Wilmslow seconds played out a great game in glorious sunshine on Saturday. Many positives can be taken from the game, despite the result going the way of the opposition.
After winning the toss skipper Tim Conniff opted to bat first and set a total for Ashley to chase. On inspection, the pitch lacks grass and was hard and true. there was a little bit of moisture in the surface to give the bowlers hope, but ultimately this was a batting pitch. The Ashley groundsmen have produced a nice wicket here and the results spoke for themselves after a game that produced almost 350 runs.
The Wilmslow batsmen got off to a good start against some accurate bowling. Tom Rowe and John Edwards continued from where they left off last week and made the most of the conditions. Once both the openers had departed Waqar Malik and Rishy strode to the crease and began to build a terrific partnership. Malik started to hit the ball with power to all parts and Rishi played with fantastic technique and judgement. They began to see the scoreboard tick over and the opposition go quiet in the field. Rishi in particular looks like quite a talent for the future and some of his straight drives were really impressive. However, he would soon depart after a stroke of bad luck saw a shot from Malik tipped onto the stumps to force a run out at the non strikers end. This in turn led to a mini collapse which saw the squirrels reduced from a seemingly commanding 100-2 to 118-6.
A mini fightback was needed and this was orchestrated successfully by the lower order. Ashley took off the pace bowlers and tested the patience of the tail by bowling accurate slower bowlers in an attempt to force them into big shots. Patience was required and the contributions came from all around the tail. Toby Ward scored 37 not out and was aided by valuable contributions from Ollie Pickup , with a handy 15, Faisal and Dom Rowe who both protected their wickets successfully. This was under some pressure, especially at the end when Ashley turned to their two quicks, who offered quite a bit of pace. This allowed Wilmslow to bat out the overs and score some vital runs at the end to come close to the 180 benchmark. Despite an excellent effort though, on this surface against a strong opposition, Wilmslow knew they would need to perform very well to defend this score on such a good pitch.
In reply Wilmslow turned to their youth bowlers, Oli Warner and Dom Rowe to spearhead the attack. They can be very proud of their spells with both bowlers hitting a good length consistently and avoiding extras. Wickets were hard to come by though as the Ashley batsmen played within themselves well and staved off the new ball. They began to accelerate the scoring and a change was needed. Immy Ashraf and Faisal were the next in line. They both bowled intelligently and with good control to pick up a couple of wickets and keep it close. The energy and effort in the field was fantastic given the warm weather and lack of wickets and the fight that Wilmslow put up to the very end was great to see. In the end the introduction of John Edward and Toby Ward saw the chase go down to the 43rd over, but ultimately with so many wickets in hand, Ashley were able to swing the bat and see themselves home. A great game was had and some really important lessons learnt from the game.
We would all like to wish Ollie Pickup a speedy recovery after he broke his collarbone in the field yesterday, putting his body on the line to protect the score.