Saturday saw the first cricketing action of the season, when a mixed team travelled to take on Rugeley in a friendly.
The weekend also saw our NatWest Cricket Force weekend in progress, when a number of members helped get the ground ready for the start of the season - at the moment, everything looks wonderful at the club. In addition, our scorebox now has power - and we hope to have an electronic scoreboard fitted during the season. Huge credit must go to all the members who have helped both with fundraising and practical work to make these things happen.
The club have been active in making several new signings, all of which will add to our playing strength - and I'll go into more details about our new players in next week's blog.
As for Saturday, we woke to find brilliant blue skies, sunshine and a temperature forecast of around 20 degrees - in stark contrast to the snowfall which greeted us on the scheduled first day of last season. With all of the team captains either unavailable or working on the Cricket Force day, it was left to me to captain the side against my old club - the first time I've played there in a competitive game since leaving.
Given the friendly, practice nature of the game we agreed that both sides would bat for 40 overs regardless of the number of wickets lost. We took the field first with a pretty youthful side (with the exception of myself and Simon Parnaby), and the youngsters did us proud. Joe Oakley bowled a fine opening spell with no luck on his debut for the club, before Ben Marson came into the attack and took 4/17, well supported by Josh Baker (3/28) as Rugeley were bowled out for 109. As agreed the Rugeley innings continued for the 40 overs, with them finishing on 174 - with two more wickets for Ben Marson, as well as braces for Joe Oakley, Joe Marson and Will Hinder. All in all, a good display in the field.
After tea, we began our reply with Simon Parnaby picking up where he left off at the end of last season making a fluent 44. With Jack Pope making 27, and useful contributions from Joe Marson and Ross Parker, we passed our initial target for the loss of six wickets. Our next aim was to surpass the 174 posted in 40 overs, which we achieved with one ball to spare - Will Hinder finishing the game with to big sixes from consecutive deliveries ending on 21 not out. A special mention must go to Alfie Morris - who batted twice and was out for a second ball duck on both occasions, therefore managing the unusual feat of recording a pair in a one innings game!
On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed returning to my old club - catching up with a number of old friends and seeing the development work which has gone on off the pitch, making the pavilion look excellent with it's new layout. As for the cricket, I kept wicket reasonably, taking a decent diving catch - before running myself out for a duck having taken off for a quick single that I might possibly have made my ground for when I made my debut in Rugeley's first team at the age of 15, but had no chance of doing so at the age of 46 - especially given that I was moving at a similar speed to my selections in the afternoon's Grand National! My four innings against Rugeley since my departure now total two unbeaten half centuries and two ducks - a mixed bag!
Over the Easter weekend, we have an inter club friendly on Saturday, ahead of the start of the league season for the 3rd and 4th teams on April 22nd. The 1st and 2nd teams will be taking on Lichfield in friendly matches on the 22nd, before starting their league programmes on the 29th April. Hopefully there will be plenty of good weather, good cricket and amusing incidents to write about during the season.
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