Old Cranleighans 261 (A.Cope 89, H H O Cheal 4-51); Pilgrims 160 (F E Taylor 41, S Waters 4-10). Lost by 101 runs.

The heatwave of the preceding two weeks had left the Upper with an extremely dry wicket and fast outfield. Our opponents had no hesitation in electing to bat upon winning the toss. The general feeling was that a score approaching 300 would be on the cards so it was a good effort to limit the opposition for 261, although the concession of 25 wides was unhelpful. Humphrey Gibbs with his gentle medium pace bowled tidily in his opening spell, conceding just 21 runs in his first five overs.

James Vitali coming on first change at the top end continued to keep the pressure up but whenever the ball penetrated the field it almost invariably sped to the boundary and so the opposition moved to 95 for two after 20 overs without too much alarm. By the 32nd over they were 162 for two but on Gibbs clean bowling Dahl, their young No 3, they began to lose wickets, mainly to Cheal who was achieving movement in the air and off the wicket. Theo Cooke posed problems with his off-cutters and Vitali put in a particularly good spell in the last ten overs. In testing conditions against batsmen bent on accelerating the run rate our out fielding remained of a high order. It was a challenging target but at a run rate of 5.22 per over, we had a real chance.

We started badly by immediately losing two wickets for 1 run. Ferg Taylor then struck some powerful blows on his way to a muscular 41 but he holed out to leave us 69 for three in the 13th over. At 87 for four in the 19th over we were close to the required run rate but with the top order gone, the wicket beginning to offer more turn and the opposition’s spinners bowling with commendable skill, scoring became difficult so the runs dried up and we collapsed to 112 for eight by the 27th over. 

A ninth-wicket stand between Vitali and Gibbs took the score to 152 for eight before the innings ended after 38.1 overs at 160. With a good set of spinners Cranleigh were well equipped to take advantage of winning the toss and having the use of an increasingly helpful wicket. If we were to have mounted a real challenge one of our top four batsmen needed to have played a pathfinding innings to set up a chase in the final 15 overs but nobody ever got established, despite both Cheal and Esson getting starts.  

We are a relatively young side who played with great enthusiasm and spirit against one of the top sides in the competition but it is essential that we significantly improve the consistency of our run scoring in the top order and cut down on the level of extras we give to the other side: it could easily be the difference between winning and losing. Playing regular cricket is vital as the standard of cricket in this competition demands consistent accuracy of bowling and the ability to regularly score runs under pressure, neither of which can come without practice. We have the talent and with proper organisation and commitment we can mount a strong challenge in the years to come.