Date: Saturday 6th May Toss: Richmond
Weather: Overcast, chilly Pitch: Good
Richmond: 209-7 (45)
R. Bentley: 3-41
J. Sheppard: 3-60
Ealing: 210-1 (43.4)
L. Stoughton: 108*
D. Lane: 51
After a long, cold pre-season we had a long, cold game of warm-up football to get us going ahead of the 2017 League season’s start, a home clash against one of the League’s toughest sides – Richmond. Holty lost the toss and we were put in the field. Shep, breaking his winter vow to stay calm no matter the circumstances, had two catches dropped off his first nine balls and was immediately lost in a world of expletives and deep soul-searching. Meanwhile Munjot, the other half of our ying-and-yang opening partnership, calmly restricted both batsman in the first five overs on a good wicket.
It wasn’t long before Shep got the breakthrough, picking up two wickets in four balls, first with an edge behind, and second trapping the other opener LBW after he forgot the golden rule to never go back at Ealing. Now 28-2, the visitors set about rebuilding. Laney came on and had an LBW decision rejected with his very first ball, launching a tirade of abuse at the batsman, despite it clearly not being his fault the umpire hadn’t given him out.
The breakthrough was eventually found by Bentos, who had one set batter plumb in-front and then the other stumped off a massive leg-side wide, immediately claimed as deliberate, but the jury remained unconvinced. In tandem with Cabs, the two off-spinners tore through the Richmond middle-order, taking the score from 99-2 to 117-6 either side of drinks to leave the visitors in dire trouble.
But last year’s runners-up weren’t throwing in the towel this early, a seventh wicket stand of 84 taking the score past the 200 mark, with Shep picking up his third wicket in the final over to stem the tide of runs. Despite the comeback, we were favourites to chase down 210 in our 45 overs.
Laney and Beast got us off to the perfect start, taking 62 from the first ten overs and accumulating with ease as spin came on. Both neared in on 50 as the century stand came up, and even after Laney was caught at mid-off for a fluent 51, Beast carried on going, crunching fours and knocking singles with ageless ease. Mylo came in and kept the required rate below four-an-over as the last 10 drew closer, and despite some tight bowling the run chase was always under control. This left Beast to bring up a magnificent opening game 100, going to three figures with his thirteenth boundary, then crashing his fourteenth to leave us on the brink of victory. It was a superb nine wicket win, started by the bowlers and finished in style by the top order, sending a strong message to the rest of the league that Ealing are a side to be feared in 2017.