Murray hoping for less stress
SIDMOUTH Cricket Club captain Will Murray rode the emotional roller coaster as his side edged a one-wicket win over champions North Devon in the opening Francis Clark Devon Premier League match of the season.
After seeing last pair Nick Gingell and Miles Dalton take the side from the edge of defeat to the brink of victory chasing 161, Murray’s heart sank when the latter toppled out of his crease and the North Devon wicketkeeper knocked the bails off.
To most on the ground, including the square leg umpire, Dalton was out stumped, but then it was noticed the wicketkeeper did not have the ball in his hand at the crucial moment. Dalton was reprieved and Man of the Match Gingell swotted a six to take the Fort Field side to a victory.
Murray’s full account of how he saw the match swing from one side to the other is at www.sidmouthcricketclub.co.uk.
To whet the appetite, here are some extracts.
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“I won the toss and elected to bowl but Josh Bess and Will Gater struggled to find any real rhythm and consistency, a sign of the limited grooving time from the lack of pre-season overs. Gater got a ball to bounce at opener Matt Westaway, which struck the shoulder of the bat and ballooned to Miles Dalton at gully. This early success was shortlived as some loose bowling got punished and North Devon raced to 66-1 off 11 overs.
“At 77-1 after 13 overs North Devon would have been eyeing up a total of 200 but luckily myself and Dalton managed to find more consistency in our bowling areas and the scoring rate dropped quickly.
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North Devon were forced to consolidate after losing three wickets for 16 runs in 10 overs and when they tried to accelerate in the closing overs wickets tumbled. Some rusty fielding and dropped catches enabled North Devon to reach 160-9 off their 50 overs. I was very pleased with the fightback in the middle overs but we let the top order get away to a good start and fed them too much width with the ball. The total included 26 extras and we were chasing approximately 40 runs more than we should have been.
“We discussed the threat of Glen Querl and hoped to keep him out and score the majority of the runs at the other end. Openers Anthony Griffiths and Josh Bess left what they could but were drawn into playing and missing by the exceptional areas Querl was bowling.
“Querl got a little greedy with an away swinger, starting it slightly too straight, and Bess picked him up off leg stump and over the square leg boundary for six. The players’ balcony joy was shortlived as Bess didn’t quite manage to get his head over a straightish delivery and was caught sharply at mid-on. Luke Bess and Pete Randerson both followed quickly, lbw to Querl, to leave us at 10-3. Gater briefly stopped the rot with Griffiths and recovered the score to 32-3 until he was bowled by Querl.
“Zak Bess and Sam Anderson were bowled in quick succession by Querl to leave Sidmouth at 40-6.
“Griffiths, in his mentally tough focused and obdurate way, had made his way to 27 when his focus lapsed and he was out to medium pacer Westaway. At 59-7, reaching 161 was now a massive ask. Fortune leant our way when the North Devon captain decided to keep three of Querl’s 10 overs back.
“With Gingell and Cooke at the crease there was still a slim chance. This pair had to do the majority of the work and, by the way, they were batting they knew it. Although they only faced a handful of deliveries from Querl between them, the pressure of the situation was such that any mistake could cost us the game.
“Spinners Rob Gear and Matt Dart did their best to force a false shot but the pair responded to every test and their naturally positive mindset meant runs were coming fast. With drinks only an over away and the score 114-7 things looked hopeful, but hopes were dented when Cooke was bowled for 31.
“Cooke and Gingell had put on 55 and now I had to go out to the middle. As always, I was ridiculously nervous walking through the pavilion. Pressure is an amazing thing. Although the bowling wasn’t hugely testing, the situation was. I managed to get away a few boundaries as did Gingell at the other end. With every run came more hope but also the prospect of disappointment if we couldn’t quite get there. I was caught at slip and my heart sunk. The score was 130-9 as I walked off. Still 31 needed to win.
“I knew there was still a chance. However, with one wicket in hand, 31 runs to win and two Querl overs remaining, surely North Devon were favourites.
“Querl steamed in and gave Miles Dalton everything he had but the batsman blocked and left judiciously. Westaway bowled length to Gingell who characteristically got the left leg out the way and deposited the ball on to the Fortfield Terrace, followed by two fours and a single.
“From the Belmont End, Querl bowled a rare bouncer at Gingell who was probably half waiting for one and he pumped it flat behind square for four. Querl’s spell was over and with six runs to win Dalton was on strike and facing the off spin of Rob Gear.
“On the penultimate ball of the over Dalton attempted to defend, the ball spun and the batsman toppled over. The bails get whipped off by the ‘keeper and as the umpire’s finger goes up my heart sinks.
“But wait, the keeper didn’t have the ball in his gloves and Dalton is still in. He blocks the last and it is now up to Gingell to finish off the game which he does in style by lifting a six over mid wicket.
“The game was won, a terrific achievement in the circumstances but I stated to the team that we mustn’t let the result mask key shortfalls that almost cost us the game. Tomorrow we travel to Sandford but I have no nails left to bite if it’s that tense again.”