Bickley travelled to Bexley for a home encounter with Natwest Blues (don’t ask), looking to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats. Having brought club legend McQ to umpire, Sunny confidently informed the opposition that we would bowl first on an unfamiliar track, with long grass covering the rhombus-shaped outfield (look it up). Unfortunately, the Blues skipper was quick to get on the phone and query this decision, leading to another lost toss and Bickley being asked to bat. As it turned out, it was a good toss to lose.
As last week, Simon and Marcus made a promising start, negotiating the first 10 overs with relative ease. As last week, the majority of the middle order failed to build on this, leaving it to Owen Davies (35) to hold the innings together for the middle overs. The introduction of Ford (4-38), with his…unique bowling style, accounted for many batsmen who lacked the patience to wait for the ball to return from orbit. Fortunately Mark Hardy (30) accelerated the run-rate in the final few overs, and Jack Horner left the field with a strike rate of 400 as Bickley made 157-8: a very defendable total, but still one that felt 10-15 runs short.
The Blues innings began circumspectly, with sudden variable bounce making life difficult and accounting for the first wicket, when Simon Davis hit leg stump about 2cm up from a good length ball. This seemed to unnerve the Blues batsmen, who Bailey aside (67* having opened the batting – a fine effort), scored 22 runs between them to end on 103 all out. Horner (4-21) and Owen (3-33) bowled especially well, negating the need for any other fielders – or favourable LBW decisions – by clean bowling 6 batsmen between them.
A good win, with favourable results elsewhere meaning that Bickley remain in 1st place – and 12 points clear of 3rd place even if the Blues win their game in hand with maximum points. Special mention and thanks to Barry and Pulkit for filling in at the 11th hour and helping maintain momentum – it could have been a very different result with only 9 players. Next week sees a trip to bottom the table Belvedere, where Bickley will hope their batting and bowling units finally perform together.