British Police had a new look both in playing personnel and off the field support as the 2012 squad clocked in at their Ibis, Reading HQ.
On the field there was just one last minute replacement required to the originally 16 selected players - with two new caps, Duncan Midgley the first ever representative from North Wales and last gasp inclusion Phil Gray, taking the place of fellow Met man Dan Turner.
The squad showed a dramatic reduction in age and caps to previous Tours, following an ongoing transition period during the last couple of years.
Could this inexperienced group, under new Captain Steve Greig (Met) and V/ Captain, Gareth Morris (Staffs), rise to the challenge in the scheduled 3 x 50 over and 4 x T20 matches and reverse the recent decline in results?
The ‘off field’ duties would be shared by Secretary David Fraser-Darling, Graham Shaw (Coach) and Simon Young (Fitness coach) - what would the ’Three Amigos’ bring to the week?
A further welcome addition was former secretary Dick Argles, now qualified as a Sports Therapist who had been recruited to deal with our Sports injuries and day to day fitness niggles.
MONDAY 28th MAY v BERKSHIRE 50 OVERS - WON BY 5 WICKETS 1-0
Day 1 Weather: Pleasant warm but cloudy morning, turning into a fine day.
Picturesque Falkland CC hosted the first encounter of the week. BP included both of their new caps Duncan Midgley and Phil Gray. Berkshire won the toss and chose to bat. This was to be their most successful session of the match with an opening stand of 76 in 16 overs giving promise of a decent total until 2nd change Gareth Morris with his slow left arm bowled Gandam on 44. The hosts were then rocked back at 119-6 in 31 overs - all the wickets, a run out apart, falling to the BP slow bowlers. The innings continued to stutter along to 171 all out in the 44th over.
Gareth Morris 2-40, Richard Grant 3-26, Robin Fisher 2-33 and Ted Roe 2-14 shared the wickets.
This was a below par total, with the BP spinners holding the initiative.
The BP reply didn’t fill anyone with confidence, with the first three batsmen back in the hutch in 8 overs with just 36 runs on the board, Richard Grant‘s 19 from 11 balls the highlight. The two new boys suddenly found themselves in harness with the responsibility of leading a recovery. They weren’t found wanting, putting on 47 for the 4th wicket, when Duncan Midgley with a quick fire 25 (1x6, 3x4) in 34 minutes was caught off the bowling of Singh. Phil Gray who had dug in was next to go trapped LBW by Singh after scoring 21 in 51 minutes, the score 96-5. Skipper Steve Greig (24 not out) partnered Russell Bryan (44 not out) and the Met pair, in just over an hour of circumspect batting saw BP through to their target without any further mishap.
A great start to the week, Russ Bryan (BP) with his match winning knock taking the man of the match award - kindly sponsored by Pay Plan, represented by Chas Hubbard and Alison Harris.
TUESDAY 29TH MAY v ARMY 50 OVERS - WON BY 4 WICKETS 2-0
Day 2 Weather: A fine morning, continuing dry and humid.
Beefy circulated a postcode that found the tourists on manoeuvres in Hampshire woodland, until a compass bearing rerouted everyone to the Army Officers Ground at Aldershot for the Army game. The imposing historic pavilion for once not at its best shrouded in a scaffolding framework, due to Major, or should that be General refurbishment!
The Army won the toss and took first use of the pitch, with the total racing to 38-2 in 6 overs. Skipper James Hudson had scored all the runs from the bat, with both his early partners out without scoring! Hudson continued to lead from the front scoring an imperious 70, including 10x4’s and 1x6 in 87 minutes and 65 balls! He was 5th man out with the score on 114, advantage BP.
Govender (63) and the keeper Rauwerda (34), began turning the game around with a stand of 84 before but both fell to exceptional glove work by Huw Evans, leaving the total 206-7. The tail was duly sorted by seam with Steve Greig finishing with 3-43 and Russ Bryan with 3-42. Gareth Morris had a return of 3-35 from 10 overs and the other wicket fell gleefully to Pete Barnett, with one of Huw Evans 4 catches this one ‘stood up‘ . In the field Pete Barnett held a sharp catch at first slip and Ray Doyle held 2, including an athletic diving effort! The final total 235 all out - probably just under par.
Due to the pavilion refurb the tour embarked on its longest ever luncheon journey!
Those early jitters hit BP again with the response rocking on 20-2. Greg Gillespie then entrenched himself, intent on survival, with his new partner Huw Evans immediately going for his shots. The pair put on 87 (107-3) before Huw Evans was caught on 34 (6x4’s). Gillespie was then joined by Duncan Midgley and in just over an hour they put on 116 runs. Sadly they both departed (just as Ted Roe decided to take some snaps!!) within sight of the finishing line with the total on 223 and 225 respectively. Greg Gillespie had made 70 (9x4’s) when he offered up a caught and bowled and Duncan Midgley, continuing his Day 1 promise was out for 71(4x6’s, 8x4’s) also gifting his wicket. Another wicket fell before Pete Barnett 14 not out steered BP home.
The final total 239-6 giving a 4 wicket margin that certainly flattered the military.
The man of the match award went to BP’s Duncan Midgley for that sparkling 71 - kindly presented by Mike Farmer on behalf of the match sponsors Police Mutual.