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TRCC vs. Waltham St Lawrence 2 - 10th May 2008

After the disappointment of the game that never was at Purley last week, Twyford travelled to nearby Waltham St Lawrence for their first fixture of the division four campaign. On a blistering hot day, and after a magical mystery tour of surrounding east Berkshire villages led by Tim 'Hoggy' Hogarth, skipper Nathan Eddy won the first toss of the season and asked the home side to take the first knocking.

Short of several bowlers - Beamish, Walkland and Mark Jones all absent - it was left to Tim 'The Thai Expres' Cooper and Gerwyn Leigh to open the bowling. A couple of half chances and dropped catches could have had a profoundly negative effect on the TRCC fielders, however early season resolve was strong and after Hogarth failed to get more than six inches off the ground when Trudgill offered a lofted drive the former rower and homemade sausage king chased the ball down and pinged in a great throw to Leigh at the bowler's end who duly took off the bales with Trudgill still treading water mid-wicket. The batsman wasn't best pleased either - his partner practically lapping him on their way to attempt a ridiculous three offering up the nugget of wisdom: "You'd better hurry up."

It wasn't long after that Cooper picked up the wicket of Connor (who we assume had an uncomfortable conversation in the pavilion with the waiting Trudgill) with a glorious piece of seam-up bowling that knocked back his off peg.

Having put the early overs in, Twyford turned to the now familiar all-spin attack of Spence (not Spencer as some people like to call him!) Nichols and skipper Eddy. It wasn't long before Nichols had McGee trapped LBW for 7, Eddy and Hogarth combining to remove Burge, and then Nichols removed Kiani in quick succession. Waltham's talisman was undoubtedly England. Much in the mould of Welford Park supreme Ian Herrington, England ground out a valuable 41 for his side, and shared his side's best partnership with Wilkinson. England though succumbed after he was sharply stumped by Adam Smith, off the bowling of Eddy (who was already returning to his bowling mark!) while is bat was in the air. The removal of Wilkinson for 29 - run out again thanks to good work from Hogarth - all but saw the end of Waltham's innings. A couple of wickets for Leigh (one bowled, and another completed thanks to a well-held catch by Tom Leadbetter), and a well-deserved wicket for Cooper (caught by Leigh) saw Waltham all out for 154.

Having bowled the home side out in just 41 overs, Twyford had 49 overs in which to knock the runs off.....or at least that was the idea. Smith and Ken Cochrane opened the batting and looked comfortable at the crease - Cochrane proving especially annoying to his team-mates having not netted all winter and still seeing the ball the size of a football. Smith fell after 12 overs pleased to have seen off the Waltham openers Nebbett and Javed. His dismissal bought Eddy to the wicket. Having looked imperious in the nets, the skipper looked like he was picking up from where he left off last season (average 50.73 in the league) after blast two glorious fours off first-change bowler England. A few moments later though the skipper was gone, a rank leg-side ball cannoning off his pads and unluckily onto his stumps. Leigh's dismissal at the hands of Thomas triggered nerves in the Twyford dressing room, and while Hogarth looked in good touch he went for one too many lusty blows and was caught for 9. But while they had Cochrane still plundering away, they had a chance. Looking comfortable on 39, the unthinkable yet somehow inevitable happened. After a mix-up in calling with George Nunn, Cochrane just failed to make his ground again in time and was run out. Cochrane had batted magnificently, and while it wasn't the most fluent 39 you'll ever see it was as valuable and as patient as they come. Cochrane's wicket saw the score at 82-5 off 34 overs and Twyford's chances of making the required runs in 15 overs slim at best. Then Nunn holed out, and a slip by Cooper saw him fingered LBW by umpire Roger 'The Cobra' Seymour, bringing the latest Fort Dynasty member Chris to the crease to partner Nichols. Nichols bludgeoned a crackerjack 17, taking the fight to the bowlers as only Cochrane had done before him, before he became Thomas's fourth victim after Cooper, Nunn and Leigh.

A more unlikely duo than tall, rangy Chris Fort and man mountain Alex Burke, you will never see. But, quite frankly, these were two of the best innings you'll see for TRCC this season. Granted they didn't have the finesse of an Eddy double hundred, the belligerence of a Pete Woodman 50 circa 1982, or the power of a Nic Downes cover drive, but Fort batting for 12 overs for 5 not out, and Burke for five overs without scoring was an amazing feat of defiance. It needs to go on record that even the jovial Burke gave himself a talking to for not playing straight! Alas Burke fell (not for the first time in the game, having gone down in the field like one of the last great bison of the US Midwest!) with seven balls of the extended innings to go. Leadbetter saw off the last ball of the penultimate over, with Fort shutting up shop for the last complete over from Nebbett.

Twyford finished on 113-9, just three runs short of a bigger share of the points (apparently you need to finish within 75% of the target), but ended up with a hard-fought losing drawer. And, as the clich' goes and with the resolved showed, this was as good as any win.

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