To set the scene, Barlow Robbins this season have played 5 and lost 5. This gave us here at Ecovis buoyant optimism on the train down to Woking, where Reuben, our Data Analytics Director and self-appointed team captain hoped to lead us to victory by cobbling together a bowling and batting line-up.
After a short walk from Woking train station, we arrived at a very nice little ground. From inspection of the pitch, it could have done with a cut, but was nice and hard and should have plenty of turn -which Zorays would later exploit. Unfortunately, we were the first to arrive with most of the Barlow Robbins team cutting their exit from the office a little fine. This meant we were put into the field in very hot conditions and with only 9 men.
The first over was bowled by our secret weapon Vik, the first ball was a sign of things to come. Vik came steaming in and bowled a nice ball which was a little full and the opening batsman locked onto it and crashed it through the covers for 4 runs. My initial hopes where that we would be able to limit them to 70/80 runs, however, it was quickly obvious that this wouldn’t be possible. Vik struck in his second over to dismiss one of the opening batsman with a lovely delivery swinging in and taking leg stump. Our hopes were lifted when the number 3 batsman came in, looking a little nervous. The skipper decided to make some bowling changes and take himself and Vik off, having bowled only 2 out of their allowed 4 overs. Dan and Marcus stepped up and took the ball to give a go at turning their arm over and the opening batsman quickly reached 25 runs and retired, making way for batsman number 4.
I was hoping that with two green-looking batsmen at the crease, we would be able to reduce the run rate, which was going at about 10 runs an over (quite high). Sadly though, with no technique, the boundaries keep flowing. Soon followed one of the funniest moments I have ever witnessed in the field. I don’t want to pick on one person, but the funny moments seem to all relate to one individual - sorry Jack! The ball was hit down to Jack, who athletically ran and dived to stop the ball. Having done all the hard work, he then tried to throw the ball up to Vik who was standing next to him. Jack ended up throwing the ball over Michael’s head and over the boundary for four runs - meaning his commitment to the dive was wasted. Jack provided us with other comical moments throughout the evening, but that will follow later.
With 9 men in the field, the boundaries kept coming and after 10 overs, they had knocked up around 100 runs, already well past what I was hoping for. Some interesting bowling followed from multiple people - not sure I have ever had to run two wickets across to stop a wide ball before, but this happened quite a few times! This was all in the spirit of the game though, as Reuben gave everyone a chance to bowl. Zorays had a few overs of brilliance where he really utilised the turn in the pitch and was spinning the ball not far off a foot! With some practice to get the line and length more consistent, he will be unplayable. Vik came back on to bowl after a few overs off, he produced a moment of world class quality as his bowling was too quick for the batsman who spooned it up in the air, Vik then sprinted and dived to take the catch inches off the ground. Jack then put his body on the line (again) to stop a ball traveling very quickly towards him. Instead of using his hands, Jack decided to stop the ball with the inside of his thigh, leaving him in a crumple on the floor. Vik proceeded to take another crucial wicket by bowling out one of the Barlow Robbins batsmen, who was about to retire.
The runs kept flowing, and with a few moments of madness in the field from Reuben and Dan having shots at the stumps, missing and giving away 4 overthrows. Jack finished things off by bowling the last over, he started by destroying the stumps of their female batsman, the only one between both teams (look forward to seeing that more balanced for challenge two next year!) and finished with a very tidy over. This left us chasing 170 runs, meaning a run rate of 8.5 an over, which is quite an ask. Vik and I opened the batting to find that the opposing team had brought in a ringer, who opened the bowling and was quicker than I had hoped. Having faced a few balls and still on zero, I misjudged the bounce, the ball hitting my glove and the wicket keeper caught it - meaning I was out in the first over. Not quite the start we were looking for.
Vik proceeded to show his class with a few lovely shots before he was run out. Their captain realised that it could be over very quickly and decided to make a game of it and switched up the bowling to give everyone a chance. This led to a lot of wides, all of which meant the score board was ticking over nicely. Even with the nice bowling, the wickets continued to fall. Jack came out and provided us with more comedy as he needed telling were to stand and how to hold the bat by the wicket keeper. Jack proceeded to strike the ball very cleanly, although sadly, it went straight to a fielder and he was caught.
Marcus then came in to bat. I think its fair to say he took a liking to this gentle bowling and proceeded to hit the ball all over the park from his second ball. Marcus only dealt in boundary and after 7 fours, he retired on 28. This was a great innings and gave us the boost which we needed, making the 170 runs target look more attainable. Fearing this, the Barlow Robbins captain brought back the two opening bowlers, who quickly dispatched a few of our batsman.
Barlow Robbins then very kindly allowed us to bat again, so that there were 11 batsmen despite being only a 9-man team. This meant that I had the chance to redeem myself for the earlier duck, I came out to bat with the opening bowlers back on. Zorays and I stuck out the 4 overs from the openers, but we didn’t score many runs, causing the required run rate to shoot up to around 15 an over. The new bowlers were slower but were bowling a very good length and with the bouncy pitch, it made it very difficult to score runs as quickly as we needed to.
I reached 25 and retired, meaning Vik could come back in. He was trying to up the run rate and went for a big old swing, but he didn’t connect properly and was caught. This meant that I went back in to bat for the 3rd time in the match. It got down to the last two overs, which we needed about 50 runs of. No matter how hard Zorays and I tried, we couldn’t find the 6’s that we required, and we ended up with 140 runs.
All in all, I was very impressed with everyone’s effort and I thought we had given an almost unbeatable score very good chase. Much needed cold beverages and yummy pizzas followed to top off a very enjoyable event that we hope will become an annual date in the diary! Let’s hope that next year we can get a team of 11 together (men and women) and give them more of a fight!
A big thank you to the Barlow Robbins team for organising a fantastic evening, and for being very worthy opponents.