The sun was shining. We had a full team. The opposition were a friendly bunch. Blue skies, happy faces, green grass, the sound of leather on willow, isn't it.... what's not to like?
The 4s opened this season away to Finchley. We'd done the double on them last season, having beaten them by over 200 runs at our place and having won on the last ball with Headless proving that he can scamper 22 yards at pace when he needs to, even with those dodgy knees. But that was last year and a new season dawned.
We won the toss TCC opted to bat first, mainly because the sun was shining and new 4s cap, Matt O'Toole wanted us ideally to keep them out for 50 overs as it was meant to be getting warmer. The pitch was like a soft sprung mattress, with anything short just sitting up and saying "Hit me!". The ground also benefitted from very short boundaries. Matt opened with a newbie (Dilan Campbell). We got off to a solid start, before Tooley was pinned in front of leg stump and given out LBW by Taus (I have to say the umpiring was very fair throughout the game - we gave them 4 LBWs and they gave us one). 27-1. The FOWs was then 60-2, 72-3, 96-4, 100-5 and then 114-6. We then lost two more wickets for no more runs and it looked like we were going to struggle to put on a defendable total (~160 at this place, according to Vice Captain, Shakey) when Dilan Camball was also adjudged LBW. Dilan finished on 41 (1 x 6s, 5 x 4s), having batted very well on his debut for over 35 overs. Three more debutants - Shazum Butt, Nick McLellan and Ned Langlands-Pearce then all contributed some very useful runs. Nick added a a fluent 21 runs and, with the last 2 wickets adding 43 runs, runs which were to prove crucial later, TCC finished on 157 ao, with extras contributing 28 (one of their bowlers finishing with figures of 15.2-6-33-4).
In reply, they got off to the worst possible start as Ned on debut got a wicket with his very first ball in competitive cricket for TCC, the Finchley opener swishing at one outside off and Tooley taking an easy catch in his buckets. First ball duck! I think that's a platinum duck, right, if it's the very first ball of the innings? Their innings went from bad to worse quite quickly when Tauseef got the ball swinging from the other end. They were quickly 6-2 off 3, then 9-3, 22-4, 27-5, 33-6, 34-7 and then 40-8 and we hadn't even had drinks yet! One of these wickets involved Taus delivering a ball that swung more than someone attending a wife swapping party, bowling the Finchley batsman around his legs and clipping top of leg stump. It was a beautiful thing to behold Taus finished with 11-2-22-4 and Ned returned 10.1-2-12-5. A five-for on his debut! Great start! Well done, lad!
However, if we thought they were now going to rollover, their captain ('H') had other ideas and added 69 more runs with their beefy No 10 and after we finally got him out, they were 109-9. From that point, it was still precarious as their No 11 helped their captain to keep the board ticking over. I think we dropped at least four catches in the field during this period, so it wasn't as if we hadn't had chances to finish the game. A change of attack did the trick, though, as Ned with his very first ball of his second spell, got one to bend back in and uproot their captain's middle stump. Finchley finished 132ao, so we ended up winning by 25 runs. The best possible start to a new season. Let's keep it up and get us back up this season to the top tier!