Streatham & Marlborough 157-9 (Hillyard 3-33)
Jesters 161-8 (Hillyard 37*, Harris 35)
The season got off to an exciting start at Streatham & Marlborough with a tense final over win chasing 157. Louis Harris (35) and Noah Hillyard (37*) played the crucial knocks as we recovered from 111-8. Noah had earlier taken three wickets.
There are few better sights in English cricket than 11 good men and true taking the field for the Jesters' first game of a new season. And so it came to pass for the 84th time in the Club's history on a chilly afternoon in South London when skipper Adnan Mohammed called incorrectly.
The new ball partnership was a throwback to the halcyon days of the late noughties - Jonny Bridcut and Matthew Berry. The newly bearded Berry, racoon-like, scurried in from the Lordship Lane end to wonderful effect - two S&M top order batsmen were soon back in the hutch, both lbw.
At the other end Jonny maintained an unerring line and length, tying up the imposing figure of the appropriately named Knott, S&M's first team keeper.
Noah Hillyard (3-33), Adnan Mohammed (2-6 off four overs) and Andrew Short (1-8 off five overs) were equally parsimonious as S&M struggled to accelerate the run-rate in a 40-over match.
A partnership between Knott and Hassan briefly threatened until Mohammed lured the latter down the track with an exquisite turner. Santosh Verma duly whipped off the bails.
The increasingly frustrated Knott (33) was then kind enough to offer a much-needed fielding drill for Adnan at long off. The first blow was spilled but the second, a near action replay, was taken to the surprise/relief (delete as appropriate) of all. The S&M innings eventually closed at 157-9.
In reply, openers Verma and Rupesh Alluri were removed quickly by Ravi.
Mohammed, remodelled after a hard winter's training with Merlyn, faced his trickiest decision of the day - which one of his three new bats to use. He chose poorly, departing the scene prematurely for an elegantly crafted 21.
Louis Harris looked assured as always until, on 35, he lofted the ball into the leg side with inevitable consequences. Ollie Doward then ran out debutant Paul Cole - an important Jesters initiation - and the wheels had well and truly come off.
To the rescue came Noah (37*) and Andrew Short with an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 50. Noah settled nerves with a towering six over long on that had Matt Berry diving for cover as the ball smashed through the back of his chair (see picture below).
Victory - and a Berry DNB - was sealed when Noah pulled the second ball of the final over for another boundary.
Noah Hillyard does his best James Douse impression