Fourth-placed Hales entertained third-placed Bradfield on Saturday in their Frankly Digital Norfolk Alliance Division One clash. As the rain had curtailed the game against Sprowston two weeks before, this promised to be Hales’ first full league game at their new home.
Availability was good for this fixture so skipper Steve Rowe felt he had as strong a unit as he could select, and Hales were not disappointed when they lost the toss. How the wicket would play was to be an unknown, but the top order soon had the scoreboard ticking.
Hales had an early blow when the experienced Brian Read was harshly adjudged LBW from the first ball of the match; the bruise he was sporting at the top of his thigh seemed to endorse everyone’s view that the ball would have gone over the stumps.
Despite this early setback, Philly Squire (60) joined Chris Andersen (14) in a second-wicket partnership of 40 at a reasonable 4 an over. When Andersen played on to Abbs first delivery, his brother Dan (61) joined Squire in a 101-run partnership. Andersen showed his intent early, stroking Abbs’ third and fourth delivery to the extra cover boundary and both he and Squire found that the slow, low pitch favoured straight bat shots.
Useful contributions from Chris Hlengani (18), Rob Andersen (34) and Rowe (23 not out) saw the Hales inning close on 238 for 7 off their allotted 50 overs, for a maximum 5 batting points.
When Hales took the field, it was emphasised to the bowlers to bowl straight and not offer width to the Bradfield batsmen, who would be full of confidence after a good start to the season. With this in mind, the more experienced Neil Pearce was given the new ball as partner to Rob Andersen over promising youngster Josh Knights.
The move paid off as Bradfield found scoring opportunities few and far between and soon found the desired scoring rate climbing above 5 and then 6 an over. Rob Andersen produced a fast accurate opening burst that saw Bothwright back in the pavilion with the score on 23, while Pearce kept it very tight at the other end.
Young Knights replaced Andersen once he had bowled the 7 overs allowed by the ECB directives, and although he was expensive at first, he claimed 2 wickets and is proving more and more to be a handful for any batsmen with his swing and movement at a reasonable pace for a 16-year-old.
Matthew Lovick replaced Pearce and as usual had the batsmen in trouble from the start, with his accuracy and movement removing the experienced Carl Wiseman well caught by Chris Andersen after standing up to the bowlers all afternoon, with the exception his brother Rob. Bradfield opener David Register was proving to be a stubborn opponent, but some quick thinking from Read, who threw down the stumps as Register walked out of his ground while the ball was very much alive, turned the game in Hales favour.
Rowe (3 for 24) introduced himself and Hlengani (2 for 15) to change the pace of the attack, and their wily spin claimed the last 5 wickets in 8 overs as, to their credit, the Bradfield batsmen continued to attack in search of extra batting points and the win.
They finished 84 runs short as Hlengani claimed the last wicket to give Hales 25 points to Bradfield’s 5. There were a few candidates for the Evergreen’s Man of the Match, but it went to Philly Squire for his excellent 60 when going in at 0 for 1.
B Read LBW Robinson 0
C Andersen bowled Abbs 14
P Squire ct Kimble b Wiseman 60
D Andersen bowled Robinson 61
C Hlengani bowled Wiseman 18
R Andersen ct Robinson b Wiseman 34
A Jones Run Out 0
S Rowe Not Out 23
N Pearce Not Out 10
Total 238 for 7 (50 overs)
Robinson 13:0:52:2 Whitehouse 6:0:43:0 Abbs 6:0:29:1 Yarham 12:1:46:0 Wiseman 13:0:61:3
Bothwright ct C Andersen b R Andersen 13
D Register Run Out 37
S Bidewell LBW Knights 12
N Whitehouse b Knights 1
C Wiseman ct C Andersen b Lovick 12
D Yarham b Rowe 11
A Kimble st C Andersen b Rowe 38
M Reynolds c&b Rowe 11
T Whitehouse c&b Hlengani 0
A Robinson Not Out 4
P Abbs b Hlengani 0
Total 154 all out
R Andersen 7:1:18:1 N Pearce 8:1:19:0 J Knights 7:0:44:2 M Lovick 7:0:31:2 S Rowe 5:2:24:3 C Hlengani 3.2:0:15:2