CURDRIDGE vs SOLENT RANGERS 1's - 7th May 2022
Another fine day greeted the start of the league season and Curdridge took the trip to Farlington to face a Solent Rangers side who ended last season towards the top end of the ladder, and would provide a stern test for the newly formed Machine.
The first game of the season is notoriously difficult for availability and Skipper only had ten for most of the week having emptied his phone book searching for players - even the gardener and the window cleaner got a text to see if they were free.
A miracle arrived on Friday evening with Hari B being available and he stepped in the magnificent eleven.
It was a mixture of new and old (and very old - Del!), and there was definitely an emphasis on experience over youth. There was a season’s debut for Stu Hilman fresh from his stint on Broadway, as he was added to the normal faces.
Toss time, and Skipper has his first hat-trick of the season, losing three on the spin, and the Machine was asked to operate in the field.
Del and Stu, both well known swingers, opened up with the new ball and the burly openers immediate eyed them up as cannon fodder.
Del has seen it all before though, and he got one to pop sending the ball spiralling towards gully where Skipper started on a Punter-esque run, going completely the wrong way before a 180 and a burst of searing pace got him to the ball in time to grasp an early breakthrough.
At the other end the ball was hooping, and Stu snuck one through the number 3, via pad, ground, bat before spinning back to gently nudge back one of the bails.
Del then turned on the style with a wicket maiden, and we were off to a flyer with the Rangers floundering at 12 for 3.
By now Hilman’s pre match meal of Marlboro and a sausage roll had been burnt off, and he was starting to gas so Skipper swapped in Sammy at the top end whilst Del continued to be boring as he bowled out.
The scoreboard started to rattle along, as none of the Ranger boys were interested in nurdling, and boundaries were starting to flow as they raced past 60 in quick time.
Sammy stepped up and tempted the well set bat into an uppish drive - but it was destined to land no-where near a fielder - No hang on, there is a 17 stone rocket shooting across the turf with an outstretched paw that snaffled the ball an inch from the floor, Skipper with a technique last seen at the Xmas buffet when his mince pie was knocked to the floor!
Generously, as some of the masses hadn’t believed their eyes, then Skipper repeated the act a few overs later, clawing another one off the turf for his second hat-trick of the day, and to give Sammy another victim.
The Rangers still had a well set batsman, who was finding the boundary at will as he raced to 50 but Sammy eventually had his number and sent him back to arrest the scoring rate.
Mark then tagged in for Del and it took him a while to get into the game (4 balls to break through the defences) before another partnership started to build
Meanwhile Skipper replaced Sammy which was immediately found to be an error of judgement when he realised he was bowling into the gale.
The score had raced onto 146 and with 17 overs still left to bowl then the Machine was potentially facing a massive target.
Skipper snuck through a slower ball (yes I know they are all slow!), before Mark crucially removed the well set bat with one that went underground to trap him LBW.
Mission was completed as Mark got his third and the Rangers were dispatched for 171, with 12 overs still to be bowled.
Bring your own teas consumed, and Dom started up with Hari.
A fine partnership developed, with stoic defence from Hari blunting the new ball, and some classic drives from Dom combined with a generous dose of extras which saw the score race past 50.
Hari then got trapped in front by a good one, and Skipper made his way to the middle.
Fresh from a 100 partnership the previous week the instructions were straightforwards - ’Same as last week!’
And it was a case of deja vu, as Skipper blocked up one end, taking the runs when they came, and Dom mixed sensible stuff with some crashes all round the park.
There were a few overs where the Machine got beached as it faced quality bowling at both ends, before a change of bowling released the shackles.
Dom raced past fifty but there was still a job to be done and Skipper even started to find the boundary as the Ranger’s heads started to drop.
The foot was kept to the floor as we had explicit orders to be done by six to allow the scorers to be in the Wine Bar early doors!
Milestones were on the horizon, and another hundred partnership was secured before the coup de gras was delivered as Dom made his way to three figures - well batted Sir.
An awesome opening day performance was completed as the Quincey - Leigh partnership remained unbeaten at 119 and the target was reached for the loss of a solitary wicket.
We have had worse days, and we should enjoy the good ones and this was definitely one of them with Curdridge standing proud at the top of the table after week one - top effort all round lads!
Next week: Home 1pm vs Portsmouth & Southsea - all welcome at the lane!
Man of the Match: Skipper had another good day, and Mark and Sammy picked up 3 wickets each, but it is not every week we have a centurion at Curdridge - take a bow Dom!
Champagne Moment: Skipper with his mince pie grab at cover makes the best claim for the bubbles
Donut of the Day: Not often I can say this but with a top class display from all, there were no worthy contenders for the donuts, so its a roll-over next week!