After strong Saturday performances by their senior counterparts, Elstow’s Development XI travelled to Rotten Row to face Great Brickhill 3rds for a friendly in their opening match of the season. With a side consisting of no less than 8 players aged 16 or younger, the focus of the day was very much on experimentation and gaining valuable match practice against a vastly experienced Great Brickhill outfit; with only 3 players aged 18 or under in their line-up.
With the sun beating down on a dry, flat wicket and an inviting (to say the very least) square boundary, Elstow lost the toss (naturally) and were put into the field by their opponents. Buoyed by his heroics in the 2nd XI’s Saturday victory, Cain Hamilton Boyle opened up from the top end. First ball, slapped over extra-cover, 4 runs. Uh-oh. Great Brickhill had sent their two most senior batsman out to come after the young Elstow attack. With promising young “seamer-in-training” Sam Ward struggling to find his radar from the bottom end, Great Brickhill’s experienced openers set about their task in lightning quick fashion, larruping the ball to all parts and taking advantage of the small boundary.
Elstow’s breakthrough came – when desperately needed – in the 6th over with the score on 78. Ward adjusting his lines superbly with his new “cross-seam” grip, producing a fearsome Yorker that removed the Great Brickhill opener for 16. Not to be outdone, Cain Hamilton-Boyle then produced a fine seaming delivery that took the edge of the bat to dismiss the number 3 for a mere 5 runs – Ed Wisson taking a sharp catch at first slip. After working hard for their first wicket, Elstow now had two in quick succession, however a fruitful partnership between P Read and A Ward left them looking for inspiration from their spinning duo Daniel Thind and Sumit Karunakotha. Both young spinners took to their task in encouraging fashion, bowling with daring flight and guile. Karunakotha bowling intelligent off-spin with courage and variation; Thind, in contrast, uncomplicated in relentlessly ripping the ball, away from the right hander with his excitable leg-spin. It was the latter of the spinning duo who removed Great Brickhill’s number 4, a somewhat fortunate stumping after Gurraj Galsin’s shin-come-shy at the stumps that was more Euro 2012 than IPL. However, nothing fortunate about the next wicket, again to the impressive Thind’s leg-spin, as he trapped opener Read LBW for a well-made 101 – the much enjoyed Galsin/Thind appeal-combo rumoured to have been heard by Ali Milne back at The Warren… He still wouldn’t have given it…
After the removal of Great Brickhill’s star centurion, P Jennings came to the crease and dropped anchor, frustrating Elstow in a partnership of just under 50 with A Bowden, their number 5. Needing a wicket and with his spinners coming to the end of their spells, Elstow captain Rob Tebbutt threw the ball to 2nd XI captain Ed Wisson to bowl his left arm off- Erm.. Well, I’m not too sure what it was, but it was definitely left arm something… With the intent of either buying a wicket, or witnessing some Class A comedy bowling. Fortunately/remarkably for Elstow, this – and I will say it – tactical masterstroke resulted in the former. He came on to get an ugly wicket, and boy, was it. Bamboozling from ball one, Wisson confused and confuddled a dazed and delirious Jennings to breaking point, leading to him kicking over his stumps to dismiss himself hit wicket for 12. Wisson might have had another wicket in the over but for the sub-par fielding of a certain Mr Tebbutt, even his best “Shortstown Shuffle” not enough to get him into position to take a difficult (well, I would say that) chance at long-on.
With the bulk of the batting out of the way – albeit scoring some mighty handy runs before they were dismissed – the wickets began to come more regularly to the deserving fielding side. Tebbutt brought himself into the attack and snared two quick wickets, an LBW and a caught behind, snaffled effortlessly by wicket-keeper Gurraj Galsin down the leg side, highlighting his remarkable improvements with the gloves.
Galsin’s glovework again quickly came to the forefront of the game when Daniel Thind returned to dismiss GB captain G Phillips, ferociously spinning one past the ol’ boy’s outside edge, the Elstow wicket-keeper more assured with this stumping chance, whipping the bails off sharply with a dismissal that was this time more Jack Russell than Jack Daniels (euphemism suggestions welcome). With Elstow on the verge of bowling the vastly more experienced side out, Sam Ward returned to pick up his second wicket, a testament to his character, bowling a much tighter 2nd spell “at the death”.
