Ten-man Crusaders rode their luck with the bat and performed well with ball and in the field to win comfortably at Blue Bell Hill on Sunday. Heavy overnight rain had left the pitch and outfield sodden and made the winning of the toss vital. Wajih duly lost and we were inserted.
Blue Bell Hill had selected one of the nearest pitches to the houses, which presented a lop-sided feel to the ground, with the bottom of the hill boundary some ninety yards away and the top boundary only forty-five or so.
Slap and Wooden Spoon opened, with Jagdesh making his intentions clear by sending the third ball of the day straight down the ground for six. Ralph was soon out, playing over a straight one, leaving Nita and Jagdesh to trade big shots, with Slap adding another two maximums, before falling lbw to a slower ball for an (as ever) entertaining 30. Nita perished - lofting to mid-on- for 21, which brought Wajih and Gord together, for what would be the biggest partnership of the day.
It was soon apparent that Wajih had stepped in some lucky dog-shit, surviving at least three dropped catches and that Gord seemed more comfortable batting down the order. In between getting dropped Waj was actually playing some good shots and Gord too was profiting from some typically wristy Caribbean flicks and slashes. The tail wagged, guided by an unbeaten 22 from Spud and with The Crab's one ball faced going for two our innings closed on 185-8 from 40 overs.
Blue Bell Hill needed a good start, but was pegged back by fine spells from Goulash and Matt Rehman. It took an excellent catch from Nita on the mid-wicket boundary to make the breakthrough. You read it right the first time - it was an excellent catch from Nita.
Matt got in on the act, making good use of the slope to claim two wickets in quick succession, both clean bowled. This left BBH teetering at 20-3.
Blue Bell Hill staged something of a recovery, with Paddon and Highstead pushing the ball about and punishing anything loose. Nita replaced Matt and had problems finding his range. Simon finished his eight over spell with economic figures of 1-19 - this was largely due to him not bowling that ridiculous ball out of the back of his hand. Spud continued to keep an end tight and finally broke the partnership through a sharp return catch. Nita managed to get his line and length right, sending five overs down for 25. Manjit took over and experienced the same problems (is it really that difficult to bowl straight? - Perhaps someone can send a question to Danglers? After spraying the ball about he finally produced his 'golden arm' delivery to claim a wicket. With only ten in the field it was imperative that the out-cricket was good. Nita had set the standard and it was maintained. Jagdesh performed a smart run out, which effectively sealed victory and we were guilty of no drops nor too many mishaps in the field.
Wajih had obviously rolled, not just stepped, in the lucky excrement as the first ball of his spell; a wide full-toss was slapped straight to Spud at cover. Matters went from bad to worse when the next batsman dragged his back-foot and was smartly stumped by The Crab. The field closed in, sensing the hat-trick and few were surprised as the ball scuttled harmlessly down the leg-side. Matt returned to finish the job, with Wajih showing good sibling concern, taking the catch while his brother was grasping his calf in agony. Matt finished with a fine return of 3-16 and Blue Bell Hill was dismissed for 'Nelson'.