Our U14’s season finally got underway on Tuesday evening when we made the trip to Southwick, where glorious, watery sunshine shone on a warm evening. The wicket looked a little green in places but firm to the touch, a very typical early May wicket.

Tristan and Jack Smart opened up after we had won the toss and elected to bat. The boys made a watchful start on a slow wicket, picking up singles where they could but struggling to find the boundary due to the longish grass on the outfield as signs of the poor early season weather remained. Jack perished in the seventh over, caught at mid on attempting to up the run rate and Tristan followed shortly afterwards, bowled by a delivery that turned as he tried to clear the infield. There followed a period of consolidation between Adam Drew and Freddie Fortune before Adam pulled a short ball away through midwicket to register our first boundary. The boys picked up the pace of the innings, finding the gaps and running well between the wickets before Adam added another couple of boundaries to his score, batting sensibly but with real purpose and excellent awareness of the game situation. Freddie rotated the strike well with very little to hit as our score increased with the assistance of a few extras before Adam, with his score on 26 and about to retire received a ball that nipped back off the seam and bowled him. It was left to Freddie and James Rose to close out the innings with more good running as we finished on 91 for 3.

Following a short break for refreshments the Southwick openers strode out to the middle as the sun began to dip behind the houses surrounding the green. Freddie and Harry Heath produced tidy opening overs before Freddie made the first breakthrough, finding a little extra bounce to take the edge of the bat and Tristan nonchalantly pouched the catch at first slip. Two balls later, Freddie picked up his second wicket as the Southwick batter lost his bearings and walked across his stumps, only to be hit in line on the knee roll and fall lbw. Tristan came into the attack and picked up a wicket in his first over producing a ball that swung away and clipped the top of off stump. Turning from pace to spin, Katie Read came on to bowl and also claimed a wicket in her first over with a turning delivery that crashed into middle stump to leave our hosts reeling at 14 for 4. Southwick rebuilt through Josh and Tom, running well and dispatching the few loose balls that they were presented with, before James Rose induced a false stroke to see Adam Drew take a terrific grab at midwicket, diving to his right to cling on to the ball with both hands. Mia, Ryan and Harry all bowled well without luck as the shadows began to creep slowly over the ground. Harry’s third over was a thing of beauty as he gave Southwick’s best batter, Tom a real working over, bowling with genuine pace and great rhythm to extract extra bounce. Turning back to spin, Tristan threw the ball to Mark who tossed the ball up and found a lot of turn. With his fifth ball, Mark floated up a leg break that tempted the batter to leave his crease, missing the ball and being comfortably stumped by Jack Smart behind the wicket. Our final wicket fell in the last over, Jack Simmons taking a good catch at slip off Tristan. Southwick ended on 57 for 7, 34 runs short of our score.

A good performance to begin the season with more to come from plenty of players. Our energy in the field was excellent as was the support for all of our players and we caught everything that came our way. Adam’s knock was the standout innings and the support he received was much needed, it was particularly pleasing to see how our batters retained a plan with awareness of what was needed. All of our bowlers performed well and I think we’re all looking forward to getting into June and moving into 20/20 games and the extra overs that will afford us, both from a batting and bowling perspective. Thanks to Lynne for scoring and to everyone who came to support. Thanks also to Southwick for their hospitality and refreshments, we look forward to seeing them at SJP later in the season.