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CURDRIDGE vs KNOWLE - 12th May 2024

Call it a miracle, or perhaps a gift from the gods, and no I am not talking about Del Candy rolling out for his 643rd consecutive season for Curdridge.


The Bowl of Dreams, which last week resembled something from the Somme, was a picture perfect venue for the opening league game of the season. So much credit and thanks go to Messers Hillier, Fields, Cozens and Bollard for the volume of hours given up over the past few weeks for producing a venue fit for cricket when recent weather would have made water polo a more suitable pastime.


After weeks of anticipation, and a selection meeting that involved post-its on a wall such are the riches that Skipper now has at his disposal, there were eleven fine Curdridge athletes assembled, raring to get the cricket out of the way so we could have a good beer and catch up.


We welcomed a debutant in Tom M, but that aside, it was familiar faces all round as we assembled, and welcomed the visitors, Knowle Village, who had handed us a bit of a lesson last season (caveated that it was the week Skipper was on holiday and Sammy G took the reigns).


Speaking of familiarity, it was the same old feeling at the toss as the coin went up and Skipper returned to the shed with the good news that we were going to have 40 overs stood fielding in the heat. ‘Statistical anomaly’ was one of the kinder insults that came my way.

If it ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it, so Del Candy started his metronome down the hill, and tied the batsman down. At the other end Punter was given the new ball following a fine showing in the winter nets. 


It was an even game early doors as the Knowle batsmen didn’t get away, but kept wickets intact, until skipper made the change and Sammy claimed a victim three balls into his season.


Del then swooped in his final over, inducing an edge that Craig snaffled at slip, with reflexes only employed when there is risk of a Pukka Pie falling to the floor.


At drinks it was honours even with the Knowle lads sitting at 72-2, so Dom decided he would change the game by bowling a no ball first up, and the replacement ball then serving up a 6 to give the scoreboard some acceleration. He then further enhanced his contribution by waving the ball over his head as it lobbed up ‘into the sun’ when a simple catch seemed the natural outcome.


Sammy completed a tidy spell with spin twin Rob sending down some nice tweaks but the scoreboard was beginning to motor, and the Machine needed to apply some breaks.

Welcome to the stage young Mark Acaster, fresh from his round the world voyage stalking Taylor Swift, and he rolled back the years with a series of unplayable deliveries, with one wicket following another as he weaved his magic. Dom then made up for his earlier escapades by ripping out the stumps of the well set Knowle batsman, and then Mark did for the rest as he rattled through the tail, ending with figures of 5-24, well bowled sir!


A Del Candy special was served at tea, setting the standard for the season, and the target was set at 193 as Dom and Rob took to the middle.


What followed was like one of Punters odd dreams as everything went to plan for the first 20 overs and the Machine steadily accumulated runs without losing wickets. At drinks the score was 99 without loss and a century partnership soon followed before Rob left for an excellent 42.


Dom and Skipper then pushed on (mainly Dom), and another 50 runs were added to take us to 150-1, and surely the victory was in sight.


Unfortunately though we have seen this movie before, and the Curdridge wobble appeared. Skipper playing on, followed by Alan and Craig departing, and then Dom finally succumbed for an awesome 85 - well batter sir!


Suddenly the run rate was rising with 33 needed off 7 but with the Knowle opening bowlers back, the game was very much in the balance.


Step forward Mike Punt, who stood at the other end whilst Jack put everyones nerves at rest by crashing the ball to all parts with a quick fire 30 off 12 balls which put a very close game beyond doubt and the Machine opened the season with a fantastic win!

Credit to all involved, a real team effort that sets the standard for the season!!!

Man of the Match: Most people were contenders this week, Jack had a great day behind the stumps, and biffing to get us over the line, Dom rolled back the years with his 85 runs, Rob was his usual awesome self in the field, bowled well and delivered an excellent 42 runs, but the man who laid the platform was Mark Acaster, with 5-24 he takes the award this week.

Champagne Moment: A few contenders, a sharp run out from Jack, some good catches in the field, but Dom takes it for a 6 over long off that wouldn’t look out of place in an IPL highlights reel.

Donut of the day: There was an incident involving sight screens and Rob, but as Skipper didn’t witness it, this weeks award does to Dom for ‘losing it in the sun’, fortunately he more than made up for it with the bat. Credit also given to Punter for not being on the boundary when the ball sailed over his head, and landed 5 foot inside the rope.

Next week: Short trip to Botley Rec to face Fair Oak for a top of the table clash! - 1pm start

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