Clayesmore Cormorants 235-9 (F.E Taylor 4-50);Pilgrims 209 (F.E.Taylor 100, E.Whiting 27).Lost by 26 runs.

Somewhat downbeat by the previous night’s football yet full of confidence from victory against Bryanston, we made our way to Iwerne Minster . We hadn’t lost to Clayesmore since 2013 but, having inspected the pitch, which was somewhat difficult to discern from the rest of the square, we knew that it would not be an easy day of cricket, especially with bat in hand. Fergus Taylor won the toss and, because of a weakened bowling attack and not wanting to be in a position where we needed to bowl Clayesmore out to win with this aforementioned attack, elected to bowl first. This would have been sound logic but for the fact that the surface was so poor that getting 10 wickets was all but guaranteed and thus, retrospectively, it would probably have been better to bat first.

 

It was a frustrating start for us with the ball. Although Andrew Nurton (1-31), who once again bowled with exceptional control, picked up one of their openers in his fourth over, the cricket gods were very much on Clayesmore’s side, as the other opening batsman managed to chip the ball with almost comical precision into the smallest gaps in the field in hitting a chanceful 46. This poor start was compounded by James Hague’s appalling drop of their professional player (Clayesmore’s head of cricket) on 22. Thus, Clayesmore at 66-1 from 12 overs were going well and in a strong position. Fergus Taylor, (4-50) and Mark Hancock wrestled the game back in our favour, with the former picking up four wickets from his 11 overs to leave Clayesmore 166-7 from 33 overs at lunch. Following a truly outstanding lunch (indeed lunch was extended in order to enable all to tuck in sufficiently), Clayesmore came out ‘swinging from the hip’. As a result of some good ball striking and a fair slice of fortune, we were not able to mop up the Clayesmore tail with the Cormorants declaring on 235-9 from 45 overs. On a regular deck chasing 235 in roughly 50 overs would have presented itself as a patently achievable task, yet on the deck we were playing on, it was a very competitive total and would require some serious application to surpass.

We chase started uncharacteristically well with Elliot Whiting and Jono Franke, who had been promoted to opening as a result of averaging less than 5 throughout the Week, building a solid partnership  toleave us at 49-0 from 8 overs. Franke was caught on 28, bringing Taylor to the crease at three, who, after building a strong 50 run partnership with Whiting, ran his partner out for 27, his highest total to date on the Week.Hague, Guppy, and Harden all then came and went quickly , registering just 8 runs between them. Taylor reached his hundred in the thirty-seventh over before being bowled by a ball that stuck in the pitch to leave the Pilgrims 208-9. Unfortunately number eleven Hancock was dismissed the following over to leave us 26 runs short. The team showed a good deal of spirit to tough out an awful pitch upon which balls reared off a length and half-trackers whistled passed one’s toes but it wasn’t to be. Batting first with a more cavalier approach – in the sense that, no matter how watchful you were, a ball had your name on it – might have rendered a different result for us. We will lick our wounds and hopefully get back to winning ways against Clayesmore at home on the Upper next year.