Another week, another picturesque ground.
One of the reasons it would be nice to stay up this year is that Division 2 does have more than its fair share of attractive grounds. Bradenham was looking its best for our visit and we arrived full of the vigour that an unprecedented two match winning run brings. Unfortunately the King was absent but Billers was back as a more than adequate replacement. We also had Ben Shearing and Ed B to shore up the batting as well as Alex L whose heroics the previous week kept him in the side.
On a swelteringly hot day we were relieved and a surprised to be put in. The wicket looked good and we felt we could go big given a decent start. Alex and Jessy opened and Alex started as fluently as ever before being bowled round his legs. Ben, requiring a short sleeve to keep him warm, came in at 3 and soon settled down. After Jessy went, bowled driving a good length ball ( pictured), Ben and Alex fashioned the first large partnership of the day and picked up runs without fuss. Ben was particularly severe on anything over pitched and Alex scored all round the wicket. It was a surprise when Alex holed out at long on but this did not instantly slow our progress as Davey came in and also looked untroubled against the Bradenham first and second change attack.
Indeed this partnership turned out to be the largest of the day taking us from 72 to 153. As it progressed and the scoring accelerated, we looked to be onto a very high score. Given the wicket was unpredictable, with the odd ball steepling off a length from the pavilion end and keeping low from the other end, things looked promising. Bradenham played their part and looked increasingly ragged in the blistering sun. However, as is typical for us, we then lost 2 crucial wickets at a key point, with Davey LBW off a full toss and Ben caught at mid off. 153 for 3, with 11 overs to go and 2 settled batsmen, became 161 for 5 and the game was turned on its head.
It was thanks to Jack that we eventually reached 209. He crunched 2 huge sixes and a couple of fours in a quick fire 32 while batsmen at the other end struggled to get hold of it. At tea, given the wicket, we felt this was more than enough.
However the first 10 overs of the Bradenham innings were a game changer. Unfortunately Nathan and Sonny were off colour and the hosts, with the benefit of a pinch hitter chancing his arm, were 70 for 0 after 10. We were never able to claw ourselves back from this start. Alex and Goon bowled well, going at 3 an over, but there was nobody else on the day who bowled with sufficient control. We did manage 8 wickets but the scoreline flattered what was really a pretty poor bowling performance.
The dressing room was pretty deflated afterwards as this was surely a winnable game. However there are still plenty of weeks to put right what went wrong today.