Our first foray into the Nottinghamshire Cup was not what we might have wanted but it was exciting.
Winning the toss Olly decided to set a score. Dan and Jonno went in and Dan set about the bowling briskly, facing Cuckney's nest and tidy spinner who opened.
Sadly Jonno fell to an early ball that ripped past his outside edge to take his off stump bail and we lost our first wicket very quickly for a duck.
Not only was the spinner getting some grip but the seamers were finding both swing and movement off the seam, the previous 3 days of rain clearly still evident in the pitch.
That movement saw paid to Alex having reached 2, with Olly to coming in to face the attack.
With a mixture of some speed, some slower wobbly bowling and spin, it was difficult to be get a rhythm and Olly, having reached 3, fell to a slightly slower ball which found out a half shot pop up into a fielders hands.
Hattie came in smiling (following coaches pre-game instructions to all players) and partnered Dan through to his 50 (gained with a single which might have been a portent of things to come) and then continued with a smiling Megan and those two proceeded to have some fun in running to try and keep Hattie on strike (who's plan that was is still under debate!)
Sadly again Megan fell to the seaming ball without troubling the scorer and Joe Orgill came in to try to assist Hattie and the scoreboard on. By now the fielders were the more confident of the combatants and the scoring rate had slowed when Joe was caught.
In came Conor Pearson came in, trying to get Hattie on strike to score when she could. The innings closed on 87, with Hattie on an unbeaten 12 (second highest scorer ignoring extras).
Coach's instructions was to attack with field and ball and get the job finished quickly.
Olly and Dan opened and immediately found the ball swinging and seaming and couldn't settle with the movement for an over or 2. It looked at this stage that it would be over for the wrong reasons quite quickly but both then settled to produce a fine display of attacking seam bowling, ably supported by a diving Chris Peacock behind the stumps especially on the leg side to save extras.
After this spell of 8 overs, Dan was 4-0-9-0 and Olly was 4-0-13-2, having tricked their opener into believing he was bowling down leg only to trap his front leg, planted to try and play a leg side shot, straight in front of middle stump to one of the few balls that still found some damp patches in the strip and stayed low.
So Cuckney were feeling the pressure, their 2 openers gone for something like 20, and it was time to bring the reliable ladies on. It was probably the shock of seeing some sun for the first time this year that caused a problem in pitching the ball and the run rate crept up a bit too much, despite which Megan decided to fool the Cuckney batsmen into producing a sharp but well taken catch by Hattie, a great double act by the ladies after the fun they were having whilst batting earlier, and provided much celebration and lifted the field.
However a worrying trend had come to light in all these 12 overs with extras being starting to vie for highest score for Cuckney (which in the end was the case).
Olly decided to change tack and bring on Jonno and Alex and whilst both struggled with the swinging ball again, both soon found a much needed rhythm, with Jonno bowling some lovely leg cutters and Alex finding a nice line from the other end.
But in the midst of this was a certain young Mr Shannon of Cuckney. Having turned 12 3 days before, and having showed his cricketing brain as a steady left arm seamer from the tennis court end earlier in the game when he slowed the run rate down well for his figures (3-2-3-1), he showed a maturity beyond his years to stick around amongst all this, and then start pressurising the field with some sharply taken runs, and great batting (ending up leading scorer for his team on 20), only to be called short for 2 of his high speed doubles (that nasty home umpire kept piling on the pressure) and eventually going for one run too many, when a sharp rolled return from Dan, now behind the stumps, saw the bails taken by Alex. Well done young man. Delighted to see a young player, not only playing all his attacking end defensive shots, but piling the pressure onto the fielders which sharp running can make happen.
In the end the run rate was creeping up and the last over came with Cuckney needing 5 to win. With 1 and then 2 runs coming from the first 2 balls, despite the tight field set and all fielders on their toes, Alex kept his nerve well, and his new run up proved that his Coach (always is - Ed) was right in the increased pace supplied, when a very sharp ball went through the Cuckney batsman to nip off the bails and set up a finish of 2 needed from 1 ball.
By this time, just about every away supporter was doubting the home coach with his lbw decision and runs short called, but there was no such doubt in the new batsmen to the crease who penetrated the tight set field to drive Alex for 4 and win the match for a young Cuckney side.
Lessons to learn, of course there are, but also praises to give.
Chris's diving early in the game when the bowlers we're struggling to find their line in the conditions.
Alex similarly diving round at first slip and for sticking with his new run which convinces me that he will become a neat seam bowler.
George for staying awake for 20 overs without fielding a ball until taking a nice catch from Jonno's fine bowling (especially liked the leg cutters on demand Jonno).
Olly for finding a line to bowl to keep a tight run rate and find some wickets, and Conor for finding some unique fielding skills and keeping us all grounded.
Megan for her fielding and fun with Hattie whilst batting and Hattie holding up an end at a vital time to allow some less that tight blowing from Cuckney to add to our score as well as doing so with her bat.
Toby for running further then Mo Farrah from 3rd man to 3rd man on his brother's instructions, and keeping concentration as he did, and Dan for another 50 (he's buying his own Jug in junior games from now on).
The game didn't look on after our batting and certainly not in the opinion of some Cuckney players, but it just good to see what application within a tight game might get you.
As always Mecum Avit