Saturday saw a top of the table clash with Osterley. At the start of the game, they were 2nd and we were 3rd, so this was effectively a 20 pointer!
This was unfortunately yet another week where player availability proved to be an issue. We must have made at least a dozen changes from the teamsheet that was originally sent out. In any case, by Friday night all 4 teams had 11 players, but this was quickly to change as one of the 1st team had to drop out which had a knock on effect on the teams below. Luckily for the 4s, Frank Davis dusted off his whites and cried on, so we started the game with 11.
The opposition arrived at moreorless the same time as the rain, so our start was delayed by 40 minutes. Matt O'Toole lost the toss yet again and we were understandably asked to bat. Matt again opened, this time with young Joe Woodcock. We got off to a fairly solid start, despite losing Joe early. When Matt was also out for 37, trying to pull one that kept a bit low, we were 69-3. Not ideal. If we were going to post a competitive total (200+), then someone else needed to contribute a decent double figure score. Unfortunately, Glenn Armstrong, Tim's father was the only one to do so, although Frank contributed a useful 16 late on. Glenn, managed to get his Australian brain around how to play on an English wicket and flicked and thumped the ball to the boundary. He ended up top scoring with 43 as we finished on 157ao.
Matt had been complaining to anyone who would listen how the game had already cost him £60 in new keeping gloves as he'd managed to drop one, getting on the bus on the way to the ground, so sporting a brand spanking new pair of white gloves, we started with Taus bowling his away swingers from the top end. Taus toiled away to his credit and ended up taking 4 wickets, but the opposition always looked quite comfortable in trying to chase 158 with 50 overs. One of their kids, batting at Number 4 with an undersize bat, managed to accrue 51 not out during an innings in which he only really gave us two difficult chances to get him out. Their opener put on 73 before he was brilliantly caught by Joe Woodcock with a superman-style one-handed mid-flight right handed take. If we thought at the time we wouldn't see a better catch, he only proceeded to repeat the trick later on. It was just a shame no-one managed to capture those two efforts on film as they were truly special moments. He also bowled a bit of off spin later on and managed to pick up a wicket, with Faz taking the catch right in front of his er, groinal area. Matt tried rotating the bowling options, but as I say, they always looked quite happy to tick along slowly towards their total. Matt took off his pads and had a quick bowl (still wearing a box, as their umpire refused to hold it for him) towards the end, but their young kid scrambled only a quick single off it to get to his 50 (the Osterley batsman at the other end had been selflessly blocking out over after over to give the kid a chance to get to his 50, before they won the game - their umpire was also steadfastly - and rather farcically - refusing to signal wides, despite the ball being bowled almost on the next strip.)
So we ended up losing by 5 wickets as they chased down the total in 40 overs. Ideally, we could have done with another 50 runs or so on the board.
So we're 1/2 way through the season and currently sit at 4th in the table. Hampstead and Osterley are both around 30 points ahead of us, so catching them is going to take some doing. We certainly need to win both return fixtures against those two, probably win most, if not all, the other remaining games and hope they both drop some points here and there to enable us to catch up and have a chance of getting promoted. Well, we'll see. Next week we're playing Finchley who are second bottom, so we should hopefully pick up 10 points there.