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League cricket finally arrived back at Reading Room Lane Saturday, after missing a year through Covid disruption, and with no play in a May that has been wetter than an otters codpiece.

It was uncharted territory for the Machine making their debut at this level, and facing a confident looking Portsmouth & Southsea side that attempted to psyche out the Curdridge amateurs with a vigorous 'warm up' routine.

Rotation policy was again enforced with Alex, & Rob back into the side, Usman returning from his boy bands world tour, and Dave shipping in to provide some cricket directorship.

Win the toss skip and we will have a bowl. Predictably Skip came second at tossing, but then had to employ poker face to contain surprise as the opposition wanted to have a bat on a deck that was still drying out after the recent monsoons.

Del and Dave were the chosen bowlers with little between them on the speed gun.

Del kept it boring down the hill beating the bat at will and limiting scoring opportunities.

Dave kept it full and fast from the car park end and it took only three balls before the batsman sent the ball arrowing towards the boundary - or at least he would have done if we didn’t have a leaping Salmon in the gully. Alan with (big) cat like reflexes to take a worldie and send the opener back.

A new exciting feature for viewers at the lane is the action replay facility - Dave tested this out in the second over as the other opener sent the ball flying towards the boundary - but it was the same result as it was pouched by another leaping Salmon in a replica of the first dismissal. Take a bow Mr Bollard!

Next up was the opposition skipper who was dispatched courtesy of a leading edge to give Dave a simple caught and bowled.

14 for 3 was the score and the Machine hadn’t taken long to apply its infamous squeeze.

The opposition then gradually righted the ship so Dave was replaced with youth with Alex taking the reins.

It took approximately one ball for Alex to have an impact with a huge in-ducker that removed the poles and left the batsman in shock - Imagine Punters face when he realises the showers are broken and you have an idea of the level of disappointment!

Four became five with the next batsman only able to chip the ball to Usman at midwicket and we were well ahead on points.

Then came the recovery as the batsman sensibly rebuilt the inning and at drinks the scoreboard had ratted along to 77-5.

Spin was the chosen antidote and Jay got the breakthrough to open up one end, Luke then followed up with a couple more wickets, 

Another partnership was forming in the tail before a returning Dave and Sammy wrapped it up to leave the opposition all out for 122. 

Half time refreshments taken and a new opening partnership was tested with Luke and Usman confidently taking to the middle.

Solid starts at both ends, and a generous helping of extras yielded a fifty partnership before Usman just failed to clear mid-off and had to leave the proceedings.

Luke then played on in the next over and a hint of a wobble gave the Portsmouth boys a sniff that they may be able to claw their way back into the game.

Dave and Mr Not Out were now in the middle and played a sensible hand until drinks before some gentle off-spin gave them the opportunity to push the score on.

A few hefty biffs to the leg side boundary saw the required rate tumble and the machine cruised to victory with a full 15 overs left to bat.

It was an excellent all round performance from the Curdridge lads excelling in all aspects and completing a comprehensive victory that would have ruined most peoples acca’s. 

Man of the Match: Dave’s 3 wickets up front made the difference, and he backed it up with a couple of catches and an unbeaten 26 so he gets the prize.

Champagne Moment: Joint Winners this week - Mr Bollard’s portfolio of flying catches in a tie with Alex’s first ball stump demolition.

Donut of the Day: Andy P only has one job - to watch the ball and he failed miserably when a bullet from the outfield clattered into his chest - man down but soon recovered when medicated with Fosters.

Next week: we make the trip to Fareham to face their seconds at Bath Lane - 1pm start.

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