On Saturday, the 3rd XI played a home game against Hitchin IV’s in sweltering heat on the front pitch. The plan was to put the rope boundary out but after most of the team spent half an hour trying to unknot it, this was abandoned in favour of flags. As it turns out, it took several hours to eventually dismantle the frame entirely and take all the rope off, thanks to Pryank, Graham Leggett, some tools and plenty of patience and endeavour. In the meantime, Phil Smith managed to win a toss for once and chose to bat first through the hottest part of the day.
Piers Jenkins and Phil Smith opened the batting together for the 5th time this season, with Phil making 50+ on the last 3 occasions. They made a steady start and saw off the opening bowlers, scoring at 4 an over, before the first change bowlers tightened it up. Piers was caught at mid-off in the 15th over with the score at 48. A boundary was still yet to be hit when Sanket Shah came to the crease at No.3. In the next 17 overs, the 3s would score 138 runs, at a rate of more than 8 an over. Sanket hit a quick 44 off 30 balls to lift the score to 125-2 off 24 overs. After reaching his 50 in the 25th over, skipper Phil Smith motored on, at one point hitting 3 boundaries in a row and he even managed to hit a 6!(His first in the league this season in his 444 runs so far! - You may be able to tell this is being written by Tommy…) The score was 190-3 with 7 overs remaining and Smudger was on 85*. A first league century for the skipper in many, many years was on the cards. Unfortunately, some good length bowling from a returning opening bowler joined enough dots to entice him into a big drive, which was skied straight up in the air and he was well caught at mid on. Small cameos took the score to 208-4 after 37 overs and in typical village fashion, the 3s finished on 216-9 after 40. Overall, a 200+ score was very pleasing and looked very defendable.
The opening bowlers made a good start with Karan Gupta bowling an incredible spell that included 33 dots and 2 wickets in his first 36 balls. After the No.4 bat was out caught, the score was 28-3 after 12 overs. The remaining opener and the No.5 led the rebuilding effort to try and get somewhere close to the 217 target. These two shared a 70 run partnership before the opener was caught in the 29th over on...just 23!
It is probably fair to say that the opener left them with no real hope of winning the game. Although, the No.5 bat then also shared a pretty quick 73 run partnership with the Hitchin captain, batting at No.7, to give them an outside chance. The closest it got, was when Hitchin required 60 runs to win off the last 6 overs, with 5 wickets in hand but Karan Gupta then came back to close the deal. He ran out the skipper and then bowled out the No.5, who had reached a very creditable 88. The visitors finished on 184-8 giving another win to the 3s, by 32 runs.
Unusually, this game was won with the bat with a fine knock from the 3s skipper and a healthy contribution from Sanket Shah. Aside from Karan Gupta who finished with tremendous figures of 3-5 off his 8 overs, the bowling wasn’t at its best. Several of the bowlers took a few overs to settle in, with 4 of the 7 bowlers used going for too many runs in their first couple of overs. A few dropped catches were part of a general lacklustre fielding performance, perhaps as a result of believing the game was already won. Nevertheless, a victory was secured in relative comfort and we move on to the next game at home to Stevenage Vs, where the 3rd XI can guarantee promotion with a win. Up the 3s!