It has been a strange season in many ways! Firstly, we have had almost unbroken sunshine for the whole of the term which has made for hard and fast outfields, and pitches with a good carry and bounce – most unusual in Scotland, it must be said; secondly, as a batting unit, we have scored over 150 on numerous occasions which is rare in 25 over cricket; and thirdly, our bowling attack, which promised so much throughout the winter nets, did not quite function and too many loose balls relieved the pressure on the batsmen and runs came too easily considering the potential quality of our attack. All that said, it has, once again, been a hugely enjoyable summer of cricket, with a keen and hard working group of boys who have worked well together as a team, with no stand out individuals, but everyone working hard together. Good to see.
It is always nice to end the season in style, and what a game we had this afternoon played in very hot sunshine and very kindly hosted by Glenalmond College. It was a real treat to play on their 1stXI square and on a hard true surface, we would have hoped to have scored plenty of runs after winning the toss and choosing to bat. However, this did not materialise! Firstly, we were without the captain, Harry, who was playing for the Eastern Knights U14 representative side, and secondly, Ardvreck possessed a very useful bowling attack, led by a very tall and fast opening bowler who had destroyed a number of teams this season. We lost wickets at regular intervals, although kept the scoreboard ticking along through some excellent running between the wickets: Charlie and Findlay batted well before playing poor shots, and all we needed was the lower order to hang around with Todd, who batted superbly given the conditions. Unfortunately, despite being given lots of advice by Todd, the lower middle order threw their wickets away, and we limped to 71 all out in only the 16th over. Not a great batting performance if truth be told, and we have shown on numerous occasions this year that we are better than that. Picking up singles, rotating the strike and occupying the crease means runs will be scored, and in a low scoring match, every run is crucial.
In reply, we took a wicket second ball, as their opener edged an excellent ball from VJ and Todd did the rest behind the stumps. Interesting, but that brought their giant opening bowler in to bat who proceeded to crack his first ball to the boundary. Oh dear, the omens did not look good. Then the moment that changed the game. Marcus in to bowl, the other opener hit the ball hard but in the air straight at cover; VJ dropped the catch and the batsmen went for the run; VJ picked up and threw the ball to Todd who whipped off the bails and their captain, giant and star cricketer was run out. 7 for 2 and game on! Defending a low score, it is so important that the fielding is top drawer and today it was; everyone supported the bowlers and Ardvreck found run scoring very difficult indeed. Findlay, bowling his leg spin, bamboozled the batsmen, and when Marcus took a great catch close in at cover, it left them 46 for 6. 25 to win, and 4 wickets for us to get. The score crept up, balls fell agonisingly short of the fielders who were in close looking for the catch, and then William came on and bowled a superb 5 over spell of accurate left arm over seam bowlingl, taking two wickets and only conceding a handful of runs; it was a match winning performance if ever there was one! It was left to Rory to take the final wicket, with just five runs required by Ardvreck, and cue the celebrations! A richly deserved win, and one that showed the value of teamwork, determination and the effect of good, accurate bowling on nervous batsmen trying to reach a low target.
Huge congratulations to the whole team on what was an excellent fielding and bowling effort today. To win the final game of the season, without the skipper, says a lot about this group of boys. They have worked so hard all year with their rugby, hockey and cricket, and although results have not always gone their way, they have kept going and this ‘never say die’ attitude paid dividends today. Well played everyone!