Glorious sunshine and a stunning ground greeting the BB as they sought to continue the club’s good 2017 form against Provender CC. The late arrival of the skipper meant that there was no time to discuss tactics with his team before going to the middle for the coin toss. A bit of moisture in the wicket meant the correct cricketing decision was to bowl first, which was duly elected. This proved an unpopular choice amongst his team mates who were looking forwards to tucking into the open bar early, with Brother Richardson leading the calls for a mutiny. As if to prove a point the BB’s premier opening bowler floated down two full tosses in his opening over to give Provender a strong start, both being struck to the boundary. Brother Meredith started from the other end and his bad luck for 2017 continued as he bowled an excellent line and length but the slow nature of the wicket preventing him for being as penetrative as one would expect. Richardson responded well from his first over by striking the first blow in his second, removing an inform looking right hander with an excellent in-ducking Yorker.
Meredith continued his miserly form, giving little away and Richardson continued to beat the outside edge of the number three but the incredibly slow nature of the pitch prompted a change of tactic as pace was taken off the ball. Candidate Collingwood bowled a tight spell but it was Brother Churchill who bowled the standout spell of spin bowling for the Brethren this season. Varying his pace and bounce to claim an unprecedented 5 victims at regular intervals; bowling two, claiming two caught behind the wicket and deceiving another in the flight for a catch in the ring. He was well supported by Brother Mclean, in his first game as a full member, who overcame a difficult start at the hands of Brother Will Hilton, playing for the opposition, who scored an excellent 53. Mclean, using the slope well, claimed 3 victims, notably Hilton to an excellent catch from Brother Churchill, diving full length at mid-off and bowling a Muralitharan-esque off break to bowl a right hander middle stump whilst attempting a cut shot. At lunch the BB had Provender reeling at 146-9 through some excellent bowling and supported by the best BB fielding display of the season. This was led by Candidate Ratcliffe, who saved around a dozen runs with some excellent ground fielding and sharp catching in the slips from Brother Traill. A usual excellent spread followed with Richardson’s earlier strop punished by being given the bowl immediately after lunch. In typical style he shrugged this off to claim the last wicket, fittingly another excellent diving catch from Churchill, to dismiss Provender for 158.
The BB chase began excellently with Junior BB Moen and Candidate Kimber scoring regular boundaries against the Provender pace attack, passing 50 in the 9th over. A change of tactic from the opposition, bringing on a pair of off-spinners, one who exploited the pitch superbly, extracting sharp turn and bounce. He accounted for Kimber, out caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 34 and Brother Traill in quick succession to put the brakes on BB chase. However Moen showed he has a bright future by striking a classy 50, full of flicks off his legs and a couple of towering 6s. Brother Boucher, playing his first game of the season, soaked up a lot of pressure, using his stride to nullify the off spinner and took the BB to 97-2 before he was undone by a good slower ball to be caught and bowled. This sparked a fast collapse as Ratcliffe was undone by the flight of the off-spinner, Moen fell to a splendid boundary catch for 54 and Brother Mclean to a bat-pad catch at silly point to leave the BB 105-6 at Tea and the remaining 54 runs required seeming a distant target. At tea the skipper attempted to limit the tails alcohol consumption, a request that was promptly ignored but thankfully Collingwood and Churchill played an excellent partnership after tea to take the wind from Provender’s sails, Collingwood surviving an excellent 35 deliveries on a slow and difficult deck before falling to a boundary catch to leave the BB requiring only 30 to win. The skipper, Brother Regan, joined Churchill but was only required to play a supporting role. Churchill, as if 5 wickets and two stunning catches were not enough for him, scored 32 not out off 72 balls to see the Brethren home with 3 wickets to spare.
All in all a thoroughly successful day, our thanks go to Provender CC and most particularly Graeme Smith, our host, whose generosity in welcoming us to his spectacular ground is much appreciated. Keep the dream alive.