to the pavvy. However, Corey Kernick (28*) was batting with great maturity on what was now a very tricky wicket. Alan Denver (12) also dug in until a shooter had him adjudged LBW by the Wem umpire, incorrectly we were all told, shortly before bat, helmet & gloves entered dressing room orbit. Would hot-spot have saved Alan by illuminating his inside edge? We shall never know. Big Bruce (11) entered the fray and delivered a few lusty blows that took the fours past their lowly target inside 20 overs for the loss of just 3 wickets.
Disappointing in some respects that the Wellington players had travelled away, hung around for the best part of 3 hours [did we do a warm up?], only to run out winners at a canter without hardly breaking sweat. Not much of a game for most of the players then, more a waiting game. Still, not our fault that Wem were so under strength. I'm sure the last 3 remaining fixtures will present sterner tests as we face 3rd, 2nd and 1st in the league; Reman, Newport and Ludlow respectively. The win at Wem takes the fours to mathematical league safety and in so doing achieves the key team objective of survival in this division for 2013.
Umpire Colin Young was to be particularly annoyed by the delayed start since this gave the opportunity for a disgruntled Wem wasp to demonstrate that it had a sting in its tail. Totally unprovoked, we were told, but perhaps Colin had given the wasp out dubiously in its previous life? We best all hope AD doesn't end up as a wasp in the afterlife, could get very uncomfortable for umpires everywhere .....