Witham Friary made it two wins out of three at the start of the 2019 season on a glorious Sunday afternoon in mid-May, emerging victorious from a 35-over match against Kingsdon thanks to some efficient bowling and flair-laden batting, not to mention being under half the average age of South Somerset’s brave but crinkly warriors.
Captain Gibson may not have won the toss, but he sure as hell didn’t lose it, wisely putting Kingsdon into bat to face the full force of the Witham bowling attack. When that didn’t show up, George Hyde and Doug Gray stepped in and, whilst they may not have found a huge amount of success in the form of wickets, the pair managed to peg back the openers and after a wicket maiden from Hyde was followed by a couple of maidens from his opposite number, Kingsdon had slumped to around 30-2 off 12 overs. Their batsmen rode their luck at times, dug in steadfastly at others, but once Arthur Hyde made another breakthrough and Lloyd and Henry followed suit, the writing was on the wall as a thoroughly gettable 112-7 was eventually posted.
David Heath and Tom Hyde were the men charged with seeing off the fearsome Kingsdon strike bowlers, and see them off they did. With little cause to rush, Witham’s openers set about a casual saunter towards the target, choosing barely to run one - let alone the three or four - after a sturdy Hyde drive didn’t quite reach the rope. David eventually managed to talk - and walk - himself out of his wicket, easing backwards to whip the bails off with an altogether different kind of hide off the bowling of the birthday boy Ben.
In stepped Keinan Cooper, a man with an undeniable sense of theatre. Having been roundly ignored by his girlfriend and her entire family after taking a sharp catch earlier on in proceedings (despite pirouetting in their direction and blowing a kiss), this was not a man to miss the spotlight for a second time. While Tom delivered some wizardly leg-nurdles and high-elbowed drives, Keinan was seen to call to the boundary once more and request his beau take a photo of his batting verve having eased past his previous best of 14. He may have completely missed the next four balls - as well as his shot at being a cover star of next month’s Wisden (village edition) - but that was but a minor blip in an otherwise flawless display. Hyde breezed past his 50, Cooper thwacked his way to a solid 44 and Witham hit their target with 11 overs to spare.
- Doug Gray