Great Brickhill 274-9
Despite the size of the task they were facing, Elstow took solace in the comforting knowledge that the short boundary and lightning fast outfield would provide endless run-scoring opportunities – 274 would have been nice, but it was the time in the middle that was precious to this growing bunch of budding youngsters… Well, and Lee Gauntlett…
Talk of the devil, Elstow’s openers were indeed Lee Gauntlett and Gurraj Galsin, the latter looking to build on an eye catching performance behind the stumps in the first innings. Unfortunately for the Elstow openers, their partnership was short-lived, the young Great Brickhill opening bowler J Aldridge producing a ball of real quality, swinging and seaming it’s way through “Gauntlett’s Gate” to clip the offstump and leave Elstow 2-1. With one of the senior players already in the hutch, the responsibility now fell on to the shoulders of young Galsin and the incoming number 3 Uzman Mohammed to get Elstow off to the start they needed – luckily they did.
Mohammed played with typical aggression, producing 5 blustering boundaries through the off-side to give Elstow’s start real momentum, before mis-judging one to be dismissed for 22. With opener Gurraj Galsin going along nicely at the other end – a sensible blend of dead straight forward defences and expansive cover drives – Sumit Karunakotha joined him at the crease at number 4. Despite playing arguably the shot of the innings with a magnificent drive through mid-off, Karunakotha’s stay at the crease was not a long one, bowled by the medium pace of first innings centurion P Read for 5. With Elstow struggling at 52-3, in came Ed Wisson for some much needed time at the crease. The 2nd XI skipper hit the ground running, showing glimpses of his brash best on the way to a 50 partnership with the continually impressive Galsin.
And after a weekend filled with grand Wisson traditions (Congratulations to the happy couple by the way), what could be more fitting than a Wisson involved in a run out? The answer, simply, is nothing. After” someone” (differing stories as always with run-outs) called for a single, the two batsmen – both going along nicely at this stage – met in the middle of the pitch, and much like the happy couple, did a little dance in front of the adoring crowd (there were tears, I can assure you) before Gurraj Galsin was unfortunately run-out by a direct hit just 9 short of his maiden Elstow 50. 41 very well deserved runs.
With their Dravid-esque opening stalwart removed, the next 4 wickets fell for just 8 runs – all of which to the Great Brickhill skipper’s medium pace. Miller Woskett was the first to go, unlucky to top edge a ball that “got big on him” for a duck. Spinning sensation Daniel Thind the next to fall, unable to replicate his bowling exploits, dismissed LBW for 2. Sensing an opportunity to bowl out their opponents, GB made quick work of both opening bowlers Cain Hamilton-Boyle and Sam Ward, both out caught for 2 and 1 respectively. With 7 overs of the allotted 40 still left to bat, Rob Tebbutt came to the crease happy to play second fiddle to the buccaneering Wisson, who brought up his 50 shortly after being joined at the crease. 50 up and one huge 6 later, Wisson was caught for 58 to give Phillips his 5’fer and leave Elstow’s hopes of not being bowled out to young Tait Hamilton-Boyle and notorious tail-ender Tebbutt.
With just under 3 overs to bat out, the last wicket partnership decided to end with a flourish, Tebbutt with 4 boundaries in his 22 not out and young Hamilton-Boyle with an impressive 11 not out from just 6 balls to ensure Elstow survived the late onslaught to finish with a very credible 197-9 from their 40 overs.
A loss in the eyes of some – a losing draw in mine – but nonetheless a very impressive performance from what was a very young Elstow side. In the tough times in the field the bowlers stuck to their tasks and the encouragement in the field was, well, encouraging. Well done to all of the boys on a fantastic all-round performance, I was inundated with compliments about the manner in which you all conducted yourselves and the way in which you played. You can all be very proud of yourselves, your club certainly is.
MOM – A tough call, but for his tidy wicket-keeping and affluent strokeplay, Gurraj Galsin is this week’s MOM. Well played, young man.
DOD – It was only when writing this report that I remembered Sam Ward’s downhill faceslide after the ball, a worthy winner in my opinion. A for effort, mate.