Amersham 206/7 (Butler 2-25)
Jesters 152 all out (Hillyard 47)
We could not quite rekindle the glories of last year's wonderful run chase at Amersham's beautiful ground in Buckinghamshire, eventually falling 54 runs short, after a noble effort from Noah Hillyard to bring some late respectability to our total. Match manager Jonny Bridcut tells the story of the afternoon...
Having won the toss on a hot and humid day, captain Simon Butler took great relish in deciding to take the field, and even greater relish in explaining the complicated rules of the game to his teammates: 40 overs aside; eight over power-plays, during which you had to have two catchers and only two fielders outside the "ring"; four fielders in the "ring" for the rest of the innings; free hits following any no-balls…
It took many of us a while to work out what was going on. During that time the Amersham openers got off to a convincing start, using the pace on the ball to good effect and making the most of the fielding restrictions. It took a superb diving catch from wicket-keeper Shorbo Nag off the bowling of Jeremy Smith to make our first inroad. Out strode Amersham's Sri Lankan overseas player, Maduka Liyanapathiranage, who immediately looked very at ease.
However, Jesters MVP Noah Hillyard soon got one to jump from a length and Mr Liyanapathiranage obligingly gloved it behind.
What followed was a wonderful passage of play, where Simon Butler (8 overs, 2/25) and Adnan Mohammed (8 overs, 1/27) stifled the Amersham upper order, and picked up wickets just as partnerships were threatening to develop, thanks to some extraordinary catches held by Andrew Short, Karim Sutton and Shorbo (again).
The squeeze in the middle overs proved extremely effective, and Jeremy, Karim and Noah bowled well at the death to restrict the hosts to 206/7, which we (foolishly) believed was about 20-30 under par. The highlight of the innings was an incredible one-handed leap to his right by Shorbo (again), to pocket his fourth catch of the innings.
After tea, Butler and Bridcut strode to middle expecting a fiery opening attack from the strong Amersham XI, but were instead confronted with the mystery spin of Mr Liyanapathiranage, who was apparently the third leading wicket taker in Sri Lankan domestic first class cricket last winter!
Bridcut was definitely out of his depth, as he misread some form of doosra and was pinned in front in the third over. Sahil Kher followed in the same fashion a few balls later. As did captain Butler. After Harris made a typically gritty 9, and Rowan Clapp a typically loose 4, the Jesters soon found themselves 38/6, and staring a heavy defeat in the face.
Cue some rearguard resilience from Shorbo (27) and some lusty blows from the blade of Hillyard (47), but it proved too little too late, as, after one or two cheeky efforts at a reverse sweep, Mr Liyanapathiranage (4/10) returned to dismiss Hillyard and our slim hope of victory.
Many thanks to Amersham for a great day's cricket and we look forward to returning next year.