Overcast skies, wind and showers met Grammar at Countesswells for the Victory Shield match against traditional rivals Gordonians. Format to be 40 overs with 8 overs max per bowler. Showers quickly went and we even got some warm sun for our fielding.
First time Grammar captain won the toss and the easiest decision was his as we only had five players at that point. Batting first in bowling-friendly conditions was not ideal but as a friendly match with a competitive edge, at least it would buy us some time for the other 3 to turn up. With 11 at the start, he would have surely bowled first.John Lord and Norwood took up the challenge of opening and it was soon clear that the ball was moving both in the air and seaming on the artificial wicket. It wasn’t until the 4th over that a scoring shot was made via a lovely drive beating the cover fielder for four.
Norwood continued to provide the scoring until the 8th over when Lord pushed a magnificent drive back past the bowler for four. That got the partnership flowing better with good strike rotation and a few boundaries in front of square. In the 13th over with the score on 43-0, Norwood looked to go big to a ball that gripped enough to take a big edged skier caught with ease at mid-on.
Swiergon, suitably armed with a hangover, came out looking to be positive but struggled to get his timing, holing out to mid-off for 3. Steinson and Lord then set about a 50 partnership with Lord continuing to rotate the strike to marvel at the ease Eddie was making batting look. Steinson hit the ball all over the park to end on 49 n/o at the break.
During the delayed drinks break, thinking that a decent platform of 134-2 had been laid, Norwood requested Lord to retire to give others a shot at the last ten overs. Following the break Farhan had the first of his 2 innings that came to a comprehensive end uprooting the stumps on the 2nd ball for a quacker.
In between Steinson got his 50 (again) off an easy single that went unnoticed by the crowd due to a calculation error by Stuart resulting in a premature round of applause before the break.
Then as Stuart came out, a superb Steinson innings that included 6x6s and 8x4s came to a champagne moment end when he tried to ramp Mattie over the keeper only to hear the fatal death rattle of the tumbling stumps for 79. Mapplebeck into the fray for Stuart to mistime one back to the bowler for a C+B for Mattie for 4 runs.
Poolman faired worse when a quick delivery from Rani ended his innings for a duck. With Lord showing no interest in padding up again, the opposition captain graciously permitted Farhan a second bite but a similar fate awaited. After some uneasy forward defences, an angled bat defensive shot saw the ball trickle back and dislodge one bail stranding the competent looking Mapplebeck on 3.
Albeit with only nine men, it was disappointing to watch as we slumped from 134-2 after 30 to 179-ao in the 34th.
After a ridiculously long tea, Gordos started their reply as if they had dates to go to, taking particular fancy to a tight line and length by both Mapplebeck and Farhan.
Ironically the 1st ball of Farhan’s 2nd over was a rank full toss that Khosla played a poor cross-batted shot and missed by a mile. Standing there expecting a no ball to be called until it was pointed out that the ball hit middle stump half way up!
Unfortunately that was as good as it got for the fielding side. Skipper Pandit and Ahmed took on all bowling with equal disdain leading to one or two heated exchanges by long suffering bowlers, knocking up a partnership of 155 to win in the 18th over.
The only real chances were a few boundary catch opportunities missed by Stuart in the sun and an almost miraculous caught & bowled by Steinson. In fairness to all bowlers, the batsmen hit good balls for six and didn’t fail to punish just slightly off line or length deliveries.
Taking positives from the game, the bowling was generally very good with Qasim accurate and Harry bowling fast and straight. Gary looks in good rhythm and Chris looks promising with his leggies. Rob and Eddie also bowled well.
John, Paul and Eddie got useful time at the crease and everyone got to blow some winter cobwebs away. There are better keepers than Norwood but he won his personal dual with the opposition keeper with a 5-12 byes victory.