The 4th Team juggernaut rolled on this weekend at Loughborough Outwoods 2 with an impressive 24 point maximum haul, maintaining their unbeaten record for the season.
News arrived shortly after the close of play to confirm that nearest title challengers Ashby Hastings had been beaten, meaning that the Division 8 title was secured with 2 games still to play, continuing the end of season silverware haul for the club.
On one of the hottest days of the year, and on one of the flattest wickets the skipper lost a rare toss and looked forward to 3 hours of toil in the sunshine. The team showed 2 changes from the previous week with Ravi Tank returning and Mahang Patel making his senior debut in place of Harry Miller (3rd Team call up) and Jack Allen (Working on LPGA Golf Tour).
Tight opening spells from Elliot Lodge and Harrison Norton kept runs in short supply but the first wicket was proving elusive and it was clear that the young bowling attack would need to be patient and work hard for chances. Norton eventually delivered an absolute beauty to dismiss one of the openers with a fast swinging yorker in the final over of his first spell. Lodge continued to bowl tightly but without reward and the first changes saw the returning Tank and the increasingly confident Carson come into the attack. RAvi bowled beautifully and went for only 6 runs in his 6 over spell…..frustrating the usually fluent openers by beating the outside edge time and time again….at halfway Outwoods were 65-1 on an absolute road and we knew that they would have to take chances as 200 looked an absolute minimum score to remain competitive.
Carson bowled beautifully and picked up a couple of quick wickets as the pressure started to tell on the batters, but skippers inspired decision to turn to young Mahang proved key with the youngster bowling beautifully and showing no sign of nerves to collect 2 wickets and solicit a run out as the struggle for runs continued.
The return of the quicks in Elliot, Norton and Carson kept things tight and all 3 collected wickets with Carson finishing with a well deserved “4 for”, as we had the bonus of dismissing the opposition in the last over for what looked like a below par 143, thus securing full bonus points.
Chairman replaced Jack Allen at the top of the order and was joined by Ian Blunt and a steady start was broken when Blunt attempted to hit over the top and was caught. This brought the previous weeks County Cup cheerleader in chief, Boosh to the wicket and he quickly got into his stride with a flurry of boundaries.
Chairman perished as he tried to break his own shackles brought by wearing left handed batting shorts (ask him about the lack of padding on his inner thigh!), and Sam Pounds joined Boosh in the middle. Mayhem ensued as the boundary count increased, capped by a huge 6 into the river from Pounds. Having only been 60-2 at drinks, the accelerator was down and with 25 beeded for victory Boosh needed 20 for a well deserved ton…..however, the fairytale of Grace Rd was not to be repeated as he managed to get himself out to a ball that would probably have failed to reach the wickets had he left it…..however, a great innings and it is clear that Jay is relishing the responsibility of being senior batsman amongst the junior talent.
Vice Captain Ellwood Junior strode to the crease and ensured that he and Sam saw us home without mishap and with 8 overs to spare…Sam finishing not out on 43, supplying further evidence of his growing stature as a batsman (if not yet as a fielder!).
SO 24 points secured and a great performance in difficult conditions which demonstrated the maturity of our young bowlers especially who maintained discipline, bowled as a unit and got their eventual rewards. There is no other team in the league which has the depth of bowling resources that we have at our disposal and someone different has stepped up each week to take the lead.
There is no doubt that we deserve to be champions and to date we have the 3rd highest points tally in the entire league.
It has been a pleasure to captain a side which plays with a smile on its face but which is hugely competitive and Saturday was a great way to finish my own personal season.
Well done everyone and let the chorus of “Championes” begin!