On a sunny day in Hayes, a much changed Ealing side snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a game full of drama.
In a format that makes it extremely difficult to win batting first, Ealing were astonishingly asked to field having lost the toss for the second week in succession. After some probing early overs, the Hayes openers got on top and quickly built a half-century opening stand before James Barwick made a breakthrough. This was soon followed by his second wicket, with their number 3 chipping to mid-wicket.
However, the flow of runs wasn’t stopped and, at 124-2 off 19.5 overs it looked like Hayes would build a very big total. A shocking shot from their opener on the last ball before drinks, giving Barwick his third, proved to be the turning point though. After drinks, Pavan Sidhu’s juxtaposing mix of aggression and (very) slow off spin continued this momentum swing, removing their oversized number 4 immediately before cleaning up their number 5 and 6 and exposing Hayes’s frail lower order.
On came William Simpson, whose combination of leg side wides and the occasional straight one drew out another wicket, taking a sharp caught and bowled (which he tried to get out of the way of). At the other end, Junaid Mirza took 2 wickets for 1 run in 2 overs before Will ended Hayes’s collapse by bowling their number 11, giving us 44 overs to chase 169. Ealing went in to tea having taken 8 wickets for 44 runs, quietly confident we would chase down what seemed a modest total on a flat pitch.
Taking absolutely no inspiration from Roy and Bairstow’s excellent opening stand earlier in the day, Oli Simpson (captain, opening bowler, opening batsman, first slip, knob) hit one 4 and then missed a straight one. A positive 41 from Andre Raubenheimer, well supported by James Ball, kept the chase well on track. However, a batting collapse that any Ealing side would be proud of left us reeling on 118-7 after 27 overs, with 51 runs required at exactly 3s. A very responsible 40 from James Barwick, accompanied by a resolute 14 from Will Simpson, the day’s second best family member (Richard’s taxi services coming out on top), put us within touching distance of victory. However, with only 12 needed from 4 oversWill was given out caught behind (much to his indignation) before a lapse in concentration from James 2 balls later left us 9 down with 11 still to get. Add to this that Shubh owns no batting gear and Pavan was batting in football boots and the predicament we were facing became ever more daunting. The one Hayes fan was cheering (and screaming at his players) and we were praying for a losing draw.
Much to our surprise, Shubh and Pavan saw things differently. It later transpired that neither was aware that declaration games can indeed be drawn and so they decided to try to hack their way to the total. Ignoring everyone’s pleads to block it, a few swipes suddenly left Shubh on strike with 1 to win off 3 balls. One more hack across the line did the job, with the ball racing away to the mid-wicket boundary and jubilant Ealing players charging onto the pitch cheering (or screaming, dependent on age) a magnificent (and in some ways terrible) victory.
Hopefully this momentum and feel-good attitude can stay with the team through the competition and we can keep the wins rolling in.